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the Northern Virginia

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NVCEO Silver Lake Position Paper 

Silver Lake disposition to be voted by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors at the 7 pm meeting on April 8, 2008

 

Background:

The Silver Lake property consists of approximately 233 acres, after a middle school site and Rainbow Therapeutic Riding site were removed from the parcel.  The property was originally proposed to be donated to the Prince William County Park Authority by Toll Brothers.  Two days before the public hearing on this proposal the previous Chairman of the Prince William County Supervisors, contacted Toll Brothers and asked for the property to be given to a private non-profit organization, the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy.  This would have been the first time in the history of Prince William County that property donated to the county for public recreation uses, to mitigate increased housing, would be given away to a private entity, free and clear.  Due to public outcry, two hours before the public hearing the proffer was changed to give the property to the Board of County Supervisors, and to allow the Board of County Supervisors to decide the final disposition of the property.

 

The Board of Supervisors (BOS) set up a committee to entertain proposals for ownership of  the Silver Lake property.  The committee was made up of county staffers from various departments of county government, excluding the Park Authority who was to submit a competing proposal.  The committee created a scale to grade each proposal and would submit their findings back to the Supervisors.  Three entities submitted proposals to take over Silver Lake.  They were, the Prince William County Park Authority (PWCPA), Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) and Bull Run Mountain Conservancy (BRMC).  A public meeting was held where each organization addressed the public and the committee.  Each gave an overview of their proposal and then took questions from the public.  No one from any of the 3 entities was on the committee grading the proposals.  The committee graded the proposals and then gave their findings in a report to the BOS.  The committee summarized that the Prince William County Park Authority proposal provided the best proposal to the County.  The process used to grade the proposals and the full content of each proposal is available on the Prince William County website at: http://www.pwcgov.org/default.aspx?topic=040024999990004345

 

NVCEO Position:

 

The approximately 233 acres know as Silver Lake will be turned over to either the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, or to Prince William County Park Authority.

 

This should be of major concern to every equestrian.

 

  1. The Bull Run Mountain Conservancy (BRMC) is a PRIVATE entity and intends to put this tract together with an adjoining 270 acres and have what they are calling a 500-acre PUBLIC PARK.  Our concern is that this is a PRIVATE entity, who has stated that deeded ownership of the property must be given to them at no cost, and has only offered use of the property to the public through deed restrictions to be negotiated after ownership has transferred to BRMC.  This area will NOT be public – it will be PRIVATE land – it will NOT be a PARK in the sense that we think of parks such as James Long Park, Manassas Battlefield Park, Nokesville Park, etc.  Lands now owned by the Conservancy do not allow equestrian uses. BRMC has said they will allow limited access to horses on “unimproved” trails across the entire property.  However, it is recognized that as private land, the landowners can restrict any uses at any time for any reason or for no reason, including access to equestrians, within the limitations of the future agreements made with Prince William County after ownership is transferred to BRMC.  The BRMC has not offered any deed restrictions in their proposal to the County.

 

 

Bull Run Mountain Conservancy may discount the Prince William County Park Authority proposal in an effort to win the vote of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. 

·        Bull Run Mountain Conservancy suggests that if Prince William County Park Authority is awarded the property the park will cost citizens $2,000,000 in tax dollars, when in fact Toll Brothers has specifically proffered $2,300,000 specifically ear marked for parks in the Gainesville district and Toll Brothers has also offered to complete Sudley Park and put in an initial equestrian trail system around Silver Lake connecting to James Long Park.

·        The Bull Run Mountain Conservancy has suggested if the Conservancy is deeded Silver Lake the property will be 500 acres of parkland open to the public at no cost to taxpayers.  We again highlight the fact that private land is not public land.  Secondly, the Conservancy has stated in their proposal to the Supervisors that there would be user fees charged for everyone accessing their land – user fees set by this private entity – with no public in put or oversight.

·        The Bull Run Mountain Conservancy is a private organization whose mission and focus is ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION and to protect the Bull Run Mountains through education, research, and stewardship. The Conservancy has NO experience in the management of recreational facilities nor does it have that specific focus.  On the thousands of acres currently managed by Bull Run Mountain Conservancy no mixed use or equine specific trails have ever been created by their organization. 

 

Our objection to the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy proposal, and fear, is that if Silver Lake is deeded to this private group it will be gone forever as PUBLIC land and as a private owner, the Conservancy will be able at any time and for any reason to prohibit horses and eliminate trail riding, within the confines of the deed restrictions, which will not be negotiated until after the Supervisors vote the disposition of the property.

 

  1. If Silver Lake is deeded to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, Prince William County, would incur an annual membership fee to remain a member of the Regional Park System, projected to be $1.6 M in 2009 and will increase each year thereafter.

 

  1. The Prince William County Park Authority (PWCPA) has, following a major four year NVCEO and NHS campaign

·        Established a public Trails and Streams Committee which appears to be making very significant multi-use trails mapping and planning efforts throughout the county. 

·        Meetings with the PWCPA have demonstrated that current leadership supports and advocates mixed use and equestrian trails.  In particular, PWCPA has indicated they would fully support an equestrian facility at Silver Lake and a willingness to work with the horse community in designing and establishing this facility.

 

The Nokesville Horse Society Board of Directors adopted a resolution in April 2007 to support the efforts of the Prince William County Park Authority in owning and managing the Silver Lake property.

 

Giving Silver Lake to PWCPA means that this property will FOREVER be PUBLIC.  PWCPA leadership has demonstrated a willingness to work with the horse community – Valley View Park equestrian trail, Nokesville Parks equestrian facility – James Long Park equestrian facilities  – and attended NVCEO educational events and NHS events.  It is PWCPA that offers the Northern Virginia Horse Community the best opportunity to have an equine facility at Silver Lake.  Additionally, Silver Lake is a major section of the trail system envisioned by PWCPA and will join Silver Lake with James Long Park and the Manassas Battlefield Park and potentially extend all the way down to Pohick Bay!

 

It is important that the Prince William County Board of Supervisors vote to give Silver Lake to Prince William County Park Authority – this project must remain both PUBLIC and a PARK and we really need there to be an equine facility. Our best chances are with PWCPA.  We need every equestrian and mixed-use trails advocate to immediately contact their Prince William County Supervisor and tell them to choose Prince William County Park Authority!  Recommended methods of contact are in writing through email, or in person during public time on Tuesday, 8 April.  If emailing, please indicate in your email that you wish your email to be added to the public comment/record.

 

To obtain contact information for the Prince William County Board of Supervisors go to: http://www.pwcgov.org/default.aspx?topic=040016000030000442

or the NVCEO website at www.NVCEO.org and click on “Resources” from the menu bar.

 

Northern Virginia Coalition of Equestrian Organizations, Inc.

P.O. Box 1971

Centreville, VA  20122-1971

Jeff Shoup, President, 703-754-4981

jeffshoup@comcast.net