To the editor:
I was not surprised, sadly, by the 5-2 city council vote in favor of the waterfront plan. What astounds me is city council’s Democrats’ disregard for residents who disagree with them.
Saturday’s public hearing was a shameful pretense; an orchestrated event to make it appear the plan could be changed. Residents who spoke eloquently and thoughtfully against the plan, those who asked for more time to consider alternatives and potential consequences, might as well have kept silent.
Former City Councilman Dave Speck came out of retirement to speak in favor of the plan and was asked leading questions that kept him speaking far beyond his allotted time. The message Mr. Speck delivered on behalf of city council was our taxes will go up without development and we won’t be able to support public services.
His argument was misleading — designed to prop up the views of development-hungry Democrats. Have your taxes declined lately? This is an example of partisan and misleading rhetoric designed to divide the community in an election year.
Judy Noritake, park and recreation committee chairwoman, spoke for three minutes and was kept at the podium much longer, giving prescripted answers to the council’s questions. From Ms. Noritake we learned there is too much green space on the waterfront, and we must buy more land elsewhere.
But on a per-capita basis Alexandria has well below the minimum amount of open space compared to national standards. The amount we do have per person is declining. As all great cities are learning, open space improves property values and is a great asset that also attracts tourists.
More than 100 people spoke Saturday. Half supported the plan and were mostly Alexandria Chamber of Commerce or Waterfront For All members. The rest were residents who live here and who asked for more time to study issues like traffic and density.
That was never going to happen. City council members made up their minds long ago, and this was a day to pretend they were listening. The five Democrats listened all right, but they listened to the speakers they consider their November constituents.
The mayor and city council had a chance to show leadership. Instead, they chose partisan self-interest. All Alexandrians lost Saturday.
– Andrew Macdonald
Former vice mayor and co-founder of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan