In a clash between the privatization and public access of waterfront property, Old Dominion Boat Club in Alexandria, Virginia, is battling the city’s attempt to acquire half an acre of its historic waterfront and turn it into a park. The proposed park is part of the city’s Old Town Waterfront Redevelopment plan, geared toward making the Potomac River more accessible to the public.
But the Old Dominion Boat Club, which was chartered in 1880 and has deep roots in Alexandria, has long fought for its property, which currently includes a fenced-in parking lot that allows for boat storage off-season and a boat launch for the club’s members.
Club members are willing to negotiate with the city, but argue that the lot was awarded to the club in a federal lawsuit settled over 30 years ago.
At press time, city mayor William Euille was calling for a public hearing to discuss possibly seizing the property via eminent domain. Drastic? Perhaps, but this also sheds light on the larger issue at hand. On one hand, shoreline property is regarded as an important public asset. On the other, it can also be a coveted private possession. The outcome will undoubtedly set a number of precedents for how situations like this are resolved in the future.
Photo by Dan Sehal (bottom); courtesy of Digital Globe (top)