Park Authority defers Wiita Tract vote, requests Jan. 13 update

Family fun at the park.The Park Authority Board considered three proposals for recreation uses at the Wiita Tract at their December 9 Park Authority Board meeting. Executive Director Jay Ellington presented  three maps showing the recreation choices recommended by staff.

All the options showed a soccer stadium and soccer fields. The only difference between the three plans was the number of soccer fields, which ranged from three to seven (plus the soccer stadium).

Natural features were notably absent from the maps. Did the Park Authority complete an environmental assessment? In the lessons learned category, planning the location of ball fields before looking to see what’s there has caused problems at Silver Lake, where the 11th hour discovery of globally rare natural areas is making their preservation very difficult.

Also, streams, wetlands, trees and soil types all have the potential to significantly affect construction costs. They’re important when deciding what to build. For example, slow-draining wetland soils could be a poor choice for ball fields. Soggy fields are less usable and more expensive to maintain.

The Wiita Tract Master Plan maps did show the topography but made no comment on the significant shift in elevation, which drops approximately 75 feet between western to eastern borders.  If one of the three plans presented is selected, there’s going to be a huge amount of (expensive) earth-moving activity going on.

Several speakers talked about the serious shortage of ball fields in the western part of the County and highlighted the Virginia Soccer Associations’ financial contributions to field maintenance. Nearby landowners expressed strong concerns about the traffic, noise and light intrusion the proposed plans would bring to their community.

Other speakers spoke to un/intended consequences that could result from bringing high intensity recreation facilities – bright lights, lots of cars and public sewer – to the Rural Crescent, pointing out that the Wiita Tract is also inconveniently located for those in the development area (where most people live).

We need parks that are close the population they are intended to serve. If they’re mostly out in the Rural Crescent, they add to the traffic problem, change the character of rural communities and provide no services to youth who have no access to a car.

Natural features are also worth considering. Recreation facilities that are built on suitable land minimize construction, maintenance and restoration costs. Forested buffers to protect surrounding neighborhoods (everywhere) should be a staple of every proposal.

After closing the public hearing, the Park Authority Board deferred their vote on the Wiita Tract Master Plan so they could consider public input. Staff was asked to make a recommendation at the January 13 Board meeting. Chairman Brenda Gardziel said they will consider scheduling a Board vote for January 27 at that time.

Citizens are still welcome to share their views with Park Authority Board members as they consider the options for public recreation facilities at the Wiita Tract. Click here for contact information.


1 comment so far

  1. LakeGirl on

    Was there any resolution/movement on this at the Jan. 27th meeting?

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