Your Views: The waterfront is about my hometown, not my politics


To the editor:
As a former member of the Alexandria City Council, I guess I should not be surprised by the accusation that I am somehow using my involvement in the waterfront issue as a platform for another run for office (Is Macdonald using the waterfront plan for political gains? June 30, 2011).
I became involved in this issue because it was obvious to me (and others) that the citys planners and a majority of the council had no interest in looking at any other redevelopment alternatives, except commerce-heavy ones, for the waterfront that I grew up fishing from and exploring. I thought their vision was wrong for an historic town like Alexandria, as many residents did, and that is why we created Citizens for Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan. Its a community organization, not a friends of Andrew Macdonald group.
CAAWP has established 12 citizen working groups that are already analyzing other alternatives and visiting other cities, like San Diego, to see what they have done to revitalize their waterfronts. This is not duplicating the citys work. It is doing what they should have started more than two years ago. Instead, the city wasted more than $1 million dollars hiring consultants to outline the plan they wanted from the start. Thats the real sideshow.
We are pleased that the council has created a new seven-member group to look at the plan again over the summer, but we are not waiting to see what this group will accomplish. CAAWP is composed of concerned and open-minded residents who care about Alexandria and their input should be welcomed, not derided. Their participation will help the entire process, not diminish it.
This is not about tweaking as Mayor Bill Euille likes to say a plan that everyone likes for the most part. Its about overhauling it from the bottom up, with taxpayers leading the charge. The only other alternative presented to the community was rolled out a week or two before the council was scheduled to vote on it. The planning commission extolled it in a 6-1 vote, and residents denounced it 50-1. And you ask why we are not waiting to see the outcome of this latest council action? 
My involvement in this effort is consistent with my record of public service, and I have no conflict of interest save one: I live here and grew up here. I have made no decision to run for any office, but if I did, I would have little trouble coming up with good and numerous reasons to do so.