May 25, 2012
Mr. Brian Solis
Parks and Recreation, Planning, Design and Development
City of Virginia Beach
Building 21, 2408 Courthouse Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23456
Ms. Christy Everett
Hampton Roads Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
142 W. York Street, Suite 618
Norfolk, Virginia 23510
Dear Brian Solis and Christy Everett,
Acquisition of the Pleasure House Point property is a tremendous opportunity for the citizens of Virginia Beach. This is a beautiful piece of property where residents and visitors will be able to enjoy views of the river, shoreline fishing, healthy wetlands, maritime forest, native oyster reefs and shallow water ecosystems. To plan for restoration and use of this property is both an opportunity and a challenge for our community. As many have said, we do not want to love Pleasure House Point (PHP) to death. We seek the right balance of restoration and protection of the natural habitat and public access for education and recreation.
For Lynnhaven River NOW (LRNow), protection of this property and the potential for restoration and education are aligned with our mission and are very important to us. Lynnhaven River NOW will assist in planning for the management of PHP and implementation of the plans in any way that we can.
The Pleasure House Point property has greater restoration potential than any other property in the Lynnhaven River watershed. LRNow supports wetlands restoration on the property to the fullest extent possible. Wetlands provide many habitat and water quality benefits. The opportunity for wetland restoration is greater here than any place else in our watershed as is the opportunity to educate children and adults about the values and benefits of the Lynnhaven’s tidal wetlands. Restoring even part of the tidal wetlands on Pleasure House Point can potentially improve water quality in Pleasure House Creek and Lynnhaven Bay.
Lynnhaven River Now has expertise in wetlands, habitat and oyster restoration and would like to be involved in the development of the management plan for the land under conservation easement. We are suggesting that the Center for Conservation Biology, Virginia Association of Wetland Professionals, VIMS Center for Coastal Resource Management and the NOAA Restoration Center also be included in the development of the conservation easement management plan. Each brings expertise and experience that will help us develop the best management plan possible for Pleasure House Point. All plans for restoration and land management should include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and the CBF land as an essential part of the whole parcel. And all plans for this property should carefully consider sea level rise predictions.
Balancing public access with conservation and restoration goals could be challenging as we move forward and public access needs to be carefully planned. Education is a key component to good stewardship by all who visit Pleasure House Point. Modeling best practices and providing effective signage are important
components of raising awareness and promoting good stewardship. LRNow is offering to assist in the development and facilitation of educational programs as well as the design of informational signs for the Pleasure House Point property.
Due to the sensitive nature of coastal habitats, careful consideration should be given to how and when dogs will be allowed on the PHP property. Dog waste has been and remains a serious problem. Changing the habits of dog owners will be necessary if dogs are going to be allowed.
The Lynnhaven River shoreline of PHP offers one of the best opportunities for wade fishing in the Lynnhaven River and should remain accessible for those desiring to use the shoreline for fishing. This may require different hours of access for fishermen than for others using the park.
Canoe and kayak access should be provided to the public in a location that is reasonably accessible from the available parking so that boats can be transported without too much difficulty. In addition, the canoe/kayak launch area should be located where it does not impact existing marsh and where the water depth is adequate to allow boaters to use the launch at both low and high tides. Consideration should be given to a canoe/kayak launch site that is shared by the Education Center and the public. Like the Crab Creek launch, a sandy beach area along the river could be designated as a canoe/kayak launch area also.
Pleasure House Point includes tidal wetlands, maritime forest, scrub-shrub areas, shallow water habitat in the creek, native oysters, deeper water in the river, and sandy beach on the eastern end of the property. In addition to the diversity of plant life, PHP is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife. Like restoration, the potential for both school programs and community educational programs at Pleasure House Point exceeds the opportunities at any other site in the Lynnhaven watershed.
CBF, LRNow and Oyster Reefkeepers of Virginia have all worked effectively with the Virginia Beach City Public Schools for many years on the development and facilitation of environmental education in all of our schools. We look forward to the increased opportunities that PHP will provide to expand and enhance our educational programming for children and adults.
In addition, the careful use of the site itself can help to educate the public on strategies and techniques that they can implement on their own commercial and residential properties. The most persuasive educational tool is the behavior that we can model at Pleasure House Point.
Public Works Engineering staff is already considering strategies that they might employ to improve stormwater management in Ocean Park and reduce stormwater runoff through the PHP property. We encourage the city to explore all possibilities to improve stormwater management on Shore Drive and the Ocean Park neighborhood and reduce the detrimental impact of stormwater on the Pleasure House Point eco-systems.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments and to participate in the Stakeholder process.
Karen W. Forget