With the primary focus of the September 19 Woodrow Wilson Bridge Neighborhood Task Force meeting being the National Park Service’s Preferred Alternative for future development of Jones Point Park, Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille announced at its conclusion that he had a scheduled a meeting with U.S. Representative James P. Moran (D-8) “on the park and other City matters.”
That meeting took place the following morning in Moran’s office on Capitol Hill. “We had a good meeting, discussing a number of issues facing the City. Jones Point Park was a prominent topic,” Moran said.
“I have concerns about the Park Service reneging on prior positions they’ve taken during planning for the park. I also have concerns about the Federal Highway Administration’s reneging on the agreements it made when settling the City’s bridge litigation. I plan to continue working with the Mayor and City Council to help all parties involved reach an agreement that is in the best interest of Alexandria,” he said.
Euille’s assessment of the meeting was, “He (Moran) wanted to be brought up to date on the park, Mirant and other issues of importance to the City.” Accompanying Euille to the meeting were City Manager James Hartmann and Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Kirk Kincannon.
As for the Mirant situation, a public hearing was held September 25 before the State Air Pollution Control Board at their headquarters in Glen Allen, VA, a suburb of Richmond. City Attorney Ignacio Pessoa was scheduled to testify officially for the City along with a representative from Moran’s office and a number of other officials and citizens about continued operation of the coal-fired generating station at the north end of Old Town.
With future development of the park taking center stage at this Task Force meeting, Aimee Vosper, supervisor, Landscape Architect, Park, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Department, kicked off the session by giving a detailed analysis of the National Park Service’s recently released report compared to the City’s preference for Jones Point Park. “Basically we have some concerns about the Park Service Preferred Alternative particularly when it comes to parking and open space,” she said.
“Parking under the bridge for special events would place a financial burden on the city when it came to enforcing security measures. We are also concerned about the 80-foot set back for Jones Point Road,” Vosper said. That, along with no everyday parking under the new bridge, are security measures put in place by the Federal Highway Administration and Homeland Security after 9-11.
“However, the basic difference we have with the Park Service assessment is on the athletic fields. We have also recently received comments from Alexandria Archeological and Historic Alexandria which will be incorporated into our final recommendation,” Vosper said.
Both groups oppose an active athletic field south of the bridge, as recommended in the NPS report, based on archeological and historic preservation reasons. However, the field proposed by NPS is located where a field has been located for years prior to construction of the new bridge.
Vosper was challenged by Task Force member Teresa Miller when she said, “The city still feels that no parking under the bridge is a priority.” Miller reacted by stating, “Every time the city reports on the park they state the major concern is parking. There is never a word about the concerns of the neighborhood or all the work that’s been done by this Task Force.”
At that point, Task Force co-chair, Alexandria Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald, said, “We need to evaluate the whole picture — parking, open space, wetlands, everything. The city’s position hasn’t changed but we have to look at everything so we don’t lose what we have been promised.”
City Council has scheduled another public session on Jones Point Park for Sept. 26, according to Euille. “This will again give people the opportunity to speak to the Environmental Assessment report,” he said.
In answer to a question concerning the cost of installing and operating two athletic fields north of the bridge, it was estimated the installation would “probably be in the $800,000 range” with maintenance costs “approximately $50,000 per year.”
In other matters:
v Alex Lee, director, Community Relations, WWB Project, announced that pile driving for the second span was about to commence. It will go until 8 p.m. on school days so as not to interfere with classes at St. Mary’s School, according to Lee.
v Design details of the Southern Gateway adjacent to Porto Vecchio were presented by Mike Arnold, associate, EDAW/AECOM.
v Lee estimated the South Washington Street “Urban Deck” will be completed in the next eight weeks. The soundwalls on Route 1 should be in place in the next several months.
v Euille announced there will be a joint meeting in Alexandria in the near future of all parties concerned with Hunting Towers and its potential for affordable housing.