Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Same Concerns Environmentally

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Same Concerns Environmentally

Some may have forgotten, but a very similar development scenario was proposed in the late 1980s for the site of today's proposed Potomac Yard Metro Station (PYMS) Alternative B, which was soundly defeated by a united consensus who were greatly concerned that the adverse, irreversible impacts to the freshwater tidal wetlands, scenic and historic George Washington Memorial Parkway, critical wildlife habitat, and quality of life would far outweigh any benefits. Opponents of this earlier development proposal included the Commonwealth of Virginia, NPS, USFWS, National Capital Planning Commission, Alexandria Mayor and Council, and many others.

Councilor Del Pepper, in 1990, captured these concerns well: “The [DOI Final Environmental Statement – GWMP/Potomac Greens] does not explain the significance of the parkway being placed on the National Register of Historic Places or explain the legislative intent of the 1929 agreement between the federal government and the city to uphold the memorial character of the parkway… we felt that it should have had a greater context to spell out just how critical it is that this land be preserved… we hope that you will protect our natural and national treasure.”

Nothing has changed environmentally with the site between then and now, except Alexandria officials want to fast-track a new, poorly sited development project for the same property. So much so that in the 13th-hour they hired a new consultant to draft a new Joint Permit Application (JPA), though fashioned upon the inadequate and flawed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and JPA of previous submissions. This rushed effort has the new firm quixotically conducting critical vegetation surveys in December 2018 during plant dormancy, and coming up short as to quantifying and presenting a great number of critical analyses and regulatory safeguards intended to protect Alexandria's and the nation's natural resources.

All of this, of course, is evidence that significant portions of the EIS and new JPA to date have not been sufficiently assessed and analyzed, particularly the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA).

This whole impasse could be easily solved if the city were to again adopt Alternative A as the preferred alternative, instead of the environmentally destructive Alternative B.

C. Dara

Jimm Roberts