Park Authority Presents Operational Plan for Cool Spring Proposal

Over 100 people attended the informational meeting at Enders Fire Hall – Photo credit Mike Dowling

Clarke County residents streamed into Enders Fire Hall Tuesday evening to hear the latest developments on the proposed Cool Springs Battlefield Park that is being considered by the Board of Supervisors. The deal being proposed to Clarke County would entail the Civil War Trust buying the Virginia National Golf Course property, then putting it into perpetual easement and donating it to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) to operate as a park. However, in order for the NVRPA to operate a park in Clarke County the Board of Supervisors would have to agree to join the Park Authority at an annual cost of 65K.

At the special meeting held in January at the Blue Ridge Fire Hall, residents of Shenandoah Retreat turned out in force to raise questions about the idea and the potential problems it could cause. That meeting provided representatives from NVRPA with the information they needed to formulate an operational plan for the proposed park. That plan was released last week and was the subject of Tuesday night’s presentation

Paul Gilbert responds to questions from the audience – Photo credit Mike Dowling

“This project fits our mission,” Paul Gilbert from NVRPA said, “At the last meeting we listened very carefully and took notes about the concerns people were voicing and really gave our very best effort to try to address those concerns with an operating plan that will hopefully be a great success.”

Director of operations for NVRPA, Chris Pauley went over the plan the park authority has developed. “The input we received and our expertise are going to go hand in hand with the development of this park. We really tried to focus on the concerns and quite honestly they were valid. There were a lot of concerns out there and many of the things are addressed in the plan.”

A PDF of the plan can be downloaded here.  It outlines a park that is oriented towards history, but also provides a family recreational area that includes river access for the public as well as the possibility of kayak and canoe rentals.

In his presentation, Mr Pauley focused his attention on several major areas of concern.

Board members listen to public comments – Photo credit Mike Dowling

Security – The NVRPA stated emphatically that the park would be monitored 24-7 through the use of an off-site manager, park rangers, and night watch. Mr Pauley clarified that off-site management does not mean remote from other locations, but is merely a classification that means the manager is not exclusive to one location. Also, he reiterated that this would be a no alcohol park and that violations of park policy are class 4 misdemeanors.

Roads – Many concerns were voiced about the condition of Parker Lane which will provide access to the park. NVRPA offered to take on all of the currently needed road repairs, “We are going to address the road right away and it’s going to be on our dime.” Mr Pauley went on to say that after completing the needed repairs the NVRPA would meet its obligations to the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the road.

Fire Safety – A fire in previous years that was a result of an attempted brush clearing operation went out of control and caused a forest fire in the Retreat. That incident had many residents concerned about fire safety in the park. Mr Pauley said this will be a no camping park with no fires allowed except for large events like jamborees.

Rest Rooms – Addressing concerns over facilities, the park authority plans to augment the existing rest room facilities at the clubhouse with portable toilets.

Retreat River Access – The NVRPA was clear that Retreat residents would maintain the same access to the river that they have always enjoyed.

When the session was opened to comments from the audience, reactions were mixed. However, unlike the previous meeting the majority of speakers Tuesday night spoke in favor of the park. They pointed to the opportunity this represents to preserve a historic site and maintain an open space with river access for the public.

Some speakers voiced concern that the proposed site was not actually a battlefield. Paul Gilbert from the NVRPA said that the battlefield encompassed both sides of the river and added that while the west side that is on the grounds of Holy Cross Abbey was off limits, the east side provides a perfect vista to view the battlefield on the western shore.

Other opponents of the park were adamant that the existing golf course was viable and would continue operations despite the property being in foreclosure. Mr Gilbert addressed this and said he had participated in a conference call with the property owner who said the course consistently loses money and that they did not have plans to continue operations.

Some were not openly opposed to the park but voiced concern over what the plans to return the land to condition of 1864 meant. Paul Gilbert responded later that those plans were not complete and would require additional research. He said it would certainly include some agriculture but pointed out that changes to the land would not be drastic and would be considerate of the existing trees and wildflowers.

As the meeting continued more and more speakers took the podium to voice their desire for the Board of Supervisors to move forward with the project.

George Ohrstrom spoke in support of the park – Photo credit Mike Dowling

George Ohrstrom, Chair of the Clarke County Planning Commission made an impassioned appeal during the public comment session saying, “I think this proposal to join the NVRPA is a good idea. I realize it is a serious decision that requires careful examination. There were many issues raised at the meeting in the Retreat last month and I believe the park authority has answered them adequately.” He went on to say, “$65K a year is a lot of money, I think however that we all need to look at this from a different perspective. Instead of focusing on this fee as a yearly obligation maybe we need to look at it as a down payment for our future. Thirty years from now open space for use as an historical interpretive park or a river front environmental education park will be a real asset for us.”

He also referenced several organizations in Clarke county who have volunteered ongoing funds toward the annual NVRPA membership fee.

Speakers from the Clarke County Historical Society and other heritage sites in the county also added their voices in support of the project.

After the meeting Supervisor David Weiss said he still had not heard many positive comments from his constituents who live in the district where the proposed park would be, but added, “A lot of people are coming up and saying that it is going in the right direction.”

The board set a next step to have a meeting for board members to discuss the project . That meeting will be open to the public and will be held on March 5th at 9:00 am at the county building.

Comments

  1. I want to point this out to all the naysayers who keep insisting the golf course will continue to operate.

    “Other opponents of the park were adamant that the existing golf course was viable and would continue operations despite the property being in foreclosure. Mr Gilbert addressed this and said he had participated in a conference call with the property owner who said the course consistently loses money and that they did not have plans to continue operations.”

    Does it sink in now?

    • Tony Parrott says:

      Of course they are saying they have no plans to continue operations. They want to sell the property and they have the opportunity to do so. The property isn’t cost effective for building houses so their opportunities to sell it are limited; that’s not the counties problem. If the property owner wants to shut down operations and make $0 then that’s on them. If the property was undeveloped, different story, but it’s not. It brings in tax revenue. Remember over the course of 10 years that’s $650,000 just in fees, not to mention lost tax revenue.
      I just don’t see ALL those tourist coming to see the park and spending enough money to make up the yearly cost and lost tax revenue; that’s a joke. One thing is for sure, the property will remain a golf course or it will be a park. One will cost us money and one will make it.

  2. Robert Johnston says:

    Has anyone considered – In addition to the 65K per year there is the lost real estate tax revenue.

    • 20,000+ dollars a year in lost tax revenue. So thats 85,000 dollars a year to our community for a park thats not needed for the community. The public this will serve is not from here and will not bring anything of benefit here. People from here have many opportunities to enjoy this area and tube and canoe etc. They don’t need a Park Ranger to hold their hand either.

  3. Brian McClemens says:

    I am 100% behind this project.. And from what I heard last night The Parks and Rec’s will give 20K per year and there were other groups also going to give Money to offset the cost. The first year would cost ZERO to the taxpayers.. More important is the amount of Taxes Dollars the Town and County would make with the Tourism to the Local Restaurants and B&B’s and wineries ..With that there would be NO COST to the Taxpayers.. Just saying…THE FACTS !! Great Job By George Ohrstrom.. !! “Instead of focusing on this fee as a yearly obligation maybe we need to look at it as a down payment for our future”.

    • StoneBroke says:

      I hope the Berryville Grille doesn’t prepare an over abundance of food on the weekends! I mean with all the tourist coming in to town. C’mon Man!

    • Mimi Stein says:

      Doesn’t the $20,000 from Parks & Rec come out of the County’s General Fund and won’t it have to be made up elsewhere either by cutting another department’s budget or increasing revenue to the General Fund? So, I’m not sure how you get to a zero cost to taxpayers.

  4. Is it not funny how the County BOS and NVPRA have different answers to questions every meeting. The BOS stated that they have until May to decided, yet they want to fast track this March 5th at 9am when “everyone” can participate. Here is the vote:

    Byrd – Yes (of course, she did need to stay for the first meeting)
    Stalin – Yes
    McKay – Yes or No ( not really sure )
    Weiss – No (If he wants to be re-elected)
    Hobert – Of course Yes (He sent an email out for support of the Park)

    Did anyone notice that everyone that was for the Park were a part of the Historical organizations or the County Government. Seems a little biased since they got more time to talk than the others. Also the answers seem to change to fit the needs of Allison Teeter. She has already been in contact with reenactors before last night meeting.

    I have an friend that has been in contact with Textron and he stated to me that if the Park does not go through, he is first in line to purchase and he will keep the property as a Golf Course.

  5. Castleman TC says:

    This is a very well thought out plan. I’m grateful they listened at the first meeting, Every single thing we brought to their attention was addressed and put into the plan.

    A few people at the meeting last night went overboard, their fight isn’t valid, insisting that the golf course is not done, is just silly. They failed period, its in foreclosure, get over it unless you’re all buying the land. The land cannot sit there forever and I’m not waiting for another campground or a tube rental place to buy it. Honestly that’s what you’re all going to be up against.

    If the golf course was successful MANY cars would have been going in and out of there. So the point of too many cars going down Parker lane, is ridiculous.

    Now for what was hilarious, threatening the board with closing down the road and making sure they don’t have access to the water supply. REALLY you have to be kidding! This women said she was speaking for the Retreat residents. I’d like to know how many of the residents she was really speaking for??
    I know for a fact not all Retreat residents are against this.

    If you all don’t want this Park, what do you think should be done with the property?

    • I am a Retreat resident, 15 years. I am FOR the park. Why would they want access to the crummy over priced retreat water? The stuff tastes nasty and is some of the most expensive water in the state. Some of my neighbors have it and buy bottled water to drink. The park can install their own well if they want good water.

      The retreat is a good place to live, except for the SRLC. In my opinion, this is a very corrupt organization. They plastered the bulletin boards with notices to not support the park and attempted to have the residents sign a petition. They have tried to scare the residents by saying there will be people driving lost all over the roads, break ins, fires etc. The reason they don’t want the park is because it will expose this secret organization for what it really is. Unfortunately the residents do not know any better and are subject to the wrath of the SRLC Board of Directors (joke). Where is your money going retreat residents?? It’s time to WAKE UP. You pay hundreds of $ every year, and it’s a big secret as to where it goes. And if you ask, the response from the corruption crew is “none of your business, we don’t have to give you that information”. Well, things are going to change. The residents of the retreat will decide what’s done with their hard earned money, not some phoney board of directors.

      • Dontsmokewithwillie says:

        Will having a park correct the issues you have with water quality and corruptness of the board ? Wrong forum for your complaints .

        • No, it is the right forum, as it was brought up that the SRLC was trying to bully the BOS and NVPRA. As residents, we are used to this bullying by the SRLC and it needs to be brought up here, as the SRLC thinks they still own the land. They lost it, they have not say.

    • As a retreat resident, I think the park will make a much better neighbor than the golf course. BOS, please vote Yes.

      • Dontsmokewithwillie says:

        Was the golf course a bad neighbor ? Just curious.

        • Not bad, but I don’t golf. I will enjoy the park.

        • I also do not appreciate the negative environmental impacts of the substances used by golf courses. So, the park will definitely be a better neighbor.

          • Dontsmokewithwillie says:

            What negative impact would you be referring to ? The cattle that spend hours standing in the river everyday during the summer months create more of a negative impact than the golf course.I bet those across from the course are not the only ones either. When are those fences going up ? It’s much easier to blame a faceless property owner than those you encounter on the street.

          • Fertilizers, pesticides, etc. There’s load of information out there. Now all of this will be gone and not wash into the river. Willie, there will be no cattle at the park. You just proved my point. Thank you.

          • Last I check the cows are from the other side of the river.

            With some research I found this study by the VGCSA. Maybe you should read before you talk about Fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

            http://www.vgcsa.org/sites/images/373/VirginiaBMP.pdf

          • obviously you work at a golf course. Yes, the cows are on the other side of the river. I think we know there are no cows on the golf course. What I’m saying is, environmentally I prefer a park over a golf course. I also do not golf so I prefer to have a park nearby that my family and I can use, because we do not golf, and like to walk along the river. It’s a beautiful location. I wish the other side of the river was a park as well, with no cows, but that’s not the case.
            I’m sure plenty of steps are taken to follow regulations by golf courses in VA, including this one. My preference is to not have this stuff running into the river, even if it is meeting the regulations.

          • Dontsmokewithwillie says:

            So let me see if I got this right.Because you don’t golf that makes the 19,000 people who did golf at Virginia National irrelevant ?
            The county has but one course that is open to the public .There are many options for one to walk along the river Once again let’s cater to the minority not the majority.

          • Dontsmokewithwillie says:

            Turf filters those alleged pollutants before reaching the river.The banks on the west side are barren filtering NOTHING.I think we know what load you are referring to.

            When was the last time you saw cows roaming around on a golf course?So no I didn’t prove your point.

            Have any of you complained to MS Teetor about the cows and their run off ?

          • Please try and keep up. What I was saying was, on the park side, there will be just a park. No golf course. Not sure why you brought up the cows in the first place. Like I said, that’s the other side and we have no control over that.

            As far as complaining to A.T. I never complained about the golf course, and I’m not going to complain about the cattle.

            I want the park. No golf course. Just a park. If the park get voted down, oh well. I had my say. Have a nice day Willie.

          • Dontsmokewithwillie says:

            I brought the cattle up to set aside the notion that the golf course was the great polluter of the river.

            Isn’t there standards that need to be met by the Ag business as far the Bay foundation is concerned ?

            God forbid we upset the Ag folks.I suspect any farm situated along the river will beg for the park, to help offset their negative impact on the river and bay.No need to install watering systems when your livestock have access to free water.

            It’s been a great day, now I have to clean a neighboring counties dirt from my golf clubs since we don’t have a course to play in Clarke.

    • Where do you people get the notion that the golf course is in foreclosure?? If that were the case it would be scheduled to be sold at an auction, SID! Hasn’t been in foreclosure since ’09, it failed to sell which is why Textron Financial’s name keeps coming up in the conversation. Cattleman, as for the traffic……the parking lot is full on the weekends…150-180 rounds/day in season. You and Sid need to get your facts straight before you get on here and spread false information to further you desire for a park that will be nothing more than a hole into which Clark County will be pouring $90,000 a year. There is enough stupidity in DC politics…let’s not have the same thing Clark County. 1000 visitors a year is not going to bring you $90,000.

      • Castleman TC says:

        Jack, The residents of the Retreat were complaining about the traffic on Parker lane that the park would create. I got my information from them. It was one of their points why they didn’t want the park. My facts are straight I know what I heard.
        So now thanks for telling us they do get traffic from the golf course. Another one of their arguements, SLASHED.

        Further “my desire” go back and read every one of my comments. After the first meeting I was not for this park, their plan wasn’t much of anything and I was not going to go along with no security.
        Let me clue you in, I’m River Watcher also, I only became Castleman TC so everyone knew my location.

        I went beyond just going to the meetings I sent Mr.Gilbert an in depth email on the goings on along the river with facts, police reports and articles to prove OUR point why we needed security. So Sir now I’d have to say get your facts straight.

        I also introduced myself to him and let him know I sent him the email, which I signed with my full name.

        SHOW ME the proof that the Golf course isn’t in forclosure. NVPRA isn’t wasting their time coming up with plans for something that is not for sale.
        In my opinion you’re being lied to.

        • +1… and I think Jack’s changed his alias recently too.

          Interesting how someone who’s not directly involved in the golf course operations claims solvency, while the actual owner of the property is on the record indicating it’s not a profitable venture.

          But then again, why let inconvenient facts get in the way…

    • If the golf course fails that land naturally turns back into a beautiful “park” without anyone doing anything. We have seen this through several golf course failures. The fairways and greens becomes lush meadows and the golf course cart paths become a very nice walking path along the river….at no expense to anyone. There is already access to the river at the end of Parker Road. All of this at no expense, just a gift of nature….with peace and quite. Can’t see why the Board would want to spend $65,000 per year…with interest…for nothing. Sounds like a great investment for the NVRPC!

      Several other points:

      1. The main location of the Battle of Cool Spring was on the west side of the river. One can’t see the battlefield on the west side of the river from the golf course. It is very well hidden by the vegetation on both sides of the river. Unless, one clears the trees and bushes on both sides of the river, which would be unwise as they protect the banks of the river from erosion, their is no view of the battlefield.

      2. The trees and banks of the river are habitat for bald eagles and great blue herons. Anything done along the river at this location should fully consider impacts to the eagles and herons. Sooner or later legal issues related to these habitats will come onto the table. The Board should be careful on joining the NVRPC before these concerns are fully vetted.

  6. StoneBroke says:

    Let me add to your last line…..The company that owns the golf course will lose money…..CC will still make tax revenue (although a small amount)……and the BattleField will cost the Taxpayers in the long run. So quit acting like the golf course is costing you money…because it’s not!

  7. Birdonawire says:

    I am a resident of the Retreat and I am for the Park. I don’t know who the Woman was that said she was speaking for the residents of the Retreat… she certainly isn’t speaking for me.

  8. I would like to know if Holy Cross Abbey has indicated how they feel about the park. Would the park’s river recreation rentals pose a disruption to the silence and solitude sought by the abbey?

    • What’s with the “thumbs down”? I’m not making a statement. I’m simply asking if the monestary’s views are known. I wasn’t able to attend either meeting and don’t recall seeing anything in any of the related articles. Perhaps those who know the area better than I do know that the distance between the proposed park, river and abbey make my question a mute point.

  9. Because some of you are not familiar with Retreat. The reason the water would be disconnected is the water system serving that area is too small for a commerical business such as a park. The maintenance shed with one bathroom is all that is connected to the water system. The club has their own well. Parker Lane would not be gated unless NVRPA put up a gate. It would not be legal to deny access to the new owner without some type of agreement.

    Also, I did not hear anyone say they spoke for the residents of Retreat. I heard a lady say she represented the Shenandoah Retreat Land Corp. You are talking about the meeting Tues. Residents need to speak for themselves. I did- did you

    Sid – Maybe you could be neighborly and let your neighbors connect to your well. Think of all the plastic you could keep out of the landfill. Or if you neighbors are so concerned they could complain to the SRLC. I am on Retreat water and mine is fine.

  10. Castleman TC says:

    Representing residents and speaking for them is one in the same.

    Are you the same lady that said to the board, you didn’t address one of our questions and several people spoke up to say I heard it.

    I have a question, How many people signed the petition against the Park?

  11. Castleman TC says:

    Welcome to Virginia National Golf Club

    You’ll find the course nestled in the shadows of the Blue Ridge mountains, along the Shenandoah River on the site of the Battle of Cool Spring.

    http://www.virginianational.com/sites/courses/layout.asp?id=878&page=49477

    Last night a few residents tried to argue about the history, that the battle didn’t take place there and that they couldn’t call it a battle ground.
    BUT the golf course has been using it as part of their introduction on their webite. Too funny!

  12. Given that they’re used to dealing with the billion dollar budgets of Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William Counties, I’m sure $65,000 probably didn’t sound like a lot to NVRPA when they got together with the Civil War Preservation Trust and PEC to work through this idea. However, those Counties are not talking about laying off teachers (at least not yet). I would guess that $65,000 a year is equivalent to the salary and benefits of a senior, experienced teacher. So, while I am a big fan of all three organizations and of parks, I think it might be better for the County to pass on this for now. Ideally, CWPT will go ahead and put the property into easement and find another buyer or donee. This way the property will be protected, but remain on the County’s tax rolls and the County can apply the saved $65,000 to saving at least one teacher’s job.

    • Mimi,

      Well said.

      There are a couple other points that need to be cleared up. All the Pro Park crowd that wants to call others out to speak the truth and facts….well here are a couple. There is no further ” Protection” needed to keep the Golf Course land from development as most of the property is in the 10 year flood plain (undevelopable) and even more is in the hundred year flood plain. In addition our zoning in this county requires DUR’s in order to build a residence on a parcel and according to the Counties website there are no DUR’s on this property. So to suggest that by putting this in easement is protecting the property from development belies the fact that it can’t be further developed anyway. In fact the Park would constitute “More Development” and more wear and tear on the property than there is now.

      If you want trails look up the hill above you instead of below you. There are miles of Trails they call it the Appalachian Trail you can walk as far as you want.

      If you think that the NVRPA is a good steward of the land you need to look around a bit more. If you want a Park nearby maybe you can get them to make a Park on the 150 acres of land off 601 that was donated to them for that purpose back in 1989 by some benevolent folks who wanted the “Public” to be able to enjoy the beauty of the property they held dear. Instead the beautiful old stone buildings slip further and further into decay, all the windows are smashed and the place sits deteriorating behind lock gates.

      Why the big rush? Why not put it to a referrendum and let people vote on it? If we all have to pay for it we should all get a say in it.

  13. Castleman TC – Shenandoah Retreat does not have a Homeowners Assoc.therefore the residents have to represent themselves. The SRLC Corp. owns property that borders the golf course and has maintained the boat area for the residents. Through deeds and covenants the SRLC also maintains the roads. So the lady was not speaking for Birdonawire or any other resident. Birdonawire should have received a packet of information when they purchased a home or lot in Retreat.

    One of the previous owners liked the fact that the troops crossed the land and they wanted to purchase Parker Island. They could not get Parker Island but felt it was alright to use the reference as the battle was fought close and troops did cross the land. One of the investors was very interested in the history of this area.

    You can prove ownership by going to the Clarke County Court House and research the deed. I did! Textron is the legal owner of Virginia National Golf Course.

    • If you’re abiding by covenants and paying an assessment, then yes you have an “association”. Now, you may quibble with semantics all you want, but you still have the same type of organization as an HOA. But again, why bother with reality…

  14. TC- Sorry I did not read your comment about the BOS/NVRPA not answering one of the questions. Not me. Mr. Gilbert answered my question.

    I do not know how many signed the petition or where they were circulated.

  15. It would be irresponsible for the BOS to vote in favor of this park, a slap in the face to our children and educators when the school system has such budget shortfalls. It is also a slap in the face to all county employees when the BOS cannot give raises to these hard working people because of a shortfall in the entire counties budget. It is a slap in the face to the average working people in the county to insinuate they pay for this park as they themselves are not getting raises in this tough economy (if they are lucky enough to be employed). In the past years I and many I know that live in this county have not received raises, many have lost their jobs due to the economy, with the rising cost of living and no pay increases this means every household is operating on less money each year. How do we make it work? We cut back… We cut back on luxuries and unnecessary items, when that isn’t enough we cut back on necessities just as the BOS has with the schools and other areas of our county. If the board moves forward with this park it is nothing short of fiscal irresponsibility to the county, its residents and themselves. It will be an embarrassment to us all. Look at Clark County, we are paying for a new Battle Field Park (65k a year) but we are not giving pay increases to our county employees, we are cutting back their hours and laying off. We are cutting back on extracurricular activates for our students. We do little to nothing to attract new business to the county and we are cutting back in the schools, cutting back on our children and we want you the tax payer to pay for the annual fee for this new park.

  16. Chad Enfroid says:

    (NB: I am not an accountant, and that may be plainly obvious by this post. Please, if I’m wrong, someone correct me, and if I’m *really* wrong, delete the post so it doesn’t send out a bad message!)

    I like open space as much as the next guy, but I don’t want to see this park become a millstone around Clarke’s neck.

    It’s important to remember that the $65,000 annual cost needs to be recouped not in gross revenue but in taxes (disregarding direct donations or other income specifically targeted to this line item). If someone goes to Berryville Grille and spends $50, only a small part of that $50 is realized by the county. The rest goes to Brian to cover his operating costs (food, utilities, rent, payroll, etc.)

    So it’s not the same thing to say the visitors will need to spend $65K here in Clarke to break even; they have to spend enough to generate $65K in taxes. The local meals tax rate is 2%, and Clarke keeps 1% of the 5% state sales tax. So assuming Clarke keeps 3% of each restaurant transaction (there are other pieces too, trying to keep this simple), we would need to generate almost $2.2M in additional sales to bring in $65,000 in taxes (2,166,666 * 0.03 = 65,000).

    $2.2M in sales is ALOT of meals…43,000 of them at $50 apiece. That’s 118 more a day, every day, all year long. Sure, these numbers change when folks buy stuff at Food Lion or get their hair cut in town, but the fact remains that in order for this park to have zero impact on the bottom line, Clarke needs a large number of visitors spending significant money in town. I’m not sure that’s a realistic expectation.

  17. Sounds Like its time to let the Tax payers of the county Vote on where they feel their tax dollars should be spent Schools,Police, Fire&Rescue Or a park that makes no money And wont benefit All .

    • Please be the first in line at Parks and Rec to tell them that they need to surrender their budget for your personal preferences.

      Then again, I’m SURE you attended countless finance committee meetings and voiced your concerns when departmental budgets were established, right? Your silence is deafening… until now of course.

      Yep, that’s exactly what we need. A populace almost universally ignorant to the budgeting process to allow mob rules to decide priorities. What’s next – Skoal vending machines in the schools?

      NOTE: County schools are underfunded, and tax rates are artificially low in many cases. But for crying out loud, is this county really full of so many uninformed people?

      • The Only vote I was talking about was a Referendum for the park then we will see just how many people want the park or not.

  18. The NVPA paper is a pretty clever bit of wordsmithing, clearly in response to what they heard as objections.

    Some things to consider:

    River access – who is going to be the referee to decide which trailered boats belong to Retreat residents who are entitled to launch and which belong to non-residents, who are not? The boat launch is pretty small…

    “Offsite manager” – what good is a manager who is off site, when it comes to monitoring the park?

    Park will be “alcohol free” – And how will this be enforced? Every college student knows how to deal with alcohol free places – open the liter of coke, pout in the rum, open the liter of 7Up, pour in the Seagrams. Hide the beer when a park ranger drives by.

    Viability of the golf course – Not surprising that the owners don’t want to run a golf course – they are a finance company. However, if the business was sold at a reasonable price, it could be a profitable business. Textron has a $3.5 milling price on the golf course, yet they are offering it as a part for $1 million. If a golf course operator could get it for $1M, it could work as a business. Past owners failed due to a large multimillion debt load.

    Financial impact to the county – losing the golf course business loses the property tax revenue, the sales tax revenue, 50 local jobs, and a lot of business to local suppliers to the golf course business (food, supplies, materials, services). The projected revenue from tourists is not based on any supportable numbers, and is impossible to measure. It’s hard to see how people using a daily recreation area will generate any significant revenue for local business. Most will drive out for a day from the greater DC area. We won’t see the supposedly rich tourists coming to visit a battlefield part, which really isn’t one, and has not nearby hotels shopping, or restaurants. We’ll see one-day picnic & party people who will bring their own food & booze & leave behind litter and trash.

    • You’re really going to dive on the golf course is viable sword, aren’t you Marge? Which member of your family has worked at this failing enterprise since it’s development?

      Let’s assume your premise is that it’s only the property being sold for $1MM, and that everything else (equip, clubhouse, etc.) is what brings that asking price up to $3.5MM. Doesn’t that disprove your argument right off the bat? You claim that someone with $1MM can buy the property and turn a profit. But, with what to run the joint – existing assets? Do you want to pretend that there’s no value or previous cost to those? Doesn’t the total amount of $ “invested” by prior owners (financed or not) represent an reasonably accurate value/cost of the business? Hate to clue you in, but that’s how the market works.

      The amount vested in running the business was something in the $3MM range, and on that basis the prior owner found themselves underwater. Nuff said.

    • 50 employees for that ghost town? Seriously? Played there many times and am very familiar with management of golf courses.For that goat track you’re looking at 15 full time emloyees max, and another maybe 10 part timers. Are you and knowswherethebodiesareburied and Jack related?

      • Dontsmokewithwillie says:

        41 employees during the height of the season .

        I think knowswherethebodiesareburied gave up, tired of the bile being spewed about.

        Me too, why get my blood pressure up for a no win situation.I’ll just spend my $2,500 golf budget dollars else where.Which I’m sure will be double what the park generates I’ll make certain to avoid that area of 7 too, so not to add to the traffic the park will create.I wish you all well, enjoy you folly of a park..

        I’m going in search of knowswherethebodiesareburied, Willie and I need a sidekick.Comedies are more fun when enjoyed with friends. See ya !!!!!!

        • @HST

          Sounds like you are a golf course hater, so no sense in debating you on that point. Must have some history there…

          Big debt is what sunk previous owners. Lower debt would make it a going business. If this park deal falls through, the place WILL sell for the lower $1M asking price and function. For a $3.5 M price, the debt kills the business. (BTW, most golf course equipment is leased, not included in a sale)

          That aside, giving up a lot of tax revenue, jobs, and a business that purchases goods & services from local suppliers in exchange for a park that costs $65K per year and brings in trouble and trash, just does not sound like a good deal to me. Even a few house lots would be preferable, returning revenue to the county & leaving the flood plain as open space.

          I’d like my taxes to not go up to pay for a park.

          • Castleman TC says:

            http://www.clarkedailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Cool-Spring-Battlefield-Operational-Plan.pdf

            Scroll down to page 5 that’s the plan for staffing.

            Do you want the County to buy the Golf course??

          • I never said that I thought the park was the best use of money – I’ve only poked holes in the golfcourse-is-viable argument.

            Wouldn’t the overall true market cost of the operating golf course be determined by what the most recent owner had to put into it, including debt service (your $3.5MM figure)? You admit yourself that it’s not sustainable at that amount, therefore disproving your own argument in favor of the course.

            How long do you suppose it will be until that magic $1MM gets burned through? Did each of the 3 prior owners all also have this enormous debtload that you refer to? Hmmm… maybe one of them bought cheap and then found out how much needed to be invested to make the rhing run and that’s what did them in. Your magical new operator might want to be careful about history repeating itself.

            It’s a 3 time loser. Let it go.

  19. No let one of the others buy it that have made an offer at no cost to the county and Textron cant take a 2.5m tax break for their donation to the Civil War Trust sounds like another bailout paid for by county tax payers.

    • For years I have been supplying materials to the the golf course, through multiple owners.. Losing them as a customer wil cost me business that I can’t replace in this economy in this county. I would tend to agree that a golf course can work on that land. I have other golf courses in the area that do OK. A park is the last thing that we need. I’d prefer that houses get built, if nothing else. That would also generate business & jobs for the county.

      I stand no chance of selling anything to a state park – that goes to politically connected companies who grease the right palms.

      The Supervisors should focus on bringing new business to the county, not eliminating existing business

      • ismellcoffee says:

        Please tell how the Supervisors did anything to eliminate the Golf course?
        I’m really trying to understand this.

        Did you try to help them out with lower prices on the materials you were supplying?