Council considers hiking trails

Catherine Morretta, parks and recreation director in Manassas Park, has scars on her legs from walking all of the paths her department included as part of a plan for paved hiking trails.

She’s also had to withstand many verbal barbs from a vocal group of Blooms Crossing homeowners, whose complaints led the city’s Planning Commission on July 17 to remove most of the trails proposed for the neighborhood.

Manassas Park City Council will decide Tuesday whether a citywide hiking trail system should be included in the city’s comprehensive plan.

The proposed network of trails would still link Signal Hill Park to the city and provide pedestrian crossing on Va. 28. Sidewalks would allow city residents to walk to Park Center.

“I’m pleased that what we considered important at Parks and Recreation remained in the plan,” Morretta said.

As many as 60 Blooms Crossing residents showed up at a series of city Planning Commission meetings in late June and early July. Only a few supported the idea of trails in the woodlands behind their houses.

Many complained that trails would lead to higher crime and less privacy. Some also said the trails were a waste of money.

Even with most of the proposed trails for the neighborhood now removed, there are still residents who are unsatisfied.

John Fraber hasn’t minded the golf balls that have fallen into his yard since he moved into his Blooms Crossing home two years ago.

But a proposed trail along the edge of the nearby Manassas Park Public Golf Course has elicited a different response from Fraber, who says the Planning Commission ignored the possibility of hikers cutting through the course into his back yard.

“They should be good listeners. They should be responsive to the needs of the people they represent,” he said.

On Friday, Morretta was out hiking a trail again, trying to convince Councilman Mike Bunner, among others, that a trail linking Manassas Drive to the city’s Virginia Railway Express station would not affect neighboring homeowners.

The proposed trail was one of the last remaining in Blooms Crossing neighborhood.

In many places a hiker would have to climb up a 45-degree embankment to reach back yards. And yet Bunner was still unsure.

“I want to make sure the trails are going to be safe for residents in the community. And I don’t like this section. It’s too close to people’s yards,” he said.

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

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