Brandon Collins (434) 249-3312
These are my responses to the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club’s questionnaire for City Council Candidates. I hope that other candidates will be as honest and forthright in their answers as I have tried to be.
1. What is your position on the preservation of McIntire Park in its entirety?
a. Do you support construction of the parkway in McIntire Park? If given the opportunity would you vote to stop the parkway project?
b. What is your position on the proposed YMCA in McIntire Park?
I believe that the park should be protected as a park for all of our residents. I would be interested in making the park more active, and by encouraging more access to the park via public transit. Further, all other parks in Charlottesville should be protected and expanded.
A.- I DO NOT support the construction of the Parkway.
I would vote to stop the parkway if given the chance, and if on council will demand that a vote be taken the first meeting in January 2012.
B. I would prefer to see a different location for YMCA that doesn’t take up valuable parkland. The city seems to have locked in the YMCA at McIntire but we have heard that kind of statement before. I would support council reconsidering another location for the YMCA.
2. What would you do to encourage alternative transportation and to improve pedestrian and bicycling safety?
I want a big expansion of CAT, more frequent service, full service on Sundays and late night, more convenient bus service to more locations, expansion and promotion of “park and ride”, and direct service shuttles. I support an expansion, and connection of bike lanes, complete the city wide bike trail. We need to upgrade our sidewalks to be more safe for pedestrians and for people with disabilities. I do not support the construction of new roads, rather our first priorities should be public transit and pedestrian and bike access.
3. The City of Charlottesville has sought to promote the marketing of locally produced foods. Are there any further steps you believe the City should take to support the sale and production of local foods?
If legally allowed I would support a decrease in sales tax for locally produced organic foods. I think the city market should expand to Tonsler Park and Washington Park, and I also think a permanent site should be made for city market downtown. We should consider more ways to bring local foods into school cafeterias. City sponsored public and co-operative gardens and cannery would be a great idea to consider.
4. Do you believe the City Council should support the determination of an optimum sustainable population size, such as the one proposed by Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population, and use this information for future planning?
Yes, we should always have an idea of what kind of population is ideal for the city, and plan accordingly.
5. The City of Charlottesville is surrounded by Albemarle County and the environments of the two localities are intertwined. Is there any environmental issue in which you believe additional City-County cooperation should be sought?
Unfortunately, the County has very little interest in cooperating with us on environmental planning. We should be vigilant in standing up for sustainable planning and refusing development of natural areas. We should cooperate on transit expansion in the county, such as routes to Scottsville and Crozet.
6. Would you support reconsidering the Community Water Supply Plan given that studies show restorative dredging is economically and environmentally feasible?
YES reconsider the water supply plan. Dredge now. There is no rush to build a costly new dam, and no good reason to either. I will call for a reevaluation of the water supply plan at the first meeting in January 2012.
7. What type of development do you believe should occur in Charlottesville in the next decade?
I prefer to represent the needs of people and the environment rather than the goals of developers. I think we can support density around downtown and mid-town with an eye towards requiring all new structures to be built in a sustainable manner. We need housing for our people that is affordable and sustainable. Housing should be the only growth we seek in the next decade and only if it is affordable and sustainable. If we can re-zone certain areas to require energy conservation and rain water collection we should do it. I would like to see existing structures retro-fitted to become more sustainable rather than constantly building new structures. All city planning should be based on public transportation, pedestrian and bike friendly transportation, and we need to consider mixed-use planning in areas near transit hubs and neighborhoods so that people can work and get groceries near their homes. In every decision we should consider ways to use existing resources rather than building new infra-structure. We need to move away from the thinking that growth means progress, and that means re-envisioning how we create and use revenue.
8. What is your position on the recently revived Western Bypass project?
A terrible idea in many ways. The road makes no sense, is costly, and only cuts commute time down by a fraction of what an expanded public transit system would offer. The damage done to the environment, especially the threat to our water, makes this project a huge disaster. The County’s decision to move forward on this further suggests they have no interest in what the city would like to see, and was bad process.
9. What would be your highest environmental priority if elected to City Council?
Stopping the Parkway, Stopping the New Dam, retro-fitting all city owned property with solar and other self-generating energy as well as rain water collection. Ensuring that all new structures are built in a sustainable manner. Protecting our critical slopes from development. I support a large public works program to upgrade the city’s infrastructure to utilize sustainable energy and practices.