Friday, May 23, 2008

Where will all the flowers grow - or grass for that matter?

I acquired a copy of the Recommended Plan for siting the YMCA and the added parking and modified playing field space from the city and was surprised that in fact a very large area of the western part of McIntire Park will not support plant life. Included here are two of the color graphics from the May 19, 2008 council agenda packet on the YMCA and McIntire Park Master Plan. The primary impact is the footprint of the YMCA building itself, the addition of about 100-150 additional paved parking spaces, paved access ways and pedestrian paths, and a 240 x 360 foot artificial turf multi-purpose field. Some trees are proposed to be planted in the parking area that will provide some natural plant material and tree cover, but still several acres of now green space will be lost to buildings, pavement, and artificial turf. The artificial surface proposed is approximately two acres just by itself (an acre is 43,560 sq. ft. - a 210 x 210 foot square is approximately one acre).

Of course some of the current space has picnic shelters and pavement, but these spaces will be reconstructed elsewhere in the park and likely remove the equivalent area of green space.

I agree that the Charlottesville area needs quality recreation facilities for area residents (both city and county) and that some green space must be used to provide these facilities. But, we as a community need to be aware of how much loss of green space is currently programmed in and around Charlottesville. When we lose acreage for proposed parkways and connector roads, more acreage for proposed reservoir sites, and countless acres to sprawl development we are talking a significant loss of green space. How can our community meet its goal of expanding our tree cover and becoming a truly sustainable community if we do not balance this loss with some gains.

I proposed at the most recent city council meeting that the city should develop a formula that would require some area of currently paved space be converted to green space for every unit of green space lost to other development. Green space is a finite resource and it seems to be disappearing locally at an alarming rate. When the Court Square Area was re-bricked, part of Sixth Street NE was proposed to be converted to parkland. But due to changing priorities and reprogramming of funds to other uses, this conversion of asphalt space to green space was abandoned and the street reopened to motor vehicle traffic. I think we need to identify some paved areas in greater Charlottesville that could be converted to green space. So, make a list and send it to me and your city councilors or county supervisors. Maybe if enough of us get involved we can make a change for the better.

Pete Seeger's famous song "Where have all the flowers gone?" may not have originally been about loss urban sprawl, but that song has been in my head the entire time I have been composing this posting. Perhaps he anticipated this green space crisis over 50 years ago.


Lonnie said...

Wow, thanks for that update. That is indeed disturbing, especially the bit about the artificial turf... There's just absolutely no reason for that sort of thing.

I also agree that we should have a policy that for every acre of greenspace lost, we have to provide something like 1.5 to 2 acres of replacement greenspace. Incidentally, I think a similar policy needs to apply to gravel roads that are used for walking, running or cycling.

I'll pass this along to CCOES. I feel we really need to review and comment on this situation. I don't think we can stop the YMCA, but we should build it to the highest green standards, not the lowest, and part of that consideration must include the landscape.

Anonymous said...

Instead of complaining and saying whats bad about the plan, try suggesting feasable alternatives. I fyou don't like this plan, you may have to hire an engineer/architect to come up with an alternative. In the mean time let the process roll our kids need places to play. The artificial turf saves a lot of money and provides less pollutants and grass in the long term. Also, there are many kids with allergies that can play on these artificial fields where they had no where to play before.