Sinclair property protected by easement

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jun 05, 2019 - 02:49 PM

Photo: A view of the two docks at the Captain Sinclair Recreational area. It is the hope of the PAA to have at least one of the docks repaired with money received from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

A view of the two docks at the Captain Sinclair Recreational area. It is the hope of the PAA to have at least one of the docks repaired with money received from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

It is well off the beaten path and most people wouldn’t be able to find it without a map.

However, at the end of Naxera in Gloucester County, there is a hidden gem known as the Captain Sinclair Recreational Area that is one step closer to being permanently saved for the public to continue to use and enjoy. 

Last week, the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority, which owns the site, signed off on a deed of open space easement for a 40-plus acre portion of the property to be protected by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The VOF, which began seeking proposals for open space easements across the state in 2017, will compensate the PAA for $180,000 to protect the area permanently.

Lewie Lawrence, executive director of the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission, which oversees the PAA, said the PAA hasn’t taken specific action on how to use the $180,000, as it is not in hand yet. “But it is likely the funds will be used to replace the public fishing pier on site as well as other improvements needed,” he said.

The VOF funds were made available through a grant application process. Proposed projects were reviewed and ranked using criteria such as protection of natural resources, level of public access, community served and existing community support.

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation was established by the General Assembly in 1966 to promote the preservation of open-space lands and to encourage private gifts of money, securities, land or other property to preserve the natural, scenic, historic, scientific, open-space and recreational areas of the commonwealth.

“Partnering with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation helps both agencies meet their statutory obligations,” Lawrence said.

“The public has donated an amazing portfolio of properties to the Public Access Authority since its inception in 2002,” said Mindy Conner, Mathews County administrator who is chair of the PAA. “In addition to the PAA working to enhance public access at no cost to the localities, there is a focus on finding opportunities to enhance the local tax base.”

According to Conner, the PAA is working with the Middle Peninsula Alliance to create economic development opportunities using PAA land. “There are boundless tourism and recreational opportunities,” she said. “The PAA is a unique asset for our rural coastal region, and it is exciting to see what will happen next.”

The property as a whole, which encompasses nearly 97 acres of waterfront property along the Severn River, was given to the PAA in February 2013. According to the Authority, much of the property is a “pristine coastal ecosystem, including densely-forested mixed hardwood and pine trees, tidal and non-tidal wetlands.” The land had been used as a horse farm prior to its donation. The property was named for Revolutionary War hero Capt. John Sinclair, whose home stands on adjacent property known as Land’s End.

According to the Virginia Water Trails website, a portion of the Sinclair property has been set aside as a family outdoor gathering area. It is also known as a great place to hunt and paddle, according to the site.