Thursday, October 11, 2007
Charlottesville's Parkland - Political Footballs?
Major areas of Charlottesville parkland and natural area are under significant pressure to meet the infrastructure 'needs' of growth in our region. Charlottesville Tomorrow just reported (see "Pen Park route for Eastern Connector back on the table") that Pen Park is again being suggested by Albemarle County planning staff as a possible route for an eastern connector road - in spite of project consultants recommendations against use of Pen Park due to federal section 4(f) parkland protection for that land. Pen Park is also protected under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act as most of Pen Park was purchased under federal funds acquired from this fund.
Every week there is news about possible 'reprogramming' of our parks for other uses. Ragged Mountain Natural Area is likely to be flooded as part of the planned reservoir system to meet growth in our water demand. More than twenty-two acres of McIntire Park is likely to be given under easement to VDOT for construction of the McIntire Road Extended project and additional acreage possibly to be leased to the YMCA for construction of a YMCA recreation facility. Bailey Park will be lost if the Route 250 Interchange at McIntire Road is constructed. Riverview Park and the Rivanna Trail are under threat from possible plans for additional roadway crossings of the Rivanna River. Is any parkland off limits?
Parkland and natural areas are essential to the health of our region and our residents. We can't continue to believe that these lands should be sacrificed to allow more (and faster) development. The Charlottesville City Council and Albemarle Board of Supervisors need to explore other alternatives than reducing our parkland and natural areas to feed growth.
Growth issues and protection of our natural area are issues in both the Albemarle Board of Supervisor and Charlottesville City Council elections on November 6. I keep up with these issues as best I can through news reports, attending public meetings, and visiting the Charlottesville Tomorrow website to read meeting transcripts, view video of meetings and public forums, and listen to Podcasts of public discussions. I hope you too will keep yourself informed of these rapidly changing projects and proposals - and be sure to make an informed choice on these issues in the voting booth on November 6.