The Falls Church Planning Commission, after an extended discussion Monday night and public testimony from three City residents with strong criticisms, voted to delay a vote on whether or not the City staff’s plans for improving pedestrian access on N. West Street in the City until late January, with some suggestions on how to improve the program.
On the other hand, the Commissioners took little time putting their stamp of approval of a City staff plan for improving pedestrian conditions on N. Roosevelt St.
Technically, the City staff sought only that the Commissioners would concur that their plans were consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. While the Commissioners all agreed that the N. West St, plan, which has had more than its share of controversy over the past year, especially associated with earlier suggestions for a reduction of on-street parking, is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, still they felt that some improvements to the plan should be further considered before a final vote of approval.
An alternative proposed by Commissioner Rob Meeks called for more “bump outs” around utility poles and moving up the priority of addressing problems around the intersection of the W&OD Trail and N. West St. The City staff plan had put that as a Phase IV priority with the suggestion that the developer of a major parcel near that intersection be asked to proffer the cost of fixing it.
However, as Commissioner Lindy Hockenberry pointed out, the overall plan involved, in her view, “Doing a bit of a plan just to fit the (VDOT) funding. This is not the solution.” The VDOT funds would come under a “Safe Routes the Schools Plan” that the City has bought into.
The funding does not provide for improvements to the existing sidewalk on N. West St., for example, leading the City to recommend putting in a new sidewalk on the other side of the street.
City Planner Jim Snyder concurred that “limited money has limited us to improvements that can be done with money available without precluding future improvements.”
The matter will come before the Planning Commission again on Jan. 21.