Extraordinary, all right

No one on the HOA board has defended the residents of private streets that surround Lansdowne Sports Park. They, not Loudoun Public Schools or the Loudoun Sheriff, will pay the costs of towing unauthorized cars and maintaining streets and sidewalks.

The bureaucratic indifference of a list of “extraordinary costs” that includes the demolition of Lansdowne Sports Park sounds particularly heinous during bright October football weather, when the thought of spending $300,000 to “demolish” five public fields, indoor bathrooms, and two large picnic shelters that just opened seven years ago is certain to scare the bejabbers out of Loudoun taxpayers for Halloween.

The park, managed by Loudoun County Parks and Recreation, has been open since 2005.

It will not be replaced.

Extraordinary costs

18 Responses to Extraordinary, all right

  1. loudounhoa says:

    “Outside of the issue with the fields – which can maybe be swapped for the oft unused playground and open fields in the Highlands…”

    Lansdowne Sports Park is 15 acres with two picnic shelters: for 30 and for 60. It has indoor plumbing for bathrooms. It has two separate age-appropriate tot lots. It has ample parking. It has five fields. It is for PUBLIC USE not LOUDOUN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. It is not a neighborhood playground. It was “proffered” for public use. That connotes an exchange of a public amenity in return for a public nuisance. The presence of any large institutional use, public or private, destroys the right of citizens to the quiet enjoyment of their property. These are legal restrictions, not personal preferences.
    Please indicate the address of the open fields in the HIghlands that you reference in your post, Tired of the Whole Thing.

  2. Young Mommy says:

    “which can maybe be swapped for the oft unused playground”… says the lady with older kids who no longer cares whether or not there are walkable playgrounds for the younger children of the neighborhood.

  3. debbie piland says:

    The Sports Park provides a place for families to do something together with their child(ren). Too often there is not sufficient opportunity to do that. I speak from experience as an educator, parent and grandparent, that children who play sports gain an EDUCATION. They learn how to cope with defeat, build self esteem and to work as a team. These skills, when transferred to the formal classroom, instill in the child a desire to succeed academically. Playing sports also enhances their physical well being, takes them away from the XBOX along with the refrigerator. Being an obese child is not fun nor is it healthy.

    What is missing from the equation, is that we have ALL been denied the opportunity to decide for ourselves whether we want a school or a Sports Park. There has been no leadership from our HOA and there will be none. This is a process and I understand your desire to know which schools your child or children will be attending but LCPS has put nothing in writing. Unless you are in close proximity to the schools, you may not get what you think you are getting.

    An education is the ONLY thing that we can truly give our children, I don’t think the size or the structure matter as much the curriculum. I want your child to have the best possible education he/she can have but I do not think that a very costly school in Lansdowne is the answer but I admit it is appealing and beguiling at first blush.

    BTW…the golf course was our preferred place to partay!

    • loudounhoa says:

      Agreed. The most important indicator to success is the number of kids in the classroom. Vice Chairman Turgeon taught second grade. She is a professional. Listen to her introductory comments.
      Parents have deep concern for their own children’s educational needs while School Board members have responsibility for all the kids in the system.

  4. Polly Graff says:

    But here’s the thing: what would they build, without ANY community consultation if there wasn’t a school. Ask the people who live around the Reston Zoo if they like the smell of the animals and their scat. That’s one possibility for us. A petty zoo, or a building or homes or any number of undesirable things.

    I completely empathize with your frustration over picking a lot that you didn’t think would be built upon. We did the same. We back to trees and it is lovely. But the reality is that there is no school that is in place to educate our children. None. We’ve been shuffled around for far too long.

    I’ve been to several meetings where HS8 was discussed. So I know that this was discussed in the community. The high school is coming, so instead of hollering over and over again about things that won’t change, why not work on the things that can be? Perhaps you can get the community to put in a tree berm to help block the site of the school. Perhaps we can set up a volunteer patrol for the beginning of the school year for a few weeks and on and off throughout the year to train pupils not to walk where we don’t want them to. And we can also ask for law enforcement to show up at the school and assure that those with driving permits aren’t driving unsafely through the streets. This is all very reasonable and very doable.

    • loudounhoa says:

      I challenge your assertion that “…the reality is that there is no school that is in place to educate our children. None.”
      According to the building capacity stated by Loudoun Public Schools, Tuscarora High School is underenrolled and the number of students generated at Lansdowne will not change in the five-year horizon through 2017-2018.
      You might have some other reason for wanting a high school to be constructed at Lansdowne. Perhaps you think your child will benefit from spending all 12 years of primary and secondary education within the Lansdowne community. No one can argue with your opinion about what you want for your child. But as the saying goes, you can have your own opinion, but you can’t have your own facts.
      The fact is that the facilities provide room for Lansdowne students at Tuscarora High School into the forseeable future.
      Those who support building a high school in Lansdowne AFTER the community has been built out for six years say it is because they want a guarantee that they will not be moved again. That is also what a number of people argue about Seldens Landing. Its capacity is 908 and it has 1036 students. I am sure you heard Vice Chairman Turgeon and other speakers at Thursday’s LCPS work session cite the difficulties of serving a school that exceeds its capacity. A number of speakers from Lansdowne said that the community is not growing and they urged the School Board to allow Seldens to continue to be overcrowded rather than to reassign any of Lansdowne’s planning districts to Weller or any other elementary school.
      No one from Lansdowne protested moving students from Lansdowne Village Green from one school south of Belmont to another: i.e. from Belmont Station to Cedar Lane.
      This indicates that:
      1) There is more concern about 91 children in Lansdowne on the Potomac than 177 in Lansdowne Village Green and
      2) In the paradoxical view of those at the hearing, overcrowding is tolerable at Seldens, but undercrowding at Tuscarora is not.
      Which reminds me: you did not provide any metrics to support your contention that “We will have a wonderful high school with many benefits. Yes, it’s not a 100% ideal solution, but it’s a really good one. And the majority of us are HAPPY about it. If you don’t like it, maybe it’s time for you to think about moving.”
      Please cite the definition and source to support your use of the term “majority.”
      When you present emotion as fact, IMHO, you lose credibility.

    • loudounhoa says:

      To answer your question about the heretofore singular application of PDSA zoning: a large, lighted baseball stadium kind of like the Loudoun Hounds say they need.

  5. Lila Ashear says:

    The real issue IS adhering to commitments made to a buying public in order to entice them to move to a particular community. Advertising and community-based information provided potential buyers with amenities in Lansdowne that included community trails, kayak launch, pools, clubhouse, health club, open space, tree preservation areas, quiet streets, tot lots, county park, schools. Pretty good set of amenities, we thought.

    So we looked at Lansdowne and purposely chose a unit that overlooked the fields so that we were ensured open, unbuildable space in the rear of our unit. THAT is what we bought into.

    Move forward eight years NOW we are told that those commitments “have been met” and that a school, parking lot, stadium, etc will now be built. The streets will no longer be truly residential and quiet, the light pollution will increase, the run-off pollution will now increase, the noise will now increase and, well…too bad for you if you believed the zoning and proffers provided by your local government – things will CHANGE. Yup.

    So, perhaps we need to ensure that the potential purchasers here: http://www.leesburgtoday.com/news/plan-approved-for-next-regional-park/article_229c5b1c-1238-11e2-acc4-0019bb2963f4.html will know that they cannot COUNT on the promises of their local government, either. Maybe everyone needs to know that their reliance on local government commitments is a sham and that in the snap of a finger and the wink of an eye that the county can, and will, go back on their promises if the representatives find something, or someone, else to whom to pander.

    Scott York informed everyone that ‘voters approved the site of HS8” when they voted for the bond issue for three schools. Which I did believing that I was living up to my obligation to support education of the community’s children. I didn’t have any idea, nor was it on the ballot, that my vote for funding FOR THREE SCHOOLS, also was a vote for the locations. As a result, I have voted (early absentee due to being out of town on Nov 6) AGAINST the debt for the HS6. And, I will forever vote agains funding for schools in Loudoun County as long as I live here.

    While I felt that I had an obligation to ensure good education for children in my community, I believe that I have a right to trust what my local government tells me about the community in which I am seeking to purchase. You can’t have it both ways.

    And, by the way, if you think that telling me it is what it is and to get over it or move; think how you would have felt had you been told that Lansdowne “is what it is and if you want a high school within walking distance – MOVE”. Not every community can have three schools within walking distance and every high school will have some neighboring children who can walk to school. It isn’t, has never been, a rational reason for building the school in the middle of Lansdowne.

  6. Tired of the Whole Thing says:

    Plans change – happens to the best of us and to the best laid plans. So Lansdowne was planned to have one school in River Oaks and one in Coton Commons. Originally both were planned to be elementary schools. Years later, circumstances called for a change and one was switched to be a middle school. We are at another turning point, so the plan must change again.

    No one purchasing in River Oaks could be assured that the open land around the NCC wouldn’t be developed, just as no one is assured of attending a “community” school. It would be nice if things would always stay the same, but they have a tendency not to cooperate that way. So, as residents we have to adapt, adjust and deal. As for recovering the $1.25 million for a home adjacent to the school – well that’s not likely to happen either way. As you say – the housing bubble had everything to do with the rise and fall of the prices, as well as the NCC’s desire to dump the land it had originally planned to develop into even more houses.

    And those rowdy seniors who want to go drinking before and after the game? I can tell you that, as a former wayward high school “party girl”, we wanted to be far away from the possibility of getting caught so we weren’t about to start boozing it up in someone’s yard near the school. Same couldn’t be said when we were in middle school and didn’t have the good sense or ability to get away from the neighborhood. The soccer fields and playgrounds down the street, easily accessible by bike or on foot, were great places to meet at night – complete with our contraband cigarettes and the soda bottles filled with the booze we had stolen from our parents liquor cabinets. (not a pretty picture nor is it one I am proud of, but it does give me a little insight into how today’s teens might behave)

    No place is perfect, and there is certainly plenty of room for improvement in the current plan. Outside of the issue with the fields – which can maybe be swapped for the oft unused playground and open fields in the Highlands – the biggest opposition seems to be safety and security. Lets address that and ask for more traffic calming, better access in and out of the campus and more security and crossing guards to make sure that those 1200 kids from the other neighborhoods aren’t squealing wheels through the Lansdowne streets.

    You have great conviction in your opinion so I don’t expect to sway yours but there are ways to make this work to the benefit of everyone in the community.

    • loudounhoa says:

      We are all not just tired but bone weary of this conflict for which there appears to be no attempt at resolution. You sound like a nice person and I like you. For us to disagree means two things to me:
      1) we are not operating from the same set of facts and
      2) our government (s) at several levels has abjectly failed all of us.

      I don’t wish to argue any further but factually, the traffic calming can proceed no further because VDOT policies won’t allow most of the recommended fixes. Someone who knew better nonetheless allowed volunteers to waste time “recommending” things that had no chance of acceptance. It distracted them from what was going on at a higher level.
      If you scroll to the power point on the home page of this blog, you will see a long list of private streets that will bear the burden of this traffic. They, not VDOT or the Public Schools, will pay for security, maintenance, repaving, and towing of illegally parked cars. The money will come from HOA dues into perpetuity.
      In terms of fiduciary duty, a public responsibility is being shifted onto the HOA for all time. The public schools are also encroaching on privately maintained sidewalks and asphalt trails owned by the HOA.
      Proffers are supposed to be binding and they run with the land.
      Walking away from one is the equivalent of abandonment in a marriage. It is a solemn commitment upon which the other parties relied in good faith.
      The Board of Supervisors will be blowing off a legal promise they made to ALL of us.
      You don’t change your mind after 10 years and decide you wanted something different and just kiss off the commitment. And BTW the stuff that teenagers use to mark their turf these days isn’t beer cans any more but something a whole lot more disgusting. Sorry for the realism but that is what is missing from this one sided stampede to a high school.
      WHERE will the rest of the students come from? How will they get here? Tuscarora is NOT overcrowded now or in the LCPS projections through 2018. As we heard repeatedly last night at the work session, Lansdowne is stable.
      Please elaborate on the idea of relocating a 15-acre sports park with five public playing fields, two large picnic shelters, and bathrooms with indoor plumbing, to a location for public use in the Highlands.

  7. Tired of the Whole Thing says:

    Hasn’t a public discussion on HS8 been going on for a couple of years now? I understand that not everyone is in favor of it but the prospect of a community school can’t be blamed for plummeting home values. Most people in Landsdowne bought at the height of the market and at very inflated prices. We bought in 2004 and paid more than we had planned but were thrilled with the house and the neighborhood. At the time we had the only one of our model in LoTP. A year later the builder called and asked if a prospective buyer could tour our home so they could see the layout in person. The builder informed me that after seeing ours, the buyer purchased the same model for over $350,000 MORE than we had paid a year earlier. That house was eventually foreclosed on and sold for $100,000 less than WE had paid. Schools had nothing to do with that. “Irrational exuberance” on the other had did and many others experienced a similar “price adjustment”. Discussion and debate is fine, but please, if you are going to assign blame, please do so appropriately.

    • loudounhoa says:

      There has never been a public DIALOGUE about HS8. The four entities charged with that duty: the Lansdowne Conservancy, the Lansdowne HOA, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors, and the Loudoun Public Schools have determinedly refused to hold a public forum. That is not to be confused with the Dec. 20, 2010 and June 7, 2011 public “meetings” where Lori Waters, or susequent meetings where Sam Adamo. TOLD the community what was going to happen.
      The Lansdowne HOA has refused every request to have a community meeting so the four quadrants of the community can come to understand that a high school will affect every one of them differently. In fact, only two of the five candidates for the HOA board even mention this mega-change to the middle of the community in their statements.
      It is the elephant in the bathroom. That is why the angst, enmity, and distrust fester and people go on blogs to demean the positions of other people and repeatedly suggest that those who don’t like it should just move.
      Please excuse what may have been an imprecise presentation of the argument about retrofitting a public facility, in this case one that is tantamount to a large commercial use, into the absolute center of a large neighborhood 20 years after Loudoun County approved the original development concept. It specified there would be ONE school in River Oaks and ONE school in Coton Commons.
      The developer also proffered 15 acres as a public use, and people in River Oaks purchased their homes based on the assurance that it would be there. Its purpose is to ameliorate the effects on the immediate neighborhood of the public facility already approved (Belmont Ridge Middle School). For the Board of Supervisors, two decades after the fact, to go back and rewrite the development concept is what is the problem.
      The causes of the housing bubble and subsequent burst have been thoroughly documented elsewhere. That is not the point of the post you reference.
      Rather, that introducing a competition grade, lighted, stadium, with artificial turf that is rented out as many nights as there is an entity that will pay $125 per hour for its use, is to dramatically alter the development conditions, negate the execution of terms of the proffer, and worst of all, from the standpoint of neighbors (not) having concern for one another or for the holistic well-being of the Lansdowne community, it impacts more severely on those who CLOSED in 2005 and 2006.
      Ask the Realtors who are so eager to sell the houses around HS8. How likely it is that anyone will recover $1.25 million for a house on a street adjacent to a football stadium with lights, bands, PA system, concessions, and rowdy seniors looking for a place to drink before and after the game?
      We hear so often that “these are our kids!” Yes they are. But 1200 of them will not be “our kids,” and they will be driving through the private streets that surround the site that were not included in the vaunted “Traffic Calming Study.” Do you know how many traffic calming devices were recommended for the Highlands? Two: one raised crosswalk and one speed hump. Both on Chartier Drive, nowhere near the high school.
      Do you know how many traffic calming devices were recommended for the private streets? Zero.

  8. Poll Graff says:

    Gosh – am I the only one who was awake when the economy plummeted and the housing market crashed? Our houses lost value for reasons other than a school coming to the neighborhood. You mention 2005 – that was the height of the frenzy. Nearly every home in our country lost value in the last 7 years. And if you hadn’t noticed, the values are starting to rise again. Most homes around my part of our neighborhood are selling well and relatively quickly. And yes, I live with in walking distance to the where the school will be. I can’t WAIT for safer streets from the planned improvements. I’m not the only one.

    • loudounhoa says:

      “Safer streets?”
      Have you checked the accident rate at the two-lane roundabout at Routes 15 and 50 in Gilbert’s Corner?
      Even VDOT recommends that you “stay clear” of buses and trucks — such as 18-wheelers dropping off supplies to the NCC — in a roundabout.
      Think about how well the chassis of a school bus accommodates curves. Now picture two of them in a roundabout side by side in the middle of a densely residential neighborhood with pedestrians.

  9. Barbara says:

    It’s a shame, Polly, that you can’t respect another viewpoint. I understand that a school might be necessary, but I don’t see the value of cramming one into our neighborhood. I don’t see my property values rising once the green space I back on to is taken away to create a four-lane road. Perhaps you would have a different point of view if building directly impacted your quality of life. Not everyone is in favor of this school, and telling us to just get over it is not a very charitable way to act. I, for one, moved here because the neighborhood was finished. That was part of its appeal. Moving away is not an option for everyone, and telling someone to move who disagrees with you is just plain rude.

  10. loudounhoa says:

    Here is one example: a home that sold at the end of 2005 for $1,250,000 now has a fair market value of $765,000. You may believe that constructing a competition football field, with artificial turf to extend its playing dates, within sight and earshot of a $1.25 million home will restore almost $500,000 to its value.
    But perhaps the owners and other real estate professionals are not so sure. Might it be a good idea to have a public discussion of the effects of HS8 on everyone in Lansdowne?

  11. loudounhoa says:

    Thank you for your comment, “Polly.”
    You can Google “Loudoun County tax data base” and go to the web site where you can type in a street (name only) such as “Ridgeback” or “Accokeek” or “Carradoc” and get a list of homeowners. You can click sales to find out when they bought and what they paid. You can click “values” to find the present fair market value.
    It might be if interest to see the areas of Lansdowne where values have plummeted by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Literally.
    Interesting that several Realtors are so excited about this school. They get the same commission regardless.
    What is also interesting is noting whether the strong supporters of the school Actually reside within the walk zone.
    And you?

  12. Polly Graff says:

    Enough already. Everyone on the planet knows how you feel about the Sports Park. In your world all of our children would be great soccer, football, and softball players, but they wouldn’t be EDUCATED. We need a place for our children to attend high school. We were thinking of selling our house to move for a possible relocation. When the realtors heard that we were going to have 3 schools within the neighborhood they were thrilled, saying that raised our home value and made it MORE ATTRACTIVE to buyers with children. There will be fields at the schools. We will all survive. We will have a wonderful high school with many benefits. Yes, it’s not a 100% ideal solution, but it’s a really good one. And the majority of us are HAPPY about it. If you don’t like it, maybe it’s time for you to think about moving. But don’t worry, your house will be worth more, because we have all three schools in the community. No one is going to pass on your house because the SPORTS PARK has been repurposed.

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