Although completion of the City Square project--which is to include a pavilion and ice skating rink in Old Town Manassas--is not expected until at least next summer, an overwhelming majority of respondents polled recently by Historic Manassas Inc. want construction started soon.
Almost 70 percent of 600 people polled in Historic Manassas's third annual Current Opinion Survey said the project should begin soon, and most said they would attend events offered at the new community site.
"Clearly the results are very positive and encouraging," said Roger Snyder, Manassas director of community development. "Now we just need to put bricks and mortar where our mouths are."
Part of the largest revitalization push in the city's history, the $2.2 million project got the City Council's blessing in December. But before a groundbreaking can occur, council members must first approve the project's design, which is being developed by Manassas architect Rob Loveless.
The outdoor pavilion, at Center and West streets, will be named after Loy E. Harris, the businessman who single-handedly transformed downtown Manassas into a thriving historic area. A dedication ceremony for Harris, who died last month of cancer, will be held in October.
Also part of the reconstruction and revitalization push is the renovation of the old Hopkins Candy Factory, which had been a warehouse and storage facility for Merchant's Inc. since 1960. Although the Candy Factory is a separate project, Snyder said it's "considered a part of the whole transformation, about what to do new with Old Town," which almost all those polled spoke in favor of.
Eighty-nine percent of the respondents said they see Old Town as a favorable place to conduct business, up from 82 percent last year. The same percentage also said Old Town is improving, with an additional 8 percent saying it's staying the same.
But there are problems in Old Town, too. The majority of those polled said they want slower traffic, more parking in Old Town and restrictions on trucks, suggesting such remedies as improved signs, more on-street parking and a parking garage.
Among those polled were Manassas officials, city staff and the general public.
Historic Manassas President Dave Flach said that although the revitalization projects seem to be "moving like a fast snail," he's still planning for an Independence Day celebration at the City Square.
"It'd be great to have a big party going on there for the Fourth of July."