Your View: Van Fleet’s dueling messages

Your View: Van Fleet’s dueling messages
Townsend Van Fleet

By Aimee Houghton, Jody Manor, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
Are we the only ones confused by Townsend Van Fleet’s mixed messages on business development? In the October 15 issue of the Alexandria Times, he proclaimed a pro-business stance (“Van Fleet blames AEDP and Visit Alexandria for lack of commercial development”), criticizing the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership and Visit
Alexandria for not attracting more commercial development, saying, “… they’re not bringing in a lot of business development, and that’s what I support.”

On the very same day, Van Fleet sent an email to his supporters that said, “It’s time to take our city back from the developers!” So, which is it, Van, are you pro-business or anti-business?

Van Fleet is quick to criticize our current city council and economic development agencies for Alexandria’s overreliance on its residential tax base. Perhaps he has forgotten his obstruction of virtually every commercial project in Alexandria? As small business owners, we well remember his call for a boycott of any business supporting the waterfront plan. Did he miss the news about the relocation of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and National Science Foundation to Alexandria? Is he unaware of the 6,000 jobs or the $750 million in spending our hospitality industry supports? The facts do seem to be getting in the way of his campaign rhetoric.

The truth is Van Fleet and his cohorts have created a toxic environment for business in our city — whether it’s large development or small businesses locating or expanding here. The persistent opposition to new development and new business has garnered the city an anti-business reputation. Despite his platitudes, his campaign has two planks: no growth and no development. In other words, maintain the past.

A city needs to maintain positive growth to attract new businesses and residents. That’s how we grow our tax base to address the many challenges before us — the exploding school population, our aging infrastructure and transportation needs, to name but a few.

We are at a golden moment where we can embrace the future and make our city truly grand. Or we can turn around, walk away from the future and back toward the past.