Windsor Planning Commission discusses a pedestrian plan

Published 6:41 pm Friday, November 18, 2022

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A Windsor Planning Commission discussion Wednesday, Oct. 26, prompted Planning and Zoning Administrator James “Jay” Randolph to begin mapping out and prioritizing a pedestrian plan within the town’s Comprehensive Plan that will make Windsor more accessible to foot traffic and bicycles.

James “Jay” Randolph

According to a February 2021 draft of the town’s Strategic Plan, Action Item No. 5 reads as follows: “Include increased pedestrian and bike access for citizens in planning efforts.”

The plan states that “increasing pedestrian and bicycle mobility throughout town will not only help reduce dependency on vehicles but will also help to encourage healthy and active lifestyles of our residents. These outcomes will help reduce traffic and improve the quality of life of our residents.”

Associated with this action item in the plan are four key tasks/activities:

  1. Investigate connecting Windsor to Smithfield.
  2. Improve trail signage from Town Hall to Ballpark. Use GIS to incorporate an exercise program into mailed materials.
  3. Support the county plan for park to park trail.
  4. Promote lot behind Town Hall as public bike trailhead/meet up.

Commissioner Larissa Williams opened the Planning Commission’s discussion of the 2021 Strategic Plan by voicing her opinion on Action Item No. 5 and the associated key tasks/activities.

“It appears to me the whole idea is to make our town of Windsor more accessible to everybody without vehicles,” she said, “and so it makes me wonder why the very first activity is to connect Windsor to Smithfield and (there is) no mention of connecting (U.S. Route) 258 to Lovers Lane, which would be the ultimate way to make our town more accessible by pedestrians and bicycles.

“So if we could put up an extra-wide sidewalk with a bike lane and room for foot traffic all the way from 258 to Lovers Lane so that the trailer parks at each end could access anything in town, that would make a lot of sense,” she continued. “In addition, we would need crosswalks, because we don’t need people playing Frogger across (U.S. Route) 460. And so in order to have crosswalks, we’re probably going to need some additional lights somewhere. 

“So it just seems to me these (key tasks/activities) items right here are not related to making our town more accessible to foot traffic or bicycles,” she concluded. “So if we truly want that as a goal, we need to think about some of the things I just mentioned.”

Randolph noted that he was not in the Windsor planning and zoning admin role when the Strategic Plan was developed, so he did not know the story behind the key tasks/activities, but he indicated agreement with Williams’ focus.

Planning Commission Chair Leonard L. Marshall asked, “Didn’t a lot of this come from a survey that (the town) did with the citizens?”

Williams replied, “I actually processed all of the entries for that survey and saw every single answer, and they want this town to have better internet and to be more walkable.”

Commissioner Dale Scott asked if it made sense to put money into the improvement of sidewalks when the unknown plans for U.S. 460 could include improvements that may even require the town to discard any changes it might make on its own.

“That’s a solid fact,” Williams acknowledged. “I’m just concerned about the people in the trailer parks who can’t afford a vehicle, and we need to do something for them. But yeah, it’s a waiting game, I guess.”

After listening to the discussion, Randolph concluded, “A pedestrian plan would be, I think, a great complement or sub-plan in the Comprehensive Plan. We can start mapping out that and prioritizing it so when funds become available, we can take funding and plug it in through the annual Capital Improvement Plan.”

He indicated that having a pedestrian plan will help organize the town’s efforts to increase pedestrian and bicycle mobility, including helping Windsor save money by avoiding duplicating efforts with the county or state.

Randolph said that Isle of Wight County has a Capital Improvement Plan that features improvements to the U.S. 258-U.S. 460 intersection that include the addition of right-turn lanes.

“On the east side of 258, there will be a sidewalk going from that intersection all the way up to Windsor Manor as part of that intersection improvement,” he said. “So if we have it in a pedestrian plan, we would only need that segment in front of the (Community) Electric Coop(erative) (to) essentially connect from Windsor Manor into the system. And it will have one crosswalk, but it’s not going to be on 460; it’ll be from the Citgo over to the co-op.”

Randolph said he does not know if there will be an actual signal for the crosswalk or not, but the improvements have been preliminarily approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation and are just awaiting funding. 

“So the anticipation of that is probably in the next several years before actual construction,” he said. “But if we have it in a plan, then when activities like that occur, we’re not spending money to build the sidewalk up 258 to Windsor Manor when the state could be essentially providing that funding.”