Alexandria Letter: Design Change Unsettling

Alexandria Letter: Design Change Unsettling

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

A lack of transparency and violations of trust are poisonous to community life. Yet that is exactly what the Alexandria School Board has done in favoring a design for the expansion of Patrick Henry school and recreation center after stakeholders had agreed on a different design.

After months of deliberations by the Patrick Henry Advisory Group in which compromises were made on all sides, a vote was overwhelmingly for Design C-1, one that balanced the desires of the community and the needs of the school. Earlier the School Board had indicated its favor for C-1 and ACPS staff had endorsed it. It seem that the system had worked and plans for the expansion could move ahead smoothly.

Then suddenly, “out of the blue,” the School Board Chair, Ms. Graf, announced that the rejected design, A-1, would be chosen instead. Subsequently by a vote of 6-2, the School Board went along. The reason given was that A-1 was estimated to cost between $1.5 and $2 million less than C-1 — a fraction of of the total project cost. But that rationale was undermined when the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Crawley, advised the board that he could not be certain that there would not be changes to make A-1 eventually more costly than C-1.

Clearly something unknown is driving the decision toward A-1. Rejecting as it does what had been widely agreed after months of discussion, this decision appears arbitrary and capricious on the part of Ms. Graf and the board. Citizens all over Alexandria have a right to be concerned, if not outraged, by this result. Let us hope that the mayor and City Council, who previously have taken considerable interest in the Patrick Henry project, will weigh in on the side of maintaining the trust and support of all Alexandrians on this issue.

Jack Sullivan