Stadium traffic creating rift
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Some Fredericksburg City Council members are steamed over an effort by Spotsylvania County officials to inject themselves into city business while ignoring the problems their decisions are creating for the region.
Tuesday evening, while the City Council examined an engineer’s report showing outside drivers—ostensibly from Spotsylvania—as the chief contributors to morning and evening slowdowns on Lafayette Boulevard, the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking to have a say in the city’s stadium project because of concern about its impact on nearby county roads.
In a 6–0 vote and without comment, the supervisors passed a resolution asking Fredericksburg to “forward any analysis or information that has been compiled regarding anticipated traffic impacts to the local region and consider including Spotsylvania County as a stakeholder to allow input into decisions made regarding the development of the stadium complex.”
City Councilman Fred Howe, who represents Ward 3, which includes Lafayette Boulevard, emailed his colleagues Wednesday morning saying he found the resolution “totally amazing and absolutely arrogant.”
“I assume Spotsy has generated studies that show zero transportation impacts to the city with the recent passage of multiple housing developments, which will introduce more commuters through our challenged city roadways,” he said in the email.
Since July, Spotsylvania’s Board of Supervisors has approved a handful of housing developments that will bring more than 2,500 new homes to the county.
Howe said no one from the city jumped into the county’s business when it took those actions, despite recognizing that additional homes will mean additional drivers on the city’s primary arteries.
“It’s childish, it’s unprofessional and it’s arrogant,” Howe said. “I wouldn’t do that to them. I’m amazed they did that to us as a regional partner.”
Councilman Matt Kelly echoed Howe’s annoyance, with both, noting that there are mechanisms in place such as the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization where there is opportunity for regional dialogue on issues such as transportation.
Both also said a simple phone call would work.
Two weeks ago, Spotsylvania Supervisor David Ross initiated the steps that led to Tuesday’s resolution, telling board members that some of his constituents were worried about increased traffic from the proposed stadium in Celebrate Virginia South.
He specifically mentioned residents along Bragg Road and River Road near the stadium site.
On Thursday, Ross said council members shouldn’t have been surprised by the resolution.
“I have been very upfront and direct in every way as the Courtland District representative, as to traffic issues in this geographic area that has a border between our two municipalities,” Ross said in an email.
The Hagerstown Suns are seeking to relocate from Maryland to Fredericksburg by the start of the 2015 minor league season.
The team’s owners have partnered with Diamond Nation to build a $29 million privately funded stadium that would seat 4,750.
The stadium complex would include five artificial turf fields where Diamond Nation would operate camps and tournaments for baseball and softball about nine months of the year.
Traffic from minor league games and the other events prompted Ross’ comments.
However, that area has already seen traffic with that level of volume from a summer concert series in Celebrate Virginia that started in 2009. Organizers said this summer’s concerts averaged about 4,000 people.
Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw said she had no comment on the Spotsylvania resolution since she hadn’t received one from the county.
“If the city does [receive one], the city will determine whether it is worthy of a response and respond accordingly,” she said.
She said no traffic impact study is planned as part of the stadium project.
Councilman George Solley also declined to weigh in until receiving an official copy of the resolution.
Kelly said questions on regional matters should be handled by conversations not resolutions.
“If any member of a Board of Supervisors asked a question of me, I’d be more than happy to address it,” he said.
He said the resolution looks like “a one-sided request” and that “there needs to be a bigger conversation here than one tiny project.”
Howe said he would recommend no formal response to the supervisors because he found the resolution an improper way to communicate with officials in the region.
“We are more than willing to work with our regional partners on common transportation problems,” he said, “but that requires a two-way communication street, not pointing fingers because of a complaint.”
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
Below is the text of the resolution passed unanimously on Tuesday by the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors.
Resolution Related to Multi-Purpose Minor League Baseball Stadium in the City of Fredericksburg
WHEREAS, the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors would like to work with the Fredericksburg City Council in the spirit of regional cooperation; and,
WHEREAS, currently there is traffic congestion in Spotsylvania County in the geographic area near or adjacent to Fredericksburg’s Celebrate Virginia South; and,
WHEREAS, each future event anticipated at the Baseball Stadium could bring a potential influx of an additional 5,000 people to that area, adding to present traffic congestion; and,
WHEREAS, the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors has expressed concerns about the traffic impacts that events at the Stadium may add to the current local transportation system;
WHEREAS, the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors requests that the City of Fredericksburg consider the potential impacts to Spotsylvania County residents to the greatest extent possible;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY:
THAT, because of the concerns herein expressed, the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors respectfully requests that the Fredericksburg City Council forward any analysis or information that has been compiled regarding anticipated traffic impacts to the local region and consider including Spotsylvania County as a stakeholder to allow input into decisions made regarding the development of the Stadium complex.