Parking Garage and the Shared Parking Program – The Main Article

January 31, 2013 § 2 Comments

G.  ISSUE NO. 5 — SIZE OF THE GARAGE AND THE ART CENTER The size of the garage that would support the purported downtown revitalization kept changing over time.  When the council adopted the Public Shared parking program in 1994, it contemplated that a 266-space garage would be constructed to support 80,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.   The council did not ask how these figures were derived even though the taxpayers’ share of the costs depended directly on them.  In 1996, the staff raised the estimates; the program called for the establishment of 500 parking spaces to serve approximately 152,000 square feet of mixed-use space.   In 2000, the staff estimated that the Art Center needed 120 spaces, but the DMP allocated 80 spaces for it.  Once again, the councils asked no questions at any time. The calculations for this article assume that the Art Center will have 100 spaces and they would cost about $1.8 million. However, it appears that the Art Center now estimates that it would need 250 spaces.

“THE ART CENTER’S STARTED TO TAKE THE CENTER STAGE AFTER (NOT BEFORE) THE APPROVAL OF THE POLICY IN 1996.”

The phrase, “ The Future Cultural Center” was not mentioned even once in pre-1997 council meetings.   It also did not appear in any staff report of the same period either.  The record shows that former Councilmember Richard Downer began to mention the Cultural/Art Center (and its need for parking) in 1997 – shortly after the approval of the program.  By 2001, various estimates of the number of parking spaces required for a Cultural Center began to appear in staff memos and have become a permanent feature of all reports since. The development of the Downtown Master Plan was another opportunity to showcase the needs of the Art Center.  Initially, after months of planning, the Art Center was located over the municipal garage adjacent to the Herndon Municipal Center. Then, due to objections by the Foundation for the Cultural Arts, the location was changed to a site that, in 2002, had been selected for an Art Center.  And, almost magically, the 2010 DMP placed the garage right next to the proposed site of the Art Center.  This meant that the patrons of the Art Center would have to walk only a few feet to enjoy the art shows, but the patrons of the businesses would have to walk relatively long distances to go to work or shop.  For some, the garage would be too far to be of any use.  This implies that the needs of the businesses (who have contributed considerable sums to the shared parking program) were secondary to the needs of the Art Center.   It is not unreasonable to conclude that one of the unstated objectives of the shared-parking program was to ensure the availability of parking for any future Art Center.

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§ 2 Responses to Parking Garage and the Shared Parking Program – The Main Article

  • Howard DeFelice says:

    This is excellent information and should have been presented to the public a long time ago. I only became a resident of Herndon in 2008 so much of this is new to me. I came here from Long Island, NY and I have seen what this type of governmental omission of fact produces. Home ownership on Long Island has become impossible for young families and people on fixed incomes because of the tremendous property tax burden. Your blog describes how this happens, quietly and over long periods of time. Property taxes in Suffolk county where I used to live average over $1,000 a month and are still climbing. THIS COULD HAPPEN HERE ! Massive taxpayer expenditures that subsidize pet projects of a few board members is not acceptable. Trying to make downtown Herndon resemble Reston Town Center is ill conceived. Reston Town Center was planned and built from the ground up starting from a clean sheet of paper. Downtown Herndon is a historic site whose charm and attraction is it’s visual link to the past. Massive public works will destroy the very thing that makes it special.

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  • Jeannette Gallup says:

    I thought this article was very informative, and surprising.
    I moved to Herndon as a young child in 1963, attended Herndon Elementary, Herndon Intermediate, and graduated from Herndon High.
    All of Herndon was historical to me, this is when the train was still running, farms were still being worked. There was something about downtown Herndon, it was special then as it is today. I bring my children down town, share with them about growing up here, they know how important it is to be able to go back and enjoy the things of historical value and beauty.
    I moved my business back to Herndon because of the love I have for it.
    We have developed so much around the town and down town, why more. Everyone that grew up in Northern Virginia could probably say they grew up were there is an historical down town, and would respond the same way. Please for all who enjoy the historical charm of downtown Herndon, and concerned tax payers, say something, do something.

    “Please do not let this massive project ruin Herndon’s downtown charm.”

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