Alexandria's waterfront plan promised to be a hot issue in the mayoral race, but now its impact on the Potomac is taking center stage.
Mayoral candidates in Alexandria are squaring off about the environmental sustainability of the controversial waterfront plan.
Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille is one of the strongest supporters of a plan that would increase allowable density at three sites along the waterfront. He dismisses criticism that the plan is a threat to the health of the Potomac River.
"We are going to have more open space and less land area covered by the old industrial buildings and parks that are currently there today that have been vacant and not utilized," says Euille.
The plan under consideration would increase the allowable density by 97,000 square feet, although visitors to the waterfront would see the scale of the buildings more than double compared to what's there now. That's because the existing zoning allows for substantially more density than the old industrial buildings slated for redevelopment.
This week, former Vice Mayor and independent candidate Andrew MacDonald called the proposal a threat to the health of the river, especially in the wake of a recent report labeling the Potomac as "the most endangered river in America" because of pollution and development.
"The fact is that whatever we do throughout Alexandria has an impact on the river, not just on the waterfront," says MacDonald. "But I think that we could have a waterfront plan that would have less of an impact on the Potomac."
Currently zoning changes to the waterfront are on hold as the result of a legal challenge.