Silver Lake Aerial Photo,
originally published in
the Potomac News
Click here to read our comparison chart.
On July 11, 2006, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors approved Toll Brothers proposal to add 420 additional homes to the Dominion Valley subdivision. As part of the agreement, Toll Brothers agreed to donate the approximate 317-acre Silver Lake property to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. At that time, citizens were told that the Silver Lakes site would be used to increase passive recreation opportunities for County residents.
Toll Brothers transferred the the Silver Lake property, located off Antioch Road in Haymarket, to the Board of Supervisors in December 2006. The property was subdivided into three parcels, in order to provide PWC schools with a 42-acre school site and the Rainbow Riding Center with the use of 45 acres. The remaining 230 acres, including the (very) approximate 25-acre lake and seven-acre abandoned quarry, were intended for public open space and recreation uses, especially equestrian and passive recreation uses.
Since that time, there has been considerable discussion about the portion of the Silver Lake property intended for public open space and recreation uses, including how the property will be managed and who will be responsible.
Right now, the property is owned by the county but still closed to
the public. The Board of Supervisors is considering proposals from three
different organizations - the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy, PWC Park Authority, and the
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. Read more, then share your views with Prince William Supervisors!
Silver Lake - Decision Making Process
At the request of the Board, the County Executive's Office has established a staff review committee to provide criteria that will be used to evaluate the three proposals. The review committee includes staff from the County Executive's Office, County Attorney's Office, Public Works, Planning, Budget and Finance.
Staff will present their recommendation for review criteria and the evaluation process established by this committee to the Board for approval on Tuesday, June 5 2007.
The current proposal for this review process recommends that the already-established staff committee will (1) advertise for competing proposals; (2) review proposals, including meeting with the applicants; (3) provide a public information meeting; (4) complete a written analysis; and (5) present their findings to the Board in September 2007, followed by Board vote selecting one of the proposals. Currently, there is no information on public participation in this process, beyond the opportunity for citizens to attend an information sharing meeting led by County staff.
In the meantime, the Prince William Conservation Alliance has read the proposals for Silver Lake, met with the applicants and completed a chart reviewing the three current proposals. In our assessment of the proposals for Silver Lake, we used consistent criteria and restricted our comments to items included in the three written proposals. All organizations and agencies listed on the chart have had the opportunity to review the information and make corrections.
Although the topic of our chart is the Silver Lake property, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) proposal includes additional commitments and potential opportunities. In addition to their specific proposal for Silver Lake, approval of the NVRPA proposal would provide free access for Prince William residents to existing NVRPA facilities that charge a fee (such as Bull Run Regional Park) and includes the potential for the use of bonds to acquire additional parkland. The NVRPA proposal would require Prince William to become a member organization, including the transfer of ownership of Silver Lake to NVRPA and an annual commitment for funding, which would start with $1.6 million in 2009.
Bull Run Mountains Conservancy (BRMC)
The most recent submission from the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy mirrors previous submissions but does include some expanded information.
The Bull Run Mountain Conservancy (BRMC) currently maintains public access facilities and provides outreach programs, in accordance with the State Natural Area Preserve Deed and Dedication, for a portion of the Bull Run Mountain Natural Area, which is owned by the Virginia Outdoor Foundation. Click here to view a map showing their current facilities.
BRMC is a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 and governed by a Board of Directors. As part of their proposal, the BRMC has offered to:
Commit an additional 268-acre property adjacent to the Silver Lake parcel to public recreation uses, bringing the total park acreage to nearly 500 acres;
Provide necessary improvements and maintenance of the property with no subsidy or monetary contribution from Prince William County;
20+ acres for development of an equestrian center by the PWCPA;
Open the entire natural recreation area for public programs and events within three to
four months, and for general admission within one year, and to guarantee free or
lower-cost admission for Prince William residents;
Secured a $500,000 challenge grant to commence the infrastructure improvements necessary to open the area to the public;
Offer bicycling, birding, non-motorized boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, primitive camping, jogging, picnicking, and walking trails as well as education programs for students and teachers, environmental studies, and interpretive programs.
Agree to a requirement that the property revert back to the Board of Supervisors should the property not be open to public uses, as outlined in an agreement between the BRMC and the Board of Supervisors.
Prince William County Park Authority (PWCPA)
The most recent submission from the PWCPA has been reformatted, generally appears to be similar but less specific than previous submissions.
The Prince William County Park Authority, founded in 1977 by the Board of Supervisors, provides PWC residents and visitors with recreational programs, parks and facilities. Click here to view a map showing their current facilities.
The Prince William County Park Authority is an autonomous organization governed by an eight member board that is appointed by the BOS and funded by a tax transfer and revenue producing facilities. As part of their proposal for Silver Lake, the PWCPA provided information showing:
Proposal involves only the 230-acre Silver Lake property;
Provide necessary improvements and maintenance of the property as funding from taxpayer dollars and user fees allows;
The Park Authority would go through a Master Planning Process to finalize uses. Because the Park Authority is required to generate approximately 50% of their funding from user fees, their current proposal focuses on public uses that maximize funding support generated by user fees, including RV camping. Other activities include bicycling, birding, boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, primitive camping, jogging, picnicking, and walking trails. Also proposed is the use of the site for model airplanes and model boats. Equestrian facilities are currently proposed for Phase 3 of the Park Authority's development process.
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA)
The most recent submission from the NVRPA is identical to their previous submission.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority was founded under the Virginia Park Authorities Act and from the Concurrent Resolutions. Click here to view a map showing their current facilities.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is governed by a 12-member policy-making Board. The city council or county board of each jurisdiction appoints two members to the NVRPA Board. For FY 2007, the NVPRA projected that 78% of their operating costs would be provided from park operations (user fees, licenses, etc.). As part of their proposal for Silver Lake, the NVRPA has provided information showing:
Proposal involves only the 230-acre Silver Lake property, although future opportunities for additional acquisitions are discussed;
Provide necessary improvements and maintenance of the property as decided by the NVRPA Board, and as funding from PWC's annual contribution to the NVRPA and user fees allows;
The NVRPA would be the sole determiner of uses. Because the NVRPA is required to generate approximately 80% of their funding from user fees, there is a strong interest in public uses that maximize funding support generated by user fees, including RV camping;
Prince William would transfer ownership to NVRPA of Silver Lake and all future acquisitions of parks, trails, and open space acquired through the sale of bonds. NVRPA would retain ownership of Silver Lake if Prince William ever dropped out of NVRPA.
What should happen to the Silver Lake property?
The Silver Lake property was donated to Prince William citizens, through the Board of Supervisors, to provide the land needed to increase public recreation and open space opportunities throughout the County.
All Prince William citizens should have the opportunity to participate in this important community decision! Click here to email your views to all Supervisors.
Plan to attend the Board meeting on Tuesday, September 18, 2:00 p.m., McCoart Government Center. The Board did not schedule a public hearing before their vote, so citizen's who wish to share their views on Silver Lake must speak at Citizen's Time at the start of the meeting.
Contact information for Supervisors is also posted online here and here. We are also interested in hearing your views, send a copy of your comments to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.