Residents of Potomac Yard set up a Go Fund Me page to fundraise and be able to pay for a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request filed with the City of Alexandria related to the recent changes in scope of the Potomac Yard Metrorail Project. The cost of the request was $810. The response was fulfilled by the City on June 1, 2018 and we have made the city’s full response and document archive available here.
As we start to review all of this information, these are the key findings of our first read of the hundreds of pages of documents:
- When WMATA published an image of a one-mezzanine Potomac Yard station design on April 9, 2018 (subsequently picked up by Washington Business Journal and noted by the public), the city worked directly to have that image suppressed.
- During the discussion of removing the image, WMATA plainly expressed their belief that the station design change was “not proprietary from a procurement standpoint.”
- A secondary FOIA request specifically around WMATA advice to the city about confidentiality of the design change found no written evidence that WMATA ever told the city that the design changes were proprietary under the procurement NDA.
- There is clear evidence in the documentation that Councilmember Smedberg was aware of the change when he assured PY neighbors on April 12 and 13 that the image was inaccurate.
- There is clear evidence in the documentation that Vice Mayor Wilson was aware of the change as of July 2017 (in conflict with what he told the Alexandria Times about finding out in Spring 2018).
- For a more detailed analysis, we have put together a short summary documenting the above.
We also found evidence that contradicts some of the claims made by the Deputy City Manager to the press in articles covering the issue, as demonstrated in the comparison below:
We encourage people reading this site and sifting through this public information to analyze and focus on other aspects worth highlighting, which can be sent to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments section below.
The City of Alexandria also withheld 704 pages of documents related to this request so PY residents filed an appeal to obtain access to this information on June 4, 2018. See both letters below.