Alexandria To the Editor:
In the June 2016 Final Environmental Impact Statement for building the Potomac Yard Metro Station, the city promotes its "Preferred Alternative" for building the station and construction staging area atop functioning wetlands, wildlife habitat, city parkland, and protected easements, some of which it doesn't even own. Overall, these environmental impacts total over 10 acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat that are to be "cleared of all trees and other natural vegetation and filled or leveled as necessary to make construction activities possible."
Legally and ethically, the Preferred Alternative is also a "violation of the Greens Scenic Area Easement."
At least 4 acres of freshwater tidal channel wetlands will be permanently destroyed at this site. These wetlands are connected to the NPS tidal channel wetlands at Daingerfield Island and eventually the tidal Potomac River by way of conduit under the GWMP, much like those at the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary to the north. Has a proper EIS and FONSI ever been conducted by the city, USACE, DEQ, and NPS to determine exactly what will be forever lost as a result of this project moving forward? The answer, not surprisingly, is no.
Has the public been properly informed of the expanding and changing scope of this project, the loss of city parkland, wetlands, wildlife habitat, etc.? No, it hasn't. For example, did the USACE, DEQ, and city once take the time to discern that these are freshwater tidal wetlands, as well as all what is necessarily involved for protection of such? Again, the answer is a resounding no.
This project, like the somewhat similar Karig Estates debacle, is example par excellence of the city's arrogance and willfulness in doing exactly what it wants to do, in its own way, with protocols, ordinances, and legalities expediently ignored. The very worst of big government.
In the sketchy EIS, only the impacts to NPS wetlands (app. 1.3 acres) will be mitigated, through "on-site restoration and compensation for wetlands restoration at Dyke Marsh" in Fairfax County to the south. Evidently and wrongly, the taking/loss of Alexandria wetlands, parkland, and scenic easement merit no in-kind compensation, except the possible "development and implementation of an Invasive Species Management Plan." This, too, is ludicrous in its misapplication because admittedly all vegetation in the project area is to be cleared, including invasive species!
Mainly for these reasons, but for others as well, it is being asked of the USACE to deny any permits under the Clean Water Act to destroy acres of wetlands for the Potomac Yard Metro Station, pursuant to the application filed February 2018 by the City of Alexandria. There are viable alternatives for building the Metro station that do not entail destroying wetlands and parkland, including those owned by the National Park Service.