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Letter to the Editor: The BRAC Five

Alexandria resident D. Engelen makes his case against re-electing city officials who oversaw BRAC coming to town.

To the editor:

Time for Change!!! Our elected representatives are making decisions with little or no consideration of the residents they are supposed to represent. As a resident of West End Alexandria, I call to fellow residents to vote for stronger, more in-touch representation. I call on residents to NOT vote for the infamous (or perhaps "dubious" is a better word) BRAC-5s and stop them from making any more decisions for us.

The BRAC-5 are Mayor Euille, incumbent councilmembers Redella Pepper and Paul Smedberg, prior councilmembers Tim Lovain and Justin Wilson, and they allowed the Mark Center property owners to sell and then the Departmentof Defense (DoD) to purchase and build the federal business tower at Seminary Road and I-395. Why does it matter? It matters because there was no consideration. They failed to consider the traffic, the noise pollution, the construction and impact of residential life on the West End.

Did the BRAC-5, our sworn representatives, consider the impact of this new building on the West End residents when they originally approved zoning and sale of Mark Center property back in 2000 or 2001? Probably not, it was most likely a tax revenue decision. Well, their representation, or lack thereof, showed true when residents, realizing what their representatives did, would not be heard or considered. Now, we will be paying for their decision well into the future — lost green space, increased traffic volume, day-long congestion and seemingly endless construction as they try to make up for the mess they created.

Despite VDOT’s advisory that the site did not have the infrastructure necessary to support the increase vehicular traffic, the DoD andour infamous council members did nothing. No city council member protested the dubious approval from the planning and zoning of the site, nor did they protest the inappropriateness of the purchase of the site by the federal government — which gains the city no tax revenue, nor did the protest the loss of green space as roads needed to be widened and ramps built to accommodate the traffic that could no longer all fit through the little neighborhood streets.

It comes down to a “as long as it’s not in my back yard” mentality. Who wants this: another HOV ramp, 30 feet into the air, specifically for the building? More than 3,000 more cars on the streets around your home and schools? More shuttle buses and increased DASH buses — all new traffic on primarily residential roads? Almost 10 acres of trees and paths replace with tarmac and cars?

It’s all fine — fine because the BRAC-5 don’t have to travel these roads to go to work. They don’t have to walk their children across the streets at intersections where cars routinely run lights. They don’t have to worry because they didn’t lose almost 10 acres of trees and paths to walk and jog. We protest with letters and petitions — they don’tlisten. 

I dread to think what the cost will be if the BRAC-5 are allowed to continue.

D. Engelen, Alexandria

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