Why is the mayor afraid to weigh in on the Alexandria Boxing Club?

Why is the mayor afraid to weigh in on the Alexandria Boxing Club?

By Chris Marston, Alexandria
(Photo/Susan Hale Thomas)

To the editor:

Your excellent reporting on the uncertainty facing the Alexandria Boxing Club, “On the Ropes” by Jim McElhatton (August 7), and your well-reasoned editorial with constructive suggestions about sustaining the club brings much-needed attention to its Olympic-class program and gives the community a path forward to help sustain it.

But the mayor’s comments raise a much broader issue: the city council’s approach to residents. When asked about public input on this issue, the mayor said, “That is just not how we do business.”

While the city shouldn’t be expected to hold a public hearing on every lease it signs, the mayor’s reluctance to get involved or open the door to community input seems to reflect the council’s approach to just about every issue. While he hides behind process and city staff, the fate of a tremendously successful program could be determined without any public involvement.

It’s the job of the city council to set its agenda and get involved in critical issues, not wait for the city manager and his staff to tell them what to do. Nor should councilors provide themselves with cover by appointing commissions and then ignoring the good work of those bodies.

After a four-year process of appointing commissions, holding hearings, and sending reports back and forth, the city has a “Children and Youth Master Plan,” which was presented to the council in June. I am pretty sure that the plan does not include ruining a successful nonprofit program that serves youth and has become part of the fabric of the Parker-Gray community.

Maybe it’s in the waterfront plan or perhaps it came up in one of the increasingly frequent closed executive sessions.