Friday, October 12, 2007
Please Walk on the Grass: The Future of our Green Space
One of the lessor issues within the grand debate over "Smart Growth" for Chesterfield County is the idea and need for additional Green Space to compliment much of the new growth that we have experienced over the last twenty years.
Our new vision should be: Please Walk on the Grass
We should have enough open space built into our planning as to provide space for today's families to experience the benefits that most of us had in our youth. It bothers me that the same park that I played in in my youth here in Chesterfield is still relatively the same in both size and scope given the fact now in 2007 in serves four times as many people as in the past. You can hardly find a parking space at the Park on any given weekend or at sundown during the summer months.
I was raised to believe that green space, whether it is in the form of parks, squares or gardens was a conservative value. Today I am not so sure that this value is being fully expressed in modern day conservatism. To be sure, many of the new developments going up around the county are beginning to build these green spaces within their plans but I wonder just how "public" these spaces really will be when they are logically being introduced by developers to one; secure zoning approval and two; provided for those home buyers who can afford to purchase homes in that development.
Regardless, the push for green space is vital. Green space provides various economic gains to the community that many of us fail to recognize. Young families look for parks and playgrounds for their children when entering the home market and these very spaces contribute to accelerating home values which benefit the governments property value tax pool.
These green spaces are our open-air living room.
They contribute to our community culturally, socially, and of course personally. many of my fondest childhood memories come from playing in parks, fishing in lakes, and just merely being outside socializing with our friends from my subdivision. Access was never a question back then.
Furthermore, I think that based on the wave of townhome and condo communities going up across the county, due in large part on rising home values but laso because of the developers ability to get great economic return out of the growing demographics of the county by having additonal homes per acre on the market than say they would in traditional developments will increase the demands on green space. We have slowly taken more and more space away from "backyards" over the last decade to get more homes in on particular sites.
The "backyard" was the traditional family green space.
Space is all around us. Public space are the roadways we travel daily to and from work, the parks scattered throughout the county, the James River that touches points of the county as it flows down through the greater Richmond area, it is the space where our children play but more importantly it is the space where our children are given the ability to interact with nature for the first time.
The other issue concerning the necessity of green space is that of Physical and Mental Health. We are constantly being hit with the fact that as a people we are overweight or obese and a logical reason has to be not only our eating habits but our shrinking green space. It is in this space that our children exercise by walking, running, riding,and playing and experience the benfits of being out in the open air amongst our nature. The space provides a social community with which our children will develop their cognitive abilities as well as their social relationships with others.
We live in a time when towns and localities are competing economically with one another and any true comphrehensive planning has to incorporate public access to parks, squares, and gardens as a economic tool and not a burden to planning. I have been very impressed with many of the designs of the new developers that are being zoned, discussed and considered over the course of the last two years, but I wonder what plans do we have for the space that has been left behind as the blogger March to a Different Drummer calls our county sprawl as we move further to the west in our developing.
Chesterfield needs a true Regeneration Strategy for the areas that are getting older. Areas from Cloverleaf Mall out to Midlothian Village along the Route 60 corridor need to be looked at and additonal green space should be incorporated in any plan to revitalize that part of the county. It should not merely be business but a partnership between the business community, local government and the residents to come together to re-inspire that area. There are many opportunties in the Bermuda District to leverage its location and parks to create wonderful public settings to compliment Henricus. We should be looking to establish a public Marina funded by the County that can not only be used by residents in the traditonal sense but also for educating through County schools similar to the use near James River High School. All students should be able to benefit from the interaction with nature and our waterways through the education process and not merely the few who happen to be living in the more affluent areas. Matoaca and Clover Hill areas seem to be getting the greater concentration of large scale zonings and particular attention need to focused on insuring that enough green space is built in to the planning to compliment the greater numbers of future residents that will soon arrive.
We can do this here in Chesterfield. We can demand green space as well as keep our economic vitality moving forward as long as the community makes the committment to do so.
You can do so by making it an important factor in your descision for your vote for Board of Supervisor. I encourage you to review the visons of the candidates with regard to the future and factor in just who you believe will do the right kind of planning to move us forward. The last thing we want to see happen is have alot of our older communities be forgotten in the overall picture and continue being neglected.
I also would encourage you to talk with your neighbors, speak with members of your church, and really think about just what it could mean for your family if you had more places (free places at that) that are safe and secure for your family to interact with others and enjoy Chesterfield to its fullest.
After taking quite a few calls and emails over the past year in large part due to this blog, I have been formulating a plan for the formation in my area called the Robious Road Community Coalition (RRCC) that will seek to unite all the neighboorhoods along the corridor from Robious/Midlothian out Rt. 711 to the county line. A website is being currently under construction.Our goal for clean green space is not merely our parks. It is keeping our roadways clean. It is keeping our intersections bright and appealing. It is keeping our road medians green. It is keeping our bike routes clearly marked. It is making sure we have pet cleanup stations along our walking trails. It is so much more than just space. We will work with local PTA's to assist with their grounds committees in assisting them with their needs and we will leverage our relationships with the business community in playing a role as well.
Together a committment can be made.
The first committment you can make is to VOTE on Nov. 6th and support the future of Chesterfield.
Posted by FoodforThought at 3:20 PM