An Incomplete Presentation
One word describes the presentation given by Sasaki Associates on December 13, “incomplete” — incomplete in the sense that though three alternative concepts were given and one of them was the Wherry Park Concept, which comes closest to the overwhelming desire of the public for an all-green Wherry, only the arguments for development of the Wherry Quarter were featured. Certainly after all that has been posted on the MindMixer website about the value of a green Wherry and a unified Fort Monroe National Monument, at least some of these ideas should have been given a fair hearing. These ideas include the economic value of drawing more tourists and Hampton Roads residents to Fort Monroe, not that economics should be the sole criteria for choosing one of these concepts as the master plan for Fort Monroe. You are encouraged to go to the MindMixer website and read the ideas in the archives. Simply stating statistics on how many people participated in the MindMixer website, their average age, etc. and never presenting a single idea in their December 13 presentation was doing a great disservice to the work of hundreds of people and their thoughtful ideas and comments. The Power Point presentation, which has been posted on the MindMixer website, tells us that there were 1,901 visitors, 483 of whom submitted 427 ideas and 1,387 comments. What was not told in the presentation is that the overwhelmingly most popular idea is that the Wherry Quarter and South Waterfront area should not be developed but should be added to Fort Monroe National Monument. All ideas are archived and Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park (CFMNP) encourages all members of the public, as well as the Fort Monroe Authority Board and staff, to read them for themselves and not let them be discounted by anyone.
Also problematic was the fact that strong arguments against development of any kind were omitted from the economic analysis. Does anyone doubt that someday another Sandy-like hurricane will appear and unleash its full force on southeastern Virginia? How can one calculate an economic comparison of developing the Wherry Quarter to making it a park and completely ignore that possibility? To say that by privatizing Wherry then all of the loss resulting from such a storm, not to mention continual sea-level rise, will be incurred by the private sector is also ignoring reality. In addition to subsidizing flood insurance, our federal and to some extent state government provides direct aid in times of such disasters. Elsewhere entire communities have been moved out of flood plains. Why build hundreds of housing units in the path of danger? The cost of “flood-proofing Fort Monroe to protect new housing or commercial development is certainly much greater than that of protecting a park.
The presentation does not measure in any way the effect on a national monument of separating two parts of that national monument by development. Concepts A and C are so flawed that no matter what may be said about sustainability, they both fail to preserve Fort Monroe and in no way contribute to the telling of the story of Fort Monroe. The implementation of either concepts A or C would radically change the character of Fort Monroe.
What kind of turning point for Fort Monroe was December 13? We have been told that the process is two-thirds complete. We have seen the incompleteness of what has been presented so far. Isn’t it time for the Fort Monroe Authority Board, which was only allowed one minute per each citizen interested in speaking on this critical matter, to be given a broader view of Fort Monroe’s potential? They will be voting on the master plan in about six months. They need to hear from more than just a few development-minded consultants. We the people need to let them know that Fort Monroe deserves to be treated as the national treasure that it is and not as another development by the bay.
For more details on these and other issues and how you can help support a better Fort Monroe, please go to www.FortMonroeCitizens.org.
Links to Videos from the December 13 meetings: (1) CFMNP President Mark Perreault, (2) Veteran concerned about Wherry Quarter, (3) Economics of Storms, Citizen Input (4) Storms and Flooding, (5) Use of Wherry open space as income source
MindMixer: http://ideas.fmauthority.com/ For archives, below and to the right of the green box, “Submit Your Ideas,” click on “ARCHIVED.”
December 13 Sasaki Presentation: http://fmauthority.com/pdf/18SasakiMasterPlanPresentation.pdf
Adrian Whitcomb is the Webmaster and a Board Member of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park. Please look for his blogs covering Fort Monroe in the James River Journal at http://jamesriverjournal.com/ and soon at http://jamesriverjournal.net
Below are the Fort Monroe Concepts as presented on December 13, 2012.