Ms. Daugherty said it has been suggested that Council send a letter to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors addressing some of the concerns and asked Mr. Toscano to review the proposed letter.
Mr. Toscano said that the letter to the Board addresses concerns brought up at the July 1 work session and emphasizes: interest in revisiting the CATS Plan; interest in acquiring additional parkland north of Melbourne Road; the need for a technical consultant, and the option of the City and County together hiring a consultant; restricting VDOT from installing cell towers along the Parkway; and asking how the County portion of the road will integrate at Melbourne Road.
Mr. Caravati asked if the City will move forward with the consultant for the road if the County does not agree to participate, and Ms. Daugherty said she assumes so.
Mr. Caravati asked how the City will formally negotiate with the County on the issues in the letter, and Ms. Daugherty said that the Council and Board could hold a joint work session on the issue of a regional network of roads and staff from the City and County could talk about the other issues.
Ms. Richards said that after the letter is sent to the County and a response is received, staff could suggest ways to move forward. Ms. Richards said that the issue of the regional network of roads could be taken up by the MPO after a joint work session is held.
Responding to a question from Mr. Caravati, Ms. Richards said that the TIP (Transportation Improvement Program), which is really a funding document of the MPO, while the CATS is a planning document, is due to VDOT by September 1.
Ms. Richards said she is particularly interested in the parkland addition, not just replacing land taken, but expanding the parkland and having a linear park.
Ms. Daugherty said she prefers language that makes the parkland addition broader than a linear park.
Mr. Caravati said he agrees that more parkland is important, but feels that the regional network of roads is the most important issue. Mr. Caravati said he cannot see that happening at the MPO level and suggested that a negotiating team move that issue forward.
Mr. Cox said that he thinks that by action just taken by Council we have written our future, approving a road designed with four lanes, which undermines everything on the list. Mr. Cox said the letter functions as a wish list, but has no strings attached. Mr. Cox said Council has given away the future of the park. Mr. Cox said his silence is in part frustration at not being able to educate or change even the minds on Council. Mr. Cox said Council is making a drastic mistake and it is a sad legacy to leave. Mr. Cox said he hopes that the action taken can still be changed in the future.
Ms. Daugherty said that the majority of Council believe this is a positive move forward.
Ms. Richards made a motion to approve the letter to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Mr. Toscano seconded the motion, and it was approved by the following vote. Ayes: Mr. Caravati, Mr. Cox, Ms. Daugherty, Ms. Richards, Mr. Toscano. Noes: None.
Please find attached a copy of our comments provided to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on the proposed Meadowcreek Parkway. We attach this letter so that the Board may have a detailed explanation of our concerns and comments, as this road is a part of the regional transportation network affecting both City and County.
As you know, there has been considerable discussion of this road and its impact on the City. Some of this discussion has focused on how the City and the County can better cooperate on design of the road, and how better to design a regional transportation network for the next twenty years. With this in mind, we are interested in exploring, with the County, the following issues:
1. First, the Council is interested in revisiting the previous CATS and the regional network of roads. There has been considerable discussion about a "eastern connector," a "near eastern connector," and other additional roads, both north and south of the City, that would complete the regional network. The Council is not committed to any particular road, but is very interested in discussing the regional network and particularly interested in facilitating better means for traffic to move from areas north of the City to Pantops and to the eastern part of the County.
2. Second, we wish to explore a further acquiring additional parkland over and above the acreage necessary to replace land taken for the road. This parkland could be acquired between the 250 By-pass and Rio Road, and perhaps all the way to the Rivanna River. We think that considerable discussion should occur on this idea, and are willing to commit capital funds to the acquisition of land with the County to make this concept a reality. Perhaps the City and County should consider jointly applying for federal grants to supplement and enhance our local funding of any possible initiative. We are open to a wide variety of approaches, including the notion of a park land commission and/or a model similar to the Towe Park City/County arrangement.
3. Third, in its letter to VDOT, the City states that it may hire a technical consultant to monitor design and construction of the City portion of the Meadowcreek parkway. We think that it might be useful for the City and the County to cooperate in the hiring of a consultant and setting forth a charge that includes design consultation for the County portion of the road. In that way, we would get some consistency of design and be better able to integrate the County and the City portion of the road. We do not wish to slow construction of the road but instead improve its design.
4. Fourth, the City has requested that VDOT give up any right that it may have to facilitate the construction of cell towers in and along the right-of-way for the parkway. Given Albemarle's previous position on these matters, we thought it might be appropriate for us to join together in setting forth concern about cell towers in the right-of-way, and to jointly seek agreement with VDOT on this issue.
5. Fifth, we are concerned about how the County portion of the road integrates with the City portion, particularly at Melbourne Road. It is in the interest of both the City and the County to have safe pedestrian access across the road at that point. Consequently, we would ask that you join with us to approach VDOT about that critical intersection.
We appreciate your interest in working with us on the above matters
Ms. Richards pointed out that any decision about expanding the Parkway to four lanes in the future lies with the Council alone, not with VDOT or any outside force.
Mr. Cox said he feels that 30 years of VDOT advocating for this road speaks for itself. Mr. Cox said Council has allowed the inevitable to happen.
Mr. Gouldman noted that the letter to VDOT that was approved was the
one with the July 19th date, not the one originally sent in the agenda packet.