Loudoun Museum officials meeting with Town Council, present hopeful future

The Loudoun Museum Board of Trustees presented a hopeful future to Leesburg Town Council Monday night, earning council’s confidence to renew the downtown building’s lease.
Council hosted a roundtable work session to discuss how the town could work with the museum once it reopens.
“You can get to a point where a museum is good enough, and I think that Loudoun County wisely, in conjunction with the town, decided that what was good enough is not good enough anymore,” said Michael O’Connor, the board’s director. “Our objective is to make [Loudoun Museum] a success.”

The Loudoun Museum has faced an array of hurdles in the recent past. After struggling for funds for several years, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors required the museum in 2016 to meet fundraising and outreach goals in exchange for government funds. This July, the board dismissed the museum’s executive director, and the staff resigned shortly after. The museum has been closed since July, with the board interviewing about a dozen candidates for executive director and narrowing its choices down to three.
The museum also has faced issues attracting community interest and inventorying artifacts. While the museum has a collection of 8,000 items, including a variety of historic textiles, only 1,000 items have been assessed for their historical significance.
On Monday night, O’Connor and the board presented a vision for a museum that will host changing exhibits and be more “experience-based” to attract younger generations. The board plans to bring traveling exhibits to places such as Dulles Town Center and One Loudoun. It also will go into schools and partner with several local historic groups, including the Balch Library.
“We have to try to reflect our children’s passions,” board member Sharon Virts said. “We have to be relevant to be sustainable.”
Council responded positively to the board’s presentation.
“We feel that Loudoun Museum is an important institution, but it’s been underutilized for many years now,” Mayor Kelly Burk said. “We have great expectations and think that this is going to be a great decision for the downtown.”
The other council members present were intrigued by the board’s ideas, as well. Councilwoman Vanessa Maddox recommended that the museum include a teen tour guide program and a strong social media presence for Generation Z, and Councilman Fernando “Marty” Martinez recommended more communication and interaction between the museum and town.

When Burk asked council for head nods to consider renewing the lease as-is during its Sept. 25 meeting, all but Councilman Ron Campbell agreed.
“I think it needs further review,” he said. “I’m not ready to agree to it tonight.”
O’Connor is optimistic that the Board of Supervisors will vote to provide the museum $156,000 in fiscal 2019 funds during its Thursday night meeting. In exchange, the museum will need to raise $66,500 of its own funds, incorporate recommendations from its consultation with the American Alliance for Museums, include attendance numbers in its annual report and further maintain its collection.
O’Connor expects the museum to reopen some time in October. The museum’s popular Hauntings tour is still set for this year—with a new and spooky take.
While O’Connor and the board are excited to have local government’s support, he believes that the final success of the Loudoun Museum will rest on the community.
“We need people to be involved,” O’Connor said.


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Golfcart Ferries Considered for-Downtown Leesburg

The long walk to downtown Leesburg from public parking lots could become a quick golf cart ride.

Leesburg Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to initiate a staff study about how and where the town might allow golf carts on public streets. The move was inspired when a transportation business, Cartwheels, asked if it could start ferrying visitors downtown from the far-flung Liberty and Pennington lots.

According to Mayor Kelly Burk, who saw some of the business’s proposal, the golf carts would be handicap accessible, covered from the weather and equipped with windshield wipers and lights.

Staff recommended that council vote against any study of the proposal.

“The primary concern is congestion downtown … and where they would drop off,” Director of Capital Projects Renee LaFollette said.

The golf carts would only be permitted on roads with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, though they could cross intersections with higher-speed traffic. Council could limit which streets the golf carts could use, drop-off spots and hours of operation.

On Monday night, several council members expressed concern, especially for safety and a lack of official vehicle registration.

“I don’t think that it’s helpful for what we’re trying to achieve downtown,” said Councilman Tom Dunn, who along with Councilman Ron Campbell didn’t support the measure during Monday night’s work session. “When people are speeding by in a golf cart, they aren’t helping those other shops and locations … We definitely don’t need other vehicles on the streets.”

However, other council members were intrigued by the potential for parking relief and more foot traffic.

“I’ve been to so many cities where they have these already,” Mayor Kelly Burk said. “They do bring people downtown.”

The study, passed as part of Tuesday’s consent agenda, will provide council with an impact study on traffic and economics, as well as proposed streets where the golf carts could drive and spots where they could drop off visitors. Council will make a final vote on a later date.

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Door Knocking for Mayor Kelly Burk


Help get Mayor Kelly Burk re-elected.   Come join Mayor Kelly Burk supporters and volunteer to come out and knock doors.  We need to get the word out and make sure that our Mayor is returned of office.  Please come and give an hour or two knocking on supporters’ doors.  We cannot win without your help.  Meet in the Safeway parking lot nearest Catoctin Circle, 1:00pm on Saturday July 28. Thanks for your help with the re-election campaign. 


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I am always amazed when residents have a town issue that is important to them but they don’t come to the council meeting to speak to the issue.  In particular, I’m concerned about the Crescent Park Development.  Some are upset about it but they don’t come to the meeting to tell their Council.

When I ask why they don’t come, they almost always tell me, “It won’t make a difference”.

I am here to say, having worked in our schools and as an elected official in town and county government, it does make a difference.  You know that old expression, help me help you.

But you have to come before the council and explain your views.

Nothing improves the aim of government like having a target – and you can define the bulls eye – if you take the time to do so.

I won’t kid you either that it takes some resolve, to persist, to explain the rightness of your cause.  The more you come to meetings and speak to the ongoing nuances that concern the community the more likely you are to persuade the council and to have it act on your concerns.  One person can make a difference.  That might be you.

In my experience, when I’ve seen another member disagree with a citizen appearing before the council, the dialogue so clarifies the issue, it advances the view of the citizen, prompting elected official to reconsider their position on the issue.  Logic matters.  But so does the passion of the person speaking.

You, a single voter, do therefore have the power, by the strength of your argument, and the intensity you bring to bear, to gather support for your cause, even to change a council members mind.

In recent days, I have an issue that concerns me deeply.

These last few weeks I have been walking around town, as I hope to become the Town Mayor, and the real value of this is that I get to talk to some folk who may not come to a Council Meeting.

I’m getting a lot of questions about the proposed Crescent Parke development.

There is a real push back on the street to how this will change our town, what it will mean to the neighborhood.

I believe the citizens are right that the high density is a real concern, the impact of the increased traffic flow, affecting those who live on Gateway and Harrison. Many are concerned with the school impacts and the lack of green space.  Others worry the lack of parking will increase the on street parking on Gateway.

Nor do I care to clear away three acres of parkland to build townhouses.

I encourage each and every one of our town folk who resent this development to email the council or, better yet, come to the meeting and tell the council your concerns.

Your combined presence may make the difference.  You might learn something you did not know before, you might find there are others that share your concerns; you might change a vote in your direction.  Nothing like that will happen unless you get involved.

So get involved.

Your involvement can make all the difference.


By Kelly Burk


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Kelly Burk is endorsed by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee

At the March meeting of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee Kelly Burk was endorsed by the committee membership.  The Democratic Committee will be working closely with Kelly to make sure she is the next mayor of Leesburg. This endorsement follows the endorsement from:Attorney General Herring, Loudoun County Board of Supervisor Chairwoman Phyllis Randell and Leesburg Supervisor Kristen Umstattd, Sterling Supervisor Koran Saines, Leesburg Town Council member Marty Martinez, Purcellville Town Council member Karen Jimmerson, Hamilton Town Council member Craig Green, and Delegate John Bell.  “I am grateful to all the elected officials and local committee members who are supporting my efforts to be the next mayor of Leesburg”

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Keep Leesburg Beautiful Totals

I want to thank all the community groups that came out to help Keep Leesburg Beautiful. From the Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts, to the ROCK kids, to the 4-H clubs all helped to pick up liter around the town. Thanks to Dave Butler and Marty Martinez for their help and to staff for their efforts. Leesburg is a cleaner, safer place to be because residents cared enough to come out and pick up trash. Great job that lead to the town council winning back the golden trash can from staff. Just imagine I am singing “We are the Champions” while dancing. Thanks to everyone of you that helped!

This Year’s Effort council 937lbs

This Year’s Effort: Staff 583 lbs.

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Cleaning up recently found historic African American Cemetery

Sycolin Litter Pick Up - Group Shot (4-23)Group of dedicated volunteers picking up trash on a rainy, miserable day.  We were beginning the clean up of a recently discovered African American  cemetery that may date back to the early 1800’s.  It is located on town property near the airport.  Way too much trash and litter to pick up in one day as demonstrated with the orange bags of trash but we will be back.  Thanks to Pastor Michelle, and her church members, town staff and some elected people for beginning the process.

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