Question: Where Should Prince William Grow? (And Where Should We Be Buying Land For New Ballfields?)

Answer: at Woodbridge, as proposed in the Comprehensive Plan Amendment for North Woodbridge Urban Mixed Use (UMU) Master Plan.

The master plan proposes adding up to 3,500 new residences, with density of 30 units/acre.  That’s transit-friendly density, and in the right place.  The Potomac Communities Revitalization Plan was adopted in 2003, and revitalizing Woodbridge is consistent with that long-range plan.

Transit capacity exists there, now.  Buses can use I-95 and Route 1 (especially a connector bus between Fort Belvoir/Quantico), and the VRE station is on the east.  Proposed High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes would increase capacity on the interstate.  There’ s even talk about a ferry, though the funding source for that service remains a fantasy.

It’s smart growth to revitalize the already-developed Route 1 corridor.  If up to 3,500 new residences are developed as envisioned in the Master Plan, then North Woodbridge will need additional parks and recreational facilities. 

If we had some smart county officials in Prince William, they’d start to acquire parkland near North Woodbridge now for those new residents.  Waiting for land prices to skyrocket is – well, not smart..  

Look for just small “vest pocket parks” and trail routes to be proffered by developers, based on the fragmented ownership and probable development pattern.  The Park Authority can’t expect proffers of ballfields in this UMU zone.  It should start looking now for opportunities to acquire new ballfields in the area.   

The Park Authority has already collected $2.8 million for parkland acquisition.  Some of those stockpiled funds could be used to purchase land now, while prices are low.  (The $3 million in bonds for additional land acquisition, approved by voters in 2006, may not be sold before land prices start to rise again.)  

It’s dumb growth to extend sprawl further into the Rural Area, at Avendale and Wiita.  Supporting more dumb growth undercuts efforts to redevelop along Route 1. 

Still, expect more proposals to expand the Development Area boundaries to Vint Hill Road and beyond.   New dumb growth Comprehensive Plan Amendments will appear soon after the economy shows signs of significant recovery in Prince William. 

The usual suspects will support moving the boundaries.  These are your raise-the-property-tax advocates, committing the county to build new roads, schools, and parks to support new development anywhere.  If the Anything, Anywhere, Anytime advocates get their way, funding for projects such as a Route 123 bridge over Route 1 will be redirected to new infrastructure on the other end of the county. 

Officials who want to encourage growth in the Route 1 corridor should be a solid vote against such dumb growth projects.  Busting the Rural Area boundary directs growth – and county resources for transportation, parks, and other public services – away from Potomac Communities.  Officials who support revitalization projects in eastern Prince William should be advocating, right now, for parkland acquisition to be focused on where future growth is planned.

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