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New stadium triggers debate in Woodbridge

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland

Developers never told Bill Petrak about the apartment complex and medical center they were planning to build right next to his Potomac Club townhouse when he moved to Woodbridge five years ago.

And now, with plans in place to build the Class A Potomac Nationals, a new baseball stadium less than a half mile away from his doorstep, Petrak has decided to speak out against area developers who "just don't know when to stop building."

"It's all about finding a way into Prince William County, even if we don't have the infrastructure for it," he said. "I hate the idea."

County officials announced last month that the team planned to spend $25 million to build a new stadium near Neabsco Mills Road. Pfitzner Stadium, the team's current home, has become notorious for its bad drainage and poor clubhouse conditions.

The stadium is just part of a $70 million public-private partnership to benefit the area.

A $15 million commuter parking garage, financed by the Virginia Department of Transportation, and $30 million in site and infrastructure work, paid by the D.C. real estate firm Roadside Development, are also part of the plan.

But Petrak and many of his neighbors fear the addition of the stadium would create even more congestion in an area that already boasts an IKEA, Potomac Mills mall, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center and the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center shopping facility.

"Even though the stadium may increase the value of my property, I'm afraid it's going to make me a prisoner in my own home," said Woodbridge resident Shondell Powns. "I'm already looking at possibly selling it and moving into Maryland."

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton, a former chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, said he wasn't too concerned about the possibility of more traffic.

He said having the new 1,000 space parking deck by Interstate 95, as well as a strong bus system and Prince William County's commitment to widen Route 1, will have a positive impact on commuters in the area.

Prince William County spokesman Jason Grant said he expects the county to host meetings to allow public comment after financing and stadium naming rights have been secured.

Officials say the stadium may be open as early as 2014.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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