Letter to the Editor: FOIA casts doubt on Wilson’s credibility

An image generated by WMATA that shows the revised Potomac Yard Metro plan with a northwest entrance and planned southwest access point. The original plan called for three entrances. (Image courtesy WMATA)

To the editor:

Like many neighbors, I was stunned by the emails obtained in the Potomac Yard Metro FOIA request, which contradict what was recently in the papers about changes to the station. Some of the revelations are published here: https://pycr.blog/.

WMATA told Alexandria city staff in April 2018 that the plans to remove the southern entrance weren’t confidential; yet, staff wanted to suppress an image of the modified plan and said, “Even city council has not seen that image.”

It was recently reported that Mayor Allison Silberberg, Vice Mayor Justin Wilson and Councilor Paul Smedberg stated that they didn’t learn until this spring that the southern entrance had been removed in July 2017. However, the FOIA documents revealed that an email from the city manager to Wilson in July 2017 shows that Wilson was told “one less ped bridge and mezzanine” would be built, meaning that the southern entrance was gone from the design plans. So he did know after all.

And yet, Wilson continued to vote for increased density based upon the proximity to the southern entrance of the Metro even though he had been told that entrance was gone.

It is clear that we need leadership to rebuild trust between city hall and the residents.

Why should voters trust Wilson when he has recently made statements saying he just learned about the entrance’s removal – when the email shows that he knew since last summer? Based upon the FOIA, Wilson’s credibility seems to be in doubt.

Conversely, Silberberg has consistently pushed for ethics reform and transparency despite Wilson watering down her ethics initiative. Silberberg alone has the credibility to right this ship.

-Elizabeth Clark, Alexandria