PHP stakeholder meeting notes from Grace

Thanks!

Note: these are not official notes. On the other hand, Grace has mad skills in taking notes!

PHP Stakeholder Meeting #2

The second PHP Stakeholder Meeting convened May 15, 2012, at the Bayside Rec Center, opened by Brian Solis. After thanking the attendees for their participation, he announced that Pete Hangen, of VB Parks & Rec, would serve as facilitator for the meeting. Solis stated that when the City, the Trust for Public Land and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) formed the partnership two years ago, they outlined in general terms the vision of what PHP might be, vis a vis low-impact access, educational opportunities, stewardship goals and the like. He enumerated basic groups that the City and CBF were seeking to accomplish long-term, such as establishing “Sustainable Site” guidelines for any improvements, attention to LEED certification, to offer a center for environmental and educational opportunities, as well as natural-history education, and to invest in additional oyster restoration.

The agenda for the Stakeholder’s Meeting was set forth to include a briefing by David Norris, of the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), regarding the $1 million dollar grant received by the City toward the purchase of PHP, followed by a breakout session to gather input from stakeholders in creating a vision and guiding principles for PHP. Input from stakeholders and their constituents could be shared via a Wikispaces Website, if they can figure out how to use it.

Following the opening remarks, Mr. Norris explained that the inclusion of the DGIF grant in the financing altered the mission of the City with regard to land use. In ordinary circumstances, “multi-use” applications guided the City in the improvement of public land, but the introduction of DGIF principles allowed the designation to be changed from “multi-use” to “special use.” This is made possible by the mission of the DGIF to protect and restore wetlands. Norris stated that 20 grant applications were received, from which PHP was chosen based on the following criteria:

​Lynnhaven Estuary Protection Plan

​1. Will the project reverse wetlands loss?
​2. Will coastal maritime forests benefit? (Norris stated that points were almost never awarded​ for this criterion, but that PHP qualified.)
​3. Will the project ensure long-term preservation?
4. Will the project accomplish natural resource objectives of one or more formal coastal
eco-system management plans?
5. Will the project protect endangered species?
6. Will the project benefit fish?
7. Will the project benefit local and migratory birds? (Norris noted that although there were
nearby natural areas, including First Landing State Park, PHP is the primary and
preferred stop for migratory birds.)
8. Will the project prevent or reduce contamination of soil and water?
9. Will the project provide a catalyst for future conservation?
10. Will the project produce beneficial partnerships?
11. Will the project enhance federal/state cost sharing?
12. Will the project provide educational/outreach opportunities?
13. Are there other factors to be considered?

Norris went on to explain that the site must be managed with conservation goals in mind. Those goals are 1) to maintain habitat values 2) to maintain the coastal maritime forest 3) to maintain water quality
4) to maintain and enhance educational and recreational value while not being detrimental to other aspects. He also mentioned that the existing shoreline trail was a unique amenity for the public to appreciate the coastal environment. A copy of his presentation may be found on the Web at http://www.vbgov.com/pleasurehousepoint. Mr. Norris can be contacted at david.norris@dgif.virginia.gov.

Solis then noted that over the next 3 – 5 years, the City would be developing a management plan in co-operation with DGIF, with a timeline for periodic reviews. The short-term goal is to manage access to the property so as to prevent abuse and to initiate restoration wherever possible.

The group then separated into five groups to consider, in rotation, five elements of planning, based on the Plus/Delta method. (A format which identified already known benefits…plus… and areas of possible concern…Delta.)

Natural Area: Pluses included goals to protect the environmental habitat and wildlife; retaining berms to manage trails and run-off; to manage for diversity; to offer educational/environmental opportunities.
​Deltas included concerns about abuse by irresponsible dog-walkers and litterers, as well as unauthorized vehicular traffic; effects on nearby shellfish harvests; degradation of berms; concern that excessive foot traffic will “love it to Death.”

Land Access: Pluses noted that parking possibilities exist on Marlin Bay Drive and at the Pump Station.
​Deltas called for caution in realigning Marlin Bay Drive; access for adjacent property owners of undeveloped plats; negative impacts to street parking in the adjacent community; planning the number of access points; restriction of access for shoreline and fishing; sensitivity to wildlife.

Water Access: Pluses praised the restriction of watercraft to non-motorized craft; opportunity to wed the functions of the Lynnhaven Boat Ramp and Beach Facility to PHP as mutual support and not competition.
​ Delta notes included cautions about using the area as launch for crew teams; ADA access through LBR’s beach wheel-chair (probably should have been listed as a “plus”); concern that proposed operation of a permanent dredge spoils transfer station at Crab Creek would impede water access to PHP and educational activities conducted by both the City and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; desire that all water access be sensitive to wetlands.

Connectivity: (Bringing the public to the site and the site to the public)
​Pluses remarked the opportunity for the public to legally transverse the area; the opportunity to educate the public to environmental issues.
​Deltas focused on the lack of an HRT bus stop designated for the nearest major intersection; fire and rescue access to the land and the water; access to adjacent property, as yet undeveloped. Deltas also urged caution when addressing how to retain or change berms and suggested that bike racks be installed at access points.

Behavior:​Pluses want planning to consider “pack in/pack out” approach with the judicious placement of receptacles and/or signage; to consider the dog-owning and non-dog-owning users with regards to the “No Pet/Pets on Leash Only” question; opportunity to develop sense of “ownership” among residents.
​High on the Delta list was the potential for criminal activity; irresponsible use by dog-owners; litterers; risk to water quality; 24/7 access.

In looking ahead, the next meeting of the PHP Stakeholders Committee will be either June 27/28, from 4-5:30 p.m. A Public Meeting may be planned as early as July 2012, in the evening. An official celebration event could occur in October 2012.

Respectfully submitted,
Grace Moran

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