Saturday, December 13, 2008

Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park seeks your help.

[Image: Fireworks in McIntire Park from]

If you are interested in Preserving McIntire Park, and in particular working toward a better transportation solution than is offered by building a road (McIntire Road Extended) through the eastern part of the park, consider the opportunity offered in the letter below.

Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park
Charlottesville, Virginia

Dear Friends of McIntire Park,

We are a group of concerned citizens who have joined together to protect east McIntire Park from the destruction that will occur if the Virginia Department of Transportation is allowed to construct the Meadow Creek Parkway. We are also concerned about increased auto traffic and the resulting air and noise pollution in the downtown neighborhoods. Now that the Charlottesville City Council has approved 22 acres of easements of city parkland to VDOT and bids are being solicited for construction of part of the road, it appears that our only recourse is to go to court to save the park.

We believe federal and state environmental laws can be used to halt construction:

- Section 4(f) of the 1966 Department of Transportation Act prohibits Federal highways through parks, wildlife refuges, and historic properties unless there are no "prudent and feasible" alternatives. Section 4(f) requires that agencies consider avoidance before mitigation of impacts.

- The construction of the 250 interchange and parts of the parkway (McIntire Road Extended) will adversely affect historic sites in the immediate area. These include McIntire Park itself, the Rock Hill Estate Gardens, the first in the nation Vietnam Veterans Memorial, historic houses on Park Hill, the McIntire (Covenant) School built by Paul Goodloe McIntire, and the 1930s McIntire Golf Course. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that impacts on properties eligible for the national register be avoided and when avoidance is impossible, all efforts to mitigate these effects be taken.

- Article VII, section 9 of the Virginia Constitution requires a three-fourths vote of a governing body to transfer any land rights. In Charlottesville, this amounts to four City Councilors. The votes to convey easements for city school and park land needed to construct the Parkway were 3-2 splits, and thus are not in accordance with this constitutional protection of public land.

We have had preliminary discussions with a nationally respected attorney with expert knowledge and experience on legal disputes between highway builders and public constituencies with environmental and historic preservation concerns. She has agreed to represent us at public interest rates. We hope that a law suit can still be averted, but we need to anticipate a sustained relationship with this attorney.

Litigation is expensive and it will cost thousands of dollars to take our case to court. We are asking local residents who want to save McIntire Park to contribute to our legal fund. This money will be used to pay attorney fees and court costs. To make a tax-deductable contribution please write your check to The Sierra Club Foundation and write on the memo line "Preserve McIntire Park Litigation."

Donations should be mailed to:

Sierra Club, Piedmont Group
P.O. Box 5531
Charlottesville, VA 22905

Thank you so much for your support,

John Cruickshank, Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club
Richard Collins, STAMP (Sensible Alternatives to the Meadow Creek Parkway)
Peter Kleeman, STAMP
Stratton Salidis, Priority for Community Transportation
Daniel Bluestone, Preservation Virginia
Neighborhood Association for North Downtown

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You say "Litigation is expensive and it will cost thousands of dollars to take our case to court." How about the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars it will cost the taxpayers to deal with your suit? Or, if you succeed and delay construction, the millions of dollars it will cost the taxpayers?

This debate has drawn out for years, and now, through legal, public discourse, it has been resolved. Now, accept the reality, to borrow a phrase you have probably used yourself, "move on."