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September 19, 2011

State completes public hearings for proposed state park

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DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, September 19, 2011

State officials wrapped up the public planning effort for the future Biscuit Run State Park at a meeting Monday evening. While no state funding has been identified to build and operate the park, that hasn’t deterred local residents from actively participating in the planning effort. 

20110801-BiscuitRunConcept

Click image for larger version of August 1, 2011
Biscuit Run State Park concept plan

During the past nine months, the Department of Conservation and Recreation has held two public hearings and worked with a 27-member advisory committee to develop the park’s preliminary master plan.

Public feedback has led to the inclusion of a multi-use pavilion and an outdoor amphitheater, 10-12 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and horses, and the inclusion of both campgrounds and cabins. 

Christopher Gist, a city resident and advisory committee member representing area bicyclists, said he was pleased with the results thus far.

“It’s a decent plan, but I wish there was a plan for funding,” Gist said. “I think they have done a good job by maintaining a lot of wild space within the park. The whole southern part is largely undeveloped and includes trail networks.”

Janit Llewellyn Allen, a DCR environmental program planner, acknowledged that the state funding challenge could mean the plans for Biscuit Run remain only on paper for the foreseeable future. 

“We don’t have funding for the park at this time and we don’t know when we would have the funding,” Allen said. 

“We are hoping to bring this to the DCR board in early Spring 2012,” Allen said. “While the economy’s not good and we don’t have any bond money, we want to get the plan approved and ready for the time when we do.”

About 45 people attended Monday’s public hearing and reiterated their support for many of the uses that the master plan will accommodate. However, state officials said that athletic playing fields, sought enthusiastically by other community members and Albemarle County staff, would continue to be excluded from the plans for Biscuit Run.

“We are desperately in need of soccer fields,” said Bill Mueller, executive director of the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle. “The simple fact is there are not enough playing fields now, and the situation will only get worse in the future.”

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