The area of the Park proposed for alteration into a driving range is a much used area for walkers, joggers, children, families and pets. It provides residents with an opportunity to leave behind the hustle of daily life and enjoy a truly beautiful and relaxing atmosphere. This part of northern Virginia has sufficient golf courses and driving ranges to support the local golfers. Too many green spaces are being destroyed to put in little used or unnecessary leisure activities. The existing facilities are sufficient for area needs; in fact some of the facilities in Lake Ridge Park are unused. We want to retain the proposed site in its current condition so that we may continue to enjoy our walks and runs and adventures with our children. Destruction of this area for the sole purpose of adding a driving range would be inexcusable - and we enjoy golf.
It would be an absolute travesty to continue on with the current plan of eliminating over 3 acres of woodlands for such a secular activity. Areas like this serve a larger portion of the local population than would a driving range. It is time to stop serving the few and address the wants of the majority.
In the almost 27 years that I have lived in Prince William County, no issue has been of such importance to me that I would ever take the time to write a letter of concern to any county official until now. However, the proposed construction of a golf driving range at Lake Ridge Park, which would entail the loss of a beautiful natural area for hiking and the further loss of habitat for wildlife, is unacceptable. To my mind, there is no good tradeoff; a driving range is a poor substitute for nature. Our quality of life in Prince William County has steadily eroded over the years that I have lived here due in large part to the irreparable damage caused by suburban sprawl. Parks, such as the one in Lake Ridge along the Occoquan Reservoir, add immeasurably to the quality of life in the area because they reserve a natural space for all residents to enjoy . . . the construction of recreation areas does not have to be at the expense of our natural environment. I very much want to preserve an area that is such a source of respite to me and others.
My sons have participated in the program and learned a great deal about the sport of golf. However, clearing yet more wooded area at Lake Ridge Park is completely unnecessary. Prince William County must seek to limit further destruction of its wooded areas. Our county's youth have plenty of acres of developed recreational space. What we need to do is preserve the remaining undeveloped land for wildlife habitat and the ability for young and old to ponder the beauty of our rapidly disappearing "natural" world. Please keep the woods as they are.
I would suggest that each and every citizen will indeed pay a very high price for years to come if this project is allowed to go forward. We will pay in the loss of four plus acres of trees, associated loss of soil stability, loss of water quality, loss of numerous bird and other wildlife species, loss of plant communities and associated ecological processes, and the loss of opportunities to walk in the quiet, to listen to the birds, and to experience the joy of being in the woods. So often, environmental, ecological and aesthetic costs to projects are not figured into the economic assessment, and they should be. This will be a permanent loss to our community! These trees will not grow back in our lifetime. That, in my opinion, is a tremendous price that each and every citizen in this county is being asked to pay for relatively no return and with minimal public debate.
Some years back the county allowed developers to remove trees down to the very shoreline of the Occoquan Reservoir, without giving the proper erosion protection and buffer that would also enhance the view from the park. Instead, the view from the Marina and Park is nearly treeless townhome development. Should our county continue to contribute to this mistake? Lake Ridge Park on the shores of the Occoquan River and the Park's existing nature trails, have been a wonderful haven to our community for several years. The nature trails at Lake Ridge Park provide beauty, peace, and a haven removed from the daily activity of living in the Northern Virginia area. It is small in size, consisting of 72 acres or less, 27 acres already consumed with a 9-hole golf course and putting green. In addition, the park also accommodates a mini-golf course, boating facilities, fishing, picnic and playground areas, and docking and boathouse facilities for the area schools' crew teams. Lake Ridge Park is maximized!
A review of the Parks and Open Space Map on the Prince William County web site shows almost no green areas in this section of the county. The land in question is in an erodible soils area and in close proximity to the Resource Protection Area for the Occoquan River. The recent Washington Post article on the state of the Occoquan noted that while its water quality has improved, the biggest threat to water quality is from development. It is undeniable that the development of these four acres will have a more adverse impact on water quality than if the land remains as is.
The First Tee Program is a laudable one. If there were a surplus of public park land, there would not be so may objections by so many people. There is not. There are, however, 13 golf courses in Prince William County with seven more planned for a total of 20. Over half of these courses are open to the public. The best use for this land is to leave it as the de facto nature area it has become. This is what the residents of Prince William County said they want.
- Robert M. Lewis