Dulles area residents want more roads to ease traffic and connect neighborhoods; biking and walking trails; access to government services; and options for shopping, entertainment and recreation — all while trees, streams and open space are protected.
Those were residents’ central messages in input gathered through Loudoun County’s Dulles Community Outreach Project. The final report, which the county’s planning staff presented to the Board of Supervisors Wednesday, included a list of 28 “consensus recommendations,” many of which involved transportation improvements and community amenities.
The project, which began with a community meeting in January, sought opinions about priorities from residents and businesses through focus groups, social media, a Web-based forum, a crowd-sourced map of community assets and needs, public work sessions and “on-the-ground canvassing,” project leader Joe Griffiths said.
Transportation emerged as the top concern, Griffiths said. Several of the report’s recommendations advocated improvements to roads, trails and transit to link area neighborhoods.
“Residents would also like to see more retail, entertainment and cultural options in the community,” he said. “Many residents also are worried over the rapid residential growth in Dulles and fear the infrastructure will not keep pace.”
There were three focus groups of high school students and another with senior citizens.
“The youth groups frequently mentioned that Dulles, in their terms, is too ‘mom-centric’ and that area parks do not have attractions that appeal to them,” Griffiths said. This could be addressed by engaging high school students to help create a central public space in the community, he said.
The project highlighted a divide between Dulles-area neighborhoods north and south of Route 50. The communities are separated by industrial businesses and floodplain, plus the highway, Griffiths said.
The recommendations could be considered when the county government updates its Comprehensive Plan or for a separate plan for the Dulles community, Griffiths said.
“The good news is, [these are] things we know already, and we’re already working on,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), whose district includes much of the planning area. “Very few items in here should be a surprise to anybody.”
Letourneau said that major road projects, such as Northstar and Arcola boulevards and completion of the Loudoun County Parkway, are already in the county’s five-year capital improvement program. Mixed-use developments such as Avonlea in South Riding and Dulles Landing in Arcola will give residents more shopping and entertainment options, he said. Other amenities are also in the works, he said.
“We have a public safety center, and now we have a community center there,” Letourneau said. The area will also have an indoor recreation center and senior center when the next phases of the Dulles South Multipurpose Center are complete, Letourneau said.
“I’m willing to bet that if we were to do this same survey in a couple of years, people will be a lot more satisfied, because they’ll see the fruits of it,” he said.
Letourneau said he intends to bring an item to the Board of Supervisors next month, asking staff members to identify missing links in the network of trails and sidewalks in the Dulles area.
“Various proffers come in, and various developments happen at certain times, and so you’re left with sort of a mishmash network, particularly of roads and of shared-use paths,” he said.
“I’d like to see if there are . . . some connections that make a lot of sense for a certain stretch, for a relatively small amount of money.”
Barnes is a freelance writer.