City hopes to fix VRE dispute

Manassas Park wants to avoid fighting Virginia Railway Express in federal court over the 144 parking spaces it has reserved for city residents at its railroad station off Manassas Drive, one of the city’s top officials said Tuesday night.

Speaking on behalf of Manassas Park at a meeting of the City Council, Vice Mayor Kevin Brendel expressed hope that the city will resolve its dispute with the VRE in a peaceful manner.

Last week, the VRE’s two governing bodies the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, requesting that Manassas Park do away with the spaces.

For months, the Federal Transit Administration has been telling the VRE to get the city to remove the spaces, which it says are giving city residents special treatment. If Manassas Park fails to do away with the spaces, the VRE would have to pay back the $1.9 million in federal funds it used to expand the city’s parking lot early last year.

“Despite recent reports that VRE will seek legal action against the city, the city continues in its efforts to help VRE resolve its separate dispute with the FTA,” Brendel said. “A lawsuit at this time will accomplish nothing and will waste limited transportation resources.”

For the past few weeks, Manassas Park and the VRE have been negotiating over incentives that would induce the city to remove the spaces. The VRE, for example, has offered to add priority to a project that would expand the stations platform, at a cost of $500,000.

One of the major sticking points has been the money the city has received as compensation for parking fees, which were eliminated in 1997. The VRE wants to do away with the funds, which amounted to $46,000 this year. Manassas Park wants the money to keep flowing.

“The city is working with VRE in the spirit of regional cooperation to help VRE solve its problem with FTA and looks forward to a fair and mutually satisfactory agreement with VRE,” Brendel said.

Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 119.

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