Inquiring minds want to know… why Ashville Park? Why not Heritage Park, or even Lago Mar? For that matter, why not the early farmers who cut, ditched and drained the mostly forested wetlands that historically comprised a good portion of the Back Bay watershed? And don’t forget the Civilian Conservation Corps, who “stabilized” dunes up and down the mid Atlantic coast, preventing barrier island migration, wash overs, and all kinds of natural, dynamic processes… why not blame them for the current state of Back Bay?
As BBRF prepares for our Public Meeting/Listening Session, we’ve been trying to gather, and focus our thoughts on the best ways to capture new ideas about this complex watershed. Most importantly, how do we focus on actions and decisions, that will impact the watershed in the future? What actions/decisions should be made today, that will serve to conserve the watershed well into the future? How do we improve water quality and mitigate the long term impacts of Sea Level Rise (SLR)? With the City’s SLR meetings beginning on May 29th, we wanted to give those concerned about Back Bay a way to talk and listen to each other.
And in that preparation, it became abundantly clear that our meeting could not be about the past. Sure, we need to learn from our past decisions, but only as they inform solutions. In the continuum of land use history, it’s impossible to mark a point in time when things started to go “wrong” in the watershed. It’s also not productive.
So…. Why Ashville Park? The answer is simple. Ashville Park is only partially developed. Ashville Park can serve as an example, proving ground, and focus area for Virginia Beach to show how we use science to actually implement new policies. Back Bay is almost certainly at or near it’s “tipping point”, and Ashville Park could be the land that nurses the watershed back to health.