Dear Fellow Manassas Park Residents,
It’s newsletter time again, and I hope this brief summary of issues will be informative.
If you would like to receive updates between newsletters,
please email me at:
or call: 703-401-0498
My Best Regards, Jeanette
Manassas Park Councilmember
No More Debt
A proposal was brought before Council that would have committed the City to potentially spend $100,000 for a consultant to create “Requests for Proposals” for the design and construction of a new City Hall, Public Works building, additional facility at Costello Park and a new business park; with the consultant then following through on the results of those proposals.
I opposed this because I believed it would start a process that would eventually lead to the City adding more debt to the City’s already heavy load. Despite the consultant’s intent to make every effort to obtain “cost neutral” proposals, I did not believe that was possible.
In addition, I felt that this could result in revenue bonds, which do not need the approval of voters. The document stated, “..the City’s Economic Development Authority can work with the Private Entity to acquire land and help obtain financing…” Without the approval of voters, revenue bonding could have been done through the Economic Development Authority with NOT even a public hearing to receive input from residents.
More public buildings and more potential debt was not my understanding of our economic development goal. Our goal should be to promote the City’s existing assets in a revenue neutral way. Therefore, I voted NO. Fortunately, this was defeated by a vote of 4 to 2, with one councilmember absent.
I will be promoting changes to the zoning code. The general development concept for the City Center area is an urban-oriented concept which requires less parking than standalone development. The stated goal is to “minimize parking” and to rely on the concept of “shared parking”. This presents challenges to Manassas Park. We don’t have effective transit or sufficient parking to support high density development. Residential parking is “minimized” through the unit requirement of 1.5 parking spots per unit. I believe that should be closer to 2 spots per unit. Residential management at City Center currently allows residents to claim 2 cars per unit.
The commercial parking is calculated to give the number of parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail, office or restaurant (each is slightly different). This will depend on the total square feet used in the calculation. For example, are only stairs, elevators and escalators deducted from the square foot total; or shall hallways, bathrooms and foyers also be deducted? This can make a difference in the required number of parking spaces calculated per 1,000 sq.ft.
I believe “shared parking” is also problematic. This is the concept of commercial and residential development sharing parking spots throughout the day. However, the stores that eventually open in City Center will not close at 6 PM, so there will be parking overlap between commercial and residential parking needs. We want stores to stay open longer in order to be successful. In addition, more folks work at home and their cars will remain in the residential spaces. Folks may or may not walk to the VRE, so we don’t know how many cars will stay in the residential lot and how many will park in the VRE lot.
My concern is that businesses will look at what has been built, and they will make a decision whether or not there is enough parking for their businesses to be successful, and some may decide to not come to the City. So, I look forward to revisions to the zoning code that are based upon what we have, and what we can count on in the foreseeable future.
Continuing efforts are being made to promote improvements to heavily traveled Route 28. Between 54,000 to 63,000 vehicles travel this corridor each weekday, and portions of the corridor have received the worst possible rating by VDOT, which is an “F”. Additional residential construction along Route 28 in Prince William County will add an additional 5,000 cars daily.
It is vital that this roadway be improved because it is a “regionally significant” corridor.
There is a growing economic value to Route 28. Improvements will also help alleviate congestion spikes on surrounding roadways during a Homeland Security Emergency. Emergency mobility was considered by the General Assembly and was incorporated into transportation legislation in 2012 as a factor to be considered when evaluating projects. Route 28 beginning at I66 has a south westerly orientation that mirrors the north westerly orientation that Route 7 has in its ability to move people away from the metropolitan area.
Fortunately, VDOT has indicated a willingness to conduct a study to determine short, medium and long range congestion solutions for Route 28. Vital to this study is a safety component that would accompany any scenario involving reversible lanes in this type of a heavily traveled corridor.
Another proposed project that will help our area is a parking garage project which has been proposed by the Virginia Rail Express to expand parking in Manassas Park. VRE has made a request for funding from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. At this early date it is not known how this request will be received or implemented.
I will continue to request a full and complete water model/report that will inform council’s decision-making process regarding water rates.
I also encourage everyone, as your schedule permits, to please come speak before Council about the issues that matter most to you. We need to hear your opinions.