Letters to the Editor: August 24 – 30, 2017
Issues Remain With Railroad Cottage Proposal
Mr. Benton’s coverage of the City Council’s discussion of the Railroad Avenue cottage project seemed incomplete to me. True, the fire at the property on Railroad Ave. showed that emergency vehicles can access the location in its present configuration despite the narrowness of Railroad Ave. and the roads leading to it. The fire department has stipulated improvements to Railroad Ave. be done in order for the project to move forward.
Unfortunately, this requires use of park land which can’t be permanently ceded to the City. I’m sure Northern Virginia Parks has higher priority projects to fit into their budget than the widening of the bike trail through Falls Church but this or some other project in the future may necessitate them reclaiming the land used for the widening of Railroad Ave. The City’s backup plan to deal with this is to ask the owners of the properties along Railroad Ave. to grant a six-foot easement (I assume in perpetuity) from their property facing Railroad Ave. That could take 50 percent or more of some of the front yards bringing traffic close to their front door. What is the recourse if easements are not granted? Eminent domain?
Maybe the News-Press should do a survey to see how many readers would cede their property if called to do so, like the owners along Railroad Ave. are being asked, even if the proposed project has a worthwhile goal.
There are other short term issues like noise, light and air pollution from the proposed parking lot impacting the neighbors, parking and safety which also need to be addressed. There are no sidewalks on Fowler St. between Ellison St. and Railroad Ave. That section of Fowler is used daily by people going to work or the metro, children going to school and runners and cyclists accessing the bike trail. Increased traffic from the cottages will increase the safety risk. Those two blocks being primarily in Fairfax County makes resolution more difficult but it should still be addressed before moving ahead with the project.
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