NVRPA Plan Offers 24-Hour Supervision of Proposed Park

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority appears to be a very good listener when it comes to hearing the voices of citizens. On Thursday, NVRPA submitted its operational plan for Cool Spring Battlefield Park. The NVRPA plan attempts to address not only concerns voiced over park supervision, road maintenance, litter and river access, but also promises to deliver a comprehensive plan for dealing with failing septic systems, wells and underground tanks located on the property. In addition to the proposed solutions to meet community concerns, County officials say that a combination of budget re-programming and private contributions can cover NVRPA membership fees for the first two years of operation.

Site of proposed Cool Spring Battlefield Park - Photo courtesy Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority

The nine-page Cool Spring Battlefield Operations and Facility Management plan promises to address most, if not all, of the concerns voiced by County residents over park visitor management and safety. One major concern, the need for 24-hour on-site park supervision, is addressed through a combination of park personnel including a full-time park manager, a night watch park ranger, park attendant and a volunteer park host that will live at the park when park staff is not present.

“This management structure will provide consistent coverage of the property year round during both daylight and evening/overnight hours” the plan states in boldface, underlined print

The plan also proposes proper inspection and repair of property septic systems and drain fields as well as a better understanding the property’s existing wells and well systems. NVRPA also says that it will inspect all bridges and culverts throughout the property and locate any underground holding tanks used for heating oil or propane.

But while park operating details have been a major point of concern for some County residents, the ongoing cost of the facility to the County has also been raised given other budget needs like a County-wide employee pay adjustment, a $750K County-wide enterprise resource management software system and a $500K proposed recycling convenience center.

However, County officials say that the first two years of NVRPA’s $65K annual membership fee can be covered by a combination of existing budget funds that will not require any new County revenue and are already programmed for open space initiatives. The Clarke County Parks and Recreation Department has agreed to re-program $20K of its budget toward the Cool Spring Battlefield Park while the County’s Open Space Easement committee says that it has another $25K that can be contributed.

Two private organizations that promote open space and public easements are said to be ready to offer an additional $80K to the County if the park is approved.

While park supervision and cost have topped the list of issues voiced by citizens, the NVRPA plan addresses other concerns as well.

In the plan, NVRPA promises to contribute to Shenandoah Retreat Land Corporation’s the annual road maintenance fee and to work with the Virginia Department of Transportation create a defined entrance to the park property. NVRPA says that the new entrance design will provide the control to limit access to the park, when needed, and to discourage entry after hours by using posted signage or a gate system
that would still allow access to the property by Retreat residents.

NVRPA also says that it will work closely with the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department and fire officials to establish appropriate plans for the operation of a safe public park. Park safety plans will include best practices with regard to emergencies within the park and on the water including a safety audit program that will involve local officials, park staff, residents and user groups. NVRPA says that concerns about potential fire risk to the Shenandoah Retreat will be handled by prohibiting brush burning unless it is coordinated with the Shenandoah Retreat and local fire officials. Brush burning, if undertaken, will only be done in an area that is at least 250 feet from any wooded area, with park staff and fire suppression on hand according to NVRPA.

The NVRPA plan also emphasizes that no regular overnight camping will be allowed but special event camping is possible. However, no special event camp fires will be permitted during drought conditions.

While the NVRPA Cool Spring Battlefield Operations and Facility Management Plan appears intended to calm the concerns of Shenandoah Retreat residents who fear the possibility of negative impacts in their area of the County, the plan also voices NVRPA’s vision for the positive impact that the proposed park will could have on the broader region.

According to the NVRPA document, although the Cool Spring Battlefield Park will focus on the historic features of the area, the park will seek to leverage the available infrastructure already in place including creation of a trail network of both paved/graveled and natural surface trails, rental operations for kayaks and canoes, public boat launch operations including shore launch and carried craft only from existing beach area for the general public. The plan emphasizes that Retreat residents will maintain their right to launch carried or trailered crafts from this same beach area with no paved boat ramp envisioned.

Last, but not least, NVRPA plans to promote fishing both in the river and potentially in the existing ponds located on the golf course as well as family picnicking, using the existing shelter and additional picnic tables.

The next public information meeting concerning the Cool Spring Battlefield Park will be held on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 7:00pm at Enders Fire Hall in Berryville, Virginia. Paul Gilbert, executive  director of the Northern Virginia Park Authority, will be present to present his Cool Spring Battlefield Operations and Facility Management plan.

The Cool Spring Battlefield Operations and Facility Management plan can be viewed here: Cool Spring Battlefield Operational Plan

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Excellent plan. Outstanding news. Come out and support this park.

  2. Because I Care says:

    So they say the $65k membership fee will be covered for a couple years and then what? And they say there will be 24-hour supervision but how much is THAT going to cost and who is going to pay for the park manager, park attendant and park ranger? Are private donations going to cover these expenses? How can that be guaranteed?

    The park is a nice idea but still not necessary in the current economic climate and in a county that lacks a plan for real revenue.

    • The membership fee covers all of the expenses related to supervision, running and maintaining the Park. It will be guaranteed through a contract if the Board decides to join the Park Authority.

      • Still waiting for someone to tell us how much the fee is to escape from this contract .If the county does not know how can they agree to anything ? If the BOS do know and won’t release the amount that tells me all I need to know.

  3. Sage of the Mountain says:

    Sounds more like it. Shows that NVRPA wants to make it work.

  4. It appears the NVRPA has responded thoroughly and responsibly to the valid concerns expressed by citizens. If indeed the plan will be executed as stated, with ongoing costs, management and stewardship shared by the NVRPA and Clarke County agencies (and yes, taxpayers) and a viable plan for the future, this seems like a win-win for everyone. The preservation of this site and the recreational and educational opportunities it offers the public are all very compelling.

  5. Mountain Mama says:

    The NVRPA has a long history of successful parks in 3 counties and 3 cities. Their parks are remarkable and well kept. I understand that the $$ is big, but the returns will be too. The park authority will be paying the Park Manager, Rangers and Night Watch. There won’t be additional funding from the County budget.

    Yes, the membership can be covered for a couple of years that you know of now, but that will give the time to plan for it in the coming years. Parks and open space are wonderful and needed. The NVRPA has the leadrship and the knowledge to make this work for the residents.

    Free your mind and try to look beyond the end of your nose.

    • Tony Parrott says:

      So the supervisors are going to plan for it in upcoming years? And you know this because they’ve done such a good job of planning to this point?
      NVRPA has done a good job of responding to a lot of the concerns but I feel we have our priorities we should deal with fist.

  6. NO PARKING, SCHOOL ZONE

    I believe our priorities in this county are screwed up if we are financing parks instead of properly funding our schools.

    Given the untenable fiscal constraints being dictated to the school system, it is impossible to deny the link.

    • The schools are funded, but will never be “properly” funded to meet everyone’s needs and standards. What about $500K + ( or was it more, does anyone know) or so that was dropped on a senior center? I’ve seen this brought up before, but everyone ignores it and makes comments like, “I respect seniors” I do too, but not to the tune of $500K+. Since I don’t want to sit in a room and play cards and checkers, I’d prefer to have a nice park to visit along the river.

    • Tammy Lanham says:

      Agreed.

  7. So now all that’s left to complain about is $$$.

    • Tony Parrott says:

      That’s not a problem James, all those tourists are coming to look across the river at the property where the battle actually was. We are going to set up those binocular stations and charge a nickel.

  8. GetDownBall says:

    Let’s take a drive down Parker Lane…

    -Oh, Wow! This road seems to have a lot of potholes on it, honey. I wonder who is supposed to take care of this road.

    -Well, I heard someone say it’s been like this for years.

    -It has. But I thought they were going to take care of it…

    (Arrival at “Park”)

    -Look honey, those bunkers are still in the same shape they were in 1864. Do you think the Union troops had any time to play golf down here?

    -Yeah, they said they wanted to preserve the history, but it still looks like a golf course to me.

    -Let’s walk 3/4 mile out to a rock by the river, I hear there is a plaque out there where the par 5 was.

    (Arrival at “Battleground”)

    -What does the plaque say?

    -It says most of the fighting took place on the other side of the river, but we can’t go over there because it’s private property.

    -Oh that’s too bad! We drove down this terrible road and walked through an overgrown golf course just to find out that this wasn’t actually the site of a battle!

    -Yep. Makes you wonder why NVRPA ever wanted this place to begin with.

    -Alright, I’ve seen enough. Bet this was a nice golf course though. Let’s go to Antietam, at least there was real fighting there.

  9. The 24 hour supervision of the park is a little misleading. Perhaps you need to read the plan again. The staff will not be on site 24 hours a day 12 months out of the year. An “on call” supervisor could be in anywhere within their system.

    • You should read the “Park Ranger/Night Watch” section. There’s no need to have someone down there in the dead of winter. How many people are down there now, partying and carrying on when the golf course is closed? I see none, and guess what, it’s not staffed during the off season.

      • I think if you were to check the sheriffs record there was a call to the golf course within the last week.The course has been staffed during the winter months in years past and even then the course had vandals and break ins.

      • Have you checked the public access by the river on Route 7?

      • Clarke Co Annie says:

        Being a golf course it does not publicize open usage nor partying and carrying on.

        Once open as a park to the public and patronized, there will be people visiting on a warm “winter” afternoon.

        And kids look for a hang out place anytime

      • Birdonawire says:

        I wouldn’t be too sure about that…. I saw an ATV riding on the golf course paths last Friday night around 10:00 PM.

  10. It is misleading if you say staffed 24 hours and that is not true. If staff is not on site 24 hours then it is not manned 24 hours. Say staff available off site 24 hours.

  11. Because I Care says:

    This should be put up for vote by all Clarke residents. I vote neigh!!! As in, let’s make MORE easements for horses and open, undeveloped land for this particular property. (yes this is sarcasm.)

  12. Bill Lukens says:

    Have we heard from the Sheriff’s Department and the State Police with their input on the ability of our peace officers to enforce the laws and rules of access and behavior?

    I have not seen or heard of any comments from Mr. Roper or any other representatives from the law enforcement community?

    I plan on asking those questions at the next meeting…

    The plan from the MVRPA is pretty comprehensive and addresses a lot of the issues I have thought of during this process, but plans are just that, PLANS!

    The problem is that we will not know how well they will be implemented unless we pull the trigger and take the plunge (mixing metaphores, I know). All the assurances in the world are just words until we see the actions…

    I am still witholding my final opinion until I hear from the other people involved at the next meeting. I think the concept has a lot of merit, but I still need to hear some commitment from the people who say they can follow through with the proper action.

    Two big questions asked but not answered-
    What does it mean to have the battlefield ‘restored’ to 1864 conditions?
    What is the opinion of the law enforcement organizations involved?

    Some smaller questions include how the roads will be maintained and what will resident access look like?
    What does ‘on-site’ staffing entail, how much, when, where, and whom?

    Looking forward to the 21st…

    • Clarke Co Annie says:

      Don’t forget – What happens if Clarke wants out of the “deal”. What will it cost the county and the residents?

      Really doesn’t matter by then…NVRPA will own the property and will have full control to do as they wish regardless of impact to anyone in the county or Retreat. And, the current proposed plans…well now, they didn’t offer anything up front until we addressed situations with them now did they?

  13. County resident says:

    I heard that one additional staffing position was granted to the Clarke County Emergency Service but was never funded due to lack of funds. Don’t you think that the $65,000 a year would be better used to fund this position? I would prefer that my tax dollars are put toward staffing to assist me if I ever need help with a emergency because I don’t think the park will be there to help me.

  14. I still haven’t seen any information on where the additional tax revenue from visitors spending money in Clarke is going to come from; but this continues to be a listed as a “positive” reason to approve the Park. Where are they going to spend money?

    • Old Man River says:

      Where will they spend money? Well Food Lion of course. Where else will they buy all the beer cans and diapers that you all fear will litter the shore line?

      The reasons against are getting thinner and thinner. Maybe it’s time to step back and give it another thought…

  15. Clarke Co Annie says:

    From above,
    However, County officials say that the first two years of NVRPA’s $65K annual membership fee can be covered by a combination of existing budget funds that will not require any new County revenue and are already programmed for open space initiatives. The Clarke County Parks and Recreation Department has agreed to re-program $20K of its budget toward the Cool Spring Battlefield Park while the County’s Open Space Easement committee says that it has another $25K that can be contributed.

    Read about cutting more on the county school budget and still needs cut another $458K.

    Found CC Parks and Rec Dept. has requested $6K to cover a handicapped lift for the pool from the Minor Capital Contingency Fund on page191 of BOS 02/21 meeting packet.

    If the Park and Rec has $20K to “re-program” why do they need funds to cover a lift that they knew about since July 2010?

    Is this all smoke and mirrors?

    Funded with “other” hardworking taxpayers funds for two years… then what?

    No to the “Park”

  16. Clarke Co Annie says:

    Why did the Civil War Trust back out of their offer to pay the first year membership?

    Plans have changed significantly as to how it was first represented. Instead of being a place of “quiet and solitude” there are now plans to have rental for kayaks, canoes and equestrian trails.

    With these changes in just three months one can only wonder what are the final plans?

    And if Clarke decides this venture was not as they planned and utilized the mechanism to be released from this agreement what are the consequences?

    This “Park” needs to be addressed as a speculation. One with no return on investment.

    Many more points need addressed. Whether you agree or disagree attend the meeting Tuesday night Feb. 21st at Enders Fire Hall at 7 pm.

  17. Castleman TC says:

    Thank you Mr. Gilbert this is a great plan. I know a good deal when its offered to me. You went above what we asked for and fulfilled every concern we had. I apperciate the time and effort you put in to this plan. Again thank you!

    All I have to say is we are not going to get a better deal than this. Anyone can by this land and do as they please without us having a say in it. Becareful for what you wish for.

  18. Return on investment, like a senior center? Your priorities and fiscal irresponsibility crack me up Ann.

    • Dontsmokewithwillie says:

      It was brought to my attention that the chairman of the BOS sent an email requesting all supporters of park needed to be in attendance at the public hearing held this evening.I would say it worked ! Now when he votes yes in favor of the park he can say he was only voting so to support the wishes of the citizens.Talk about a stacked deck.

      Was I the only one that noticed that every person who spoke in favor of the park were large land owners and the upper crust of the county ? What have they to lose ? Most if not all of those in favor had responses prepared in advance that seemed to mirror the details offered from the NVRPA and MS Teetor. Insider information ?????

      I hope everyone enjoys your new park and I would plan on leaving home earlier than normal to avoid the traffic jams created from all the visitors this will drive to the county.Oh, never mind those folks will be in my county staying at our hotels,eating at our restaurants and buying our goods.Thanks to you, my taxes will stay flat due to your tourist dollars being spent in my town.

      • There is no “insider information” The details offered by NVRPA were made public on this site, so there goes your little conspiracy theory out the window. Vote YES to the park. It’s what the people want.

  19. Brian McClemens says:

    I vote YES !!!