LETTER- Developers need to get on a bus
In [the February 5 cover story: "King of the Road: The unstoppable Wendell Wood"], Wendell Wood compares land buying to eating a pie: "You take one piece, then you come back and take another, then another...."
Thank you Mr. Wood, for being a bit more forthright than your peers.
Belvedere, North Pointe, Albemarle Place, and Hollymead Town Center, were all sold to the public under the guise that they were "mixed used developments." A strip mall surrounded by an island of asphalt near an exclusive auto-dependant residential area is not a mixed-use development.
For this term to mean anything, people have to be able to get to a place easily without a car, and there has to be enough opportunity per footstep to make it an attractive area to walk around in.
For all their talk about the "neighborhood model" and pedestrian safety, the county supervisors (and the three city councilors who seem to think they are county supervisors) are not making the transportation and land use choices which could move us towards these goals they profess.
In fact, they are putting all our eggs in a basket case– the Meadowcreek Parkway– a slicked-up holdover from the days of urban renewal and highways though parks and downtowns.
Such duplicity is necessary because this road would benefit not the public at large, but a few sprawl developers who use campaign contributions and propaganda to induce the community to pay for its own destruction.
Buy the land cheap. Get the Road built. Sell high. This is what Mr. Wood means by "good planning." Please look at the board of the Free Enterprise Forum (front group for our local sprawl industrial complex), and note where they own land, for a look at those who are pushing us towards this potential tragedy.
Though this is where they direct our attention, the issue is not growth vs. stagnancy but rather sprawl vs. pedestrian-oriented development; an ever-expanding parking lot, or an ongoing refinement of our existing urban areas into real mixed-use communities linked by excellent walking, biking, and transit facilities.
The latter option allows us to accommodate more people and commerce with less land while saving more greenspace as it waste less land moving and parking cars. Loosening zoning restrictions to allow for cooperative living and appropriate neighborhood businesses would help the transition towards this healthier way of building.
Let's ditch the Parkway and spend our money on moving people instead of cars– say with express bus service on the Route 250 Bypass between downtown, 29 North, and Pantops. Developers like Wood would be less able to profitably ruin their more remote "undeveloped rolling hills and pastures" and instead would have an incentive to work on making places they are building on 29 North into truly pedestrian-friendly places.
Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board, looking for transportation projects to cut to make up a growing budget gap, is accepting public comment until Friday, February 13th. Search "ctb" and "6 year plan," and tell ‘em to save our money and cut out the Meadowcreek Parkway.