A seven-member, citizen-based task force will discuss the future of Alexandria’s controversial waterfront plan over the summer.
The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to appoint five at-large citizens, one member of the waterfront committee and one member of the Old Town Civic Association as voting members of a waterfront plan advisory group.
The group’s mission will be to find a resolution over the multi-million-dollar waterfront plan, which has divided the community.
”This is such an important asset to us,” said Council member Paul Smedberg (D) at Tuesday night’s meeting. “Whatever happens, this is something that is so important to this city, we really need good, thoughtful people serving on this task force.”
Plans for a three-mile project that would stretch along the Potomac River shore from Daingerfield Island Park in the north to Jones Point Park in the south have come under fire from community members opposed to the project’s focus on new buildings, including boutique hotels.
The original $51 million waterfront plan would be paid for by redeveloping three key properties. Two of those properties, Robinson Terminal Warehouse buildings, are owned by a subsidiary of The Washington Post Co.
The Post Co. filed, and later withdrew, a lawsuit in 2008 against the city for cutting back the company’s redevelopment options. The Post Co. was working with the city to restore those options, which were set in a 1983 federal settlement agreement.
The third site is Cummings-Turner Properties, in the 200 block of South Union Street.
Earlier this month, city planners also offered up a parks and museum-heavy plan that would cost $220 million.
City council members said the group will discuss the economics of the plan and come up with recommendations on how to form a consensus plan.
This group will “bring in new voices ... a new set of eyes” to the process “that will allow the council to finally act and move forward with this,” said Council member Rob Krupicka (D).
Council members have indicated they want to vote on the waterfront plan by the end of the year.
Opponents of the plan will conduct their own analysis over the summer, said Andrew Macdonald, one of the organizers of the Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan.
The group would examine the zoning, long-term benefits and cost analysis, among other things, he said.
“We are hoping this committee will be looking at the same questions,” he said.