Photo courtesy of Maggie Hansford
Written by Brentsville Resident Maggie Hansford
Rosemount Lewis Park is a county park located in the Brentsville District, in Manassas. It’s been ignored by elected officials, and has a closed gate at the entrance, despite being open. Elected officials have deemed the park “underutilized,” and intend to give 50% of the park’s land to the school division to build a much needed elementary school.
Concerned Brentsville residents question why there is a closed gate at the entrance if the park is open? They also ask if this park deemed underutilized, who is to blame for that? Could it be due to years of neglect from our elected officials, lack of amenities, and lack of accessibility?
Brentsville residents are concerned. If it’s Rosemount Lewis Park today, what park is next? This Manassas park is surrounded by high density, low income housing and is the only green space and park land nearby within walking distance for recreational use.
Brentsville residents are asking that all the acreage diverted from parkland to the schools should be replaced with an equal or greater acreage of new parkland, located within easy walking distance of the community. We also are concerned if the Board of County Supervisors approves this land transfer, which community’s park is next? This decision will set a precedent for future school sites being acquired through the destruction of green park land.
To date, the county has never given a park to the school division, despite the division trying approximately five times. If they do now more parks will be on the table. That is why it should matter to everyone. Parks are not maintained because they are profit centers or because of the number of visits. They are maintained because they are valuable and important natural resources. Rosemount Lewis park is at risk, and it could be your park at risk tomorrow. This is not how we build up communities and enhance our quality of life. We can do better.
If the only answer is a land transfer from park to school division, we must ensure this community receives additions to the park and school for the loss of the land. My suggestion is to initiate a new model community garden, with a partnership between the county and school. The garden would be used for learning opportunities for the students at the new school and the produce could help feed the students in school, with any excess distributed at low or no cost to student’s families. This is a way to build up a community with limited land resources. We should also invest in habitat enhancements, including trails and park improvements for the community to use. The average upgrades from the park department will not make up for the years of neglect and land lost.
Don’t be fooled by the closed gate. The park is open now, even though it doesn’t look it. Rosemount Lewis Park is vital to the community. The county will fail this community if we continue down this path.
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