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Back in 1973, when Richard Nixon was in the White House and Chuck Beatley was mayor of Alexandria, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the Old Dominion Boat Club to force more public access to the waterfront. Now, after decades of judicial limbo, an appeals court has dismissed the case.
"Well, of course, it's not what we wanted, obviously, it wasn't the most desirable outcome," says Planning Director Faroll Hamer. "But our goals for access to the waterfront and additional public space have not changed."
City planners were hoping the federal lawsuit might help them create a new public space at the foot of King Street in Old Town, the centerpiece of a small-area plan that will be released later this month. But, as boat club member Bert Ely says, last week's court ruling has thrown that into doubt.
"The effect of the decision may be like pulling a thread on a sweater. Pull enough and then the whole sweater comes apart," Ely says.
The Justice Department has until April 11 to file an appeal to the Supreme Court.