Waterfront plan work group releases recommendations for city’s shoreline

Waterfront plan work group releases recommendations for city’s shoreline
Former vice mayor and CAAWP cofounder Andrew Macdonald accused the city of ignoring residents' concerns on the morning the waterfront plan work group unveiled their report. (Derrick Perkins)

Members of the waterfront plan work group unveiled their anxiously awaited recommendations for the city’s vision of the Potomac shoreline Tuesday, though critics took the opportunity to again publically lambast the proposal.

The 142-page report, commissioned by the city council in June, highlights and analyzes the longstanding arguments for and against the blueprint approved by the planning commission earlier this year. Despite the six-month process, the group struggled to bridge disagreement regarding the three key sites slated for redevelopment, possible as hotels, in the city’s proposal.

In the final report, the group fleshed out the arguments of those on either side of the hotel debate, but stopped short of finding a common path forward. During a press conference held inside City Hall, work group members Nate Macek and Bob Wood argued they had fulfilled their charge of identifying areas of agreement and disagreement.

“We clarified the issues and the choices,” Wood said. “I think we provided the appropriate context and clarity on what those choices might be.”

Andrew Macdonald, a former vice mayor and leading opponent of the plan, held a dueling conference shortly before the work group was slated to make public their recommendations. He accused city officials of ignoring Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, a group he cofounded with Boyd Walker, and their rival suggestions for the shoreline.

“We feel that once again the city created a process that was bound to fail,” Macdonald said. “We keep getting bogged down in trying to promote a plan a lot of people think have some serious flaws.”

CAAWP’s plan, in contrast to the city’s proposal, emphasizes parks and cultural activities rather than commercial redevelopment, though both visions include a mix of open space and development.

City council will discuss the work group’s recommendations and the plan during an early January joint meeting with the planning commission and could vote on the blueprint before the end of the month.