The Alexandria City Council decided last night to go ahead with a Dec. 14 public hearing on a proposal to build a heliport despite efforts by Mayor James P. Moran Jr. to kill the project, which he called "a really nutty idea."
"I can't think of any constituent who has a helicopter he wants to park," Moran said in opposing the facility backed by former mayor Charles E. Beatley, whom Moran defeated in last May's election.
The 5-to-2 vote, with only Democrat Moran and Republican council member Carlyle Ring dissenting, appeared a victory for Beatley, who made a rare council appearance last night.
Beatley, a retired airline pilot, argued that the heliport, which would be built near the Eisenhower Avenue Metro Station, would attract "affluent" businesses to that commercial area. Many corporations would move to Alexandria if they have quick and easy helicopter access to New York and other cities, he said.
He added that a heliport would aid police and speed the transport of accident victims. "You're going to miss the boat if you don't take advantage of this," Beatley told the council.
Alexandria would pay $150,000, with the other 95 percent of its $3 million cost coming from federal and state funds, according to a city report. The facility would accommodate six helicopters and have a small terminal and 10,000-square-foot hangar.
Last year the council requested a feasibility study, for which the Federal Aviation Administration paid $59,640. That study said the heliport would serve 31,080 passengers a year if it were operating this year, and carry 82,465 a year by the year 2005.
Voting to hold a hearing on the heliport were Redella Pepper, Patricia S. Ticer, Lionel Hope, Robert L. Calhoun and Marlee Inman.
In other action, the council scheduled a special public hearing for Monday to discuss the refunding of almost $20 million in industrial revenue bonds for Alexandria Hospital. David Speck, a member of the hospital's board, said the 300-bed hospital needs to roll over its current debt -- exchange its 1972 bonds, which he says carry "archaic" restrictions, for new bonds.
Opposition to the proposal comes from some residents of the western part of the city, where the hospital is located, who say they fear it would make it easier for the hospital to built an adjacent doctors' office.