Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Park perception - Now transitioning into a private club?

If Discovery Museum officials are all about constructing a “green” building, then why would supporters even consider building on basically the last desirable green space in Jim Barnett Park?

Anyone can clearly understand why DM officials wanted the building in Jim Barnett Park with the sweetheart deal that was given on a 40-year lease for $1 annually on the land, but that deal has expired.

Wonder why this green space was even offered up by the prior Parks & Rec board and City Council back in 2004?

Has not Jim Barnett Park already sacrificed enough green space? Most notable, back in 1995, the community lost free use of 7.2446 acres of the former Rouss Park, which was open space that included an unsecured baseball field that is now home to Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre. Shenandoah University got the deal of the century when it purchased the Rouss park property for $1.5 million at 0 percent interest on a three-year note for that high-profile green space.

Why would I state “deal of the century”?

- SU paid $8.09 per square foot for the former Exxon station property lot at 710 Millwood Ave., now an SU parking lot beside Bob Evans, on May 14, 1993.

- SU purchased Rouss Park for $4.75 per square foot on Aug. 17, 1995. 

- SU paid $9.71 per square foot for the property at 647 Millwood on April 1, 1996, a former service station property lot that is basically now the parking lot at TV3-Winchester.

As Shelly Lee pointed out in The Star on May 4, the museum is educational, but how is it going to be affordable for all children with the rate of admission jumping from $7 at the present location to $10 if it’s constructed in the park?

Several folks have already shared their thoughts in The Star with alternative possibilities because there are so many vacant and under-utilized buildings in Winchester in or close to the downtown with ample parking.

Kudos to the current Parks & Rec board members who did a heckuva job in drawing up all of those questions on the Discovery Museum that were featured in The Star on April 24.

The vision of WPRD is that it strives to develop, provide, and maintain quality programs and facilities that meet the growing needs of our diverse community.

The perception is that Jim Barnett Park is transitioning into a private club if individuals don’t have necessary funds to participate.

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