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Master Plan Attack Has Hidden Agenda: Pushing Echo Harbour

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I was shocked by the contempt for our Downtown Master Plan found in Paul Hammond's “The River Reserve” exposition (Back Page, July 8). He spends great energy condemning the development goals we established in what he calls our seriously flawed plan, and continues on to expound his scorn for the residents' current usage of the James River Park. Hammond goes so far as to say the plan is hostile to profit motives, an absurd argument considering the whole point of the plan is to catalyze downtown development.

Hammond makes the strange assertion that the centerpiece of the plan is a vast expansion of the James River Park. This is odd, considering the section outlining goals for the park takes up a scant two pages of chapter three of the master plan. The plan makes no reference to specific parcels that should be converted to parkland, but we all know it is the “vast” two acres east of Great Ship Lock Park that are at the center of his land-grab conspiracy theory. Other than this thinly veiled shill for the Echo Harbour proposal, his screed doesn't make clear what other parcels of riverbank the residents should hand over to private development interests. 

Hammond is right in saying no reasonable person could oppose the planned connection of the many James River Park sites. On the other hand, a reasonable person might oppose the construction of an oversized facility on the riverbank that violates multiple city zoning ordinances. When the Echo Harbour cabal agrees to comply with the law, it will be free to move forward with its development. In the meantime, don't blame our master plan for the seriously flawed designs of a developer who won't play by the rules.
Stuart Squier
Jackson Ward

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