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GUEST OPINION: ‘The Rose’ could be a game-changer for Dumfries

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State Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th

In February, Colonial Downs announced a $389 million resort gaming emporium complex in Dumfries called “The Rose.” It has the potential to transform the Town of Dumfries and is part of a larger effort to transform Eastern Prince William County into a series of waterfront mixed-use villages and parks connected by the extension of the Blue Line and the Virginia Railway Express, including Occoquan, Belmont, Potomac Shores, Dumfries and Quantico.  

Twenty years from now, these communities will become destination neighborhoods that anchor Prince William County’s social fabric and tax base and connect Northern Virginians to the Potomac River in ways we can only imagine today.    

These opportunities are possible due to major infrastructure investments by the General Assembly. In 2013, we voted to raise transportation taxes as part of a bipartisan compromise to raise funds for new infrastructure in Northern Virginia. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority allocated $85 million of that revenue to realign U.S. 1 through Dumfries and add sidewalks, multi-use paths and give Dumfries a new and modern Main Street. 

Second, the eventual construction of the Long Bridge will enable much more robust daily VRE service outside of commuting hours. Communities near VRE stations will become magnets for the D.C. Metropolitan Area’s workforce. 

Third, The Rose will replace the Dumfries landfill with a hotel, conference center, eight restaurants and 79-acre park for community residents. George Mason University estimates that it is projected to generate $48 million in taxes every year including $10.9 million to Dumfries and $6.7 million to Dumfries. To put that number in perspective, Dumfries’ 2021 budget included a general fund revenue total of $5.6 million. The proposed gaming emporium represents a 200% increase in revenue for the town without raising any taxes. 

The GMU analysis estimates 640 new jobs with an average pay of $15 per hour and more than 100 jobs at The Rose will pay an average of $70,000 per year. All of these jobs would pay families more than the town’s current median family income of $63,000. 

Over 10 years, the project will generate $100 million for the town and $60 million for the county. These funds could be used to dredge Quantico Creek and develop a waterfront, provide new parks or services to residents, underwrite affordable housing, construct new infrastructure and attract new development. A decade from now, Dumfries could be Prince William County’s premiere waterfront village.

Concerns that this project will profit from town residents are misplaced. The MGM Grand Casino at National Harbor, in Maryland, sucks $150 million out of Virginia every year. The majority of MGM’s patrons come from Virginia. The GMU study found that The Rose represents an opportunity to recapture some of that Virginia money and keep it here in Virginia and Prince William County. 

The Rose will also create opportunities to keep community events in Prince William County, attract conferences and leverage tourist opportunities to our parts of Northern Virginia through needed conference space. 

Just to the north, the new Museum of the U.S.  Army at Fort Belvoir is projected to attract 800,000 visitors per year while The National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps sees 500,000 per year. We need those visitors to eat and sleep in Prince William County’s waterfront instead of Old Town Alexandria. The coming developments will keep them here.

Over the last four years, we have worked hard together to lay the legal groundwork necessary to provide opportunities to Northern Virginia by authorizing additional gaming opportunities in jurisdictions willing to embrace it. In November 2019, Dumfries voters approved a referendum to allow gaming, and the message sent by residents has been received.

While Dumfries is the oldest continuously chartered town in Virginia and once rivaled New York, Philadelphia and Boston as an East Coast port, it has not seen the same revitalization that has come to City of Manassas and the towns of Haymarket and Occoquan. The Rose presents a generational revitalization opportunity for Eastern Prince William County made possible by the collective effort of the town council and the state legislature. We look forward to the community discussion and are optimistic that the greater community will see the virtue in the project after public hearings. 

The writer, a Democrat, represents the 36th District, which includes parts of Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties, in the Virginia state Senate.

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(1) comment

Mg

Wow, our socialist Senator finally posts a good idea

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