Ashville Park and the ARP:
In 2011, I put a “for sale” sign in my yard in Court House Estates and my husband and I began looking for a place with a bit more space around us. We took long drives out to the Virginia line and back again, trying to find a place for ourselves in the rural area of Virginia Beach. At the time, I knew only superficially the value of that land to our rural heritage and economic industry. I, perhaps like others living in other areas of the city, had come to view the rural area of Virginia Beach as a place down the road from me. If I wanted to get away from it all, there it was. But it wasn’t necessarily something I daily thought about — until I moved to Ashville Park.
Ashville Park is not in the rural area of Virginia Beach. This is true. But it is situated on the edge of it — close enough for us to see we’re related. This proximity to the environment and lifestyle of the rural area benefits all of us; it’s a reason many of us chose to call Ashville Park home. But it’s also a reason to think deeply and carefully about how funding is prioritized to address the city’s recurrent flooding, sea level rise, and faulty infrastructure issues.
At the moment, one of the city’s most valuable preservation programs, the Agricultural Reserve Program or ARP, is in danger as city officials search for ways to pay for the multitude of issues we face. There’s no doubt that the money must be found and, in some way, we all must help with this. Our communities are suffering. Ashville Park is just one of those communities. But it’s a community invested in preserving the rural area and, thus, maintaining the ARP.
Ashville Park and its residents want to be a part of a long term solution. Like other flood-affected areas, they want their faulty infrastructure remedy fully funded and addressed, sooner rather than later. But they don’t want to see a viable and valuable program like the ARP, with its small cost of $4 million, be taken away.
The loss of this valuable tool in maintaining our rural area will result in a questionable future for all of us — for the scenic by-ways we rely on for respite, the farm markets and businesses we’ve come to love, and the city’s 3rd largest industry, agriculture.
There must be a better way.
Karen Beardslee Kwasny
Planning Commission, Princess Anne District Representative