Agenda Alexandria: What About the Open Space?
Alexandria, VA – Since 2002, Alexandria has pursued a goal of 7.3 acres of open space per thousand residents. This ratio of public land for the people’s use was reaffirmed in the 2019 Open Space Master Plan. The Alexandria Environmental Action Plan recommends increasing the goal to 7.5 acres/1000.
Today Alexandria meets this goal. But, on the City’s current population growth trend, Alexandria is in danger of falling short of community needs and environmental benefits as early as 2025. With only 15 square miles of land, the shortage of publicly accessible open and green space – parks, playgrounds, and natural areas – is likely to be acute by 2040.
Alexandria is grappling with how to protect its natural lands and add publicly accessible parks and playgrounds that serve all its residents equitably and manage them sustainably by 2040. These places need the right amenities, environmental stewardship, and maintenance to protect them and deliver a high standard of service to all of our residents.
Much of the existing and new space being added sits on private property. There is increasing reliance on private landowners/developers to provide public access on their property as part of the development process and small area plans.
The City created an 11-member stakeholder group, the Open Space Steering Committee, to provide input and guidance in the process. The committee is on a path to deliver its recommendations to the City Council by the end of this year. Kurt Moser, Co-Chair of the committee and president of the Four Mile Run Conservancy, will be a panelist on this program.
Residents view the substantial ongoing development and building around the City and ask: “But what about the open space?” Agenda Alexandria has assembled a panel of experienced and knowledgeable Alexandrians to address this question.
Jack Browand, Deputy Director of Park Services, City of Alexandria Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities. Jack Browand has been with the City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities for 35 years. While in college, Jack was hired as a seasonal laborer in Park Operations and has worked in all facets of the department. Jack served the last six years as the Division Chief of Park Planning and Capital Development, leading a team responsible for the management and acquisition of open space, and was promoted to the position of Deputy Director of Park Services in February 2022.
Jack earned a Bachelor of Science in recreation management and Masters of Public Administration and is a Certified Public Manager and Certified Park & Recreation Professional. Jack is a native Alexandrian who graduated from TC Williams HS (1985) and raised two daughters in Alexandria who graduated from TC Williams HS (2020 & 2021).
Kurt Moser, Co-Chair of Alexandria Open Space Steering Group and President of the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation. Kurt Moser is a co-founder and president of the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation, an organization that promotes nature, culture, and community at lower Four Mile Run in Alexandria/Arlington, and an independent researcher and ecologist. He serves on the board of directors for the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust and on the board for NoVA Outside, for which he co-chairs the annual Student Environmental Action Showcase. Kurt is an active Tree Steward and a former environmental science member of Alexandria’s Environmental Policy Commission.
Kurt holds a master’s degree in environmental science and policy from George Mason University. His thesis and publications focused on ecosystem function in natural and mitigation wetlands. A southern California native, Kurt has lived in Alexandria for more than 30 years.
Mary Catherine Gibbs, land use attorney. Mary Catherine Gibbs is a partner in the firm of Wire Gill, where her areas of practice range from zoning, condemnation, and eminent domain to juvenile law, where she previously acted as a guardian ad litem in abuse and neglect cases.
She received her B.A. from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in 1993 cum laude and her J.D. degree from T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond in 1997.
Ms. Gibbs is a Virginia Women Attorneys Association member and past president of the Northern Virginia Chapter. She is a member of the Alexandria Bar Association, the Virginia State Bar, and the Illinois State Bar. Ms. Gibbs is also the former chair of the Alexandria Commission for Women and a member of the board of directors of Sheltered Homes of Alexandria. She currently lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her family and commutes to Alexandria regularly.
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