Marvin Bolinger announced that he would resign as Fredericksburg City Manager as of 15 January, a decision that seems to have been made with the implicit threat of having him removed if Bolinger did not do so voluntarily. More tomorrow. . .

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Fresh from the Voters to Stop Sprawl e-mail string is a discussion on the Idylwild tract. Is it sprawl? What should VSS do about it, if anything at all? Positions about, and I sent this solution out that seems to have received a good amount of attention. Let me know what you think:

My recommendation has always been that the city purchase the Idylwild tract by co-ordinating a sale of the James Monroe High School tract to the college.

By doing this, we kill not just two, but several birds with one stone. We save the Idylwild tract from development, preserve a massive area of green space, prevent a traffic disaster on Rt. 1 and Rt. 3, stave off the building of two new schools that could cost city residents upwards of $70mil dollars, and create the opportunity to build not only a vast city park, but also precious land for new facilities for our fire, police, and rescue services – not to mention the space needed for a new JM high school that is inevitably coming around the corner.

Of course there are several issues surrounding this. The developer may not sell. At the moment, the developer can by right build 500+ homes on the land. In doing something like this, we will lock ourselves into building a rather expensive (albeit necessary) high school during a long-term budget crunch in Richmond. While the college will let us use the high school for as long as we need it, we will still have to rent the old facility at cost. All this having been said, the “third rail” isn’t very steady or sure at the moment, but it is definitely worth firming up.

To complicate matters more, there is a “fourth rail” that we should take a look at — namely taking the existing plan and dividing the buildable land into homes and light industry (a technology campus). While this doesn’t alleviate all of the problems, it adds to Fredericksburg’s ability to become a regional hub rather than another suburb of Washington. By adding to the list of being a commercial and tourist center, creating a technology campus there at Idylwild wold ideally make Fredericksburg a place to work as well as play. I certainly wouldn’t mind going to work 15 minutes down the road rather than 55 minutes up 1-95! This would partially resolve the traffic issue and ease the impact on schools, public services, and water/sewer – the trade off being added revenues from a technology center at Idylwild. Of course we still lose the same amount of green space, but by right the developer could take it all out anyhow. . .

Regardless of these issues, it is incumbent upon VSS to take a stand on any major development issue in the Fredericksburg area. Idylwild is a good development, just not for Fredericksburg – for all of the reasons already stated.

Just a few thoughts!

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