Letter to the Editor: Renamed park is just another broken promise

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Council voted on Saturday to name the park at the foot of King Street "Waterfront Park." (Photo Credit: Missy Schrott)
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To the editor:

Alexandria doesn’t have the gumption to honor a town father, early mayor, aide to George Washington during the Revolutionary War and patriot. Instead, it is installing Technicolor Stonehenge, a tasteless, juvenile 25-foot diameter, 8-foot high metal circle with flashing light emitting diodes, in the new park. Apparently in an attempt to be “hip” like the District.

Or maybe it’s ferris wheel envy, since the National Harbor wheel is round with multi-colored lights. The powers that be can’t grasp the fact that visitors – local, national and international – come to Alexandria for its history and heritage. It’s a welcome escape from cookie-cutter, but entertaining, places like National Harbor, Crystal City and the like. Read the meat of the stories that rate Old Town Alexandria and the city as a whole as a top travel destination and wonderful place to live, Conde Nast being the latest.

Hint: It’s not because we’re Coney Island on the Potomac.

Aside from this particular issue, but equally if not more disturbing, is how the park renaming came about, through a contrived “naming committee.” Solicit public input, ignore it, say you incorporated it and then go ahead with what was already a pre-ordained fait accompli. This would make a poster child case study for a university public administration course on how not to run a municipal government.

“Fitzgerald Square” was the name in the city’s Waterfront Small Area Plan, which is waved about as the Bible when city hall is up to something, but ignored when it interferes with the agenda of the moment. City supporter and small businessman Pat Troy worked very hard getting the park named for Fitzgerald. Promises to him are now broken. But broken promises are de rigueur in Alexandria.

It surely would be refreshing if this city hall was witting, appreciative and supportive of those special and sometimes unique attributes that make Alexandria special. But it is not for the most part, and is driven by something other than its residents, neighborhoods and visitors.

Why can’t Alexandria be a regional municipal leader, vice a wannabe follower of whatever the latest fads and trends happen to be?

-Hal Hardaway, Alexandria

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