City wants money for river steward - City to ask counties to help foot the bill for river steward

 

 

(Note: Many taxpaying citizens must feel like freshly washed laundry clipped to a clothesline on a breezy summer day: hung out to dry. Notice the conditional money The Nature Conservancy holds out like a carrot, never mentioning that TNC's money comes, in no small part, from taxpayer dollars via federal grant awards.)

 

 


November 16, 2006

 

 

 

By Emily Battle ebattle@freelancestar.com or 540-374-5413

 

The Free Lance-Star

616 Amelia Street

Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401

540-374-5531

Fax: 540-373-8455

http://www.fredericksburg.com/flshome

 

To submit a Letter to the Editor: letters@freelancestar.com (250-word limit)

 

 

Fredericksburg, Virginia - Fredericksburg officials want their neighbors to help take care of the river land the city is putting under conservation easement.

The City Council members agreed Tuesday to move forward with hiring a city employee who can be on the river regularly and manage contacts with neighboring property owners, easement holders and the public.

The $90,533 it's estimated to cost to equip and pay this "river steward" for six months -- or until the next fiscal year starts -- would come out of the $1.6 million The Nature Conservancy is paying Fredericksburg for the easement.

That transaction is expected to close by the end of the year. The easement permanently restricts development on 4,232 acres that stretch 25 miles upstream on the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers. It includes allowances for possible future road plans.

With their vote Tuesday night, council members also asked City Manager Phillip Rodenberg to ask Culpeper, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties to contribute $18,700 apiece toward the river steward.

That sum includes each county's share of half of the steward costs for the next fiscal year, plus half of the $35,000 the city expects to spend this year to equip the steward.

Seven months ago, when council members approved the easement, they said that one of the main reasons for selling the development rights on the land was to give Fredericksburg some partners to help manage and monitor it.

In addition to The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation will also hold the easement.

During deliberations last spring, as residents and elected officials from Stafford and Spotsylvania counties lent their support to the easement, Mayor Tom Tomzak cautioned that he hoped the counties would back up their residents' words with a financial commitment.

The city plans to put the $1.6 million into an endowment, the beginning of a nest egg that would generate interest to pay for the river steward for years to come. The council agreed to spend no more than $200,000 off the top of that to get things going.

The city is now looking to add to its endowment, or otherwise supplement the money it has available to pay for the yearly costs of river management.

On Tuesday, Tomzak said he was disappointed that offers of help from the counties haven't come sooner.

"I am very disappointed that we have to be put in the position to lobby our surrounding counties," he said.

[Tomzak] said he had hoped the Friends of the Rappahannock, Sierra Club and county residents who spoke at the city's public hearing on the easement would do more to lobby their representatives to put money on the table.

Councilwoman Debby (Deborah L.) Girvan said she wants to see a detailed, long-range fundraising plan for the river endowment before she casts the second of the two votes required to approve spending money on the river steward. That vote should happen November 28.

In the two counties bordering Fredericksburg, leaders seem open to the possibility of contributing.

"When we discussed it before, that issue was left open. We always knew there would be a high likelihood that we would be discussing this again," said Stafford supervisors' Vice Chairman Jack Cavalier. "We have the river bordering our county; we have a definite interest in making sure everything goes well."

Spotsylvania supervisors Chairman Hap Connors said he's open to considering a contribution, but he added that the region should lobby the state and federal governments for funds.

Culpeper County officials registered their opposition to the easement last spring. County Administrator Frank Bossio said yesterday that he hasn't had any discussions with city officials since then, and hasn't seen the river steward proposal, but "That position hasn't changed."

 

Managing the river


What will it cost?


$77,200 a year for one river steward (includes salary, benefits and operating expenses for fiscal year 2008).


Where will the money come from?


City officials have estimated they'd need an endowment of $2.7 million to pay for river protection for 40 years. So far, they're getting $1.6 million from The Nature Conservancy.

 
Where city officials are looking for more money:


Spotsylvania, Stafford and Culpeper counties will be asked to contribute $18,700 apiece to pay for half of the first-year costs of the river steward. They have also asked for a longer-term funding commitment.

Fredericksburg is lobbying the General Assembly for money for additional wardens in the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries who could spend time on the river.

Spotsylvania supervisors Chairman Henry "Hap" Connors, Jr., said the region should approach its federal representatives about helping out. Republican Sen. John Warner endorsed the easement in September 2005.

The Silver Cos. last spring pledged to contribute toward river management expenses, and Councilman Matt Kelly says he continues talks with them.

The Nature Conservancy has said it will help Fredericksburg find additional money once the land transaction happens. That's expected by the end of the year.
 
 


Copyright 2006, The Free Lance-Star.


http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2006/112006/11162006/236625 

 

 

Additional researched information:

 

Culpeper County Board of Supervisors

302 N. Main Street

Culpeper, Virginia 22701

540-727-3427

Fax: 540-727-3460

supervisors@culpepercounty.gov 

http://www.culpepercounty.gov/BOS/ 

 

Stafford supervisors' Vice Chairman Jack Cavalier

 

jcavalier2000@aol.com or 540-659-7651

 

 

"Why am I involved in river easement? I believe in it. ...We would have gladly reviewed other alternatives that reached the same goals." - Henry "Hap" Connors, Spotsylvania, Virginia, Chairman, Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors, February 13, 2006. http://www.fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2006/022006/02132006/167271

Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors

P.O. Box 99

Spotsylvania, Virginia 22553

540-507-7010 or 650-548-4813 (h)

Fax: 540-507-7019 or 540-582-7656 (h)

hconnors@spotsylvania.va.us bos@spotsylvania.va.us

 

Fredericksburg, Virginia, City Council Members

 

 

 

 
Thomas J. Tomzak, M.D.
Mayor, At-Large
715 Princess Anne Street
Room 205
P.O. Box 7447
Fredericksburg, VA  22404
Write to Mayor Tomzak
Home: 540-373-7961
Office: 540-372-1022
Fax: 540-372-6412
Term: July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2008
 
Kerry P. Devine
Vice-Mayor, At-Large
715 Princess Anne Street
Room 208
P.O. Box 7447
Fredericksburg, VA  22404
Write to Councilor Devine
Home: 540-371-7872
Clerk: 540-372-1010
Fax: 540-372-6412
Term: July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2008
 
Deborah L. Girvan
At-Large
715 Princess Anne Street
Room 208
P.O. Box 7447
Fredericksburg, VA  22404
Write to Councilor Girvan
Home: 540-368-1171
Clerk: 540-372-1010
Fax: 540-372-6412
Term: July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2008
 
Marvin J. Dixon
Ward 1
715 Princess Anne Street
Room 208
P.O. Box 7447
Fredericksburg, VA  22404
Write to Councilor Dixon
Home: 540-373-9148
Clerk: 540-372-1010
Fax: 540-372-6412
Term: July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2010
 
George C. Solley
Ward 2
715 Princess Anne Street
Room 208
P.O. Box 7447
Fredericksburg, VA  22404
Write to Councilor Solley
Home: 540-310-4836
Clerk: 540-372-1010
Fax: 540-372-6412
Term: July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2010
 
Matthew J. Kelly
Ward 3
715 Princess Anne Street
Room 208
P.O. Box 7447
Fredericksburg, VA  22404
Write to Councilor Kelly
http://www.mattkelly.org/contactmatt.htm
Home: 540-373-7938
Clerk: 540-372-1010
Fax: 540-372-6412
Term: July 1, 2002 - June 30, 2010
 
Hashmel C. Turner, Jr.
Ward 4
715 Princess Anne Street
Room 208
P.O. Box 7447
Fredericksburg, VA  22404
Write to Councilor Turner
Home: 540-371-5180
Clerk: 540-372-1010
Fax: 540-372-6412
Term: July 1, 2002 - June 30, 2010

 http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/council/members.asp