By Julia Robins, Staff Writer
Masters of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) students from Virginia Commonwealth University are one step closer to finding a future use for a piece of historic land.
On November 5, the students of the community outreach class held a second public meeting to discuss future uses of the Lands End subdivision, a historic property in Gloucester, VA.
The students’ work is part of a Virginia Sea Grant-funded project in collaboration with the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission to find ways to use the property that benefit both the community and its surrounding environment.
Students presented potential uses for the land that ranged from water-based sporting activities to an event and environmental education center.
“The design team got a lot of helpful input about the potential uses they’ve started considering,” says Catie Bray, a MURP student who helped facilitate the meeting. “Community members definitely drew our attention to some of the types of recreation that will interest visitors, and everyone made progress toward understanding ways residents and local volunteer groups could make the space their own in the future.”
Many residents at the meeting favored passive recreational and community uses, such as trails and bike paths, oyster gardens, and historical tourism. This preference makes sense, since residents who attended both the first and second meetings emphasized the preservation of quiet, wildlife, and safety as key values for Gloucester County.
“It’s important to note that these values really align with the natural state of the site,” said Will Wright, another MURP student who facilitated the meeting. Such positive alignment will most likely prove helpful if land-use plans continue to develop in this kind of “natural” direction.
Residents still have the same concerns about future land use that they did at the first meeting: access to the site, parking, and flooding are just a few. Students hope to offer some solutions at their next meeting at Botetourt Elementary on December 9.
At the December meeting, the students will set up large-scale design concepts in an open-house style to stimulate further ideas and get feedback. Every attendee will get a marker and the go-ahead to make additions and notes on the designs.
While the students’ work will be done in mid-December, the process won’t stop there. There will be three more meetings in 2015, with each getting closer to the final product.