I was alarmed to read a Potomac Local article posted by Councilman Ian Lovejoy on Facebook last week regarding the 40 acres of land along Gateway Boulevard, between Godwin Drive and PW Parkway near the DMV. There are just so many reasons not to do this, where do I begin?
- City residents are STILL leaving for PW County because of the school system. My neighbor still home schools here four children. She would very much like to send the older three to school. Despite a failed attempt this summer to get her older two into Gainesville Middle School (residency proof stopped them), they remain unimpressed with MCPS. While we have made some great strides with our superintendent (and she had a FUBAR to clean up), we still have a long way to go before parents will consider us on the same level as county school. Honestly, I am not sure that this will ever happen, given our demographic makeup. Adding a residential aspect to this proposed property is not going to give the city the ROI it desires.
- I gather one purpose of the PW Parkway was to bypass RT 234 with all of its traffic lights, shopping centers, gas stations, etc. What is the point in mucking up the parkway with a proposed shopping center?
- Traffic anyone? Do we need 1,000+ residents (if we build 500 town homes) on Rt 28 or PW Parkway?
- More shopping in Manassas City? Are you kidding me? I realize that there is not “supposed to be” a grocery story anchored here, but my last count was 12 grocery/supercenter locations within the city (one just across the county line on the other side of PW Parkway). None of us have that much money to spend. And, clearly we just had to have a Sheetz at the corner of Ashton and Sudley Manor because there were not enough gas stations on Sudley Road already. Who approves this stuff? Regardless of whether this is in Prince William County, it’s address is still Manassas and most people just presume it’s ours.
- What about the bald eagle’s nest that is housed in that area? Are you ready to take on World Wildlife Federation and Greenpeace and spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees when they find out you are destroying their habitat? And, you know they will find out. Look how fast the ACLU moved in over proposed housing/family unit changes a few years back and Planned Parenthood about the city ordinances and the abortion clinic within the city limits. Although the federal government deems bald eagles no longer endangered, they are still protected: the bird will still be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Both laws prohibit killing, selling or otherwise harming eagles, their nests, or eggs.
- Waterfront? Is this a joke? If it’s not, the city will be. Just because I have a puddle in front of my driveway does not mean my house is considered waterfront. Would you want your house there and would you call it “waterfront”?
- What other options is this developer proposing? Because if this is it, this should be a “no go” deal.
- What percentage of business/mixed use/industrial real estate is presently filled in the city of Manassas? We cannot even fill space we have, but economic development is proposing building more space? “If you build it, the will come” only works in Kevin Costner movies. Do we really need another nail salon, pet store, ice cream/fro yo/smoothie place, gym, yoga studio, bar/brewery, video game outlet, donut shop, coffee bar, home decorating place? The only thing that we do not have is an upscale hotel. But to have that, you have to have the clientele to pay those nightly fees. Perhaps the regional airport brings in such clientele, and if this is the case, then they need someplace upscale for their lodgings.
- The cemetery on Godwin. What is the proposed solution for this? Do people want to shop or live by a cemetery? Will it be moved? More legal fees to find out if we can do this or what we can do with it? How does this help our economic development to spend money in legal fees if this turns nasty. And, you know that it likely will. Someone’s loved one is buried there and they are going to have something to say about it.
- If the proposed 500 townhomes are built, what is the impact not only on roads but the VRE? Stories
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abound from riders at the Broad Run stop (the last on the Manassas line) about passengers running to their cars, jumping over hedges and pushing other passengers off the train. This last story was confirmed by a county resident I know who now uses the Historic Manassas VRE stop for her commute. She was pushed onto the platform by a fellow passenger from the train, falling on her knees. She is lucky that she did not break her knees. And why do the passengers do this? Because the light at Piper Lane and Route 28 (at the SuperTarget) is on a two-lane road, and the majority of passengers must turn left onto Route 28 to head home.
And finally, if we MUST develop this because all of the strategic thinkers involved believe this is a real solution for the city, the money is just too tempting, or we are legally bound, here are three ideas you should consider:
- Northern Virginia desperately needs a multi-use sports complex large enough to house indoor tournaments, and the city of Manassas could just be the one to host it. The Freedom Center can barely host a swim meet, much less any other sport. Spooky Nook in Pennsylvania is just one idea that can continue to add revenue to our bottom line without adding to our already overcrowded school system and weekday traffic (tournaments are on the weekends). There are thousands of families in the Northern Virginia and DC metro area who must travel out of the region for these tournaments (soccer, basketball, etc.) A revenue share with the developer is a solution that can benefit our bottom line.
- A 55+ retirement community only. Retirees won’t worry about the state of the school system because their kids are out of their house. They are likely retired and not commuting, therefore, would not add to the Monday-Friday rush hour traffic dilemma. They have an income to spend on the businesses we already have.
- A place where teenagers can hang out with their friends. Perhaps something like this in Chicago. Harris Pavilion is ok up to a certain age. But, there are plenty of young adults in the area and older teens who attend NOVA. They spend their money out of the city just like shoppers bypass Manassas Mall and go to Fair Oaks. (It is good to see that mall management is getting that place upgraded and has new, interesting tenants).
My husband and I moved to Manassas in 2000 from Annapolis. Both of our children are at OHS and have experienced the school system from elementary school through high school. Both of us own local businesses. Although his business is currently in the county, his lease is up in 14 months, and he would like to be housed in the city if it’s possible. My consulting business is in the city of Manassas. We have a vested interest in the future of this city. Like many of our friends, we had the opportunity to move before the housing market bottomed out. But, we chose to stay in Manassas because we like it here. I grew up in a small town, and I want to see Manassas succeed so that all of our residents can be proud of where we live.
I urge the city council to reconsider the current developer’s proposal. Manassas needs all of them be strategic in their approach to this decision. Look at our demographics. Look at what we already have before we will build anything new. And, if the land must be filled in, make it something spectacular that is truly unique to our city/area. Either vote it down or ask them to be more creative with their final solution. But, do not bring in any “mixed use retail buildings and 500 town homes.”
Citizens should use this email to contact all members of the city council firstname.lastname@example.org and attend the open council meeting on Monday, October 18 at 4:30 pm.
This is your city. Let your voice be heard.
This was adapted from my email to the city council on October 11, 2015.