An idea to preserve Pleasure House Point for environmental education made the press 16 years ago today.

RESIDENTS ANNOUNCE PLAN TO BUY PLEASURE HOUSE POINT
Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA) – Tuesday, February 25, 2003 Author: SCOTT HARPER THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Neighbors fighting plans for a large waterfront development on the Lynnhaven River are organizing an environmental foundation in hope of buying the 69-acre tract known as Pleasure House Point.

The foundation will solicit public and private money and seeks to preserve the property for environmental education, said Tim Solanic, an Ocean Park resident and a leader of the fledgling group.

Pleasure House Point, located just south of the Lesner Bridge and the Chesapeake Bay, is a former tidal marsh that was covered with sand dredged from the bottom of the Lynnhaven River in the 1970s.

Its owner, F. Wayne McLeskey Jr., one of Virginia Beach’s wealthiest businessmen, has tried to develop the property for years. His latest plans, filed in January, call for 1,776 high-rise apartments, condos and assisted-living housing, as well as a marina, yacht club, restaurant and putting green.

Solanic announced the plans Monday in front of a city regulatory board studying the environmental integrity of the project, called Lynnhaven Shores. The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Board deferred any action for 60 days, at the request of McLeskey, who needs more time to provide information to the panel.

McLeskey has asked the board to approve 45 variances so construction can occur closer to the water’s edge than allowed under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, a state law.

The hearing Monday was attended by a handful of neighbors fighting the proposal. More than 100 residents attended a civic league meeting last week to discuss the plans, sign petitions and plot strategy for delaying or scaling back the size of Lynnhaven Shores.

The city has attempted to buy Pleasure House Point off of Shore Drive for years; it, too, wants to conserve the land, perhaps as a wetlands park, a native plant nursery or an oyster farm. But the asking price, at $25 million, has proved to be too steep, officials have said.

Solanic would not speculate whether the unnamed foundation can generate $25 million or how long it would take to raise so much money.

“We’re just getting started,” he said, noting that neighbors decided Saturday to form the organization.

Reach Scott Harper at sharper(AT)pilotonline.com or 446-2340.

Mr Harper sadly is no longer with us.

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