On May 5, 2008, City Council approved a concept plan for the stormwater management design for the McIntire Road Extended project in McIntire Park. The images below show how the plan is to look to a pedestrian walking along the trail next to the McIntire Road Extended. But, as discussed at City Council last night, a forty foot wide (varies a bit, actually) easement to the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority would make many of these trees unplantable. The proposed deed of easement states "that trees, shrubs, fences, buildings, overhangs or other improvements or obstructions shall not be located within the Sewer Easement." As pleasant as this artist rendering of the pedestrian experience appears to be, it is a total fiction. Much of the northern portion of the roadside area will be a 2:1 slope that won't support trees, and a forty foot wide swath of land will not allow trees or even shrubs. The ability to plant a vegetative screen of shrubs and trees to protect historic properties impacted by the road is limited especially in the area by the Rock Hill Garden - a property eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Tree and shrub screening is one of the suggested mitigation alternatives under consideration as part of the historic preservation (Section 106) consultation currently in progress.
I was disappointed that council moved and seconded an ordinance that would grant this easement to RWSA to bring up a second reading on this ordinance at the next council meeting. It appeared to me that three councilors would prefer to defer consideration of the ordinance until some of the issues presented to council could be investigated and modifications to the easement ordinance and deed could be worked out with RWSA and possibly others. But, it only takes two of five council members to move this item to a second reading.
I am curious to know what forces are pushing this project forward in spite of potentially serious defects in the planning process, the plans distributed to various agencies and jurisdictions by VDOT, and images being presented to the public. I will encourage city council members not to approve this requested action, but rather take a comprehensive look at the interrelationships among the Route 250 Bypass at McIntire Road and McIntire Road Extended projects. There are currently at least two different sets of plans being circulated to key stakeholder groups. Shouldn't decisions be made using a common description of the project under consideration.
Very detailed images for both drawings below are available as part of the May 5, 2008 city council agenda - with background posted on the city website. But, I think you can imagine that these concept drawings do not relate to the reality of what a pedestrian will experience if city council approves what has been presented to them by the city staff and RWSA.