Trust for Public Land

December 10, 2012

Terrie Suit, Chair Fort Monroe Authority

P.O. Box 1475, Richmond, VA 23218

Fred Merrill, Sasaki Associates, Inc.

64 Pleasant Street, Watertown, MA 02472

Re:  Fort Monroe – Planning of State Managed Lands

Dear Ms. Suit and Mr. Merrill:

Please accept these comments on behalf of the Trust for Public Land regarding the current planning effort for state-managed lands at Fort Monroe.

The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as parks,
gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Specifically, TPL works in cities and suburbs across America to ensure that everyone, in particular every child, enjoys close-to-home access to a park, playground, garden, or natural area.  Since 1972, we’ve completed 5,295 park and conservation projects across 47 states, conserving 3,119,234 acres of land, from the inner city to the wilderness.

TPL has had a strong interest in Fort Monroe ever since 2008 when we conducted a study of parkland in the Hampton Roads area.

In our report, Bracing for Change: Fort Monroe and the Need for Parkland in Hampton Roads, TPL’s Center for City Park Excellence found that the Hampton Roads area is strikingly short of parkland for public use, enjoyment and edification. Of the five major Hampton Roads cities, four are below the national average for parkland, both measured as a percent of city area and on a per capita basis. (Only Virginia Beach surpasses the national average, but even that is deceptive: fully 87 percent of Virginia Beach’s parkland comprises marshy natural areas devoted more to wildlife than to people.)

In our conclusion, we wrote: “Based on the findings of this study, we believe that the urban portion of the Hampton Roads area is short of parkland overall, particularly in certain strategic locations such as its urban core and its waterfront….This shortage deprives the region of many benefits that parks bring. These benefits include recreational opportunities; natural preservation; enhanced property value; greater tourism revenue; improved human health outcomes; increased community cohesion thanks to volunteerism in parks and the increased competitiveness of the region;
businesses considering relocating to the area, especially those with a
significant number of white-collar workers; and more.”

To the extent feasible, The Trust for Public Land urges inclusion within Fort Monroe of the maximum amount of waterfront access and parkland for the maximum number of residents and tourists. With this approach, we are confident that the public will rally in support of the plan and work together with you to make it a reality.  We do not mean to minimize the financial
challenges you face but believe a plan that maximizes Fort Monroe’s appeal will inevitably lead to more revenue opportunities than one which fails to do so.

Thank you for considering our
comments and let me know if we can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Peter Harnik,
Director, Center for City Park Excellence

cc: Glenn Oder, Executive Director Fort Monroe Authority

Old Quarters #1, 151 Bernard Road, Fort Monroe, VA 23651

Kirsten Talken-Spalding, Superintendent Fort Monroe National Monument

41 Bernard Road, Fort Monroe, VA 23651