August 1, 2009 Under the leadership of Governor Tim Kaine, the funds for the purchase of additional land on Crow’s Nest have been assembled, and on July 29, 2009, an additional 1,100 acres on Crow’s Nest was purchased. While this is an important step forward, more than 1,000 acres remain unprotected, and now will be subject to tremendous development pressures. (Read the news story and a letter to the editor.) HISTORY Beginning in 2003, the organizing efforts of supporters of Save Crow’s Nest helped to stop proposed development on the 4,000-acre peninsula and served as a catalyst for renewed efforts to purchase and preserve the land. The effort to assemble funds to save Crow’s Nest was propelled forward when Governor Tim Kaine launched his “Renew Virginia” initiative, which included the goal of protecting 400,000 acres in the state by the end of 2010. The purchase of Crow’s Nest became a part of this initiative. In December of 2007, the Stafford Board of Supervisors reached a deal to purchase much of the Crow’s Nest peninsula in two phases. The first phase involved the purchase of 1,770 acres for $19 million, which was completed in 2008. That purchase was made possible by state funds, including a $9.5 million loan from the Department of Environmental Quality that will be repaid by Stafford County. Parcel “A” (green) is the first purchase completed in 2008. Parcel “B” (yellow) is the Phase 2 purchase. The areas in red, totaling more than 1,000 acres, remain unprotected. ANALYSIS We have come a long way from protesting to prevent the destruction of Crow’s Nest to discussing its imminent preservation. Everyone involved with Save Crow’s Nest and the broader effort to preserve the peninsula should be proud of their work. However, we at Save Crow’s Nest have always insisted on two principles: 1. The entire Crow’s Nest peninsula should be saved; and 2. Preservation should be done in a fiscally responsible manner. Unfortunately, while the current deal represents another milestone in the effort to save Crow’s Nest, it falls short on both these counts. First, the deal does not include properties in the area known as “Crow’s Nest Harbour” (the red areas on the map above), so a significant portion of the peninsula remains unprotected and the work of preserving Crow’s Nest remains unfinished. These “Harbour” properties have a variety of owners but Stafford Lakes LP, the developers with whom the main deal has been made, is among the owners and their property might have been included in the revised phase 2 purchase. It was not, and a golden opportunity was missed to strike a deal that might have helped lead to the eventual preservation of the entire peninsula. Second, once again, taxpayers are paying higher than fair market value for the land, making this is a sweetheart deal for developers. Even the reduced purchase price for Phase 2 is a higher per acre cost than the per acre appraised value of the land in 2006–near the height of the real estate bubble! A purchase based on today’s fair-market value would have left additional funds available to apply towards the purchase of the remaining Crow’s Nest properties. But, on balance, this deal is an important step forward and it makes clear that where there is a political will, there is a way. Assuming this Phase 2 purchase is completed, we can now focus on making sure the remaining parcels of land on Crow’s Nest are preserved. Again, thanks for everything you have done over the years to permanently protect all of Crow’s Nest. Let your elected leaders—from Governor Kaine down to the Board of Supervisors—know of your support for the preservation of the entire peninsula.