Three top Alexandria officials announced yesterday they will not be going on a controversial two-week trip to inspect the waterfronts of six European cities.
"It's just not worth the hassle," said a disgusted Mayor Charles W. Beatley, who withdrew from the trip following complaints by two city council members. "I'm surprised by [their] reaction. I expect people to take a more sophisticated view of the city."
A recent newspaper account of the trip prompted sharp criticism from city council members Donald C. Casey and Carlyle C. Ring Jr., who branded it a "junket" and complained they had not been informed of the mission. b
In addition to Beatley, vice-mayor Robert C. Calhoun and city manager Douglas Harman have decided against joining the tour, which was to have cost city taxpayers $3,500.
"I have to be here to defend my honor," said Beatley, referring to a city council meeting called by Ring for early September to discuss the propriety of the trip, the announced purpose of which is to help. Alexandria decide how to develop its waterfront.
Harman said yesterday that three senior city staff members -- transportation and environmental services director Dayton L. Cook, planning and community development director Engin Artemel, and deputy budget director Henry Howard, who is going in Harman's place -- will leave Aug. 31 for Europe to inspect waterfronts of Copenhagen, Geneva, Vienna and other cities.
The German Marshall Fund, a Washington-based group founded by the West German government, will pay $7,500, a sum Harman said will cover all expenses.
"I still have some reservations" about the participation of staff members, Ring said yesterday. "Certainly much could be gained by looking at the waterfronts of cities like Baltimore here in the United States."
On Saturday, a delegation of six Arlington officials headed by assistant county board chairman Stephen H. Detwiler is scheduled to leave on a week-long trip to the suburbs of Paris, Stockholm and the Hague to view the impact of rail systems on surrounding neighborhoods.
Arlington officials say they think the trip will give them valuable international perspectives on developing areas near the county's Metro stations and have agreed to spend about $3,000 to send a senior staff member. The German Marshall Fund will contribute $13,000 to cover the other officials' expenses.
"I've never had so many people mention to me something the board was doing," said board member Dorothy T. Grotos, who is a member of the Arlington delegation. "Most of what I've heard is favorable, but so often we do other things that have a lot more impact and nobody says a word."