Citizens for Balanced Growth

Category: Avendale (2010-2011)

“Grizzly Sports Complex opens; needs remain”

by E. Bruce Davis, Bull Run Observer

2 September 2011, pp. 1, 8

“Hundreds of children, parents, volunteers and county leaders could not contain their excitement at the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Grizzly Sports Complex at 10600 Determination Dr. in Nokesville on Aug. 19. In a culmination of the Haymarket Youth Football League ‘Field of Dreams’ fundraising project, two beautiful new Shaw Sportexe synthetic turf fields were revealed to the onlookers, many of whom were clad in maroon, black and white.

“Gary Skeens, Grizzly commissioner, started the ceremony, speaking from the middle of a new field, welcomed everyone when he said, ‘Good evening Grizzly Nation.’ He introduced the Grizzly board of directors and Wally Covington, Prince William Board of County Supervisors, Brentsville District. Covington noted the teamwork it took to create the fields on their 16 acres and asked, ‘Are you ready for some football?’  [passage omitted]

“The project to build [the fields] started in August 2010, when busloads of Grizzly Football enthusiasts pleaded with Prince William Board of County Supervisors for more sports facilities for western Prince William County youth. A 5 to 3 vote rezoned a residential project in the Rural Crescent now known as Avendale. Owner Brookfield Homes/Vint Hill LLC proffered available recreational space to the county. The Grizzly supporters hoped this land would be available for Grizzly football; it was. The fields will first host Grizzly football games with a Sept. 17 kickoff.

“Since the vote, Grizzly supporters have worked with many individuals and groups to build a $2.5 million facility, according to information from the Grizzly Nation.

” ‘We have never seen anything like this happen so fast,’ said M.J. Williams. ‘My boys are going to middle school, but they stayed in Grizzly Football because of these fields.’

“Pam Key, a fund-raising committee member, said  ‘This is shocking to me. I thought the reality of these fields would be when our boys [ages 10 and 13] were in college.’

” ‘We have been searching for years for places for fields,’ Skeens said, when the Prince William park authority mentioned the area to Grizzly leaders.

“A major boost on the current project came from substantial financial help from Brookfield Homes, [commercial realtor and developer, Weber-Rector, Inc.] Mary Ann Ghadban and [Patriot Development Corp’s] Skip Albrite. The football league entered into a 35-year-land-lease agreement with Prince William County. The Grizzlies must maintain the fields during the lease’s term. The fields are designed for football, lacrosse, field hockey and soccer.

” ‘We expect other sports to play here this year,’ Skeens said. Under the agreement with the county other sports deal directly with the Grizzlies for games at the complex. Jay Ellington, executive director of Prince William County Park Authority, attended the ribbon cutting and was pleased with the beauty and safety of the fields.

“The Grizzlies started with 70 players 11 years ago. Now, 33 teams in age and weight divisions include about 800 participants, including cheerleaders. [passage omitted]

“Grizzly leaders committed to raising $250,000 and hard work to complete the project.

“The two fields are complete, but needs remain for opening day, such as electrical work to provide temporary power, sod, aluminum benches and cash. ‘Water too is our biggest need,’ Skeens said. ‘We also need lights,’ which would extend the hours of usage.” [passage omitted]

“Grizzly football to get Vint Hill fields” “from staff reports”

Bull Run Observer

14 January 2011, p. 47

“The Gainesville-Haymarket Youth Football League, better known as the Grizzlies, players and coaches will soon have their own fields to use.

“In a unanimous vote, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved a 35-year license for the sixth-largest youth football league in the nation, according to information from the Grizzlies’ Laura Landrum.

“The 16 acres of land, proffered by the board [as published; should read ‘proffered by Brookfield Homes following earlier BOCS vote to approve Avendale for Brookfield Homes’], is estimated to cost a million dollars; Brookfield Homes and Grizzly supporters Skip Albrite [of Patriot Development Corp] and [commercial realtor and developer] Mary Ann Ghadban [of Weber-Rector, Inc.] have donated funds as well. The Grizzlies, through the Field of Dreams Fund, will make a $250,000 financial investment to complete phase one of the project.

“At the board’s Dec. 14 meeting, Landrum said the players currently practice on poorly maintained fields. The Grizzly organization, she assured, can cover the maintenance costs of the Vint Hill fields and facilities. She noted the Grizzlies had grown from 100 players in 1999 to more than 782 players and cheerleaders in the 2010 fall program.

“The fields will be completed in phases, according to an e-mail from Gary Skeens, the football league commissioner. Phase one will include two grass football fields with access road from Vint Hill Road. A snack bar and picnic pavilion, along with parking lots and utilities, will be in the first phase, also.

“Ultimately, the facility will include a third, synthetic field. The Grizzlies will control operations, scheduling and maintenance for 35 years. Yearly costs are estimated at $24,000.

“Wally Covington, Brentsville supervisor, supported the Grizzlies and promoted the extension of public-private partnerships, such as this one.

“The Grizzlies intend to have the two fields open for play in September 2011.

“A site plan drawing of the Grizzlies’ Vint Hill Park is online:”

E-mail notices to public / exchanges with Board of Supervisors 2-4 Aug 2010

by Bob Pugh and Ralph Stephenson of Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

(e-mails read from top to bottom in reverse chronological order)

Dear Mr. Stephenson:

I want to thank you for your email regarding the Avendale development proposal in Prince William County.  I appreciate your taking the time to write to me.

As you may know, last night the Board of Supervisors voted 5 to 3 to approve both the Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA) and rezoning for the Avendale proposal.  I voted against the proposal, along with Supervisors Stirrup and Principi.  Unfortunately, the remaining five board members voted to support the project.

Please know that your input was invaluable to me as I considered this matter.  Although we did not prevail on this particular issue, I hope you will continue to contact me in the future with your comments, ideas and concerns.

Again, thank you for contacting me and I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Sincerely, Mike (4 August 2010)

Michael C. May
Occoquan District Supervisor
2241-B Tackett’s Mill Drive
Woodbridge, Virginia 22192
(703) 792-4643 (phone)
(703) 792-4833 (fax)

From: Ralph Stephenson
Sent: Monday, August 02, 2010 10:56 PM
To: Ralph Stephenson
Subject: Further on Avendale, Including Fiscal Impact Analysis & Dirty Tricks by Supporters

I can scarcely believe it myself, but unfortunately, what Bob Pugh, a friend of mine, says below is true.  You can check it out for yourself [right now at the Gainesville Grizzlies website.]

I urge Chairman Stewart and Supervisor Covington, if they were not a part of this disgrace, to do the following at tomorrow’s BOCS meeting at 7:30 pm:   thoroughly dissassociate themselves from it, apologize to the parents and children of the Gainesville Grizzlies, on behalf of the citizens of Prince William County, for the deception to which they have fallen victim, and explain to them what Avendale really is:  a housing development supported by Brookfield Homes, its employees, and the politicians who rely on its political campaign contributions — not a plan to build four football fields.

If Chairman Stewart and Supervisor Covington are unwilling to right this wrong, which brings our county’s politics to a new low and makes a mockery of its democratic institutions, then I see no conclusion that can be drawn other than that they’re a part of this scandal.
Ralph Stephenson

From: Bob Pugh
Monday, August 02, 2010 11:09 AM‘; ‘‘; ‘‘; ‘‘; ‘‘; ‘‘; ‘‘; ‘
Subject: Avendale Vote Tomorrow

Dear Members of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors:

I learned with much disappointment that Chairman Stewart has put the Avendale Comprehensive Plan amendment and rezoning back on the Board’s agenda during the height of the summer vacation season and with less than a week’s notice to the community at large.  It does not require membership in Mensa to understand that this is an effort on his part, and on the part of Supervisor Covington and Mike Lubeley [of Brookfield Homes] to railroad through the Board a measure that benefits only them, their personal financial interests, their campaign contributors and their clients.

We are all familiar with the economic, fiscal, education, transportation and development problems associated with this land use proposal.  Ralph Stephenson sent you a message earlier today reminding you of those problems.  I am also attaching here the analysis of Avendale I prepared last January.  Therefore, I will not repeat those arguments in this message.

Instead, I will focus on the sleaziest political maneuver I have ever seen in Prince William County.  Namely, that is the exploitation of the unsuspecting children and their families from the Gainesville Grizzlies.  Promising four footballs fields in exchange for children parading through Citizens Time and the McCoart Building goes beyond the levels of unethical behavior the community has come to expect from Stewart, Covington and Lubeley.

The Grizzlies should get their football fields.  However, funding them through the General Fund and the Park Authority’s budget would be vastly less costly for Prince William Countytaxpayers than using them as a bribe to trick families into endorsing a development with huge negative fiscal impacts.

Some of us have been reaching out to members of the Grizzlies over the weekend but, as Supervisors Stewart and Covington planned, will likely not be able to speak to enough of them to change the course of the abominable spectacle planned for Tuesday.

Rest assured, however, that they will understand how they have been used by Election Day in 2011.

Most of you do not have your hands dirtied by this shameful behavior – yet.  You will have an opportunity to vote to disassociate yourselves from it and vote to oppose Avendale tomorrow.

To my fellow Republicans on the Board (apart from Stewart and Covington) please consider the future and the credibility of our Party.  This sort of closed-door, back-room conniving on behalf of wealthy special interests against the interests of the community is precisely the image we need to avoid to win elections in the future.  I know that the rest of you can rise above it.

Please vote tomorrow not only in the interest of the economic and financial future of Prince William County, but also for common decency and oppose Avendale.

Thank you.

Bob Pugh
Brentstville District

On 8/2/2010 6:44 AM, Ralph Stephenson wrote:

All:  Prince William Board of County Supervisors [BOCS] Chairman Corey Stewart and Brentsville District Supervisor Wally Covington (most of you live in Brentsville District) are joining forces to try to push the Avendale residential development project through this Tuesday evening, 3 August, with only a few days’ public notice, while many of their constituents are on vacation or otherwise occupied with summer activities.

Chairman Stewart, who used to support reasonable residential development and land use polices, has now, just like his predecessor Sean Connaughton, turned his back on all that as he plans to become Virginia’s lieutenant governor, seeking to help finance his lieutenant governor campaign with residential developer money.  Brentsville District Supervisor Covington is a big county landowner with lots of big landowner friends and relatives, and he has always supported virtually all residential developer proposals because of their potential to greatly enrich him and/or his big landowner friends and relatives and to help fund his re-election campaigns.

Chairman Stewart and Supervisor Covington are trying to push Avendale through, despite the objections that many of you expressed to them several months ago about this  proposal when it came to the Board of Supervisors.  You may recall that at that time it was quickly withdrawn before a vote could be taken because it didn’t have the five (out of eight) BOCS votes needed to pass it.  Chairman Stewart even recently tried surreptitiously to get the Prince William County School Board to endorse Avendale to give it momentum, but the Board, which knows that this proposal will further overcrowd county schools, refused to go along.

We strongly urge you to write to the BOCS cc address above to show your opposition to this plan.  Better yet, please come Tuesday, 3 Aug at 7:30 pm to speak against this proposal during Citizens Time.  (Chairman Stewart has closed to the public the actual Avendale hearing that night.)   Directions to the McCoart Building, where you can speak against this proposal during Citizens Time at 7:30 pm, are included at the bottom of this e-mail.  Please be there by 7:15 pm latest to sign up to speak.  I intend to be there earlier, and can at that time sign in anyone who wants to speak; just let me know.

While Mr. Covington and Mr. Stewart may need Avendale to enrich themselves and their cronies or help them attract campaign funds, ordinary citizens and taxpayers do not.

In fact, here’s how Avendale will harm ordinary taxpayers and citizens:

  1. Avendale will be inside the Rural Crescent, which includes land south of Vint Hill Rd., and is, by county policy, supposed to be off-limits to development, the last green belt, the last rural area left in beautiful (or soon-to-be formerly beautiful?) Prince William County.
  2. The rules for Avendale that the county is being asked to approve will allow at least 500 homes to ultimately be built on the land.  In other words, 1,500 more people (the county average is 3 per home) and probably about 1,000 more cars at the corner of 28 and Vint Hill Rd.  More residential development leads to more traffic congestion.  And this is happening just after the Linton Hall corridor was declared the worst commute in the country by Fortune magazine.
  3. More residential development leads to more overcrowding, which is already at record levels, in western county schools.
  4. More residential development will further damage the county tax base.  Only the highest-end homes in the county have a net positive effect on county tax revenues.  The rest cost more (in terms of county services — police, fire, schools, roads, etc) than they pay in taxes.  So every time the county approves more residential housing it is, in effect, approving indirect taxpayer subsidies to developers.
  5. More residential development, particularly in light of the housing surplus that currently exists in the county, including thousands of foreclosed and other vacant homes, will further reduce the property values of existing homes.

My experience with land issues in this county in recent years suggest to me that if Avendale is not defeated, the flood gates will begin to open and the western end of the county will be subject yet again to out-of-control residential development, which benefits only big landowners and residential developers and harms everyone else. Per Chairman of the Prince William County Planning Commission Gary Friedman, the county already has a backlog of approximately 40,000 approved-but-not-yet built houses.  So Avendale is not in any way necessary.  Avendale is sponsored by Brookfield Homes, the same California developer that tried in 2005-06 to build the 7,000-home  Brentswood project behind the Nissan Pavilion (now “Jiffy Lube Live”), but was prevented from doing so by a public uproar over the project.

It’s ironic that Avendale is being brought up for discussion at the very time that the U.S. is struggling to recover from its  worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a crisis brought on by, among other things:  massive housing oversupply (probably the single biggest cause); political shenanigans by local and federal government officials allied to the housing industry, trying to keep demand artificially high to match the artificially high housing supply; and dishonest and predatory lending practices by many mortgage lenders to people who couldn’t afford the homes they were being sold, as well as the financially toxic effect of those millions of now-non-performing (bad) loans on the books of banks and other investors.

Please spread the word to your friends and neighbors.

When:  Tuesday 3 Aug @ 7:30 pm (come a little earlier to sign up to speak)
Where: McCoart Admin. Building, 1 County Complex Court, PWC, VA 22192
It is near the intersection of the PWC Parkway and Hoadly Road
1. From Sudley Manor Dr go
2. Southbound on Dumfries Rd/VA-234 (10 miles)
3. Turn left at Hoadly Rd (4.7 miles)
4. Slight right toward Prince William Pkwy (0.4 miles)
5. Turn left at County Complex Ct (go left again to park)

Note:  If you do not want to receive such messages in the future, please let me know.   Ralph Stephenson

“Developers Try Again in PWC”

by Greg Latique from “Black Velvet Bruce Li” blog that discusses “Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park politics”

2 August 2010

“The Gainesville Grizzlies recently sent out a call to parents to join a road trip to the August 3rd Board of County Supervisors meeting to tailgate and lobby in support of a zoning application creating more playing fields in Bristow. What was omitted from the email was notification that the zoning application is the Avendale development and if you lobby in support of the zoning application you are asking the BOCS to approve the Avendale development.

“What is Avendale? Avendale is a housing development proposed by Brookfield Homes which will bring from 300 – 500 more homes to the Bristow area. The development will be located behind the Harris Teeter on the Vint Hill Road side of the intersection of Vint Hill Road and Route 28. The playing fields the Grizzlies want you to support are 17 acres included in the area to be developed that Brookfield has offered to ‘give’ to the PWC park authority if the BOCS approves the Avendale development.

“Because of increased traffic resulting from the development, Vint Hill Road will have to be shifted more than a mile south down Route 28 and will have to be widened from 2 to 4 lanes. Brookfield homes has offered to pay for half of a portion of the realignment and widening. The rest of the funds – roughly 2/3 of the cost to shift and widen Vint Hill Road from Route 28 to Sudley Manor Drive – will have to be paid for by local taxpayers. The 6 year transportation plan for PWC does not include any funds for shifting and widening Vint Hill Road. That means that construction on the development will begin but there won’t be any improvements to local roadways until 2014 or 2015 at the earliest, assuming the county has the money to fund widening and shifting Vint Hill Road at that time. So we’ll get a new development but we won’t get the roads to manage the additional traffic resulting from the new development for a number of years.

“Those roads that there’s no money to build and that won’t be built for many years include the roads needed to access the ‘playing fields.’ The 17 acres Brookfield has ‘offered’ as parkland are undeveloped. There are no roads to access the space and there are no services like electricity or water available on the site. The park authority won’t turn the offered land down, but has no plans to develop the site as a park and has no funds to do it.

“Additionally, the ‘donation’ isn’t designated as football or playing fields. Brookfield has only offered to ‘give’ the land to the park authority. The park authority can do whatever it wants with the land – including keeping it as woodland. In fact, the 17 acres Brookfield will be ‘donating’ as parkland will still be available and could be designated parkland if the zoning application is rejected.

“Approving this development will cost all of us in increased taxes. We, the taxpayers, will have to provide road improvements, additional fire and rescue personnel to cover the area, and will have to fund the construction of more schools.

“We all know that more playing fields are needed in the county. The county could simply re-zone those 17 acres as parkland at a significantly lower cost than funding all the increases in services necessary to support a new 300 – 500 home development.

“Don’t be fooled by hollow promises from Brookfield homes. It will be years before the fields are opened, assuming the land is even used for playing fields. In the meantime you’ll be paying more in taxes, dealing with more traffic, and still driving to 8 am games in Alexandria.”

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