Letter to the Editor: An SUP is indeed a promise to city residents

Stadium lights at Witter Recreational Fields off of Duke Street. (Photo Credit: Missy Schrott)

To the editor:

When the Alexandria Planning Commission was considering, and then approved, lights for the T.C. Williams High School football stadium, I took exception to the statement of Chair Mary Lyman that “a condition in an SUP (Special Use Permit) is not a promise.” This is a deplorable attitude, in my opinion. Even in a city that has no clearly stated or enforceable ethical standards, an SUP has always been interpreted by the citizens as a promise to be kept. If it is not a binding document, why bother to create it?

The original promise to not have lights at T.C. Williams was made verbally in the 1960s to the African American residents whose property was seized through eminent domain in order to build this school. Over the years, this promise has been referred to by city officials, including former Mayor Bill Euille. However, unless the Alexandria City Council alters the planning commission’s recommendation to erect lights in the T.C. Williams stadium, the inherent promise in the SUP will not be kept.

Perhaps members of the new city council will direct the planning commission to honor its pledges and agreements made in SUPs. Additionally, it may be time to replace this group with members who are mindful of whom they should serve.

-Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet, Alexandria