vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Town Hall Revue

Hartwood Supervisor Joe Brito held a "Town Hall" meeting at Rocky Run Elementary last night, and I lived to tell about it. What with the recent to-do surrounding other "Town Hall" meetings across the U.S.A., I figured there might be some fireworks.

Alas, no healthcare explosions, but there were a few SPCA-related outbursts.

The meeting agenda consisted almost entirely of information about the upcoming Parks & Rec bond referendum. The November vote will determine whether the county can issue bonds to pay for $29 million in specific park improvements.

Much of the discussion focused on the various trail projects in the county: Belmont to Ferry Farm, Belmont to Cannon Ridge and the Dominion Virginia power line easement in North Stafford. The referendum would provide $1 million to plan, engineer and in some cases, complete the trails in the southern part of the county. As to be expected, some people think this is a great idea and a way to provide much-needed recreational opportunities to the people of Stafford. Some see it as a waste of money and a misplaced priority.

Brito is enthusiastic about the trail projects and the referendum in general. Parks & Rec Director Chris Hoppe was on hand to verify that the county is in desperate need of more athletic fields. He said the county is about 25 fields short right now–a situation that causes endless scheduling conflicts. In some cases, kids are being turned away from programs due to lack of space.

There was an organized group of SPCA supporters at the meeting. It was somewhat entertaining to hear them try to bend the discussion toward their "pet" issue, especially when Brito made it clear he was not interested in talking about it during the meeting. The SPCA folks seemed to want, above all, for Brito to go on the record about his position. He didn’t.

Nothing groundbreaking, but it was the first of what is sure to be many informational meetings leading up to the November vote.