By Jody Manor
and Christine Bernstein, Alexandria
To the editor:
A sage man once said, “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Such is the case with the situation between the city and the Old Dominion Boat Club.
As long-term members of the waterfront commission, we urge both parties to consider alternatives, regardless of whether they’ve been previously discussed. Now that the highly regarded OLIN firm has entered into the equation, we have an opportunity to incorporate all of the pieces of the puzzle together to create our beautiful, world-class waterfront.
This is a commonsense approach to a complicated issue. For instance, why not engage in a discussion of swapping the city-owned Beachcomber building and property for the boat club’s building and parking lot? This would give the club the opportunity to build a state-of-the-art facility, while allowing the city to redevelop the entire foot of King Street and eliminate, once and for all, this contentious barrier as well as the possibility of ongoing and expensive litigation.
Another option to consider is below-grade parking. The hotel being proposed by Carr Hospitality at Duke and Union streets is required to include underground parking.
Surely a similar design is a possibility on the boat club’s lot. Perhaps OLIN could devise a plan that incorporates below-grade — or even partially below-grade — parking with grass, plants and benches at street level.
This is done in other cities, why not Alexandria?
We enthusiastically support bringing together a representative from the club, the city and a mediator. Representatives from the disputing parties should have decision-making authority, and the mediator should be chosen from a host of retired judges from nearby jurisdictions — not Alexandria. This foundation would more likely result in a positive outcome.
Everyone wants to get this right from the get-go and in good faith. We believe the community is ready to resolve this issue so that we can all move forward with a minimum of expense and civic acrimony.
Yes, this is a great opportunity, not an impossible situation for our historic city.