HUH? What kind of fiscal republican does not want to “save money” ?

By KEITH WALKER News & Messenger
Published: October 21, 2008

The Bull Run Mountains Conservancy has dropped out of negotiations with the Prince William County Park Authority over the property at Silver Lake.

A conservancy statement released Tuesday stated that the organization pulled out of negotiations because a stalemate on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors negated further negotiations.

“At this point our continued involvement can only delay opening the property to the public,” the release stated.

The property was proffered to the county by Toll Brothers in 2006 in exchange for 420 additional houses in Dominion Valley.

The conservancy was offering to combine an additional 268 acres with the county’s 233 acres at Silver Lake off Antioch Road near Haymarket if the county deeded portions of the property to the conservancy.

Additionally, a private grant would have allowed the conservancy to open a park at no cost to the public.

The conservancy was prepared to guarantee public access and certain recreational uses and accept deed restrictions that would return the land to the county if the conservancy ceased to exist or failed to allow public access.

Prince William Chairman Corey A. Stewart, R-at large, didn’t want to give away the property in order to save money.

Opening the property could cost the park authority as much $215,000 annually.

Supervisor W.S. “Wally” Covington III, R-Brentsville, didn’t like the plan because it hadn’t been subjected to the budget process.

Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan, R-Dumfries, said having the conservancy run the park was a “no-brainer” that carried obvious benefits.

The Prince William Conservation Alliance favored the conservancy’s proposal, said Kim Hosen, the alliance executive director.

“In our view we have a problem here,” Hosen said. “We have a severe shortage of parkland and a severe shortage of money. It appeared that this was a win-win for everybody.”

It’s difficult to protect green space and open parkland in Northern Virginia, Hosen said.

“I think it takes partnerships to pull things off,” she said.

Hosen wasn’t worried by the prospect that the conservancy would have owned portions of the property.

“They were willing to sign a contract with the county and accept deed restrictions that would define the uses and public access,” she said.

Michael Kieffer, the executive director of the conservancy, said the conservancy’s withdrawal allowed the park authority a chance to move ahead on opening the park.

27 thoughts on “Corey says he didn’t want to “give away” Silver Lake just to “save money” ?

  1. floodguy

    Giving control of such a valuable piece of property to an entity outside of the public’s domain, doesn’t guaranty to serve the public’s interest beyond today’s perceived and near-term needs. It is the environment and the surrounding public which will bear the brunt of the zoning changes agreed to for the concession of the Silver Lake property, so isn’t it only wise to ensure the public maintains control of the property? The changing needs may call for increased recreational access of the park or it may do the opposite, display the clear need for the existance of natural park with limited access to certain recreational usage. But would not those decisions best be left to the public by way of the county maintaining control? The tease of a much larger Silver Lake property combined with minimal costs to the county, doesn’t guaranty the public’s future needs would better served. Moreover, the dominio affect of shortsighted urban planning by the BOCS which brought rapid development into the north section of the county, could potentially worsen and cost the county more, if the property doesn’t serve the needs of both the area’s environment and of the public which resides there. One would think there’s still time, and that the public’s perception of an “open” park tomorrow, does not outweighs the financial benefits of the type of park proposed by the conservancy, if the park were to be opened the day after tomorrow. What’s the rush? With that said, its a shame the park authority “ran out of time”, and could not find a compromise with people who have a proven track record of caring for land in the county, as much as they do.

  2. Moon-howler

    As a person who has not followed the Silver Lake issue closely at all, I just don’t see why the BOCS never acted on anything. It seemed like one big stall to me.

  3. Alanna

    Wait Corey was one of the 4 that voted for the Conservancy plan back in April, now he is saying it doesn’t make sense?

    Anyways, there’s no way this park will be opened by next spring like the County promised.

    Voting for the Conservancy were:
    Marty Nohe
    Corey Stewart
    Maureen Caddigan
    Mike May

    Voting against the Conservancy plan:
    John Jenkins
    John Stirrup
    Wally Covington
    Frank Principi

  4. Let’s get this right:

    Corey wants to waste our money on his agendas.

    He says there are going to be MASSIVE budget cuts this year.

    Then he says he doesn’t want to save money?

    If there is anything wrong with the partnership terms, then the lawyers are the ones who should make sure it’s written in stone and is loophole free. Sure, I’d prefer parks to be in the hands of the public as well. But in a time of fiscal crises, we need to be smart and do what we can. We know in times of crises, the county will be more tempted to selling off every piece of land to developers. How much you want to bet this is what Corey and company really have in mind?

    Once again….Corey proves to be an IDIOT.

  5. –What’s the rush? —

    Flood, they’ve been dickering around with this for YEARS and that means it has been CLOSED for years! Come on. Enough is enough. The reason it has taken this long is that our BOCS “Chair” and VICE can’t do a damn thing without throwing their own agendas in there, mucking up the process.

  6. –Frank Principi voting against–

    Someone write to Frank and get him up to date on this issue. He’s reasonable.

  7. food for thought

    Corey did NOT vote for the conservancy plan. The votes were as follows:

    For BRMC:
    Nohe
    Caddigan
    May
    The other five voted no

    For Park Authority
    Stirrup
    Stewart
    Jenkins
    The other five voted no

    In other words, Wally and Frank voted against BOTH proposals.

  8. Mom

    “The reason it has taken this long is that our BOCS “Chair” and VICE can’t do a damn thing without throwing their own agendas in there, mucking up the process.”

    “If there is anything wrong with the partnership terms, then the lawyers are the ones who should make sure it’s written in stone and is loophole free.”

    If you are unfamiliar with the issue and its history, perhaps you should just sit this one out and refrain from uninformed comments. This fiasco predates Corey’s term as the chair by years and comes as the result of machinations by Connaughton and others. This is a very complicated land use, ownership, public interest and budget issue with no simple solution and probably no correct answer apart from the county fully funding it as they initially committed to doing. Much as I would like to hang this on the entirety of the board, they were handed this mess by a previous board, albeit one most of them sat on. Perhaps it will serve as an object lesson they might finally learn from as they were forewarned about this and other similar issues at the time of the public hearing.

  9. Elena

    Floodguy,
    Can you explain who the BRMC was not serving the public good? Exactly what “future needs” are wondering about? Because, from my perspective, and the many people who live near Silver Lake, NOT having a secure permant plan is exactly what worries people. Having quality passive recreation, which is SO lacking in PWC is not something I imagine would need to be altered in the future. As a matter of fact, as the County grows more dense, and loses more open space to development, we will treasure our passive recreation. James Long Park is now one big soccer field. Well, that’s fine, for a few months out of the year, but certainly there is more to a park than active recreation. This was a colossal waste on the part of PWC. They should have reached out to BRMC and they blew it.

  10. we need more parks

    Floodguy said –
    “Giving control of such a valuable piece of property to an entity outside of the public’s domain, doesn’t guaranty to serve the public’s interest beyond today’s perceived and near-term needs.”

    That’s already decided, Silver Lake was a proffer for parkland. The public decisions on how this land would be used were made by the BOCS when they approved the proffers, which allow transfer of the land to BRMC or the Nokesville Horse Society.

    I haven’t seen anything to suggest that BRMC asked to “control” the uses. The article says the opposite – “The conservancy was prepared to guarantee public access and certain recreational uses and accept deed restrictions that would return the land to the county if the conservancy ceased to exist or failed to allow public access.”

    Considering the county’s lack of interest in park land, I’m thinking that I might actually feel more comfortable with a private landowner with deed restrictions than the park authority with no deed restrictions – the park authority has a very poor track record for doing what they say they will do (look at what happened at Valley View Park for just one example).

  11. –This fiasco predates Corey’s term as the chair by years and comes as the result of machinations by Connaughton and others.–

    It doesn’t matter what Corey inherited. He knew what this job entailed when he ran for office. It is his duty to give residents services, and that includes park land. Is it easy? No. Is there a WAY? Of course. His issue is, and always has been, “It’s my way or the highway.” He refuses to consider creative solutions.

    Like I said, the lawyers are fully capable of ensuring BRMC carries out its end of the deal. And if they do not, you can bet the public will be screaming about it anway. So it’s in the best interest of BRMC to do what it says it will do. And it’s in the best interest of the county for the BOCS to do what it is supposed to do for residents.

  12. Alanna

    food for thought,
    If there has been a new vote, I haven’t had a chance to watch the Supervisors’ meeting. But last time they voted, it was 4-4 with Principi requesting the Park Authority to meet with the Conservancy. If I am not wrong it was back in April. That was the vote where Corey voted for the Conservancy. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

  13. Mom

    Pinko, much as you might like it to be, this is not about Corey but rather a fundamental debate on good public policy and the stewardship of public property and resources. Reasonable people may disagree on the wisdom of the transfer of public property to a private entity, and thats what you have in this instance. The failure of this and past boards to properly fund the parks does not make a transfer to the BRMC the proper course of action by default. As I stated earlier, this is a multi-faceted problem with a multitude of fiscal impacts. A transfer to the BRMC, however well intentioned, by it very nature might call into question whether the BOCS was acting with the best long term interests of the residents in mind and whether they were acting in accordance with their fiduciary responsiblity. Enough with the facile answers and analysis.

  14. Mom, the point is: the park won’t open because we don’t have the money. You said it yourself: this and past boards haven’t properly funded parks. So a citizen group steps up to the plate with a reasonable solution. And what does the BOCS do? Once again, undermine citizens. THAT is what it comes down to.

    You’re kind of talking like….I don’t know. A lawyer? A policy writer? A BOCS rep? No offense, but that doesn’t cut it with “Joe-six-pack” who wants to go fishing.

  15. food for thought

    Alanna-
    I’m correcting you. The vote back in April was as I described it. There has been no new vote. You are right that Principi asked for the two parties to meet, but that was after both proposals failed. Corey voted for the Park Authority, not the Conservancy. Here is a Gainesville Times Article that lays it out. I also watched the hearing myself.

    BRMC pulls Silver Lake proposal
    Local
    By Dan Roem
    Source: Gainesville Times
    TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21 2008

    After years of wrangling with the Board of County Supervisors and the Prince William Park Authority, the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy has officially pulled its proposal to take control of Silver Lake in Haymarket.

    Michael Kieffer, executive director of the BRMC, made the decision public Tuesday morning at 11 a.m.

    “It’s clear [the Park Authority is] an unwilling partner and for any compromise to be successful, you need willing partners,” he said during a phone interview that same afternoon.

    He later added, “We’re not going to be the reason that it’s held up any longer.”

    The Park Authority is now virtually assured to gain ownership of the 233-acre park once the BOCS approves its proposal.

    What this also means however is the 268 acres of adjoining land that would have been donated to the BRMC is the conservancy gained control of Silver Lake will not be donated and will not be made available for public use. Instead, the anonymous donor has decided to preserve the acreage with a conservation easement.

    “And the donor’s decided that enough’s enough. And we were never able to garner five votes.”

    This past summer, the county supervisors rejected competing proposals from the Park Authority and BRMC on 3-5 votes. Supervisors Mike May (R-Occoquan), Marty Nohe (R-Coles) and Maureen Caddigan (R-Dumfries) supported the BRMC while chairman Corey Stewart (R-At large) and supervisors John Stirrup (R-Gainesville) and John Jenkins (D-Neabsco) sided with the Park Authority.

    Supervisors Wally Covington (R-Brentsville) and Frank Principi (D-Woodbridge) voted against both of them for various reasons. Privately, Covington had leaned toward supporting the Park Authority while Principi supported a compromise tentatively made by the BRMC and Park Authority this past August.

    Principi had in fact asked the county executive’s office to intervene and help the two sides come up with a compromise solution in the first place.

    The BRMC and Park Authority agreed on a basic principle that the park should be used for passive recreational purposes only. So while campers and motorboats will not be allowed, hiking, horse-back riding, bird watching, and camping will be permitted.

    However, the Park Authority board eventually rejected the notion of a compromise and recommended the Park Authority go ahead with resubmitting its only proposal once against to the BOCS.

    During the last week, Kieffer finally decided to give up.

    “Well, I mean, it gets to a point where you can only bang your head against the wall for so long,” said Kieffer, who singled out the Park Authority executive director Jay Ellington in particular for allowing the collapse since he is the Park Authority’s leader. “It was clear that a compromise proposal wasn’t going to work and they weren’t going to entrust us to develop the 500-acre natural recreation area.”

    Kieffer said the BRMC will still encourage volunteers to help out with the park.

    “We’ll do everything we can to be supportive of the Silver Lake project,” he said, noting the Park Authority claims it can reopen the park within six months of securing the county government’s approval. “We want to see that opened to the public as soon as possible.”

  16. –noting the Park Authority claims it can reopen the park within six months of securing the county government’s approval. —

    BS. If it happens, I will be the first to stand up and applaud, GLAD to be wrong. But in this budget crunch, it ain’t gonna happen.

  17. Mom

    Pinko,

    I’ll give this one more try in plain English.

    1. Yes the park has not opened, in part because this and past boards haven’t properly funded it. That is by no means the only reason but it is a substantial one.

    2. The BRMC is not a citizens group in the common parlance, citizens groups don’t have that type of corporate structure, executive director or extensive land holdings. It is more akin to a corporation in structure and a single issue lobbyist or special interest group in practice, not a group of concerned local residents. One might argue that given its use of legal counsel to further its aims, there is precious little difference in practice to differentiate it from a developer.

    3. Whether they stepped up to the plate with a reasonable solution is the crux of the debate. If you don’t have at least a basic understanding of public funding, land use ramifications, long term policy and precedent implications, etc. then you have no legitimate basis to claim that the BOCS is undermining citizens as the subject matter is one open to reasonable debate and differing opinions.

    A lawyer? HELL NO, A policy writer?, not talented enough, A BOCS rep?, that’s rich, pain in the ass to the BOCS, that I would accept, rep., not hardly.

    I understand “Joe-six-pack” just wants to go fishing, but it is that same “Joe-six-pack” that elected those officials to understand and make these complicated decisions for him.

  18. You Wish

    Mom –

    Don’t waste your time trying to explain to Pinko. To her, everything that is wrong with PWC, Virginia and the world at large is due to Corey Stewart. No amount of dumbing down that you do will get the point across to her. Save your breath and typing for someone who will listen –

  19. floodguy

    (1) a passive park supporting a rural community, under-serves a more developed county and hinders urban expansion to a degree,

    versus

    (2) a higher recreational usage park supporting a more developed environment, fosters a plan which would enroach into the rural community.

    A developer proffered the parcel to the county in exchanged for “relaxed” zoning changes which would effectively increase the population density of the area and affect the environment. It seems to me that conservancy’s plan would not necessarily “guarantee” its plan would serve the public’s interest into the future, if it was limited to a more passive park.

    It doesn’t mean that I am for or against the plan, but from my perception, that’s just what it boils down to. Who knows what the north-end of the county will look like in 10-20 years and beyond. Urban planning of the north end of the county can now be considered over-estimated, considering the economic issues of today, but BOCS is entrusted to ensure the future needs of the public are secured as best as possible. Elena, I agree, its a complete travesty a compromise couldn’t be reached, but not everyone lives on the mountain or prefers a rural setting because the realities just aren’t there for them. Many live in developed communities, have families and have needs too. If more development brings 1,000’s, then the existing parks will not meet everyone’s needs, and a passive park with restrictions wouldn’t either.

    Perhaps with the argument for a more passive park, a guarantee of high usage recreational parkland or facilities elsewhere for that end of the county, can be worked into the plan somehow. I do not think the plan should be one or the other, although in the near-term, it could be passive for a considerable period of time into the future. But if the need develops, the county should have the ability to create facilities on the parkland to serve the needs of the community. I don’t believe the conservancy supports this viewpoint, although I may prefer a more passive park myself, but I believe my concerns are not selfish.

  20. Sorry this is off topic…

    THIS JUST IN!!!

    Help Save Herndon is in 100% reversal and now is working to UnElect the Herndon town Council that it worked so hard to Elect in the first place!

    “HSH was instrumental in getting the town’s current mayor and a majority of the town council elected in 2006, but Jones said that these days Herndon Mayor Steve DeBenedittis does not return e-mails sent by the group.

    HSH “will now work toward getting them unelected,” Jones told The Times. ”

    ===snip===

    “””It is so obvious that [illegal aliens] are coming here because of policies implemented in Prince William County,” Herrity told the HSH audience. “As chairman, I will try to define the [illegal alien] problem and see what it is costing us,” he replied when asked how he would address the issue if elected chairman.”

    =========================================================

    A sure sign that evil draws motivation from it’s self, HSH formed to get rid of the Day laborers in Herndon, using massive beguiling e-mail opperations to purge the Town Council and relpace it with their puppets. Greg was inspired by the “Progress” in Herndon and formed HSM to purge PWC of all immigrants on a larger scale. BUT now the Day laborers are back on the streets and the supposed council puppets have cut their master’s strings.

    HSH looks to the actions of nativist HSM for inspiration. May their efforts be confounded!!!

    GET THE “HELP SAVES” OUT OF VIRGINIA NOW!!!

    Source:

    http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/news/2008/oct/22/herrity-tackles-thorny-immigration-issue/

  21. –pain in the ass to the BOCS, that I would accept–

    Well, that’s a good thing! 🙂

    Mom, I think I understand what you are saying in your second piece which is much clearer. Basically, you don’t think BRMC should take the park because you don’t trust them. You see them as a corporation with ties to developers. Is that right?

    I guess since I know people in that area of advocacy, I know I can trust them more than I can trust the BOCS. It all comes down to perspective.

    You Wish, there’s a big difference between you and Mom. Mom has a brain. You don’t.

  22. —HSH “will now work toward getting them unelected,” Jones told The Times. ”—

    LMFAO!!!

    These people are a laugh riot a minute. Yup….nothing better to do I guess!

  23. —“””It is so obvious that [illegal aliens] are coming here because of policies implemented in Prince William County,”–

    Wait a minute—didn’t Corey say the illegals got deported? Or did they get deported to Herndon?

  24. –I understand “Joe-six-pack” just wants to go fishing, but it is that same “Joe-six-pack” that elected those officials to understand and make these complicated decisions for him.–

    Now that is NOT something I agree with. We elect people to do what is BEST for us, and what is BEST for us is to get the damn park open. Joe doesn’t care HOW it is done so long as he isn’t get ripped off. We pay our government to work out solutions, not “make decisions for us.”

  25. –If you don’t have at least a basic understanding of public funding, land use ramifications, long term policy and precedent implications,–

    Yeah, except the BOCS doesn’t either which is quite obvious in their history of over-development, irresponsible spending, and ignoring citizen input.

    We have NO passive parks in this area. There’s no excuse for this.

  26. Alanna

    food for thought,
    Yes, you are correct. I did remember, Corey publicly supported the BRMC before the election and I thought he voted for it but you’re exactly right he did not.

  27. food for thought

    Alanna-
    I guess he flip flopped on it. I was not aware that he had publicly supported it before the election!

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