Frustration over Mosby Boulevard spilled into the Town Council chamber last night and Ward Two Councilman, Allen Kitselman, expressed his dissatisfaction with the process and communications regarding the project.
Kitselman said, “I’m concerned about this from what I’m hearing in the media and what I’m picking up as far as reactions to this plan and I’ve asked the county to brief us at BADA tomorrow. We basically know nothing about what’s going on here.”
His comments referred to an article that appeared in the Clarke Daily News on December 13th that addressed VDOT’s recent plan modifications for Mosby Boulevard that require almost twice the land that has already been recorded in the easements for the road. The councilman’s remarks followed town manager Keith Dalton’s updates to council on recent developments with the planned roadway that will cross school owned property.
Kitselman then took exception to the article saying, “Coverage in this article is shades of a year ago with a lot of misinformation. This road does not cut the campus in half.” He closed his comments stating, ”For this road not to be built would be a hardship for everyone, taxpayers, school board, everybody in this county.”
Mayor Wilson Kirby conceded that the council could do a better job disseminating information saying, “Some of these issues we have answers to and we have to make those answers available.”
Mayor Kirby responded to one of the issues raised by Kitselman, the dividing of the campus. “If you look at how the plans progressed, 44 acres were purchased by the school board which is south, south east of Mosby. Then the 12 acres on the north side was given to the board. This then completed the total acreage. When that 12 acres on the north side of the campus was conveyed to the school board, that made it appear, in the eyes of the public and the eyes of the school board, that Mosby Boulevard was splitting the campus.”
While the mayor’s explanation of the events that led up to the situation is accurate, the fact remains that the proposed Mosby Boulevard extension will strand 12 acres of school owned property on the other side of what town documents refer to as a “major collector road.”
This recent controversy was exacerbated by what appears to be a procedural misstep on VDOT’s part. The public hearing for the Mosby Boulevard project, scheduled for January 12th, was announced in two local print publications and informed readers that copies of relevant documents would be available for review only in Staunton and Edinburg, neither of which could be considered convenient for Berryville residents.
VDOT’s planning error was quickly addressed by county officials, but left residents who have opposed the road feeling once again slighted by a system that has pushed the project through despite significant local opposition.
Ironically, the additional land that VDOT is now seeking is needed because the road design had to be scaled back for lack of funding. On January 13, 2010, VDOT held a scoping meeting for the planned construction of Mosby Boulevard. At that meeting VDOT determined that funds were not available to build the preferred design with curbs and gutters so a revised design with shoulders and ditches was proposed. Unfortunately the plans were never updated and the easements were filed for the preferred design with curbs and gutters. However, the “cheaper” design solution actually requires more land and now VDOT needs to correct the omission.
The public hearing for the project will be held January 12, 2011 from 4:00PM to 7:00PM at the Berryville/Clarke County Government Center. Additionally town manager, Keith Dalton has requested that VDOT representatives attend the Berryville Town Council meeting on January 11th, the night before VDOT’s public hearing.