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Anti-Potomac Yard arena groups planning protest outside town hall event on Saturday

Former Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald at the rally against the proposed Potomac Yard arena (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Alexandria’s City Council is hosting a town hall tomorrow (Saturday) to discuss the new Potomac Yard arena, but some locals are planning to rally outside the event and protest.

The town hall is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe Street).

“The town hall will include a short presentation on the project and Members of Council will respond to questions, concerns, and feedback submitted by the community,” the city website said.

The town hall is part of an ongoing public engagement process around the proposed arena.

A mostly Alexandria-based group called the Coalition to Stop the Arena will be protesting with a D.C.-based group called Don’t Mute DC outside of the town hall. At previous rallies, Coalition members said they had deep concerns about the lack of clear answers on transportation issues related to the arena.

“The transportation concerns are insurmountable,” said Shannon Curtis, a nearby resident and part of the Coalition. “Forcing people into public transit is laudable, but the reality is most people will drive here… It will create a traffic boondoggle.”

Monumental Sports owner Ted Leonsis said in an open letter that optimization of transportation to the site is being studied.

“Significant efforts are being made to study and optimize transportation options,” Leonsis said. “The Entertainment District will be in a vibrant and central location for our fans, accessible by Metro, car, with 2,500 underground parking spaces, dedicated rideshare drop off, water taxi, walking, running, and bike trail.”

Notably: Metro General Manager Randy Clarke said the Potomac Yard Metro station is not built to handle arena traffic and Mayor Justin Wilson acknowledged that the current station cannot accommodate that use. The water taxi has been repeatedly brought up as a possibility by advocates of the arena, despite the fact that Four Mile Run is only four feet deep and the arena is separated from the Potomac River by a Metro line, train tracks, the George Washington Parkway, and the Mount Vernon Trail.

Others said they were concerned about issues related to the city’s investment in the project — particularly if the arena isn’t profitable — and crime.

At a public forum last night about housing and other issues, City Manager Jim Parajon said the city is working on a “very strong public safety plan.”

“The way we operate is that we develop through an agreement a public safety and service plan intended to draw all of the necessary resources from around the region as part of secondary employment, particularly for the public safety apparatus,” Parajon said. “There is no impact to the ability for us to serve our community as fully as we plan to do without this project.”

Despite this, sources in the Alexandria Police Department and Sheriff’s Office told ALXnow they don’t think the city’s understaffed law enforcement have the resources to adequately police the proposed arena.

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