So Much for a “New Woodbridge”

Prince William County’s Woodbridge Dist. Supervisor Frank Principi can’t even keep a Five Guys burger joint from leaving his district and he expects people to invest large sums of capital in building what he refers to as “New Woodbridge“?

New Woodbridge will incorporate high-quality, well-designed and carefully planned development. Smart growth principles like varied housing choices, a vibrant mix of land uses, walkable neighborhoods, preserved open space, a strong sense of place and community/business collaboration will serve as the foundation for future development and revitalization.

Principi has a fundamental misunderstanding of how these things work.  He is obviously employing a top-down, government central planning method to try and impose his vision rather than using the government to try and foster conditions that would make this area appealing to businesses in the free market.

Businesses will locate in areas where there is a market for them.  Markets develop in areas where people want to go to live, work and/or enjoy recreation.  People tend to do those things in areas with a good quality of life — one of the most important aspects of which is public safety, a primary function of government.

Now take a look at this map.

Notice the large cluster of arrests made in North Woodbridge where Principi wants these “high-quality” businesses and developments to locate.  Remember, these people were not arrested for being illegal aliens. They are illegal aliens who were arrested on other criminal charges and during their processing were discovered to be in the country illegally.  Yet Principi not only believes that arresting these people has done “damage” to the county, but he has proposed repealing the county’s Rule of Law Resolution.  Is it any wonder he is referred to as the “Clown Prince of Woodbridge”?

Prince William County has an opportunity to make things right, however.  With redistricting on the table for 2011, one of the options available to the Board of County Supervisors is to rename districts.  Some supervisors have indicated a willingness to do this, in part because some districts share the names of localities or mailing addresses which can cause confusion – for example, when someone with a “Woodbridge, VA” mailing address is located not in the Woodbridge Magisterial District, but instead in the Neabsco, Dumfries or Occoquan district.

The Woodbridge District should be renamed the “Riverfront District” highlighting both the Potomac and Occoquan rivers that form its northern and eastern borders.  A name change alone will not make things better, but it is a start.

What really needs to be done is a full-scale implementation of the “Broken Windows” theory that Rudy Giuliani successfully implemented in NYC.  Graffiti needs to be wiped away as soon as it appears.  Property owners must properly maintain their buildings and land or else face citations.  Those loitering or engaging in disorderly public conduct should be made to either move along or be arrested.  If you make the area safe and create a business-friendly climate, things will begin to turn around.  Once new businesses are attracted, more will follow.

None of this will happen under Principi’s “leadership,” though.  I can assure you of that.


4 thoughts on “So Much for a “New Woodbridge”

  1. Maybe they should just take a bulldozer to the area and flatten everything in site to start all over . . .oh wait they’ve already tried that on the southern end of Rt. 1 in PWC . . .how’s that working out?

    1. That wasn’t the brightest move to start widening Route 1 at its southernmost point in PWC. All that will accomplish is squeezing traffic down into fewer lanes as people travel north for their morning commutes. They should have started at the Occoquan River and proceeded south from there with that portion in Triangle widened last. Route 1 in Triangle now looks like a barren moonscape with no businesses providing a tax base.

  2. When this article of a “new Woodbridge” first appeared on-line at the Journal News and Messenger site, I was quite critical of it from the beginning.

    Basically, Rt. 1 is what it is. I’m not only being critical of Rt. 1 in Woodbridge, but Rt. 1 all along the East coast. It’s basically “honky tonk” all the way up to the north and all the way down to the south. I don’t see how changes can be made unless big bucks are applied.

    I do remember efforts about 22 years ago when I lived in southern Prince William county to rejuvinate it. Plans were made to make nice medians, buried utility cables – all the nice stuff that costs a lot of money. However, at that same time, the Potomac Mills area started to build up and expand. Many businesses wanted to be where the shoppers were. So, they located closer to the mall and basically deserted the Rt. 1 corridor. Sure, businesses remained – Giant Food and others as they were “needed” businesses by the locals who lived along Rt. 1. However, many others just up and left.

    I have a feeling that if Corey Stewart moves onto bigger and better things, Mr. Principi will run for the Chairman’s role. If he gets into that position, I have a great fear that he’ll do all he can to divert county money to the Woodbridge district to make his pipe dream become a reality. However, the reality is that if the Rt. 1 corridor is renovated, will the businesses relocated back to that area? I don’t think so.

    He’ll be throwing good money away into a project that has no merit.

    1. T2T, I’m not saying that Woodbridge / U.S. 1 can’t be revitalized. In fact, I believe it can be if the approach I have outlined is taken and we make it appealing for the free market to do it. I don’t think that Principi understands that.

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