A Year Ahead: Herndon in 2015

A Year Ahead: Herndon in 2015

Taking new downtown off paper and into reality.

New community garden plots could be ready as soon as the spring comes, according to Herndon Environmental Network (HEN) Vice President Barbara Welsh.

New community garden plots could be ready as soon as the spring comes, according to Herndon Environmental Network (HEN) Vice President Barbara Welsh. Photo by Reena Singh.

This year will be all about creating a Metro-friendly downtown.

While the town council focused on policies that will make the historic area more business friendly, 2015 will take them off paper and into reality.

“My number one priority for 2015 is downtown,” said Mayor Lisa Merkel. “I’m sure there’s a great match for a developer to make out downtown master plan into a reality. We want our small town downtown to come to life and be revitalized.”

Councilmember Grace Wolf agreed that work needed to be done downtown - much in preparation for the Silver Line Metro stations that will arrive with Phase II of the highly anticipated project that will extend the line beyond Dulles International Airport.

The first phase, which opened last July, extended out to Reston. Just in the first week of service, about 220,000 trips were taken to and from the five new stations, according to silverlinemetro.com. The second phase will make both Northern Virginia airports more accessible to D.C. residents in addition to giving more options to commuters as far as Loudoun County another option for transportation. Other communities - like Tysons - are already seeing the benefit of the Silver Line bringing in visitors from D.C., a boost for the local economy. Herndon already sees foot traffic - and bicycle pedals - through the town thanks to the Washington and Old Dominion trail, which becomes more popular on weekends and warmer months.

Construction for Phase II is expected to begin in early 2016, so the town has a one year head start.

“We've rezoned much of the land but we need to start making the investments in infrastructure to make sure we're ready - laying utilities, creating bus bays, walkway, connecting the bike & walking paths,” said councilmember Grace Wolf.

Last year, various zoning changes and new parking regulations were passed by the Herndon Town Council with the new downtown - with all the small town charm that residents love - in mind.

“We are aggressively seeking opportunities to get dirt moving in our downtown, in addition to the new homes going up,” said Wolf.

Councilmember Steven Mitchell is also looking forward to the changes that will unfold.

“You’re really going to see downtown shape itself from the street level,” he said.

The town’s rewritten mission statement also focuses on bringing the community together. Last year, Merkel and several other council members stated their plans to create committees that will involve residents.

“It really focuses on bringing people together and getting others involved,” Merkel said.

Wolf elaborated, “We are evaluating creating new citizen committees or commission to enhance our sustainable living, green initiatives and to better engage and reach out to our minority populations through new diversity initiatives,” she said.

One significant sustainability initiative that may see a groundbreaking is a community garden.

Herndon Environmental Network (HEN) Vice President Barbara Welsh hopes to see the garden plots, which she proposed to be located at Bruin Park, be opened by March.

“That would strongly depend on funding, however,” she said.