County supervisors during their first Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce PolicyMakers Series breakfast of the new term pitched their visions for the next four years.
Once a year, supervisors sit down at one of the Loudoun Chamber’s series of breakfasts for policymakers and influential figures to talk about their work, issues and ideas. Friday’s event was the PolicyMakers Series breakfast since the 2019 election brought in four new supervisors.
And with Metro’s Silver Line tentatively slated to get rolling later this year and Loudoun workers grappling with high housing prices, those two topics were on supervisors’ minds.
Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), who serves on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board of directors overseeing Metro, as well as chairing the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, said having one entity, Capital Rail Constructors and Dulles Airport, building a multi-billion-dollar project and handing it off to a separate entity, Metro, is “a little difficult, as you might imagine.” But he said Metro is coming.
Supervisor Sylvia Russell Glass (D-Broad Run) said the local government must work with local business to make the areas around Metro thrive.
“The public and private sectors must continue to work together to make sure the areas around the Metro stations are developed at the highest and best use,” Glass said. “The decisions we make today will determine how economically viable the Metro is.”
And she said she is “well aware that the lack of affordable housing can be a major barrier for those wishing to live and work in Loudoun. As a special education teacher, I know this all too well from friends and colleagues.” But, she said, “the arrival of Metro provides us with a fantastic chance to add to our affordable and workforce housing.”
Supervisors also talked about the plans for more bike and pedestrian paths, as well as linear parks and green trails throughout the county.
“Connectivity of our trails paths and walkways in Algonkian District, and throughout the county, will be a high priority of mine,” said Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian). “I see some of my neighbors taking their lives in their hands to walk on certain roads in my district alone, where I think that we need some multimodal forms of transportation.”
And Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn) said he has had a Loudoun County bike shirt designed and is looking into starting a team.
“Bike and pedestrian trails are critical to be able to move our families around,” Turner said. “If you come to me with a revitalization or a redevelopment—or all of us, for that matter—talk to me about how you’re going to connect that community to the new Metro stops. Talk to me about how you’re going to connect to the surrounding community.”
That mirrored a sentiment common among the supervisors there—that Loudoun’s future would be shaped in large part by the business interests, particularly developers, in the room.
“My charge to you guys is to listen to what was just said, what was said earlier from my colleagues, and what you already know that are issues in Loudoun County,” said Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling). “Bring those applications to us that are actually going to solve these issues.”
And Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) asked Chamber members to also bring conservation voices into their discussions, particularly discussions around the data center industry, its central role in the county government’s finances, and its push for renewable energy.
“I would like to ask the Chamber to do what it did so well in bringing our nonprofits and our data centers together, to also reach out to our conservation community and bring them into a meeting with our businesses,” Umstattd said. “And especially our data centers, so that these two groups can come to learn that they each have something to offer the other.”
Letourneau said southern Loudoun, home of his Dulles District, needs urgent attention.
“In these next four years, it’s imperative that we make progress on the southern part of the county,” Letourneau said. “It has been where a lot of the growth has been, it’s been where we have been dealing with a lot of crowding problems when it comes to schools, and it’s where we are dealing with, currently, extremely bad traffic congestion.”
He has proposed a northern collector road across Dulles Airport property connecting Tall Cedars Parkway to Rt. 28 in Fairfax County, bypassing the Rt. 50 intersection and providing an alternate route to the east. When he first proposed the road in February 2018, he said it would be “probably my single top priority”—and said Friday the county has been making progress in talks with Dulles Airport.
“It’s going to be a difficult project, it’s going to be an expensive project, but
And Saines and Briskman said they would also be working to revitalize the county’s easternmost areas, and Saines indicated he would continue his push to dispel prejudices around the Sterling area as dangerous or violent.
“There are a lot of good things in Sterling,” Saines, a lifelong resident, said. “We’ve seen some great development happen. There are a lot of misconceptions about Sterling, so I want to change those misconceptions.”
And, he said, there are opportunities for revitalization and redevelopment in Sterling, inviting Chamber members to come take a tour.
it’s one that’s necessary if you look at long term forecasts for Rt. 50,” Letourneau said.
“It’s my job to respond to the people in the county who are sitting in this room, but it’s also my job to respond to the woman who’s working two jobs, to the new immigrant who just got here, to the person just trying to make it through the day who doesn’t even know who I am, who doesn’t’ even know there’s a Board of Supervisors,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large).
Supervisors Caleb A. Kershner (R-Catoctin) and Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) were unable to attend the session.