By Alex Phillips, Alexandria (File photo)
I am writing to express my disappointment and frustration with city officials who have bowed to a vocal minority of Del Ray residents regarding the development of the Oakville Triangle on U.S. Route 1 in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria.
Many would be pleased to see the development of an industrial area into an appealing residential-commercial use that everyone can get to and enjoy. But the city has taken off the table any street connections for access to the site. To get in and out, everyone will have to get on congested U.S. Route 1.
At first, it seemed the developer and the city considered open access to the back of the property to connect Del Ray with this project because it would be a mix of retail and residences.
A natural connection could be made through connecting Potomac Yard and Del Ray through the current dead-ending streets of Calvert and Fannon streets and especially Swann Avenue. Look at a map and see how streets just end at this site.
Swann is a major central street of Potomac Yard that crosses Route 1 and dead ends at the development. If they opened access, it could connect through to Stewart Avenue and access Mount Vernon Avenue. Don’t the businesses want customers to shop there?
Why, after four meetings, was this removed from consideration? A loud group of neighbors complained. Why doesn’t the city have a standard policy about connecting streets? Potomac Yard is already connected at Custis and Howell avenues, and there is even a connecting Potomac Yard street into Leslie Avenue near George Washington Middle School, so the “concern” that a Stewart connection would be too close to the elementary school at Mount Vernon Avenue does not make sense.
The city allows people to gripe and complain and then makes unpredictable decisions sometimes against the outcry and sometimes in support of outcry. Why? It all depends on who you know, and because there is no standard reason given.
The city allowed the development of the Mark Center on the West End, Potomac Yard, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the now the upcoming development of the waterfront and Landmark Mall in areas where there are existing neighborhoods. If the city’s standard is to allow development and have access connected by roads, then why not connect the streets of this project between Del Ray and Potomac Yard?
Frankly, there are many who are just tired of Del Ray getting what they want. They have a small group of vocal and connected networks who deal behind the scenes and have a different standard from the rest of the city. If the city allows itself to be manipulated by a small group, then it will get a divided city catering to the selfishness of a few crybabies who want restaurants, shopping and everything nearby as long as they keep it away from their back yard or street.