Apparently John Stirrup, having sabotaged any opportunity for citizens to have 500 acres of parkland at no cost to the taxpayer, is now up to more shenanigans at Silver Lake!

Someone please tell him that this isn’t about politics, it’s about parkland. All we want is the assurance that someone’s not going to come along in two years or five years and put in a Splashdown Water Park or light up the night sky at Silver Lake or ???

Deed restrictions will guarantee that what we’ve been told is what will happen at Silver Lake. And the problem is ???

People have been commenting for nearly three years now, saying they want passive uses and horseback riding at Silver Lake. Stirrup’s 6/21/09 newsletter says he wants trails, bank fishing, picnicking and other passive recreation at Silver Lake.

Everything seems to match, so what’s the problem? Why is Stirrup opposed to deed restrictions? Could it be that he has other plans?

Deed restrictions would also help open Silver Lake sooner rather than later. Since the Park Authority has already agreed to restrict recreation uses at Silver Lake, there’s no need to re-start at the beginning. Deed restrictions will make sure that doesn’t happen. They will speed up the process and move us one step in the right direction. And Stirrup is opposed to this because ???

Stirrup’s newsletter tells us that, after Supervisors deadlocked on the outcome of Silver Lake in April 2008, he told county staff to negotiate a solution and asked to include the Nokesville Horse Society in the meetings. The newsletter suggests that negotiations failed because “all suggestions were unacceptable to the BRMC.”

Why was the Nokesville Horse Society invited but all other organizations were excluded? And I can tell you, the statement “all suggestions were unacceptable to the BRMC” is just not accurate. In fact, according the 10/21/08 press release issued by BRMC:

“Mr. Stirrup and his planning commissioner Martha Hendley were not supportive in BRMC’s original negotiation with the developer to proffer the entire 230 acres for parks, open space and recreation, and have remained unsupportive ever since.”

You can’t have things both ways. The deed restrictions proposed by May and Nohe support everything Stirrup says he wants at Silver Lake. So what’s the problem????

By putting their proposal forward in advance, May and Nohe gave Supervisors time to consider the issues, consult the County Attorney and be ready to vote at tomorrow’s meeting. After nearly three years of discussion, there’s no need for more delays.

70 Thoughts to “John Stirrup Stirs Up Silver Lake Controversy”

  1. Gainesville Resident

    One hopes the horse folks don’t want to set up some brightly lit nighttime equestrian center – which would destroy any hope of using Silver Lake at night time for sky watching. One would also hope that when they put in lighting at the park it is just pointed downward to light the area on the ground and not throw a bunch of wasted light upwards at the sky. Seems like out in the Gainesville/Haymarket area they do a much better job of this than elsewhere in PWC, so one hopes that will continue at Silver Lake park. It needs to be lit safely for nighttime use, but at the same time not be throwing a lot of wasted bright light up at the sky. For one thing, money can be saved in terms of electricity use when lighting is aimed fully downward – less wattage is required to light up the same area.

  2. Bryanna

    Deed Restrictions are usually initiated by developers, not politicians.
    It may sound good at first but can also trap you into something else you don’t agree with such as SEWERS.

    Look at and see which developers have made political contributions to these Supervisors and follow the money.

    Think about this, whether it’s a community pool or a water park, the infrastructure requirements are similiar. Plumbing and sewers will be required. What follows sewers? Could it be developers?

  3. Moon-howler

    Gainesville, did you hear that was going to happen? Those horse folks sure came out in droves. Horse trails, hikers, and cyclists ought to be able to co-exist and use the land. I don’t want to see lighted rings and arenas either.

    Does anyone know?

  4. Gainesville Resident

    No, I just wonder if that’s what the horse crowd might want – some big lit up area like that. Maybe not though.

  5. Anonymous

    We’ll have to wait and find out what the horse people are planning at Silver Lake. It will also be interesting to see where funding for their activities comes from.

    I was appalled to realize that May and Nohe were the only Supervisors who understood how deed restrictions work. John Stirrup actually said he was concerned that citizens would “feel like they might need to have an attorney present during recreation,” to know whether they are engaging in active or passive recreation.

    Give me a break. These guys are making land use decisions and they don’t know what a deed restriction is? No wonder we see so many bad land use decisions.

  6. Rebecca

    Some of those speaking at citizens time also do not understand the entire concept of what Supervisors May and Nohe wanted to accomplish. One of the most outspoken ones thinks that you all were comparing Ben Lomond to Silver Lake. Not too smart. That person also had no realistic sense of the history of either Silver Lake or of Ben Lomond Park.

    That poor lady thought that deed restrictions would eliminate fishing in Silver Lake.

  7. food for thought


    I don’t understand your comment. Sewers will be coming to Silver Lake, with or without deed restrictions. The Park Authority, as a public entity, has the right to sewer for its public facilities, much like the public school that will be built adjacent to Silver Lake will also have sewer.

    What do deed restrictions have to do with sewer? Please clarify.

  8. Anonymous

    The Park Authority does have the right to hook up their public facilities up to public sewer. Come to think of it, deed restrictions could have actually prevented sewer from coming to Silver Lake if anyone had thought of it.

    If the Park Authority is going to do what they say – limit the uses to passive recreation and horseback riding – there should be no need for public sewer. If they are going to develop intensive recreation amenities, that’s a different story.

    However, if the Park Authority is truly interested in protecting the environment, they should put in a composting toilet to lead the way and provide an green example for others. Check wikipedia for more info on composting toilets.

  9. Elena

    I am wondering that too Food for Thought. Deed restrictions have nothing to do with using Silver Lake as the conduit for development. The school site will have sewer. There are members on this current board that use the close proximity to sewer as a means to an end….develop the Rural Crescent, Wesleyn Church is a great example of that!

  10. Mom

    As far as conduits into the Rural Crescent go, I would worry far more about proposed rezonings such as Haymarket Crossing that directly abut the Rural Crescent with all such public amenities and high density.

    BTW, if approved, you will be able to sit in your boat at Silver Lake and look up at the high rises (8-10 stories) at Haymarket Crossing, I believe they will be in your sightline.

  11. Alanna

    The point with Splashdown being that, in 40 years Silver Lake could take on a very different purpose. Perhaps evolving into something very developed and quite different than the passive park that citizens want.

    I haven’t had a chance to listen to anyone else from yesterday. I’ll see if I can catch it on a rebroadcast or maybe it’s online already?

  12. Anonymous

    Mom, you hit the nail on the head. This county doesn’t have the political will or backbone to make the hard calls needed for sustainable growth. We are losing ground quickly. The economic climate will pick up again someday and then I expect the pressure will really be on. It would have been nice to make sure that at least Silver Lake would have been there.

  13. Mom

    Silver Lake will be there so long as the residents remain vigiliant given the current procedures and protocols. What is most worrisome is that the Planning Office seems hellbent on assuming authority over decisions that might adversely impact the public’s interest in places such as Silver Lake (I know, hard to believe that Griffin and Utz don’t have the public interest in mind, snort, guffaw) Seems to me, and I could be really offbase as I didn’t follow it that closely, that in some of the proposed zoning and DCSM changes the Planning Office wanted to eliminate hearings and/or BOCS review of public facilities. I don’t have the time to look it all up but I’m sure there are some out there that have that information at their fingertips. If true and adopted, I would be really concerned. I can just envision cell phone towers, water towers, firing ranges (no that is not a comment on the second amendment), police driving ranges, power substations, etc. being “hidden” on the public lands for the public benefit.

    Maybe I’m just a little too jaded but I wouldn’t trust those two to properly plan a doghouse in my backyard, at least not without considerable input from a large land-use law firm who shall remain nameless.

  14. Anonymous

    Mom, Why do you think it’s reasonable to expect people to be ever vigilant? People don’t want to spend years complaining about Silver Lake to government, which is good at avoiding this type of responsibility anyway. On the other hand, it is reasonable for government to protect public land to better serve their constituents.

  15. Mom

    “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” (Mr. Jefferson, TJ to those of who are closer)

    I won’t waste any time debating whether reasonable is the proper standard when it comes to government oversight, the cold, hard reality is that it is necessary to maintain such vigilance. Bear in mind that it is not just the elected officials we must watch but also staff (who are often even more dangerous). Those elected will generally respond when the pressure gets great enough, staff will simply turn off their phones (unless of course the call is coming from the aforementioned large land-use law firm who shall remain nameless).

  16. Moon-howler

    Apparently some people out there are under the impression that some of us were comparing Splashdown to Silver Lake. Nooooo. Splashdown is what can happen starting with something simple like football fields and a swimming pool.

    It isn’t all bad at all. It is a nice facility. However, it is a complex facility that does bring traffic into the community. Ben Lomond Park is no longer just a neighborhood swimming pool. It is a water park with water park admission fees and a lot of out of towners.

  17. One possible concern about bicycles (or anything with wheels) that is not as big a concern with horses (or anything that lifts it’s feet to walk) is the concern about erosion and damage to trails. I am not sure, but suspect that has a lot to do with the battlefield’s restriction on bikes.

    I am a cyclist and have no horses; but I know that wheels can do a lot of damage to dirt trails and muddy ground; and I think that may have been the deciding factor at the battlefield.

    I still do not trust Stirrup at all, I think he’s crooked and too heavily influenced by both wing-nuts and developers, but the bikes vs horses thing is a red herring.

  18. Gainesville Resident

    That makes sense about bicycles and trail erosion, however they should have come out and said it instead of blaming it on the horses! At Silver Lake though, they should be able to come up with a way to allow bicycling there. It appears to me several of the supervisors are in cohoots with the developers, I don’t think Stirrup is the only one by a long shot.

  19. Moon-howler

    Horses don’t erode? Yea they do. Bike foot print/horse foot print. Which is bigger?

    Horse shoes/bike shoes? Think about the materials.

    Former rider here–horses (well and a bike as a kid)

  20. Gainesville Resident

    You’re right, I didn’t give that much thought with horse shoes. Then again I have never ridden a horse, so what do I know about horses? Makes sense though about horse shoes. I guess the “horse lobby” was successful at the battlefield, or this is just our federal park service being stupid, which I wouldn’t put it past them. Let’s hope everyone can coexist better at Silver Lake whenever it manages to open.

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