There’s a better process

There’s a better process
(Graphic/Jessica Kim)

To the editor: 

The desire to further develop Potomac Yard is laudable, but the current proposal for a sports arena has caused much controversy due to both the process and also its substance. Through better use of transparency, accountability and good governance standards, the right way to develop Potomac Yard is to have a public, transparent call for proposals to redevelop all or part of the area. Any major developer – including those backing the sports arena project – would be welcome to submit their proposal. Citizens and civil society groups should also be welcome to submit proposals to use all or some of the area for public goods such as parks, new schools and so on. 

Those proposals should then be published publicly and there should be public hearings before City Council makes a decision. Given the size and importance of the project, a three-pillar, multi-stakeholder group of local citizens, local government and local businesses could be part of the advisory or selection process. The process should include a requirement for detailed, independent, methodologically sound environmental, transportation, economic and other required assessments before selection could occur. 

The result would not mean that everyone would be happy with the project as you can never please an entire population of 175,000 people, but it would be transparent, well considered and have greater buy-in. It’s even possible that the arena would have been the best proposal and would have won. 

I encourage our city government to start over with this project and develop a Potomac Yard plan that better evaluates alternatives, more soundly assesses both the costs and benefits and allows greater local voice. 

-Jodi Vittori, Alexandria