To the editor:
Your column, “Resident appeal denied,” misses much of what went on “beneath the surface.”
Like the Traffic & Parking Board chair and several speakers, some City Councilors seemed open to a different solution, but because no alternative solution could gain enough traction, ended up acceding to denying 155 residents’ appeal. Apparently sharing Mayor Wilson’s “Every street should have a sidewalk on both sides, full stop,” the dais was only too eager to get past the issue despite not having done a study of whether the street could be made one-way to save the nine parking spots the proposed sidewalk would displace, ascertaining the number of school children who would use the sidewalk, nor assessing environmental issues relating to the adjacent city park. The dais ignored testimony that retaining parking would protect school children using the sidewalk from being struck by an errant moving vehicle.
One hazard which received little attention, even though my public hearing statement raised it, is the steep hillside of the adjacent city park collapsing into the street. No formal study of the hillside’s stability, especially if it became waterlogged after extended rain, was presented. Instead, much ado was made about saving a mature tree or two as a rationale to take away parking instead, when council would rubber-stamp a development removing several mature trees.
Staff acknowledged that the street’s right-of-way extends several feet into the hillside. Were the street’s right-of-way fully utilized, a sidewalk could have been built without taking away nine parking spaces, even though it might cost more and require a short retaining wall, which would prevent the hillside from collapsing into the street. Just as City Council happily accepts developers removing mature trees and “replacing” them with saplings, saplings in the park or as street trees along the sidewalk could replace any mature trees removed to construct a sidewalk without removing nine parking spaces.
Neighbors sought a deferral which would have afforded time to do these studies and work out compromises, but apparently a “full stop, period” attitude on the dais frowns on compromise, despite some sidewalk advocates’ openness to one. Your column missed this aspect of the story.
-Dino Drudi, Alexandria