Neighbors continue to oppose Heritage Park
Mathews supervisors on Tuesday again tabled action on Mathews Heritage Park, a proposed use for land that was donated to the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority in 2010 for the benefit of Mathews County residents.
The motion was approved unanimously after a report on the topic by Lewie Lawrence, staff support for the Public Access Authority and executive director of the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission.
Residents who object to the proposal packed the county’s historic courthouse, with a number of them voicing their opposition during public comment periods at the beginning and end of the meeting.
Lawrence revisited the creation of the public access authority by former Del. Harvey B. Morgan, whose goal was to increase public access to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Lawrence also reminded the board that the land for the proposed park, located on Billups Creek in Moon, was donated to the PAA by Conrad Hall of Norfolk with acknowledgment by the board of supervisors that such a park “would make sense.” He reminded board members that they had asked for a title search on the property.
Lawrence said that for four years he had tried to negotiate with adjacent property owners to come up with a workable plan, but that the last time he talked with them, they had told him they would no longer negotiate. Since then, he said, a citizen group had approached him about developing the park and had come up with the currently proposed plan.
“This complicated question now falls in your lap,” he told the board.
In response to a question from supervisor O.J. Cole about what would happen if the board decided the project wasn’t viable, Lawrence said that a reversionary clause in the deed calls for the land to be transferred to a nonprofit entity that would carry out the desires of the donor.
“Right now you have some control,” said Lawrence. “If you declare there’s no public benefit, it will be transferred to a 501(c)(3) and you no longer have any say … If the access authority can’t meet the intention of the donor, we can no longer hold title.”