Saturday, July 14, 2007

City Council Needs Your Guidance on McIntire Park Easement

Will granting a 22+ acre easement to VDOT to build the seriously flawed McIntire Road Extended project move us as a city toward the city's vision of Charlottesville in 2025? I for one think not! I plan to share my thoughts on moving this project forward at the public hearing on July 16, 2007 at the City Council meeting. There are many significant flaws in this project but some of the major ones in my mind are:

1. This project has been demonstrated not to meet traffic needs in the city and will result in significant congestion (as demonstrated by Charlottesville's own consultants).

2. This project is the so-called 'No Build' alternative in the totally separate Route 250 Interchange at McIntire Road project and the city's consultants have clearly stated that this road project does not meet traffic demands. Remember there is no guarantee that the interchange project will solve these congestion problems if it is ever built.

3. A significant portion of the eastern portion of McIntire Park will be unusable as parkland and the noise created by the anticipated traffic will elevate noise levels in that whole section of the park to levels not suitable for quiet park activities. The noise issues with this project and other related park projects has not been shared with the public as part of this decision.

4. A new stormwater management alternative has been suggested to meet the stormwater flows related to putting the road through the park, but this includes integrating these flows into Schenk's Branch itself. The engineering findings for this plan is not yet available, and it is not clear yet what the stream pollution impacts of this new plan will be on Schenk's Branch that ultimately flows to the Chesapeake Bay.

I hope Charlottesville's residents will check out what is being proposed by reading the background material on this council item, and bringing their thoughts and concerns to council on July 16.

This is clearly a time for council members to demonstrate leadership. If I were on council, I would not even consider granting this easement to VDOT prior to having all of the relevant decision information available for consideration by the public and the council in forms that can be readily understood. Preliminary engineering for the project has not been completed, no clear statement of what benefits are to be gained from moving this project forward is available, and no indication of how this project will help us reach council's 2025 vision has even been addressed. I request that council show leadership on this issue and not simply implement this project because it has been 'on the books' since the 1960's.' I ask council to make decisions based on what is best for the city's future and not to move along projects without demonstrating their value in meeting future sustainable development, environmental protection, and regional transportation goals. I feel that this project proposal is inconsistent with all of these goals and should not be supported.

The only way to address McIntire Road Extended and the Route 250 Interchange at McIntire Road projects is to combine them into one project and consider that project on its ability to meet our regional transportation needs. Frankly, I do not believe that either of these projects work as separate projects, and do not believe that the combined project will fare any better. When will council as a whole start asking these questions and demand reasonable answers. Council members Norris and Lynch have both expressed some concerns along these lines, but the majority of council appears to be content to allow the forces behind these projects to get their support even without clear indications of how these projects can benefit the city.

Council need to hear your thoughts on July 16. I hope you will be there to speak, else send council your thought by email or by telephone.

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