Burnadeane Day says she has to sacrifice too much to live the “American dream.” In order to own her own home in Manassas, she commutes four hours per day, rents out rooms in her home, barely has time to exercise, rarely sees friends and family and has no spare time for volunteering.
The problem, according to Day, is that Prince William County companies near her home don’t offer high enough salaries like those closer to Washington, D.C.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize our citizens cannot pay $250,000-plus mortgages on a $20,000 salary,” Day said.
On Monday night, at the town hall meeting held at Baldwin Elementary School, Day pleaded with the Manassas City Council to bring more jobs into the city.
“We need an aggressive plan now,” Day said. “Businesses will not come to Manassas and surrounding areas on their own. They need to know we are here and how it will be mutually beneficial for them to move here.”
Day said businesses would save money in healthcare costs if employees had shorter commute times. Stress, fumes and lack of exercise from commuting causes more sick days and medical bills, she said. Also, relocating companies from concentrated business areas would eliminate some terrorist targets.
Perhaps most importantly to area residents, moving business closer to employee’s homes would ease traffic congestion.
“It’s far easier to move a corporation from one building to another empty building in the suburbs, than to build more roads,” Day said.
Day suggested the city take out full-page newspaper ads to lure companies to the area. But Council Member Ulysses X. White said the city’s economic development plan already addresses the issues Day brought to the council. He also said if Day met with City Manager Lawrence Hughes, she could learn about the city’s current efforts, as well as provide some insight of her own.
But Hughes said there were very few vacant buildings in Manassas, and much of the vacant space lies where companies are already are clustered, such as in Tyson’s Corner.
Another Manassas resident, Cynthia Clark, is also worried about traffic issues in the city. Clark, who also offered to teach local officers about sign language and issues facing deaf drivers, questioned the need for two stop signs on Quarry Road near Euclid Avenue, when many residents felt the need for new stop signs outside the new Wal-Mart, and other heavily trafficked, high speed areas.
“I drove back and forth there for 13 years, the area is very quiet,” Clark said through sign language translator Roxy Virunurm. “I was so surprised that they put stop signs there, and police spent time catching people going through the signs.”
Manassas Police Chief John Skinner said the two signs were installed because nearby residents complained.
“Based on traffic studies and requests from residents, to reduce the speed on that road, we put in multi-way stop signs for traffic calming purposes.”
Ed Noble didn’t broach the hot-button issue of traffic, but the Manassas resident complained about the newsletters he receives with his utility bill. Specifically, a letter notifying residents of an electronics recycling event on Sept. 27, arrived at Noble’s home on Sept. 29.
“Is there someone with a little common sense to move up the mailing?” Noble said.
Hughes said although there were limited options for changing city publications, more of the city’s Web site and cable channel would be utilized to advertise events as well.
One resident said Manassas was a great place to live. John Lostagilo said officials were easily accessible and responsive, and the city’s problems were minute compared to other places he has lived.
“By and large, our kids are getting a great education, and I walk anywhere in my neighborhood at night and feel safe,” Lostagilo said.
But Lostagilo said the approximately 15 percent tax increase a year he’s faced in the past four years threatens to force him out of the city he loves.
“I’m making an appeal for (the council) to keep in mind an objective to keep the area affordable,” Lostagilo said.
Hughes said the city aims for a delicate balance.
“The council is trying to maintain a quality of services and maintain affordability,” Hughes said.