As promised, Waterfront Plan Work Group member Bert Ely has filed his own report on the city’s plan for waterfront development, calling it “fundamentally flawed” and calling for its rejection.
Ely, who is also a member of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, characterized the city’s draft plan as “nothing more than a marketing brochure” designed to promote zoning changes to some waterfront areas.
“The result almost certainly will lead to redevelopment on a scale that will overwhelm the Alexandria waterfront and endanger the character of the Old and Historic District of Alexandria,” he writes.
He added that his report expressed his own views and not those of any other group or organization.
Ely said the city’s intent to change the zoning, which would allow for hotels along some areas of the waterfront, would greatly increase the market value of properties in this W-1 zone.
Additionally, he calls the plan outdated due to events such as the GenOn power plant closure in North Old Town and the city’s intent to develop a new small area plan for that neighborhood.
“It makes no sense for Council to adopt the draft Waterfront Small Area Plan given that a significant portion of this plan may be changed when Council adopts a new Old Town North Small Area Plan,” he says.
He also criticizes the plan’s efforts to address flood mitigation, traffic and parking issues and says it does not provide for sufficient open space and public facilities.
The Waterfront Plan Work Group suggested focusing on a large, open public space at the bottom of King Street, which Ely calls “neither desirable or feasible.”
He criticized the work group as “getting bogged down in minutia” and said the group “never stepped back for a full-throated discussion of alternative visions for the Alexandria waterfront” or the pros and cons of zoning changes.
Work group member Nate Macek, who also chairs the Waterfront Committee, told Patch that “Ely certainly has a right to share his personal views, but I stand by the recommendations contained in the Waterfront Plan Work Group Report, which were widely supported by Work Group members.”