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Reid: Taxpayers fund Leesburg’s sidewalk misstep

Sidewalk parklets in Lexington, Ma. that can be rented by businesses. Courtesy Photo

Indeed, there is outdoor dining for two or three restaurants on South King Street due to the wider sidewalk that Leesburg taxpayers spent $1 million to construct, but there has been no evidence yet of it being “a gathering space” as Michael O’Connor touted in your June 16 article “Historic downtown confronts the new city.”

There is still $900,000 sitting in the town’s capital program to build the same boondoggle on North King Street, although probably only one restaurant would utilize it for outdoor dining. In addition, the council is poised to spend $300,000 on a “water feature” at the town garage on Loudoun Street, also on a wing and prayer it may bring more people to our historic downtown.

Mr. O’Connor, who owns at least three buildings fronting King Street, and some other landowners, were the prime beneficiaries of this wider sidewalk, yet did not pay commensurate to the amount they would benefit in new customers and higher real estate values.

A much less expensive and more equitable option would have been to have prefabricated “parklets” that could have been placed in the parking space directly in front of the business that wanted it. As you can see from the photo of the wooden one in Lexington, Mass., it allows for outdoor dining in front of businesses that want them – and allows for it to be rented by that business, not paid by all taxpayers.

Town staff presented to the town council during the 2013 controversy examples of “parklets” that were made of brick and blended into our sidewalks much better. However, this option was ignored due to a politically influential group of businesses and residents that wanted the entire sidewalk widened.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Rick’s and Crème-de-la-Crème have closed – in large part due to the lack of “feet on the street” but also insufficient parking. And the council has done nothing to replace the 20 spaces lost on South King Street due to the wider sidewalk.

Putting more “feet on the street” was the message from the town/business joint study by the Urban Land Institute in 2007. But some on council are too fixated on sidewalks and streetscape, while ignoring the major impediments to downtown business viability – not enough parking where needed, not enough of a retail mix and probably most important, not enough of a clientele for businesses due to the over reliance on the county and town governments and courts.

It is my hope in this coming council campaign that we can discuss better options for improving our downtown and not spend any more on wider sidewalks and streetscape.

 

Ken Reid

Leesburg

Schell: The real problem: a radical ideology

Once again a devoted follower of radical Islam slaughters Americans, yet we are supposed to believe the problem is “gun violence,” that it has nothing to do with a radical ideology that promises entrance to paradise as a reward for killing “infidels.”
 
It’s not like the self-identified ISIS devotee who killed 49 Americans in Orlando, Fla. last week hid his beliefs that we should be scratching our heads in search of a motive. His many postings make it clear that despite his being born in the U.S., he identified with his parents’ home country of Afghanistan, not the U.S., and former classmates report of his cheering for the terrorists on 9/11. In one of his last postings, he wrote of his hope that Allah would “accept” him after carrying out what he was about to do.
 
So why is the topic of the day “gun violence” and not radical Islam? On 9/11, thousands of Americans were killed without a single gun being fired. All throughout the world people are slaughtered in the name of radical Islam with knives, swords, bombs and various other methods.  It’s not about guns.
 
According to the CIA, America has never been under as great of a threat as it is today. CIA Director John Brennan testified before Congress that ISIS has thousands of devotees infiltrating the West through open borders and refugee programs intent on carrying out more of what we just witnessed
in Orlando.
 
So why are our leaders not doing everything within their power to protect us?  Why is this the time to limit Second Amendment rights, a time when, according to the CIA, we are at our greatest threat from
terrorism? Why not, instead, limit the “rights” of those who want to come here to harm us, and why not deport any and all terrorists already known to be living in the U.S.?
 
If, according to the FBI, preventing terrorist attacks in the U.S. is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, then why in the world would we want to increase the haystack? The Obama administration stubbornly insists on bringing more refugees here from Syria, despite the fact that we cannot properly vet them and that the FBI has already admitted to not being able to track all of the terrorists who
are already here.

Sadly, it seems we cannot count on our leaders to protect us. May God save America.

Janice L. Schell

Purcellville

Ihara: Gun violence stats undeniable

Thank you for your editorial of June 16 (“Loudoun’s GOP supervisors choose politics over courage in gun violence debate”). It was a timely and well thought-out piece of sanity in the midst of another horrendous case of gun violence.
 
The opponents of gun control refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem in the face of overwhelming evidence under the theory that any reasonable control measures open the door to the eventual confiscation of all guns. This is pure fantasy. There are an estimated 310 million guns in private hands in the U.S., including about 120 million handguns and about 2.5 million military-style assault rifles. Confiscation on such as scale would be physically impossible.
 
The facts on gun violence in the United States, however, are simply undeniable. The United States ranks 13th in the world in firearm-related deaths at 10.54 such deaths per 100,000 population in 2014.

That there are 12 countries worse than the U.S. is a small comfort when one considers that this includes many countries in South America, such as El Salvadore (26.77), Guatemala (34.10) and Honduras (67.18). This translates into about 31,000 gun deaths per year, a close second to traffic deaths, which were 32,700 in 2014. If these were diseases, the Centers for Disease Control would declare a public health emergency. 
 
Of particular concern is the number of mass shootings that have been occurring, such as in Orlando. From 2009 to 2015, there were 133 mass shootings in the U.S., an average of almost two per month, that occurred in 39 states. While an assault style weapon was used in only 11 percent of those incidents, the use of such weapons was far more deadly than the use of a handgun, which accounted for most of the incidents.
 
However, the number of victims was 15 percent higher than for those other incidents, and the death rate was 47 percent higher. It is also disturbing that in most of those incidents the weapon was obtained legally.
 
The implication of these figures, it seems to me is clear. Strict prospective limitations on the production, sale and ownership of assault-style weapons should be instituted as a matter of national policy. While it would not eliminate mass shootings, it could result in a reduction in the number of injuries and deaths. This should be accompanied by a substantial excise tax on the sale of such weapons to help defray the public health costs of injuries sustained from the use of such weapons.

Randy Ihara

South Riding

Jones: To solve problem, first recognize it

Fortier: When school year ends, Mobile Hope serves

Gemmill: Leesburg races beg attention

Shoaf: Firearms bring safety

Raja: Mateen betrayed his values

Cooper: Caving in to politics

Villegas: Supervisors failed us

Flannery: ‘Not on our mountain’

Smart: Measured growth is key to planning

Courter: Ashburn cares, fights hunger

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