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County Residents Gather to Discuss Stadium at Potomac Town Center

County officials, representatives of VDOT, representatives of Roadside Development and Potomac Nationals owner Art Silber presented information to the small crowd.

County residents gathered at a town hall at Freedom High School auditorium on Sept. 27 to air their concerns about the controversial proposed stadium at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.

The primary concerns were traffic congestion and public safety.

Noise, traffic and light near the stadium 

"We are gridlocked here," one resident said. 

"We're in a very tight space here in the Potomac Club area, where there's a hospital across the street," another resident said.

"If I wanted to live in a stadium, I would live near southwest D.C., not in Woodbridge," another resident said. She said that she bought her expensive condo near the town center specifically because of the town center, but did not support the stadium. "I don't want to live in my car," she said. "If I feel like I'm being locked in my car going from place to place, I don't have a problem leaving the county or leaving the state. People aren't addressing the issue of traffic as it exists now. We have a problem with traffic right now. I spend an hour on Sunday afternoon driving from the District to my house."

Richard Lake with Roadside Development said that density actually enhances traffic. 

"The trick is multiple purpose," he said. Traffic on Interstate 95 is a regional issue. But if the development is successful, he said, traffic will go down because people won't have to leave the area to get to restaurants and retailers. 

Potomac Nationals owner Art Silber said that the Potomac Nationals team was a business, and if traffic kept people from coming to the games, they would look into adjusting the starting time of the games. 

He estimated that 1500 people might come to a game. With about three people per car, that would be about 500 cars. The cars' entrances would likely be staggered, but they would likely all leave together, when the games let out at about 10 p.m.

“We believe, that while no additional traffic is ever something that somebody wants or looks forward to, we believe that the benefits that this will bring to the community will outweight the minor inconvenience," he said. 

Silber said that modern ballpark lights glowed, but did not beam lights outwards. Modern speakers were similar in that they aimed noise towards the center of the field. 

Public safety near the stadium

One resident raised public safety concerns about the safety of those attending or living near the stadium.

"We've never had a car broken into, we've never had a mugging," Silber said. "The people who come to minor league baseball games are family. We've never had a problem with pedophiles. We will have a playground at this facility." 

"We have the ability as a community to put conditions on the special use permit application," Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi said, saying that concerns could be addressed that way.

The commuter parking garage

"The commuter parking garage is a unique asset that is being overlooked here," Lake said, saying that the garage would alleviate traffic. "This is a unique opportunity to get a parking garage for free from the state, and it only comes with the development."

VDOT will be paying $15 million for the construction of the parking garage, VDOT's Prince William County liaison Maria Sinner said.

One resident said that the fireworks at the Potomac Nationals Stadium knocked things off her walls and asked if they were really planning on having fireworks at a stadium near the hospital. She also expressed skepticism that the commuter traffic would be able to leave by the time those attending games arrived. 

Prince William Transportation Director Tom Blaser said the applicant would have to demonstrate that there would be spots open in the garage by the time commuters left. 

Building a green parking garage

Dr. Jack Kooyoomjian, President of LOCCA, talked about a checklist that LOCCA used to evaluate new developments. 

"Weekend traffic can be really bad," Kooyoomijian said. "We live here, and we shop here."

He stressed the importance of green development.

"You take that parking garage, and you look at that, you could build it one more level up, and you could green it, you could go solar, and you could get subsidies for that," he said.

Silber said that he and the developers were "very much aware" of their responsibility to be green. 

Following the money

A resident from the Potomac Club development said he didn't think that they had the entire picture.

"The first thing that gave me pause when I heard about this stadium last year was that Principi came and talked to us and said he was against it," he said. "That was last year, and this year, he's for it." 

"I'm very concerned about having taxpayer money go into this in the long run," he added. He expressed concern about shoddy developers, and cited the dead end sidewalks all around Woodbridge as evidence. 

He also said that the only way in and out to the helipad on the hospital was through the stadium area. 

"Our board of supervisors have received a lot of money from these developers," he said. "I'm not saying it's corrupt; people have to run campaigns. There are people on this board that are taking 30, 40, 50 percent of their money from developers, and we are left holding the bag." 

He then recommended that residents visit the Sheriff of Nottingham blog and the Virginia Public Access Project to learn more about the finances of local politicians. 

Lake stressed that the development was not associated with developers of nearby residential communities. 

"These projects do cause traffic, but those problems can be mitigated," he said. "I would argue that my town center will greatly increase the value of your homes. This is the first step, not the last step." 

"A lot of the things that you're talking about, we had nothing to do with," Silber told the resident. "I'm paying for the ballpark. I'm writing a check, and that's the way that it's going to work. There's no taxpayer funding here. If you think that I can buy a vote for Maureen Cadigan or John Jenkins or Corey Stewart, you just don't know me. I was one of those guys that had a hot dog job when I first started. I worked my rear off trying to become successful. These kids don't have other jobs, and we are providing them with a job and a work ethic." 

"You can't put a dollar amount on quality of life," a resident said. "What is the benefit to the residents of the Potomac Club development? Because we are going to be the most impacted." 

"All that I have ever done here is try to improve the quality of life," Silber said.

Fate of current stadium

Another resident said that he didn't think the stadium needed to move because games only filled it to 35-60 percent in games that he had observed. 

"We don't have a choice; we have to move," Silber said. "In two years, we lose our ability to move. There was a design error made when the ballpark was built. It was made out of metal. It's the only metal minor league baseball park in the country. But it is rusting. We can't stay there." 

Assistant County Executive Susan Roltsch said that Pfitzner Stadium would be reused. 

"It's not going to be a lost asset," she said. The county has discussed the possibility of high school games to be held there, but nothing is set in stone.

"Were there any other options? Did anyone consider refurbishing the current place?" one resident asked. 

"We've been looking for a new ballpark since the mid-90s," Silber said. He looked in Loudoun County and Fairfax County. He was looking for a stadium that would involve no public money. 

"But if I've got to pay for it, and if I've got to cover the bills for it, I have to have accessibility and visibility," he said. "Am I going to tell you that anybody wants this in their backyard? Besides baseball nuts, nobody wants this in their backyard. There is no site that came up as strongly as this one in terms of minimal community impact and maximum visibility. The number of vehicles we will generate compared to the number of vehicles in the area is a fraction of a percentage." 

Development still in early stages

Chris Price, the director of the Prince William Planning Department, assured the gathering that the developer would have to demonstrate how they would mitigate the impacts of the development on issues like traffic. 

Principi emphasized that the process was still in the early stages. 

"The applicant has not filed the paperwork to be considered for what we call a special use permit,” he said. There is so far only a letter of intent between parties.

Once Roadside Development files an official application for a special use permit, it will go before the planning commission and then the Board of County Supervisors, with several public hearings. 

“The proposal is a lot like a jigsaw puzzle," Principi said. "There are many pieces that have to come together, and they all have to come together as a whole. We as a community will have a chance to put our fingerprints on every piece of this puzzle. This, i believe, will be an economic shot in the arm for Prince William as this will be a $75 million investment for our community."

Joe George September 28, 2012 at 10:27 AM
If you never took the time to attend this session, you have no room to complain.
RJKelley September 28, 2012 at 10:44 AM
This is by far the dumbest proposal to come down the pike in a long, long time for this area. There is plenty of land available to build this stadium elsewhere. To build it in an area that already has the volume of traffic this area of the county has is one of the most assinine things I've heard in a while, but then again, that's why they want to build the stadium there. Don't believe the hype, this will cause more traffic congestion than we are currently experiencing. I am opposed to the stadium and I'm especially opposed to ANY public funds being spent on ANYTHING, including the parking garage, that would be utilized by this facilty.
jacquie lopez September 28, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I will echo the notion that this proposal is idiocy. And mention that some of us needed to work during the proposed meeting time. Traffic in this area is already so ridiculous, I avoid local travel at rush hour and on weekends, and remain trapped at home (or at work) viewing the gridlocked traffic from my windows. I live near the current stadium, and have never seen it draw the crowds that would justify the expense or that, shall we say, *interesting* notion that more traffic causes less traffic ?!?! And finally, I know that going to speak out against something that is already a done deal is a waste of time. And believe me, these things are done deals way before 'we the people' hear about them. Go ahead, build it. And let it create a mess for a while, until people realize its not worth bothering for, and it remains mostly empty - like the 40+ shiney new office buildings we have speckled around the county. I wish you well.
jacquie lopez September 28, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I'd like to add this - When Strasburg or Obama (events that actually drew a crowd) came to Pfitzner, did anyone happen to notice what it did to traffic, parking, enhanced need for PUBLICLY FUNDED traffic control & security, whathaveyou? Has anyone actually tried to go to the mall at 4:30 pm on a weekday? Oh, that's right - you all work in DC. Sorry, my bad.
Kevin September 28, 2012 at 02:00 PM
This is by far the smartest proposal to come the pike in a long, long time for this area. Anybody who thinks that this is going to cause traffic congestion is an idiot and needs to go back to Middle School and retake 7th grade math. Wegmans, Safeway, the Hospital all produce way more traffic then this little minor league baseball stadium ever will and those places are open 365 days a year. The baseball stadium has only 70 home games a year and a lot of those games are on Sunday evening when there is no traffic anyway. Anybody who wouldn't want a public parking garage with slug lines to be built within walking distance from their property are idiots and need to take a class in Real Estate 101 because there is nothing short of of a Metro stop that would increase the value of more.
Kevin September 28, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Rachel, I'd also like to say how disappointed I am in your one-sided coverage of the town hall last night. Your story makes it seems like there wasn't a lot of people there supporting the new stadium. I live in Potomac Club and I fully support the stadium and I stood up and said so. Yes, there were some loud, rude and overly aggressive people there who might of intimidated other people from standing up and expressing themselves, but I would think that a good reporter would be able to look beyond the vocal minority and get the whole story.
Kev C. September 28, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Agreed!
Kev C. September 28, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Agreed!
Mcl September 28, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Lets clarify that in townhalls, the people who support an initiative don't often go. It is usually the opposers who show, in this case, Potomac Club owners. I am one of the many that is happy I won't have to go to DC to watch a baseball game w my kids - instead I can spend my well earned money here where I live. I commute to DC so I know I'd rather put up w a little traffic locally than spending hours on 95 going north for family entertainment. I plan to live in Woodbridge the next 30 years, my kids will probably live here with their kids too - baseball is a family tradition that I will enjoy w my grandchildren right here. I am happy the owner decided to stay in the county and not go to Loundon co. I'm tired of hearing that eastern PWC is the "hood". People who own a homes in Woodbridge refer to it as Hoodbridge! Get real people-there are plenty of us who spent well over 500k to live here- the stadium is will help establish that new level to our side.
Kevin September 28, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Heck the Hibachi Grill produces more then 500 cars a day...the traffic congestion is being totally overblown...
Howard Brande September 28, 2012 at 04:57 PM
"The first thing that gave me pause when I heard about this stadium last year was that Principi came and talked to us and said he was against it," he said. "That was last year, and this year, he's for it." I attended that meeting last year. Mr. Principi never said he was against the staidum. He said that the pros and cons would have to be looked at and compared to the pros and cons of other possible development projects like an office building. I am a Potomac Club resident and my wife and I 100% support this project. It will increase our home value, provide us with entertainment within walking distance, give an economic boost ot the area and make our community the most desireable location in Prince William County. For those that are complainng about traffic, a reality check. We live 22 miles from the Washington, DC line. There is going to be traffic no matter what. Go into Fairfax on Saturday afternoon or on RT 50 or 66. If you want to live out there you'll pay more and still sit in traffic cause you have to drive everywhere. For us, the convenience of having all of that right across the street is a fair give and take. I'm sure there will be nights where I'm frustrated that I'm sitting in traffic just to get to my house, but I do believe that benefits will surely outweigh the drawbacks. And for those that moved into the community when it was first opened and now may be upside down on your home, the stadium is the best chance you have to regain your home value.
Kevin September 28, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I was at the original meeting also and Mr. Principi never said he was against it. He said he wanted to look at all the options and having a state of the art baseball stadium and having VDOT build us a parking garage must of been the best option. I really wished that the Patch didn't quote that guy who was saying that stuff. Every time I go to some community meeting and he's there he's always coming out of left field with some wild accusations.
Bill Petrak September 29, 2012 at 02:10 AM
For the record...You probably were NOT at the meeting were Frank Principi had a question and answer session with Chris Royse. I can line up at least 25 people who were there and heard the same thing. You did NOT hear Principi denying it...did you? Left field...clueless? Really? You both are very disrespectful guys and are uninformed about Potomac Club, politics in Prince William County and this ball stadium. I have quotes in my hand that were in the media with the National's owner saying along Rt 66 was the best place to put the stadium for Northern Virginia. I have facts and proof to back up everything I said...and BTW, out of the 100 or so people at the meeting, about 5 spoke FOR the stadium; the rest were against. Ms. Leon was SPOT ON. Before you gentlemen go spouting incorrect on the internet, you ought to check your facts. And doing so, and you still disagree with me/us, that is fine. We respect...have some respect for your fellow neighbors to disagree.
Bill Petrak September 29, 2012 at 02:12 AM
sorry for the misspelling...I should have read that over before posting...I think you get the message.
Mac September 29, 2012 at 03:12 AM
If the stadium must go ther, what is wrong with using the parking lot at Freedom High School as a satelite parking area, with shuttle buses taking the fans to and from the stadium? I live off of Nebasco Road and would use that if it were available. Just sayin'
Lizzie M. Johnson September 29, 2012 at 03:20 AM
After those seventy games what happens. Will this millions of dollar stadium lay dormad. Prince Williams County Board of Supervisors let people talk them into doing anything.
Kevin September 29, 2012 at 08:56 PM
OK for one thing there was maybe 15 to 20 people who had a chance to talk and yes about five people were for it with the others against. So tell me how would you know if the rest of the people there were for or against it? Did you take some straw pole that I didn't know about? BTW, maybe more people could of expressed their views if your big mouth wasn't hogging the microphone for over 15 minutes and wouldn't let anybody else speak. They had to tell you to shut up and let some other people talk. Also for the record I was there at the little mini debate between Principi and Royse. It was at 8am on a Saturday morning at the club house and you were there running your mouth as usual about how Principi was taking money from Kettler and there is some sort of conspiracy in Potomac Club to keep you off the HOA board. Let me refresh you as to what happened that morning. Principi said that the Potomac Nationals had approached the county about building the stadium next to Opitz BLVD. He said that he HAD NOT made up his mind and didn't know if the stadium was the best possible use for that land or if "Hot Dog" jobs was better then an office park, but he made it very clear that he had only just heard about the offer and wasn't going to make a decision until he had more facts .
Kevin September 29, 2012 at 09:00 PM
So Lizzie I'm assuming you agree with me that the traffic congestion isn't going to be an issue and you have other problems with building the stadium there?
EasyE September 30, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Bravo! This is the best comment I have read!
Bill Petrak September 30, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Kevin, As I said earlier, you are a very disrespectful person. Your language is crude, obnoxious, and as your earliers post states, you think people are idiots who do not agree with you. Everyone who wanted to speak had a chance to do so at the meeting Thursday night...and did. No, I did not take a straw poll. Mr. Principi did NOT tell me to shut up. In fact, he recognized that there were several other people in line behind me, and based on the crowd who supported what I was saying (clapping as I made points), invited me to get back in line to continue speaking. If you did your homework (before typing) you would know that Mr. Principi was taking political contributions from our developer while pretending to help us. I am sorry your memory is not so good when it comes to recollecting meetings. You even went after the woman who wrote this story. As for me not being on the HOA board...I recieved more votes from the community than both of the 2 individuals who were placed on the board combined. The developer has 3 votes for every unit which has not closed on (128 at the time). So the developer placed all 384 votes on the two candidates they wanted on the board. As a matter of fact, there is no candidate on our HOA board who was not placed there by the developer. Also, if you would do your homework, you would know that one of the BOD members took $25,000 from the 2 gentlemen on the stage in campaign contributions just before the stadium was announced.
Bill Petrak September 30, 2012 at 09:46 PM
In addition, 5 of our supervisors have taken money from these folks. But hey, you are the smart one and we are all idiots. You spent more time researching facts and not attacking your fellow neighbors or people who disagree with you. If folks do not agree with my opinions, that's fine...they are entitled to their opinions and I respect that. Don't bother blowing another disrespectful gasket (or go ahead)...I won't be responding again to your hateful rhetoric.
Bill Petrak September 30, 2012 at 10:48 PM
For others reading this blog, out of the approximately 5 people who spoke for the stadium, no one (at least that I remember) had economic reasons or reasons that were compelling to be for it. One gentlemen said he lived in Occoquan, was single, had no children and needed a place like this to go to to have fun and be entertained. One woman said she lived in Powell's Landing, had 3 children and thought it would be great to go to a baseball game near her house. A third guy said he lived at Potomac Club and was looking forward to slugging from across the street...well I guess that is economic for him. :) I really don't remember any others, but could be mistaken. My point is NOT to disregard these folk's opinions, it is to share with you that we did not here compelling arguments for the stadium. The owner of the National said he was writing a check for $25 million and needed a return on his investment. I have ran over some generous numbers on returns of ball games and see no way to get paid back...and profit....UNLESS....you turn the ball stadium into a place to have concerts and other huge events at on a regular basis. Think about it...they said they expect 1500 people per game in 500 cars. At $8 a person and if each person spent $10 on food at 50 games, that is $1.35 million a year After upkeep & maintenance subtracted, I just don't see the payback I can't imagine making millions of dollars on shirts and hats for a minor league team. Where does the profit come from?
Kevin October 01, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Yea, you really need to stop replying to me because your lies sure can't keep up. This whole thread started with you attempting to spread some lie about Principi changing his stance on the stadium. I disputed that and called you out on it. You then tried to imply that I wasn't even at the meeting. I think both of us can agree that I've proved without a doubt that I was there and that what you were quoted saying at the town hall meeting was a lie. I understand you have an extremely large ego and I apologize if I have offended it, but don't think I'm going to sit back while you try and destroy my property value by sabotaging the stadium deal just because you have some sort of vendetta against some county supervisor.
Craig Cobb October 01, 2012 at 03:06 AM
I'm a Potomac Club home owner in favor of Stonebridge and of the Potomac Nationals stadium. I did attend, but did not speak at the meeting on Thursday night. I realize that the new stadium may not fit some home owner's ideals, but taking a longer view, I strongly believe that it will increase property values. With the foreclosures and short sales on our block, anything that may positively influence property values is more than welcome. I look forward to attending the games and enjoying the club and other amenities at the new stadium. Additionally, it will be very nice to have commuter facilities (bus and slug) within walking distance of the development.
Lizzie M. Johnson October 01, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Kevin I don't agree and I live ten minuets from the area and come there frequently and have experienced traffic going in and out. I will say are you smarter than a fifth grader
Kev C. October 02, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Kevin, I'm actually starting to like you. :) Trust me sir, you are beating the dead horse on this one. I've tried going down this route and fighting this war before, but my friend, you will not win. Just leave it alone. That's why my responses was nothing more than "Agreed".
Sean October 02, 2012 at 10:09 PM
I'd just like to add my voice to the "pro-stadium" crowd. I live in Potomac Club and I am very pleased that I will be able to walk to the slug lines, get a ride to work (for free) on the express lanes, and be there in good time. From my perspective traffic is getting better! It takes me 5 minutes to drive to the stores I frequent the most! Sounds like the BEST traffic in Nova! From a more holistic point of view: Will the stadium bring more cars to the area, yes it will, but will it really cause a problem? I don't think so, especially considering the time of day in which events will occur. How long will it take a garage to clear at 10pm at night? Even if you had to drive through the exiting traffic, how long would it really add to your commute home (at 10pm at night).
len October 03, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Kevin, great post. As someone that lives right by the site, I am all for it. Traffic is awful regardless of whether or not this stadium is built. So to argue that traffic will get worse, to me, is a moot point. Considering I do spend most weekends in my home I'm pleased more and more activities are being developed that are within walking distance of my house! It should increase properties value too, as the commuter lot will be a huge help to people going to DC, Belvoir and Quantico.
len October 03, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I would have been right next to you Kevin expressing my support. Thanks for speaking up for those of us who couldn't make it or didn't know about it.
Kev C. October 03, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Totally Agreed!

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