Your Views: Grassroots waterfront group is a protagonist, not antagonistic


To the editor:
In the June 30 issue of the Alexandria Times, Jaqueline Condakes questions Andrew Macdonalds motives in promoting the agenda of Citizens for an Alternative Waterfront Plan and questions the continuing need for this organization with alternative plans and hybrids already on the table by the planning department  
While no one but Mr. Macdonald knows what future political interests he may have, I do not share Ms. Condakess apparent confidence in the alternative waterfront plans put forward by the citys planning department. In particular, it does not seem to me either that we seem to be close to a viable alternative or that the current waterfront plans just need to be tweaked a bit to generate consensus.  
    In recent Alexandria City Council and working group meetings, in fact, I gained the distinct impression that the three alternatives described by the planning department were nothing more than straw men proposed with the sole purpose of trying to demonstrate that the original waterfront plan was the only viable one.
There are several reasons to be wary of the current waterfront plans. First, the planning department still has not adequately addressed the issue of the traffic congestion that would be produced by the waterfront hotels they envision. Look no further than the traffic congestion anticipated when the BRAC center opens to understand why citizens are up in arms about this.  
Second, I do not believe that the city has a workable, concrete plan for flood mitigation at the foot of King Street.
Third, even though one of the alternatives offered by city planners focuses on parks and museums rather than hotels, it is not clear that the cost accounting for this version has been adequately addressed.
Concerns such as these were among the reasons the CAAWP originally came into existence, and the fact that they continue to be issues demonstrates why many of Alexandrias citizens not just Andrew Macdonald continue to urge the city to consider realistic alternatives. Surely we all citizens, city planners and council members want a plan in which Alexandrians will take pride for decades to come.  
Why not find out what lessons have been learned from the waterfront redevelopment experiences of other cities before settling on a final plan for Alexandria?  I believe this is an area where the CAAWP can help city planners. Rather than antagonizing them, as Ms. Condakes and some others seem to fear, the CAAWP hopes to provide helpful information, enabling the planning process to produce the most attractive waterfront the city can afford, with amenities that appeal to citizens and tourists alike.