March 1, 2000 Minutes - Trails and Sidewalks Committee
ATTENDING: Deborah Leser (Sully), Bill Niedringhaus (Dranesville), Bruce Wright (Hunter Mill), Tony Matos (Lee), Kevin Brugman (Mount Vernon), Donald Emerson (Providence), Bunyan Bryant (Mason), Michael Shannon (Springfield), Joan Edwards (Clifton Horse Society), Walter Brodtman (WABA), Kate Rudacille (NVRPA), Ann Bennett (At-Large), and Jenny Pate (FCPA)
STAFF ATTENDING: Sheng-Jieh Leu, DPZ and Randall Flowers, DPW & ES
GUESTS: Nick Gramenopoulos, Occoquan Watershed Coalition - Trails Subcommittee
Chairman Michael Shannon called the meeting to order at 7:40. Introductions were performed for the benefit of guests and staff members.
MINUTES: Mr. Emerson moved and Ms. Pate seconded that the minutes be approved as distributed. The minutes were approved unanimously.
BICYCLE ROUTE MAP: Mr. Brodtman commented that the map that the BOS requested of staff in the fall was a map of bicycle routes, not trails. Mr. Leu stated that Charlie Strunk of Fairfax DOT was handling that request.
NATURAL SURFACE TRAILS: Mr. Niedringhaus stated that Fairfax Trails and Streams' position on natural surface trails was that they were appropriate in certain circumstances as interim trails until the final construction could take place and where topography mandates.
CHAIRMAN'S REPORT: Mr. Shannon provided copies of Alexandria and Arlington trail maps for the committee to review and distributed copies of the letter that he sent to Chairman Hanley concerning snow removal.
PROPOSED EVENTS FOR NATIONAL TRAILS DAY - Ms. Pate (FCPA): Fairfax Trails and Streams (FTAS) would like to celebrate the opening of the Cross County Trail on National Trails Day. FCPA will coordinate this effort at the request of the BOS. The following issues were discussed:
- Temporary signposts manufactured by FCPA will be set up in each magisterial district.
- Some districts may need to combine events with other contiguous districts.
- Care must be taken to coordinate with Springfield Days.
- Lee and Braddock Districts may combine at Lake Accotink.
- Clifton Horse Society usually does a trail ride.
- WABA has had events in the past associated with Trails Day.
- Locations for events should be proposed which will not make land acquisition more difficult.
- District representatives are asked to coordinate signpost sites with Mr. Niedringhaus of FTAS.
- District representatives are asked to invite the district supervisor to attend the ceremony.
- Mr. Brodtman suggested a motto for the cross county trail of "Connecting Places, Connecting People".
- Mr. Wright asked the deadline for signpost sits determination and was told that March 15 would be helpful.
EXISTING TRAILS MAP: Mr. Leu presented a sample map to the committee. The sample was a 1:4000 scale map similar in size and print to the current Trails Plan map. The committee asked why the sample did not correspond with the committee's request at the February meeting to have four maps. Mr. Leu stated that the mapmaker believed that one map would be easier to use. The committee's ensuing discussion included the following items.
The maps needed to be of a larger scale.
- The maps needed to be of a smaller area - few users would cover the entire county in one trip.
- An overlapping quadrant map would be useful, perhaps with a smaller scale map showing the quadrant's position in the county.
- The committee members would like to distinguish trails by usage if possible.
- Mr. Brugman suggested that the map simply identify a trail or trail segment as natural surface or hard surface. This would allow users to determine the appropriateness of the trail for their purposes.
- Has all the information from the aerial maps been checked with a field visit? Mr. Leu said that many trails had been field checked but not all.
- The issue of trails on private property - such as those owned by HOA's without public access easements - was discussed. The committee would like for them to be removed from the map if possible, however the difficulty of distinguishing which are private whether on site or from the aerial photos was discussed.
- The overall size of the map was fine.
- The committee assumes that the costs will be passed along to purchasers.
- Mr. Flowers showed the committee the map book used by county staff and discussed whether it was a suitable model for the trail map.
The committee asked Mr. Leu to return in April with four maps - one for each quadrant of the county using the suggestions provided at this meeting and the February meeting. He agreed to do so.
DISCUSSION ON THE JANUARY 2000 MEETING MOTION THAT THE COMMITTEE RECOMMEND TO THE BOS THAT A MEMBER BE APPOINTED FROM THE POTOMAC APPALACHIAN TRAIL CLUB: In February Ms. Leser asked that the committee discuss the motion, made but not seconded, in order to explain the reasons for the motion's lack of support. Reasons that the committee members discussed included:
- the difficulty of choosing one pedestrian hikers group rather than another and the impact that this might have on other specific user groups such as bicycle or equestrian groups;
- the belief that district representatives represent all of the various trail users in their districts;
- the historical makeup of the committee.
Mr. Niedringhaus explained that the PATC maintained two trails in Fairfax County - the Bull Run Occoquan Trail and the Upper Potomac Trail. The PATC also has a history of volunteerism in maintaining equestrian and hiking trails.
PRESENTATION ON CURRENT REQUESTS FOR TRAIL OR SIDEWALK FUNDING BY DISTRICT: Mr. Flowers has compiled a list of projects that DPW and ES has been asked to consider for funding. He plans to attend the committee meetings each month between March and July to assist the committee in the preparation of the budget request for FY2001. He distributed lists to each members with projects listed as well as available funds and contingency funds. For the benefit of newer members, Mr. Flowers discussed briefly the method by which trails have been build by the county and by developers in the county.
Mr. Flowers stated that Steve Aitcheson of DPW's maintenance division would like to attend the April meeting to discuss the backlog of trails needing maintenance in the county. Currently the county allocates fifty thousand dollars for maintenance annually. Mr. Aitcheson would like for those districts with funds available to consider using the contingency funds for maintenance.
Mr. Flowers and Mr. Shannon recommended that district representatives coordinate with the supervisors' offices to develop a list of projects for which funding is desired for FY 2001. Mr. Flowers would like a prioritized countywide list from the committee in May.
Mr. Flowers explained to the committee that the county executive has recommended in his proposed budget that one million dollars be spent on Trails and Walkways.
Mr. Brugman noted that one of the reasons that some districts have unspent funds is because DPW and ES is far behind in the design and construction of currently funded projects. Mr. Flowers explained the shortage of staff in the department - largely due to the inability to hire into existing positions. The committee discussed recommending that the BOS facilitate staff hiring to reduce the backlog of projects.
Ann Bennett asked the committee to consider two more policy issues in the preparation of a new county trail plan:
- Small plans do not have to do frontage improvements leaving numerous small gaps in the system of walkways. She asked that the actual policy be determined by the committee and some provision be made for these small gaps.
- Throughout the county many linking surfaces - such as access roads - serve as trails or sidewalks. How can these be most safely linked with the system of walkways? Signage, paint stripping, and directional arrows are several ways listed by Mr. Flowers. Mr. Leu stated that the existing policy is to accept an access road and sidewalk in lieu of eight foot asphalt trail if the access road already exists.
* Ms. Leser asked if the committee members could get the tax map books provided to county staff that Mr. Flowers showed tonight. Mr. Flowers said that he would try to get them for the committee members.
* Ms. Leser explained that several cases have come to her attention in which developers have proffered to escrow trails at the initial zoning hearings and vote by the BOS. The developers understand that escrowing will probably not be allowed and the trails not waived at the site plan stage and are attempting to bypass this difficulty by proffering to escrow before the trail representatives are aware of the applications. Mr. Leu stated that several of these cases occurred before the Zoning Coordinators were warned to check for this in the proffer packages. Zoning coordinators have since been informed of this problem and may be less likely to let this provision be included in proffers.
MOTION: by Ms. Leser and seconded by Ms. Bennett that the committee write a letter to the Chairman of the BOS requesting two items.
- An opinion from the county attorney on whether an applicant can legally proffer less than their legal obligation to provide specific public improvements such as trails.
- An assessment of the current system staff uses to determine escrow amounts for waived structures such as trails or bridges and the development of a method that will ensure that the county has sufficient funds to construct the waived structure at the appropriate time. The motion passed unanimously.
* Mr. Emerson reminded the committee that the budget hearings will take place soon and that the committee members discuss at their next meeting their position on funding for trails.
* The committee members agreed by consensus to send letters thanking Mike Martin, Chris Gribbs, and Jim Hart for their work on the committee.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:33 p.m.
Minutes submitted by Deborah Rimmer Leser, Secretary.