March 12, 2003 Minutes - Trails and Sidewalks Committee

Non-motorized Transportation Committee Meeting

March 12, 2003

Members Attending: Ann Bennett (At-Large), Bruce Wright (Hunter Mill District), Robert Michie (Lee District), Christopher O'Brien (Mason District), Donald Emerson (Providence District), Mike Shannon (Springfield District), Walter Brodtman (WABA), Dan Iglhaut (NVRPA), Jenny Pate (FCPA), Mary Flowers, (Clifton Horse Society), Wade Smith (Dranesville District), Larry Butler, (Sully District) and Rebecca Cate (County Federation of Citizens Association).

Staff Attending: Sheng-Jieh Leu (DPZ)

Guests Attending: Mary Ashton, Assistant to the County Executive

Chairman Ann Bennett called the meeting to order at 7:34 p.m.

The minutes were reviewed. No changes required whereupon the minutes were accepted unanimously.

Introduction of New Member. Ann mentioned that Christopher O'Brien has replaced Bunyan Bryant on the committee.

Presentation on the Laurel Hill Project. Mary Ashton was asked to head the coordination effort of the master planning process for Laurel Hill which was acquired by the county in July 2002. She has been tasked to come up with a plan to that takes off from the Comprehensive Plan. She feels the county needs a world class vision for a place that will be special to all county residents.

Trails are a key part of the property to make it a "happening place". The trail that connects all the features will be called the Greenway. She provided the following handouts: (1) Booklet entitled, "From Lorton Prison to Laurel Hill" which gives information on the transfer of the D.C. Correctional Facility at Lorton property to Fairfax County Government and the Historic Context of the Lorton Prison Site; (2) Laurel Hill Master Plan Newsletter, which explains the Plan's goals, the history of Laurel Hill, and a map of the property; and (3) copies of the slides of her presentation to the Committee.

Jenny Pate showed the plan for the Cross County Trail and how it ties in to the old railroad bed on the Laurel Hill property. She mentioned that the Greenway will be a dual trail (like the W& OD), 60 feet wide at one area and up to 100 feet wide in another. Jenny mentioned that there is no funding for the County trail right now. Mike Shannon reported that he had met with Tom Davis who was talking about a number of things for that area; such as, widening I-95 from 6-8 lanes from Occoquan to Springfield. He said he was willing to look into the possibility of opening a tunnel going under I-95.

Ann asked if there were going to be sidewalks or trails and should the staff expect waivers to come through--consensus was probably not. Ms Ashton mentioned that public meetings will be scheduled around the April 24 timeframe. They expect special interest groups on trails to provide input. She also said that lots of meetings are needed to get the word out about the project and that no decisions have been made yet about the use of the site.

Budget. Don Emerson provided a draft letter to be signed by Ann Bennett addressed to Katherine Henley, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS), requesting the BOS consider providing $2 million from the General Fund for Fund 307, Sidewalk Construction. The money will be used for the continuation of a small program of sidewalk construction, including the identification of new projects in each district. Don mentioned that the numbers in the letter came from the staff. It was agreed that copies of the signed letter would go to NMTC members, the County Executive, and BOS members.

The question was asked if we know the shortfall; answer was no. He thought we might mention a new Pedestrian Task Force as a need for additional funding. Mr Leu mentioned that a list of escrow funds has been e:mailed to Distrdct representatives. Ann said that she has testified for the last 2 or 3 years regarding the budget and wanted to know if members of the committee felt it was important to continue. Don felt each representative should contact their supervisor about the budget. Consensus was that the letter and contact with the supervisors should do it. We need to show our resolve and get the letter out. It was agreed that a couple more sentences needed to be added about budget shortfalls. Ann will add them, sign and hand deliver to the Chairman of the BOS.

Snow and Sidewalks. Bruce Wright referred to the draft letter to the BOS he e:mailed to this committee which recommended steps to be taken to provide safer conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists after snowstorms. The Committee discussed the pros and cons of pushing for an ordinance; however, it was felt it would be very difficult to enforce. It was mentioned that Montgomery County has a hotline that anyone who has a need for help in snow/ice removal can call. However, this would require a coordinator. It was also mentioned that our committee should have communication with the schools to determine their policy on the clearing of sidewalks, as well as the need to have bus stops cleared.

It was mentioned that a Blue Ribbon Pedestrian Task Force pushed it in Montgomery County and that it could work here. A straw poll showed that a majority of this Committee wants to raise the issue and suggest a pedestrian task force look into it. Bruce said he would modify the draft letter suggesting that the Pedestrian Task Force look at the need for a snow removal ordinance. Ann would then sign it and send it out.

Staff Report. Mr. Leu provided a Summary of Trails in Fairfax County for both planned trails and existing trails which shows both total feet and miles. He also mentioned that the annual Fairfax Fair is a good place for a display on the trails in the County. The committee was asked to think about what to display.

Chair Report. Ms Bennett mentioned that the Great Falls letter packet is out. There will be another chance to comment on the Great Falls plan.

Old Business. Ann asked the mapping trail/sidewalk segments data be completed and given to Mr. Leu. In order to map all the segments within a district, the representative needs to know what's out there and asked if Mr. Leu could provide map books. He said that the county is not printing map books anymore. They use ADC maps. The mapping would be from street corner to street corner. Ann said that the BOS needs to see a magnitude of projects.

New Business. Bruce suggested that a letter to Bunyan be prepared thanking him for his service on the committee and wishing him well. Committee agreed. Bruce will write the letter. Dan mentioned that there is a study of economic benefits of trails in Virginia being conducted. Surveys are being done on W&OD, Virginia Creeper Trail and a few others. They are looking for volunteers to do the survey work. A training session will be conducted on March 22 at the Herndon Library. Walter distributed an order form for anyone who wants a copy of the FHWA Bicycle & Pedestrian publications.

Meeting adjourned 9:10 p.m.

Mary Flowers, Acting Secretary.


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