Linden Hill Access, The Reasons Behind Supporting It
A Letter to the Editor from Mayor Kristen Umstattd
To the Editor:
I support the Linden Hill access road and this is why. My principle reason is one of fairness. Philosophically, I believe that, when a government takes an action that hurts people, especially a small community or an individual, the government owes it to them to try to mitigate the damage. I believe that the Route 15 widening project disproportionately and significantly hurts Linden Hill residents more than any other group of citizens because it takes away their ability to turn left out of their neighborhood, which is the only way most of them need to turn. I do not believe that making them turn right, go south, make a U-turn and come back north is a safe alternative for them. I have personally never felt safe doing a U-turn. Because cars making a U-turn at Greenway Drive and S. King will be moving slowly as they negotiate the U-turn, they will be extremely vulnerable to vehicles that try to blow through the new traffic light at Greenway Drive. Furthermore, the addition of a special U-turn signal at the future traffic light at Greenway Drive and South King will add additional delays for northbound traffic from Greenway Farms and Woodlea Manor.
I do not believe that the access road will endanger or inconvenience Country Club residents, nor do I believe the reconfiguration of the intersection of Country Club Drive and S. King Street will be a negative. Quite the opposite, I think the addition of a second left turn lane out of Country Club Drive onto northbound King Street will be extremely beneficial to the residents of Country Club. It will allow twice as many Country Club residents to exit the neighborhood simultaneously on one light. The fact that the entrance to Country Club will continue to have an attractive tree lined median is another example of why I don’t believe this is a negative for Country Club. The fact that the attractive entrance sign will remain is another reason why I cannot find a negative with this project. Finally, the fact that all current street parking will remain in front of every Country Club Drive home except for the currently vacant house at 1 Country Club Drive is another reason I do not believe there will be a negative impact on Country Club residents.
I am aware that residents of Country Club believe that the Linden Hill community is large enough to create a traffic jam on Country Club Drive, but too small to justify the expense of the access lane. I believe that the impact of the Linden Hill residents driving onto Country Club Drive at the access lane will be largely unnoticed. Town staff estimates there will be a maximum of 15 vehicles per hour during rush hour leaving Linden Hill by the access lane. This is a tiny percentage of the cars that currently leave Country Club Drive during rush hour. The doubling of lane capacity leaving Country Club Drive by the addition of the second left hand turn lane will more than make up for the slight increase in traffic from Linden Hill.
Country Club residents have expressed opposition to the price tag of the Linden Hill access road and the point has been made that this is a lot of money per Linden Hill home. The total cost of the Linden Hill access road project is $835,000 (including the purchase price of the house) minus the resale price of the house at 1 Country Club Drive. I believe that, on resale, that house will sell at a price between $300,000 and $400,000. I expect, after the resale of the house, the total project cost to the taxpayers will be under $500,000. But the question remains, is that too much to spend for the benefit of one small community?
From street paving, to storm drainage, to sidewalks and trails, almost every Town capital project is for the benefit of a minority of residents in the Town. According to the Town’s Capital Improvements Plans over the last several years, the Town has spent or plans to spend millions of dollars on storm drainage projects: $464,000 to prevent the flooding of about 13 homes along Country Club Drive and Chancellor Street; $1.35 million to stop the flooding of about twenty homes on Wage Drive and Anne Street; $575,000 to stop the flooding of homes near First Mt. Olive Baptist Church; over $2 million to stop the flooding in the Fields at Leesburg Apartments and Meadows Lane; $850,000 to prevent the flooding of about twenty homes along Woodberry Rd. The trails the Town has installed have always served primarily the people who live closest and no trail has ever been used by a majority of the Town’s residents. The S. King Street trail will cost well over $1.1 million by the time it’s done and it will probably never be used by any of the 35,000-plus residents living outside of Country Club, Greenway Farms or Woodlea Manor. So, are these projects worth it? When you put all of them together, they work as a whole to make the Town a better place.
Finally, I need to address the issue of whether Linden Hill residents are getting a free ride. Their community has donated to the Town the land for the access road. As we know, they pay the same amount of town and county taxes as the rest of us, but we, the taxpayers, do not pay to repair, repave, or clear their street of snow, because Linden Hill Way is a private street. They have to pay for their own street repairs and their own snow removal, unlike any of us who live on public streets. So, I don’t think they’re getting a free ride.
While my main reason for supporting this access road is because I think it’s the right thing to do, I actually believe there will be no harm to Country Club and there will be a great benefit with the additional left turn lane out of Country Club Drive.
Very sincerely yours,
Kristen Umstattd, Mayor
Town of Leesburg