Sharon E. Pandak, the Democratic candidate for the Prince William at-large seat, toured the Potomac River near Leesylvania State Park Thursday to get an idea of the impact development has on the county’s waterfront.
Pandak is running against Supervisor Corey A. Stewart, R-Occoquan, in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Sean T. Connaughton, who left in September to take a presidential appointment to the U.S. Maritime Administration.
David Brickley, former Prince William delegate and former director of the Virginia Department of Conservation, supports Pandak and took her on the tour that solidified her idea that the county should buy more open space along the river.
“It sort of makes me feel more compelled to go ahead with asking the board, once I’m elected, for that $25 million bond referendum,” Pandak said of the referendum she suggested to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors last month.
Though it would not buy every piece of land along the river that might be affected by development, the $25 million would allow the county to buy selected pieces of land to “complement private contributions” and show residents that the “county cares” about open space, Pandak said.
Mixed-use development, with residential and retail and business combined, would also help the environment, Pandak said.
“What I tell members of the development community – when I end up running into them or talking to them – I challenge them to help us do better as we co-locate land use and transportation. It allows us to protect more of the open space,” Pandak said.
Working at the problem from several such directions might get things done, Pandak said. “We build up multiple expectations that we’re going to be able to do things better than we have in the past,” she said. “It doesn’t always have to be a county funding matter, it’s a vision that makes a difference.”
Stewart could not be reached for comment.