A community perspectives piece by Bob Pippin
City government needs to focus on making Harrisonburg more user friendly, before focusing on affordable housing, which is something I support.
A city of this size should have 2 library branches. A second location in a shopping center on the east side of town would make going to the library much easier and pleasant. Lack of convienate parking and traffic patterns downtown are a deterrent for many people who want to go downtown.
I live in Harrisonburg, but will usually take my grandchildren to the library in Bridgewater. Walkability throught out the city is another thing needed to be dealt with, before adding more people.
Roads, such as Pleasant Hill, have a lot of people who walk to bus stops and stores in the road, because there are no sidewalks. Unfortunately, Pleasant Hill isn’t the only street with this problem.
Actually, sidewalk planning in Harrisonburg seems to be a little haphazard. An example. A new housing developement is to be built on Pleasant Hill Rd. The developer is required to put a sidewalk along Pleasant Hill the width of the developement. It will be a sidewalk to nowhere. There are already two sections of sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, that go nowhere.
Traffic is a problem. Encouraging more people to move into Harrisonburg is going to make driving more difficult.
One solution that would help is to continue Stone Spring Rd, to where it intersects Smithland Rd. Then widen and straighten Smithland Rd all the way to Rt.11.
This may require running through Smithland Road Park. But, there is a lot of undeveloped land bordering the park, that could possibly be bought to replace park land used fo the road.
Another solution for easing traffic in Harrisonburg, is to build a bypass connecting with Rt.42 north of Dayton and reconnecting with Rt.42 north of Harrisonburg.
People heading to a destination north or south of Harrisonburg, would not have to go through town.
I know these issues are not going to be taken care of overnight, and will be costly. But, if you add housing and people to Harrisonburg without solving these issues, then you make Harrisonburg a very unpleasant place to live, and those who can afford to live in a less stressful area will move.
If Harrisonburg is to be a racially and economically diverse community, then we need to make Harrisonburg a place people can enjoy, thrive, and feel proud to live in.
Bob Pippin is retired. He enjoys spending time with his wife and grandchildren. He does a lot of yard work, since covid doesn’t allow him to do much else. But, be warned! When covid is over, Tasmanian Bob will be on the loose.