The relationship between a large minority of Alexandria’s residents on the one hand and city staff and elected officials on the other has been increasingly strained in recent years.
The cause of this disaffection is debatable. A trickle down effect from political nastiness at the national level – just across the Potomac River – is surely a factor. Growing discord is also a predictable consequence of one-party rule in Alexandria, making compromise optional rather than necessary.
Neither of those explanations entirely hit the mark, however, as many of those most at odds with city leaders are also Democrats, and our issues are mostly local rather than national in scope. A more accurate description of the two points of view is that city leadership is increasingly committed to a path of rapid population growth, while those opposed want a slower, less disruptive influx of new residents.
Thankfully, not all issues fall within the parameters of the fast/slow growth debate.
One such outlier is the Taylor Run/Strawberry run issue, which is mainly environmental and budgetary in nature. And the collaboration between city staff and local environmentalists is extremely encouraging to those of us who are weary of the constant strife surrounding development-related decisions.
Today’s page 1 story, “Inside the Taylor Run restoration,” provides a comprehensive update on the current status of the project. For those unfamiliar with the history, it’s a good primer on how we got to today.
The backstory on this issue reads like something from The Onion – or Shallott: A grant was awarded from the state to fund a project that was based on the removal of virtually nonexistent phosphorus to check the box on a Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandate that wasn’t actually going to reduce pollutants in the Bay because the formula was based on phosphorus-laden Pennsylvania farmland rather than actual soil testing at the site.
Got that? And the method chosen to achieve this fictional pollution cleanup – natural channel design – was going to destroy many dozens of mature trees in Alexandria’s largest forested tract and the existing contig- uous wetlands.
Yes, the streambed is in need of some TLC. And fortunately, city staff and concerned residents have collaboratively charted a path forward that seems to be amenable to all sides.
We eagerly await the release of the report next month detailing the proposal. Kudos to both residents and city staff for truly listening and engaging on this important issue. We hope it’s a template for how to deal with other difficult issues.
As we head into warmer weather, let’s lower the temperature a bit.