The two Loudoun County supervisors who live in Sterling don’t always agree, but they are on the same page in rejecting a supervisor candidate’s call for new residential development in the district.
Longtime residents Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) and Scott York (I-At Large) say the Sterling community does not need the type of redevelopment sought by Phyllis Randall, a Democratic Party nominee who lives in Lansdowne and is running for York’s position as Board chair in the November elections.
Among her suggestions for Sterling District, Randall recommended “redevelopment of some of their shopping areas to mixed use communities.”
In a newsletter earlier this week, Delgaudio said “‘redevelopment’ is the wrong word to use in Sterling.” He warned that Randall’s plan would mean density-packing of new residences, and a corresponding negative impact on schools, traffic and emergency services.
Delgaudio told FirewallNOVA that converting existing shopping areas to mixed-use “will lead to residential high-rises and apartments that will change the character of the Sterling community.”
York agreed that Randall’s suggestion to bring mixed-use developments is “very concerning.”
“Sterling doesn’t need to be redeveloped,” York said. “The shopping center needs to be revitalized. But other than that, I like the community the way it is. I’m not going to support any plan of hers to come in and try to density-pack Sterling.”
Randall’s fellow Democrat, Koran Saines, who is running against Delgaudio for the Sterling seat, sounded a similar note, saying he envisions “revitalizing” the district in a way that would “not take away from the character of Sterling Park.”
“We have shopping centers and public services that have not had a facelift in decades,” Saines said. “Sterling residents want to see our shopping centers redeveloped so we are attracting new businesses, retailers, and restaurants.
Saines did not call for any new residential development in Sterling and did not comment on Randall’s mixed-use proposal, but said he would like to see the county acquire a separate piece of property for the library rather than house it at the Shopping Mall complex on Sterling Boulevard. “That acquisition would be similar to the one made for the Sterling Fire & Rescue Station. Sterling deserves a library, community center, and shopping centers that are on par with other areas of the county.”
According to both Delgaudio and York, a standalone library was the Board of Supervisors’ preference, but there is simply no land available for purchase near Sterling Park. The only options are to move the library to the outskirts of Sterling, where land is available, or convince a commercial property owner in the center of Sterling to carve out land for a library.
To make that happen, Delgaudio said, means giving a land owner free rein to add high-density residential development.
“A free-standing library means more housing, because a developer is not going to give up some of his property for a three-acre or five-acre library unless they are allowed to build either high-density housing or commercial development, and right now there is no demand for commercial development.”
York noted that the current plan to renovate the existing library and recreation center into a larger recreation center, while moving the library to a space at the shopping center, will have numerous advantages for Sterling residents.
“We want to keep the Sterling library in Sterling Park – in the center of the neighborhood – so kids can walk to it and folks who are in the retirement communities can also walk to the library. Moving it to the shopping center will double the capacity of the current library space, and also bring traffic into that shopping center which will help them succeed in attracting other good business so there’s not dead space there.”
“We have the funding in place to redo the current fire house, remodel the recreation center with the entire building now available for recreational uses, and double the space of the library.”
York also said the agreement for the library lease – which is close to being completed – is a 20-year term, and during that time the Board will continue to look for opportunities for a free-standing library to come up if a shopping center owner is open to the possibility.
Regarding recent statements by both Randall and Saines that more county money should be diverted to Sterling, Delgaudio responded: “Mr. Saines has said we’ve got to do big things here in Sterling. There are $63 million worth of improvements that are coming our way. These include many road and sidewalk improvements, and the new library, community center, and fire and rescue station. These are not big enough?”
Charlie King, the Republican candidate challenging York for Board chair, said “Redevelopment and infrastructure needs in Sterling are not new issues. The recent outcry by Democrat candidates for chairman and supervisor are grandstanding. There probably are some areas in the greater Sterling area that could benefit from redevelopment. It is up to private enterprise and market conditions to determine where and when that is feasible.”