- Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 16:31
- Published on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 16:31
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Paves way for further development of Monroe Birthplace
On Oct. 10, 2001 the Westmoreland Board of Supervisors adopted a master plan detailing development of the county’s James Monroe Birthplace Park. The county government later forged a partnership with the James Monroe Memorial Foundation and work began on development of the plan’s initial phase. The Foundation leased a section of the former Monroe Farm with plans to develop a replica of the Monroe
This week’s public hearing by Westmoreland Supervisors at 6 p.m. at A. T. Johnson school addresses the 2001 master plan’s Phase 1 development. A grant proposal will be submitted to the Transportation Enhancement Foundation following the hearing.
“The work to be covered under the grant will include detailed design and engineering, as well as an environmental assessment,” wrote County Director of Planning and Community Development Bob Fink Fink in a recent memorandum addressed the members of the Westmoreland County Board.
“The master plan includes an estimate for the project of about $234,000. However, this estimate is from 2001 and does not include all of the costs involved.”
“The grant is competitive. Should the county win the grant, it would be responsible for a 20 percent match. The match can be cash or in-kind, and donated or from the county. If the total project cost approved for the grant were to be, for instance $260,000, then the match would be $52,000 and the grant would be $208,000.” Fink expects to provide the Supervisors with an updated cost estimate prior to this Wednesday’s public hearing. The hearing will be followed by the Board’s consideration of a resolution authorizing Fink to move forward with the grant proposal.
The 2001 planning document prepared by landscape architects Susan Nelson and Warren Byrd of Charlottesville called for a multi-phased development of the site where the nation’s fifth president was born in 1758.
“The county’s desire was to create a unique, economical and attractive park that provides passive recreation for the local residents,” the 2001 planning document relates.
“The county wanted the master plan to provide general design strategies for the construction of a roadside parking area, installation of interpretive signs, archaeology work, the development of bicycle and walking trails, an understanding of the phasing and budget, and any other improvements deemed necessary and desirable.”
Phase 1 development of the project now includes the completed visitor and information center, parking areas, walkways and roads that serve the portion of the property closest to State Route 205. A rustic canoe launch was developed on the property’s Monroe Creek shore but use was limited due to the absence of a developed path.
The visitor center is open to the public every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Displays provide information about the Westmoreland County native son’s distinguished public career and contributions to the nation’s founding and development.
“Westmoreland County has an opportunity to apply for a grant from the Transportation Enhancement Foundation for the next phase in the improvement of the James Monroe Birthplace County Park,” Fink advised Board members in a document dated Sept. 30.
“Under consideration of this next phase is completion of a timeline walk that will illustrate the life of President Monroe, a small canoe and kayak boat launch to connect the park to the historical and recreational water trails on the Potomac River, and an access to the boat launch.
“These facilities are all part of the approved James Monroe Birthplace Park Master Plan created for Westmoreland County. Since the master plan was approved, the county has implemented the plan with construction of the access from State route 205, an information center, and associated parking areas, walkways and other improvements.
“The timeline trail or walk as envisioned in the master plan is the backbone of the park. Or, as it is described: ‘The timeline serves as the design structure of the site, interweaving the landscape with built elements and pedestrian routes.’
“The timeline trail has a number of components. There is a walk that leads from the house site to an overlook on Monroe Creek. At about every 200 feet the walk will be intersected by low brick seats or walls that will be integrated into the landscape. These intersections will also be marked with inscribed plaques embedded in the walk that interpret Monroe’s life and accomplishments during a particular decade.
“Leading out from the intersections will be mown paths that connect the walk with the other elements of the site. Some of the woods will be cleared so that the site can be more open and the trail can go through both meadows and woods.
“An accessible canoe and kayak launch will be built on the creek near the end of the timeline trail. Parking for a limited number of cars will be provided near the boat launch. An access drive will connect the parking to State Route 205, using the existing driveway and the old state road roadbed. Walkways will connect the boat launch, parking and timeline walk.”
Fink’s presentation acknowledges the Foundation’s lease of a portion of the site as well as the Foundation’s intention to build a replica of the Monroe family home.
He told supervisors that the grant proposal’s development components were selected “because they would complement the existing development, are appropriate to this particular grant program, would provide immediate benefits when constructed, and require no regular staffing and limited maintenance.
An outstanding Master Plan was developed by Susan Nelson- Warren Byrd Landscape Architects in October 2001, and much of the text and illustrations shown below are drawn from that 2001 Master Plan.