The Alexandria Planning Commission unanimously approved the purchase of a parcel of land on Polk Avenue to preserve open space on the city’s West End.
The Beauregard Rezoning Advisory Group recommended the Polk Avenue site out of several options in October. The city plans to acquire the 2.4-acre lot, located at the intersection of Polk and North Pelham Street, for $1.9 million.
The Department of Defense has given the city $1.5 million in compensation to establish an open space in the Beauregard corridor as part of the BRAC negotiations. The additional $400,000 to pay for the property would be taken from the city’s Capital Improvement Program Open Space Fund.
The property is heavily wooded and steeply sloped and includes the foundation of a house that was destroyed by a fire in April.
Nine people spoke at a public hearing before the commission’s vote, all in support of the property’s acquisition. Resident Jack Sullivan praised the commission for deferring a decision on a 2007 proposal to build housing units on the property.
“The vote tonight marks the successful culmination of your past wisdom, for which we owe you a lot of thanks,” Sullivan said. “A prime piece of forest will now be preserved for all the people of Alexandria.”
West End resident Kathy Burns called the land in question the last heavily forested parcel in the city. “It would be a win-win for West End community, for the city of Alexandria, for the property owners and the surrounding neighbors and schoolchildren,” Burns said.
Resident Shirley Downs added, “It is a magical site, and when you go there, you’ll find that out.”
Commission member Eric Wagner made the motion to approve the purchase. “I think it is a special parcel,” he said. “I have been on it a few times. … It really is a very pretty site.”
According to city documents, the foundation of the house will be removed from the property. The city will also construct trail access, park furnishings such as benches and a trash can, as well as maintain the property as needed.
The estimated cost of these improvements is between $78,000 and $170,000 and would require future Capital Improvement Program funding from the city.
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