Anyone living in the Chesapeake area, I’m looking for some opinions and support, if possible.
50+ acres of privately owned land have been ear-marked to be developed into an industrial area adjacent to my neighborhood. It was originally laid out in the 2005 City of Chesapeake strategic plan. In 2010, the Virginia Post wrote an article about the Gilmerton Industrial Park. However, in the last decade, the only visible progress has been the deforestation of perhaps around 15 acres and nothing further. No roads or parking lots paved, no foundations laid, no new employment opportunities being offered.
What is known is that a single LLC holds the property rights to the majority of this land, is still seeking interested parties to sell the land, and is still paying property taxes without what appears to be a strong exit strategy.
What I propose is what may seem like the best solution to meet everyone’s desires, which is to turn that area into a recreational park. The initial, desired outcome was that the Gilmerton Industrial Park would be developed, serve as a source of new employment, and bolster the industrial sector surrounding the Gilmerton Bridge. This has not happened and does not seem likely to happen. Instead, a recreational park, offering nature trails, water access, and the possibility of kayak or canoe rentals, would meet the following objectives:
1) Allow the private owner the ability to sell the land and recover costs.
2) Use the land to provide social and recreational benefits to the surrounding Deep Creek community.
3) Conserve the remaining tens of acres of natural wetland to maintain the existing habitat serving the species that still make this part of Chesapeake its home.
4) Provide neutral to beneficial effects on local housing prices, vice the negative effects typically associated with the introduction of industrial zones.
I already have a commitment from a local group, the Living River Trust, to reach out to the land owner to see if they are interested in the selling the land. I, on the other hand, am seeing if any of my Chesapeake fellows would be in support of such a thing. Because, as it turns out, public support is important.
In the meantime, stay inside.