EDITORIAL: Finding a true win-win compromise really is an art

EDITORIAL: Finding a true win-win compromise really is an art

According to Merriam-Webster, a compromise is “a settling of differences … reached by mutual concessions.” In a good compromise, no one gets exactly what they want and each party gives up something meaningful.

Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo has been quoted as saying this is how he makes player trades: He does not look to fleece the other team. His philosophy is you have to give up quality to get quality.

The tentative agreement reached last week between the Old Dominion Boat Club and the City of Alexandria is a good compromise.

Yes, the boat club made the bigger concession, giving up its beloved clubhouse at the foot of King Street, along with its much-contested parking lot.

And there is no denying the city often acted like a bully during the multiyear struggle, repeatedly threatening to use eminent domain to seize the parking lot if the club didn’t cede property.

But the city also gave up quality when it agreed to part with the waterfront Beachcomber property just down the street — plus $5 million. The boat club is getting a valuable piece of land and enough money to refurbish or rebuild the Beachcomber.

This is not a done deal, as boat club member and former City Councilor Frank Fannon warned last week. Years of accumulated bitterness from the city’s hardball tactics and a strong attachment to their clubhouse likely have left many boat club members reluctant to accept the swap.

The city must strike a conciliatory tone and do all it can to address members’ concerns as it works out the details with the club. Then, club leaders need to nudge a reluctant membership toward accepting the deal in a formal vote. This compromise likely is the best they’re going to get — and everyone will lose if this winds up in court.

Special kudos go to Christine Bernstein and Jody Manor, who served together on the city’s waterfront commission, for vocally championing the property swap as the best solution to a difficult problem. They tenaciously pushed for a creative end to what seemed like an unbreakable deadlock.

Bernstein and Manor set an example of constructive civic involvement, which stands in stark contrast to the name-calling and motive-impugning stances taken by activists on many issues. We hope their comportment becomes the standard for public engagement.

We believe that when the passage of time has lent perspective, this compromise will be seen as a historically positive milestone in the city’s development. Eventually, when an attractive new clubhouse sits along The Strand and all Alexandrians are taking advantage of Fitzgerald Square at the foot of King Street, even boat club members might feel the same way.