Landscaping Not Included

scalesThe recent widening of Minnievillie Road between Smoketown and Old Bridge Roads, and expansion of the commuter lot near the intersection with Old Bridge Road has helped commuter travel times but it’s also changed the appearance of the area.

Many trees were lost to new road lanes, parking spaces and a now vacated construction staging area near Colby Drive, which left the area looking dreary and gray. Over the past couple weeks I’ve heard several people comment that they are really glad the County is finally planting some trees along Minnieville Road.

However, what most people don’t know is that the County budget did not allocate any funding for the new landscaping, which will soften the appearance of this otherwise bleak street scene. So who is paying for the green?

For Minnieville Road, improvements to the road meant exactly that, landscaping was not included.  We obviously need to address traffic congestion problems, but solving one problem while creating another doesn’t necessarily result in a net gain to the community.

Luckily for Occoquan District residents, our Supervisor and a local small business owner understand the value of balancing gray infrastructure with green, and stepped up to the plate to provide landscaping for Minnieville Road.

The new landscaping along Minnieville Road is being paid for by Occoquan District Supervisor Mike May using funds from his discretionary account and funds previously reserved for this purpose by Corey Stewart during his term as Occoquan District Supervisor.

Soon new trees and shrubs will also improve the appearance of the expanded commuter lot near the intersection of Minnieville and Old Bridge Roads. These plants are being donated by Occoquan District small business owner Donny Gray, Lake Ridge Nursery.

Both these areas will need to be maintained over time and this too will fall to the Occoquan District Supervisor.

Unfortunately the now vacated construction staging area near Colby Drive is currently out of luck. The County has no plans to restore this area, which used to be woods but is now covered with scraggily weeds.

The dry pond constructed near Colby Drive to receive stormwater from Minnieville Road is also out of luck – despite the fact that County ordinances require a landscaped buffer around dry ponds. The Minnieville Road plan did not show a buffer around the dry pond so technically the County is off the hook.

In addition to shortchanging the community, a “do as I say not as I do” approach detracts from the County’s credibility and capacity to secure high standards from developers.

Road improvements and new road construction involve more than asphalt.  A healthy balance between gray and green infrastructure creates healthy, vibrant communities today and over time – places where people are proud to live, work and play.

We are fortunate that Supervisor May stepped forward to ensure landscaping for Minnieville Road. However, it shouldn’t have been necessary. These goals should be part and parcel of our County’s policies and ordinances.

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1 comment so far

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