The Leesburg Town Council this week submitted its annual wishlist to Loudoun County for help on funding capital projects. A popular item is at the top.
Among the seven items on its list of requests, the council has asked Loudoun County to contribute up to $6 million toward the purchase of the former Westpark Golf Club property.
Chuck Kuhn, the current contract purchaser of the property, had offered to sell the majority of the 143-acre property to the town for $3.4 million, and place the land into a conservation easement to allow the property to become town park or be kept as open space. Although there was general enthusiasm on the council for preserving the land during a June discussion of the offer, there was not enough support to continue looking into the purchase, with several council members citing tight government revenues in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kuhn said following that meeting he was unsure if he would continue to pursue the purchase of the property if the town was not interested in buying the portion of the land that is not commercially zoned from him.
Councilman Tom Dunn made the suggestion to put the item forward for funding consideration from the county government. While typically funding requests are limited to those projects already listed in the town’s Capital Improvements Program, Dunn noted that the purchase of the former golf club property, and the potential to turn it into a park, would benefit both town and county residents.
“It would use our county tax dollars that the town contributes and [put] it back to use in the town, which is what we’re doing with these other projects,” he said.
Councilman Ron Campbell suggested upping the amount of the request to $6 million. Initially, staff had suggested a $3.5 million request.
“What I don’t want to do is make a false effort,” he said. “We don’t know what the value is of the property. I want to make sure if we’re going to do this that we’re somewhere in the ballpark.”
Councilman Neil Steinberg also suggested adding a request to fund a downtown traffic study, at $250,000, because of the impacts the county courthouse expansion wll have on the downtown traffic network.
The other projects put forward for funding considerations were town staff suggestions and are currently programmed into the CIP. They are $5 million to complete the design portion of the Rt. 15/Edwards Ferry Road interchange; $6 million towards the widening of Evergreen Mill Road; $758,600 for a traffic signal at the Sycolin Road/Gateway Drive intersection; $178,200 for three public bus shelters; and a little more than $2 million towards lighting along the W&OD Trail within town limits.
In total, the town capital funding requests to the county tallied a little more than $20 million. The request is expected to be discussed during the Board of Supervisors’ fiscal year 2022 budget deliberations.
The resolution on the funding request passed 5-1, with Steinberg opposed.