Democratic Alexandria City Council candidate Boyd Walker said the recent decision from the Board of Zoning Appeals on the city’s waterfront plan represented “a ruling in the citizens’ favor that upholds the right to protest the rezoning of the waterfront” during a press conference Monday evening at West’s Point along the Potomac River.
Last week, the BZA opted to side with a group of citizens who appealed the city planning director’s decision to reject their petition asking that waterfront area near their homes not be rezoned to allow new development. The city has said it will appeal the BZA’s ruling.
“It is important that we uphold the right of adjacent property owners to protest any rezoning across the city,” Walker said to an assembled crowd of about 20 at the eastern terminus of Oronoco Street in Old Town.
Walker cofounded Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, a group opposing the city’s waterfront redevelopment plan and drafted an alternative that the city deemed deficient. Walker left the group when he decided to run for council.
He has made preservation a focus of his campaign, expressing a desire to “save” the Old Town Theater and the Carver Nursery School by making them historical sites at his kickoff last month.
During his remarks Monday, Walker detailed the history of West’s Point, including George Washington's departure from the Alexandria waterfront in 1789 for his inauguration. He said the “best use” of the area would be to “celebrate” and “preserve” its significance as opposed to erecting new hotels that would draw increased vehicle traffic.
Walker said his vision would be to create a pedestrian zone on King Street from City Hall to the water that “becomes a destination and a focal point.” He suggested the Beachcomber and several other buildings be used as waterfront restaurants. He mentioned turning Robinson Terminal South into “a center for wooden boats, as this is where boats have traditionally been built in Alexandria.” He also expressed a desire for more parkland at Robinson Terminal North for improved connectivity and the creation of a maritime museum and a band shell.
“The waterfront will be designed around the pedestrian, not the automobile, and arts and history will be the centerpiece, not an afterthought,” Walker said. “If the circuit court upholds the BZA opinion and we don’t rezone the waterfront, this will be possible.”