At their regularly scheduled meeting May 14, the Leesburg Town Council, by a vote of 5-2 with Mayor Kristen Umstattd and Councilmember Kevin Wright dissenting, adopted Plan A as the approved design for the reconstruction of King Street.
Plan A was included in the original approval in 2010. The plan features widened sidewalks, one mid-block crosswalk in the vicinity of Leesburg, widened intersection crosswalks at the intersections, new street lights and the addition of 10 street trees between Loudoun and Cornwall streets.
Of the 12 parking spaces available on King Street between Loudoun and Market, four will remain available in the form of two parking spaces at both ends of the street. These spaces could also be used for loading. On King Street between Market and Cornwall, five of the existing 12 spaces are proposed for removal, with two spaces available near the intersection with Market Street and the balance at the other end toward Cornwall Street.
Close to 20 speakers spoke during the petitioners section of the town council meeting.
Most spoke overwhelmingly for Plan A. Downtown property owner Michael O'Connor was one of those speakers.
“I don't think it is any secret I have been a proponent of Plan A. I believe the downtown is in desperate need of a revitalization or a vitalization. I think you will find tonight that the businesses on King Street are very much in favor of this proposal,” Michael O'Connor, owner of several downtown Leesburg properties said. “This is all about business and all about being successful. It's all about turning Leesburg into a place we are as proud of as we are today, but we can be prouder.”
Vice Mayor Dave Butler noted that the important thing to remember is the overall goal is to allow businesses to grow by this project.
“With some people dining on the street, that creates buzz, it creates excitement, people know that things are open and are much more likely to come in and try it,” Butler said. “They are much more likely to go back because the food is so good and even in the winter months that carries over. It has a multiplicative effect, which is why all of the places try to do it when they can.
“The whole reason for this project is to create a different King Street and we have spent a lot of money doing that. But the real bottom line is how many extra people are going to come downtown because we made those changes,” Butler said. “Given the overwhelmingly positive view of the residents I have spoken with, the on-street arts and dining will make an enormously positive difference.”
The King Street revitalization is a part of the Downtown Improvement Project, which has completed its first phase and will begin its second phase this summer.
Assistant Town Manager Scott Parker noted in an email that “as always, we will keep everyone informed, and we are committed to making this a smooth and successful project. There will be a significant outreach effort in the form of input and notification, so please stay tuned for more details as we proceed."
Construction is not immediately imminent and town staff will re-engage the finalizing of the plans as they move toward future construction.
Parker also announced there will be a public information meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 29 in the lower level of Town Hall to discuss the plans, staging and construction timing of Loudoun Street. The first phase of Loudoun Street will be from King to Church streets.