To the Editor:

Dear Mayor, Vice Mayor and City Council Members,

I'm writing to you as you deliberate over the decision to place lights at the T.C. Williams football field.

I believe that a legal commitment was made by the City of Alexandria, VA. that this field would not have lights installed and that you should honor the earlier decisions to the communities you serve.

I also believe that if city leaders want a stadium with lights for football and evening events there are other options on school and parkland at the T.C. Williams and Chinquapin Park complex. As a person with considerable park planning I believe that a stadium, with lights, could be constructed in the area inside the loop-road on the other side of the high school building. Frankly I was surprised when the city planning effort for Chinquapin Park did not look at that option in detail during the park's master planning process. If the stadium were relocated the current field could be used for other important activities.

I believe that the residents of Woods Place have made significant sacrifices to accommodate the broader interests of the City of Alexandria as well as its school system. These residents, and, or their parents, were forced to leave Fort Ward for the park that was created. They were forced to leave the urban renewal area called "Mudtown" for the T.C. Williams High School. They have been targeted as a possible route for traffic to address traffic congestion at the King, Braddock and Quaker Lane intersection. I'm not sure any group of residents in Alexandria would be more accommodating that those who now live in Woods Place.

My experience at Fort Ward Park over the last ten years gave me an opportunity to get to know who these families were and are. I first got involved in questioning the city's activities at Fort Ward Park because of your decision-making along the property my wife and I own. I learned two things very quickly. First the city was changing uses in the park without going through the Special Use Permit process--or the other legal requirements. I also learned that when the city took the land from families who lived on what would become the park they removed grave stones and tried to eradicate and evidence of their community. I realized that my neighbors and I had a common interest in working together to correct past mistakes and help city leaders make better decisions. With you help we all believe we are now moving in that direction.

I believe you have other options for solving this conflict beside once again rolling over these families. I urge you not to let this decision result in winners and losers but rather achieve a solution that respects the people that you serve, keeps your commitments from the past, provides school children with important recreation facilities and avoids a lawsuit. As I pondered what might come from your vote Saturday I wondered whether you would do the right thing or not. All of us are looking at this process to see if words that are written and, or spoken, do matter. I also wondered what lessons are you teaching the students of T.C. Williams and all of Alexandria about how people can work together to get to yes.

I urge you to postpone a final decision Saturday, reopen the planning process for the location of the stadium, and appoint a team of skilled park planners, engineers, architects, landscape architects--on a pro-bono basis, to come up with a solution that works better than what is before you.

Thanks for the work you do.

Sincerely,
Glenn Eugster & Deborah A. Weatherly