Letter to the Editor: The Boat Club Is Here to Stay
Old Dominion Boat Club President Miles Holtzman expresses concern with comments made by the mayor and says the club has no intention of giving up its property rights.
To the Editor,
The Boat Club read with great interest the Mayor's recent editorial concerning the eco-friendly aspects of its Waterfront Plan.
Of particular note was the part about, "over the long term, and through negotiation with the ODBC, the Plan calls for the Boat Club's parking lot to become a park."
Since March of 2012, the Boat Club and the City have been in "quiet" discussions pertaining to our property at the foot of King Street, our boat yard and parking lot.
There had been a reasonable amount of productive dialogue that unfortunately went into hiatus as a result of the various lawsuits that the City now finds itself involved in, including last week's lawsuit the City filed against its own appointed zoning board. During the course of our discussions, both parties agreed to refrain from talking to the press about these issues. The Mayor's recent comments to the media, however, require a reply.
The Boat Club wishes to be clear about its intentions. Since 1880, we have been a part of the Alexandria community, hosting many charitable and city events. We have 850 Members who are active civic and community leaders and cherish the club that gives them respite and access to the waterfront. We have owned our building since 1923 and our parking lot since 1935. After a truly epic legal battle with the Department of Interior and the National Park Service, our little organization prevailed in a lawsuit that took almost 40 years to resolve and cost us well in excess of a million dollars.
Naturally, we were disappointed in Friday's Virginia Supreme Court ruling for City, over the Wales Alley dispute. We note that the Circuit Court's judgment was reversed applying the bar of res judicata. We also note, as did Chief Justice
Kinser, that the Virginia Supreme Court did not address the remaining legal issue. That issue being, whether the City Council had the authority to deprive the Boat Club of its easement, in the absence of a dedication of that easement to the public by the Boat and the City's acceptance of that dedication.
The Chief Justice went onto state that remanding this case to the circuit court without deciding the outstanding legal issue was a "waste" of judicial resources.
Having been through all this, the Boat Club has no intention of giving up its property rights at the foot of King Street. However, we have offered to participate in discussions about other design concepts with the City, with our members' approval, which might be aesthetically and environmentally appropriate.
We, however, don't think it is appropriate for the mayor to make public and unilateral determinations concerning our private property for a project which is still generating so much angst for so many within the Alexandria community. We are actively looking for ways to improve the waterfront in a way the people of Alexandria will be proud of.
The Mayor and City Council's "intent" should reflect the wishes of the people of this beautiful and historic city.
We are here to stay.