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This Week's Topic: We Need Vision

Monday July 17

Well, I never knew how difficult writing a blog would be. My mind is always full of endless ideas and topics, but I often struggle to choose just one topic, and the words don’t always come easily. This week, I was particularly struggling, but thankfully I received some inspiration this week from the Chesterfield Education Association and my neighbors.

Let me explain. First, I had the opportunity to meet with a few members of the CEA and hear first-hand the frustration of teachers with the overcrowding of schools and the number of teachers in Chesterfield leaving the profession for more competitive pay. Second was yet another conversation about rezoning and the loss of rural land and forest in Chesterfield, and the inability or unwillingness of the County leaders to manage the growth. These two topics are obviously tied. To preserve the standard of living in Chesterfield the County leaders need to be prepared to pay for the consequences of the growth, namely over-crowded schools and a failing transportation infrastructure. If you won’t require developers to pay, you are leaving the bills for the taxpayers.

So what can be done? Well, the County has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something about it. The CEDA purchased 1700 acres in the Moseley area for their Upper Magnolia megasite folly, and now they can put it to some good use. Go ahead and use the land for already needed schools (elementary, middle and high schools), a fire station, and a library. All of which are needed now due to already-approved residential projects. Keep the right of way for the Powhite Extension, which will have to be built someday. Preserve the remaining land as a public forest: real honest to goodness green space forever!

We need vision! This park (“Horner Forest”, “Carroll Park”, Matoaca Preserve” whatever you want to call it, I don’t care) would be amazing and address so many concerns immediately and forever: it would slow growth in the area until needed schools can be built, relieve pressure on rural roadways not designed for high density residential traffic, protect wetlands, RPAs and ultimately the water quality in the Swift Creek Reservoir, and would provide habitat for local wildlife. It would save the County bundles of money by stopping the bleeding of money being spent to develop a site totally unsuitable for manufacturing (the estimates far exceed $1B). Fortunately, easy access is already available through Horner Park. Horner Park now has water and sewer thanks to the county paying to extend the lines for the developers on the opposite side of the park (more on that another day). What a great place for Scouts, school groups, and families to hike and explore!

Years ago, leaders in NYC acted to set aside land for Central Park. I am doubtful they ever envisioned the Manhattan of today, but they had the foresight to know the value of land and the benefit of outdoor spaces. Most importantly, they were true leaders who looked forward rather responding to the pressures of parties and donors. As Supervisor, I promise to strive to be that type of leader.

Good bless America, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Chesterfield County, and the good people of Matoaca both now and forever!


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