Fact-checking Prince William County, VA’s 2019 “mobility” (roads) and “parks” (mostly 3 indoor sportsplexes) bond proposals that could hike each family's taxes hundreds for principal, interest and upkeep
Seems to me Transportation had reasonably thought through the Rt. 28 proposal I asked about. But we should read, ask and speak because these projects would affect our neighborhoods, commutes and regional development – better or worse – for decades.
SUCCESS!! On June 25, our Board of Supervisors approved for November's ballot:
NO taxpayer money now for the $80M indoor sportsplex or $20M field house (nor the Woodbridge pool which might have been OK) although Parks was directed to explore more-privately-funded options. Afterward I asked Chairman Stewart to please keep an open mind to even better and more affordable ways to serve County wants and needs a bottom-up study process might reveal.
Sincere thanks to all citizens, supervisors, and staff who participated in this ultimately informed and principled debate.
I agree with the concern raised that kids should have classrooms, rarely trailers. That should be addressed prudently too.
Early in 2019, our county commissioned a big Needs Assessment survey of our unmet parks-and-rec desires. Walking & Biking Trails were most widely and intensely wanted, followed by wildlife habitats, neighborhood parks, and only then indoor fitness & exercise facilities (followed closely by more kinds of parks, and some indoor facilities).
But on June 25, our Board of Supervisors might finalize (see agenda) $150 million (as much as two new high schools) for three massive facilities as the lion's share of a $200M "parks bond" for November. Without studies or estimates of demand, costs, comparison to alternatives and locations - nor publicity of potentially pricey "public-private partnerships" afoot.
Call and demand more careful, effective spending - and even address the relevant meeting at your 3-minute Citizen's Time.
Parks' pic for the $18M BRENTSVILLE "FIELD HOUSE" they say "will house four basketball courts, an indoor track, a performance training center, a children’s play structure area, party rooms, and full kitchen and dining facilities" seems to be from "Grand Park" which Westfield, IN bougnt out from a money-losing contract.
Their cite in response to a Freedom of Information Act request is a vendor's proposal for this also to be a largely county-funded, for-profit fee-based "public-private partnership". It calls all building and cost details "confidential" and touts increased collectionsof "meals tax"...which we don't charge.
Parks says "NO DOCUMENTS EXIST" about choosing the project, demand, usage, and any extra benefits. Considering the recently built PWCS Aquatics Center’s disappointing performance that The Derecho reported and I'm investigating (click for more)- seems subsidized over $40 a visit - I'd want very solid answers!
They say this will have a "50,000+/-square feet, competition and leisure pool, weight/functional fitness room, fitness classrooms, basketball court, children/youth area" and "Alleviate congestion for Chinn and Sharron-Baucom Centers, in walking distance to adjoining neighborhoods, in close proximity to numerous high schools."
And on request, they provided an unsolicited proposal - with drawings but seemingly not price - from builder/operator Merritt, and acknowledged getting a site appraised.
They say this will be a "Indoor competition and practice facility for local leagues, high schools, and residents", with "230,000+/-square feet, hydraulic 200 meter/6 lane track, courts, 3,500 fixed seats, and turf".
But again "NO DOCUMENT EXISTS" regarding studies or estimates about costs, demand, usage, benefits, and other cost savings. And again "public private partnerships" are mentioned. Why didn't they tell the Town Hall they were considering one? After the 395 & 66 fiascoes, shouldn't the citizens get to vote on that "wrinkle?" Might there be a Peninsula Air problem with lack of public benefit for the debt?