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Town planners take early look at industrial park vision

By Alex Bridges

Strasburg planners expect to start work soon to lay out what the town wants to do with its new industrial park.

The town annexed the North Shenandoah Industrial and Business Park on Dec. 31 through an agreement reached with Shenandoah County. Under the agreement the town added about 300 acres that includes the park and other land in what is referred locally to as the Golden Triangle, bound by Interstate 81, U.S. 11 and Va. 55.

The Planning Commission met Tuesday to discuss several development-related topics. The commission heard an update by Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray on the forthcoming master development plan for the park.

Murray told the commission she expects the master plan to encompass areas outside the park and links down Colley Block Road into town.

A steering committee of town representatives and stakeholders should oversee the drafting of the master plan, Murray said.

"We're going to talk to folks about our ideas and vision for the park, the buy-in for this opportunity and why we're doing it and the whole point of it," Murray said.

The town needs to assess its roads and other infrastructure assets in the park - including the completion of Borden Mowery Drive and extending Colley Block Road north into the park. The idea of creating bicycle paths and sidewalks to connect the industrial and business users to other areas also remains a possibility.

Murray said the town should create a capital improvement plan to outline these potential projects. The master plan also will include a marketing strategy for the park.

"So we want to figure out who we should be targeting and why," Murray said.

The town likely can expect to work with several consultants focusing on different aspects of the planning and development of the park, Murray said.

"It's our last frontier," Murray added. "This is the last developable land for job creation and growth in town and I think our vision is we want to do it right the first time and have it be sustainable for the long haul."

A few new members recently joined the commission, including Vincent Poling, a former Strasburg town manager and county administrator. Poling currently chairs the Shenandoah County Industrial Development Authority that owns some property in the park. Poling said the IDA has not been involved in the discussion about the master plan as of yet.

The town may consider joining the Shenandoah Valley Regional Partnership, an organization that aids municipalities in attracting potential businesses and industries, Murray said.

"You know they've done a lot of work that you're in the process of doing," Poling said, adding that the IDA has used a study to target industries.

Poling questioned whether the park should include bicycle and pedestrian paths throughout the area. In her experience, Murray said a lack of paths to connect workers to restaurants or other nearby amenities impeded full development of industrial and business parks.

Poling voiced surprise when Murray said the town doesn't expect to see Borden Mowery Drive used by large trucks. Such vehicles should use Radio Station Road.

"So that 80-foot right of way that's out there was a waste of time, wasn't it, when we could've got by with 60 feet?" Poling said.

"I'm not saying it won't accommodate truck traffic, but we're not going to be able to have heavy truck traffic and the commercial area as well," Murray said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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