Candidates for mayor in Alexandria are on opposite sides of a debate about eminent domain.
For years, city leaders in Alexandria have been trying to get their hands on a parking lot at the foot of King Street owned by the Old Dominion Boat Club. One of the key recommendations of the waterfront plan adopted earlier this year is that the city should create a new public park where the private parking lot currently exists.
Former Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald has led the charge against the waterfront plan. Now that he's running an independent campaign for mayor, he's trying to make the issue the centerpiece of his campaign. During a recent candidates forum, Macdonald said it was a mistake for city officials to suggest they were considering use of eminent domain to take land along the waterfront.
"Well, I don't support efforts to take land anywhere in Alexandria by eminent domain," says Macdonald. "I think it's a very poor way of dealing with not just conflict, but dealing with land use issues and we've seen that along the waterfront."
Incumbent Mayor Bill Euille disputes any claims that eminent domain has been used at all.
"He is totally wrong with regards to any discussion that has taken place with regard to the waterfront and the Old Dominion Boat Club," says Euille. "There has been no use of eminent domain of any properties along the waterfront."
Although the city attorney held a press conference on land owned by the boat club to announce that it was considering the use of eminent domain, the city never actually invoked the power. The dispute has become a campaign issue in part because of a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Virginia that would limit how governments can use eminent domain.