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October 6, 2020

Supervisors to OK Marshall Main St. project contract

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The project will include moving utility lines underground along a portion of Marshall’s Main Street.
Marshall has many things going for it. It’s an eclectic town. It’s a good, solid working town, and all the things the project will do will just enhance that.
— Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Fauquier’s board of supervisors on Thursday finally will award a construction contract for the long-awaited Marshall Main Street renovations.

The county this summer received three bids, with Lorton-based Shirley Contracting Co. submitting the lowest at $4.4 million. The company could begin work in January and complete the project about a year later, Deputy County Administrator Erin Kozanecki said.

“I couldn’t be more supportive of this project,” said supervisors’ Chairwoman Mary Leigh McDaniel, whose Marshall District includes the village. “Marshall has many things going for it. It’s an eclectic town. It’s a good, solid working town, and all the things the project will do will just enhance that.”

The supervisors will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Warren Green Building in Warrenton.

In the coming years, Marshall will experience “significant growth,” said Mrs. McDaniel, noting that discussions of Main Street improvements started in the 1990s

“And we need to make sure when that comes — it’s already starting now — that our streets are safe, they’re pedestrian-friendly, and it is a welcoming place to come, because that increases economic development,” the supervisor said.

Key features of the block-long Main Street improvement project include:

• New sidewalks and crosswalks along Main Street from just east of Winchester Road (Route 17) to just west of Frost Street near the old IGA.

• New sidewalks and crosswalks on Winchester Road.

• Moving electrical, phone and cable TV lines underground, eliminating utility poles.

• New street trees, lamps, benches and landscaping.

• A decorative, knee-high brick wall fronting 7-Eleven store at Rectortown Road and Main Street.

The project carries a total price tag of $6.9 million, including the cost of relocating utilities, right-of-way related expenses and Virginia Department of Transportation review fees, according to Mrs. Kozanecki.

Project funding includes $3.6 million in federal money, about $900,000 in private contributions, $583,000 in developer proffers, $475,000 in county government money and a $643,000 interest-free county government loan to Marshall’s lighting tax district.

The funding arrangement makes great financial sense for the county because the vast majority the cost will be picked up by the federal government and others, Mrs. McDaniel said.

The Marshall Business and Residents Association, which has fewer than 20 members, opposes the project.

Debate over the project about four years ago produced a split within the organization, with opponents taking control of the board and longtime members, who supported Main Street improvements, leaving the group.

The association and a growing chorus of people object to it for a range of reasons, MBRA President Mary Wilkerson said.

They consider it unnecessary, a waste of taxpayers’ dollars and believe, for example, that existing VDOT funds could be used to improve sidewalks in the project area, at no additional cost to taxpayers, Mrs. Wilkerson said.

They also worry that an increase in the lighting tax district places a burden on affected property owners, she added.

The special district’s tax rate stands at a half cent per $100 of assessed value. That rate will increase to 2.5 cents to repay the interest-free county loan.

Under the new rate, the annual tax bill for “average” property valued at $378,000 in the district would increase from $19 to $94, according to Mrs. McDaniel.

But, “during the next 10 years, we’re going to see quite a few people moving into the tax district,” the supervisor said. “Every time somebody comes in, that has the impact of reducing it on people already in the district.”

The opponents believe that plans to narrow Main Street from 40 to 38 feet will make the road unsafe for people leaving and entering their vehicles.

But the lane-width reduction would slow traffic and make Main Street safer for pedestrians and motorists alike, Mrs. McDaniel said.

“It’s currently built for 35 mph,” the supervisor said of Main Street. “Reducing” the width would bring it into “conformance” with the posted 25 mph speed limit.

“This is designed by engineers whose first concern is safety,” Mrs. McDaniel said. “These are the experts. So, I think we can rely on them to design a road that’s going to be more safe, not less safe.”

Even if the supervisors approve the construction contract Thursday, the effort to stop the project will continue, Mrs. Wilkerson said.

“This is just the beginning,” she said. “We are only just beginning to hold the county accountable and get transparency. We have more and more people joining us every day.”

As of Tuesday, MBRA had delivered 250 form letters to the county in opposition to the project 727 people had signed an online petition against it, according to the organization.

Dozens of people this year have attended supervisors’ monthly meetings and asked the board to scuttle the project.

Mrs. Wilkerson declined to discuss the opposition’s next moves to kill the Main Street renovation plan.

“All options are on the table for us, every single option,” she said. “And it’s not over till it’s over.”

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.

Marshall Main Street Projec... by Fauquier Now


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Alohaexpress · October 6, 2020 at 5:51 pm
So much $$$ benefiting so few politically connected businesses and building owners. All that money for ONE BLOCK. Connect the dots as to who laid groundwork and who benefits. Waste of money.
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