Letter to the Editor: Cool Spring Battlefield Park

I have heard from a few other residents who live in the Shenandoah Retreat.

The Shenandoah Retreat Land Corporation (SRLC) is the entity that originally owned the land until it was auctioned off in the mid 80′s to satisfy their bankruptcy. The three or four other companies who have been involved since then have put a lot of money into sculpting the berms and swales on what was a pretty flat floodplain of a golf course from the 1950s to the mid-80s.

The SRLC had negotiated recorded easements for the landowners of the retreat to have access to the old ‘beach’ area and another area down below the end of Beechwood Lane. These easements were for reasonable access at all times.

One huge issue raised is how the general public who would use the park as a family picnic area or recreational fishing or boating area. How could they be accommodated? Issues with trash, noisy parties, unruly visitors, possible fire issues in the densely forested hills are some of the possible issues.

If the plan is to restore the battlefield to the original condition of the battle, that would be an agricultural system of plowed fields, crops, hay, corn, wheat, rye, hemp, all of the traditional Shenandoah Valley Breadbasket of the Confederacy products. The river was also used for transporting boats of products from up the Valley as far south as Harrisonburg and Staunton north to Harpers Ferry.

While I have not made up my mind as to what the final decision should be, all the possibilities should be discussed and the relative merits and concerns brought out for public discussion.

If this does not happen as proposed, what then happens to the golf course property? Is there a possibility for development in the flood plain? Are there Dwelling Unit Rights available? What other uses could be investigated?

I appreciate the opportunity Mr. Hobert and the Board of Supervisors made for our concerns to be heard and look forward to participating in the debate in the coming weeks. Let me know what you think.

I believe Mr. Hobert was meeting with the Shenandoah Retreat Land Corporation board Tuesday night. The board represents the shareholders of the SRLC and the water system and septic systems that they control, but they don’t necessarily speak for all the residents.

The more informed input we get, the better the information is validated and communicated, the better we will be able to make a decision for the benefit of the community.

Bill Lukens

Mr. Lukens is a resident of Shenandoah Retreat in Clarke County, Virginia


  1. “While I have not made up my mind as to what the final decision should be, all the possibilities should be discussed and the relative merits and concerns brought out for public discussion.”

    Is Mr. Lukens in any position to make a decision? He’s writing like he is.
    The SRLC sold the land (who knows what they did with the money, as they continue to milk, nickel and dime the residents) so they have no say in what happens to the land. The easement can be revoke in the best interest of the county, state etc.

    • Sid
      I think what he meant was he has not decided one way or the other…for or against the park. Not that he is in a position to make the decision. That is for the county officials after hearing from Clarke residents and weighing all factors.

  2. So, I see the situation as, if the county doesn’t join the park authority, then no deal? Does that mean the golf course will stay?

  3. The county will be giving up a lot of tax revenue and 50 jobs for local residents, if the golf course is destroyed. We are terribly short on businesses to contribute tax revenue and jobs. The golf course is a green space, which preserves the open land and is a good neighbor to those of us who live in the Retreat.

    A park open to the public and without on-site management will bring tresspassers, parties, and trash in the river (look at the boat launch at Rt7!). We will also lose our exclusive right to access the river.

    • Marge,

      What part of this whole thing do you not understand? The golf course is in foreclosure. The golf course isn’t just abandoning the business because they want to make room for a park. The golf course cannot pay it’s mortgage. That’s why the bank contacted the Civil War Trust, so they don’t completely lose $3.5 million or whatever it is.
      A golf course in that location is doomed to failure because of the flooding. This is the 3rd owner who has tried and failed. A park is the only option other than abandonment.
      The boat launch at the bridge is not spread over 2 miles of river, so there would not be the concentration of people. If you want to see trash, trespassers and parties and all other sorts of trouble, then abandon the property with no owner to enforce anything. See what you end up with then.
      The park is a great idea and should be supported. This is a whole county decision, not just the small percentage of folks who happen to live in the retreat. You will have access just like everyone else.

      The SRLC owned this land at one time. They sold it. They now have to deal with those consequences.

  4. Birdonawire says:

    As Sid stated so clearly, the Golf Course is gone, no matter what. I would much rather see the property be converted to a park than purchased by a private individual. At least CC would have 2 members on the NVRPA board so the residents of CC will have some say on what happens at, and with the park. If a private individual were to purchase the property, they can do pretty much what ever they want with it as long as it is within the zoning laws. I shutter to think what could happen to that 2 miles of river front. I have terrible visions of the property being divided up into lots and rented out like they are along Rt 606. Not that I would deny anyone the pleasure of enjoying the river, but I hate seeing all the stuff being left at the river lots such as Port-a-potties and grills. Every time there is a flood, all that stuff washes right down the river to become stuck in brush piles and the tree tops. Not to mention all the pollution from items such as these.

  5. knowswherethebodiesareburied says:

    The golf course will be open in the spring if the sale does not go through ! I love how everyone is the expert on the golf course when that’s not the issue.The issue is why pay 65K for something that has a zero ROI .The golf course is owned by the lender so in the true sense of the word there in NOT a monthly payment to be made.The lender expects revenue to cover expenses and if they make money to boot everyone is happy. After all the ink about foreclosure and closing that is unlikely to happen now, and I’m not sure that wasn’t the plan all along by the BOS and NVRPA thus the lender is more likely to take a loss and dump the property.
    No matter what the county planning folks are saying about 40 homes could be built there,that’s not going to happen ,period ! That’s nothing more than a tactic to get everyone up in arms.It’s in a flood zone and the Federal Government would prevent that.There are 5 building rights that have no access unless the Retreat would allow a right away to the lots, so lets dash the subdivision talk.

  6. Florida Comment says:

    I find the discussion concerning the future of your bankrupt golf course interesting. I also admire the views and talking points brought up by obviously concerned parties. It is somewhat disturbing though the options offered have yet to take into account the responsibility we all share in the preservation and stewardship of protecting and making available to the public historic sites such as the Cool Springs Battlefield location for future generations.

    Now, that at least three golf business ventures have failed at this location and a valid not for profit organization, as the NVPA, has shown interest in capturing and sustaining this historical site in the best interest of the public, a park can not be overlooked as a viable option.

    It appears the Retreat is a gated private golfing community that has enjoyed exclusive access to their own private beach located on the golf property. To retain this scenario obviously the Retreat HOA could purchase the property put up some no trespassing signs and retain it for their residents. Heaven forbid, if this property becomes a park the residents would lose their elitist status and become the same as the rest of us, the public.

    As with any failed business an after thought question always to ask is “where were the local people and their support to make it a success?” Now, could have or would have is too late.

    The outcome and final golf course decisions will include the legacy of our generation and our unselfish foresight to preserve our national treasures and the freedom for our citizens to experience and enjoy them. This process is a public park in most cases.

    Change can be difficult at first. Hopefully your elected officials will not ignore or pass up this opportunity before them but support the correct solution and make the right decision.

    I wish you well.

    • Obviously you’ve never been here, or know anything about Shenandoah Retreat. It is the furthest thing from a “gated’ golf community. There is not a beach on this polluted river, nor should there be. The retreat “HOA” has no money to purchase the land. They actually lost it in bankruptcy many years ago. There is no elitist status. Basically, these are the same people that put up a major stink to build the golf course several years ago because they were worried about trespassers and their privacy. It really affects very few of the 100 or so retreat homes/residents as only a few properties border the course. The few homes on Parker lane do not border the golf course/park. The ones that do actually border the golf course, are up the side of the mountain where someone would have to climb in order to trespass (a very small possibility). This is definitely about the SRLC trying to “scare” the residents. They like to have control over the community, yet will not disclose what happens to all the the funds they are in charge of to maintain (?) the roads. Then you have several “hermit” types who are worried about being overrun by latinos who will flock to this great river, party, trash the place, burn the place down etc. A park would be nice. Hopefully the BOS will see the benefit of it.

      • Clarke Co Anne says:

        Good Grief Sid
        Is this about a Battlefield Park or a Battle with Retreat people?
        Lets get back to the facts of annual cost of $90k with increased services from Sheriffs Dept and Volunteer Fire Companies and others that will increase Clarke Co people thru taxes.
        NVRPA has already said their costs will increase each year by 1 to 11/2 percent and more costs to residents by covering that area as they have not given any indication of onsite management or staff..

  7. Finally, someone had the strength to say it. They are all worried about the Latino’s flocking there and nobody would say it! How many times can you use the words trespass and litter? We all knew what you guys were trying to say! Hats off to Sid!!!

  8. non-hermit concerned about battlefield park says:

    sid – I don’t think you have to be a “hermit” type to be concerned about the proposed parks guests and I suspect there are more than several people concerned about this. Have you seen Watermelon Park on a weekend? !?! Can you imagine what FREE entrance and NO supervision will look like? And I’m not talking color here….I’m talking about too many people for the site, bad behavior, prohibited beverages, overflowing trash that doesn’t get picked up before its blown into the river or strewn about by wildlife, make-shift access to the river for fishing and swimming and increased chances of drownings. While l truly love the IDEA of a picturesque riverside history-based park, I just don’t think that will be the reality.

  9. Lets get Right to the point here. If you look at every one that is for the park not one of them has said anything about the history part of a Battlefield Park. And the battle actually happened on the other side of the river. They all want a place to have access to the river. So if that is all they want then there is already 4 of them. The ones looking for a place to walk the park in Berryville has that. Now there is a new group that wants to ride their horses, so every one would be walking around those plies because do you think they are going to get it up. Next you will have the ATVs. As for protecting land in the county 20% is already protected.

    As for the 100 homes it could have effect on, there are 292 homes that all use Retreat road. There were less homes than this that were going to be affected by the park that was proposed a couple years ago and that park didn’t go through with effect on less people.

    And, with the posted new rules at Watermelon Park website no one under the age of 21 allowed in without parent. So that goes to show you there is a problem and it mentions the newly implemented security staff. If there was no problem they wouldn’t need these new rules or new staff.

  10. sid
    obvisously you haven’t been in Retreat either. You are misinformed about the Retreat Community and what the residents want or don’t want. I could point out all of the misinformation you have spouted but that is not the issue. The issue is $65,000 for an unkown. No plan has been received as yet. Only a desire to make a park.

  11. Well that’s where you’re wrong Jean. I’ve lived in the Retreat for 20 years. It used to be a decent place. I’ve seen what’s happen to the so call “board” since certain people became involved in it. In my opinion, the corruption started and hasn’t stopped.

    • Clarke Co Anne says:

      Just as before…you are going on about something that has no bearing on the Proposed Park.
      If you have an issue about something else take it up with the HOA. I don’t see how the SRLC (?) can scare anyone.
      Our elected BOS is in the position to agree or not to the proposal by NVRPA. THEIR decision will put Clarke County residents in a position to pay up in taxes, increase the demand for county services. Followed by future years being at what cost?
      If they can opt out in a few years what is that cost? And, by then who will be in place to monitor the 194 acres, 2 miles of riverside?
      Hope more residents turn out for that soon-to-be meeting as it affects everyone.
      I am really looking forward to the responses NVRPA has come up with from the last meeting.

  12. there is no HOA, thats the problem with the looting of our funds, no one is watching the store!