To the Editor:

Leaders of the Office of Historic Alexandria are hosting a "Community Open-House" at Fort Ward Park & Museum this Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to explain the draft interpretive plan for Fort Ward. The plan has been prepared by OHA staff, their consultant and hand-picked experts.

One area that may spark community interest is the city's plans for the old park maintenance yard and nursery area. At the moment the plan calls for a ghost structure, similar to what you may have seen in Philadelphia at a Ben Franklin historic site. As the interpretive plan moves ahead the Alexandria Recreation & Parks Department is moving ahead with plans to regrade the yard and take down the fences around that part of the park so that it may be public open space.

This decision seems premature given that the interpretive plan for the area has not been approved; equipment and debris from the maintenance and nursery operation have not been cleared; and adjacent homeowners have not been involved in the city's plans. The last time city leaders repurposed this part of the park, without permits or public notice, it set-off a ten-year clash with community leaders and historic preservation interests. It is not apparent whether or not different city departments are working together on this plan or why adjacent property owners haven't been contacted by the city, their consultants or the hand-picked committee working on the draft plan.

The Fort Ward Park & Museum Management Plan does envision some sort of use for this portion of the historic park. However before the city opens the area for public use the yard needs to be cleared of equipment and debris; regrading plans need to be coordinated with the Department of Transportation & Environmental Services to ensure their won't be more problems with water drainage; and adjacent homeowners need to be given meaningful input before any plan for interpretation or use of the area.  Hopefully Sunday's open-house will clarify where city leaders are going with plans for this sacred area.

J. Glenn Eugster