Prepared Comments for  the Stafford Board of Supervisors Meeting
September 20, 2005

[See story on the rally before this meeting.]

My name is Cecelia Kirkman and I live in Stafford County.  I am speaking tonight on behalf of Save Crow’s Nest, a volunteer organization with more than 700 participants.

As you can see, I brought some friends along—and I want to thank them for being here tonight.  These are just a few of the people out there who believe in saving Crow’s Nest from development.

Save Crow’s Nest was formed about 20 months ago—almost spontaneously.  We came together to act when we heard from the media that negotiations for the long-anticipated purchase and preservation of Crow’s Nest had fallen apart.  We wanted to do something to intervene; to make certain we did not lose this community treasure.  Save Crow’s Nest was born from that desire for action.

Ever since then, through our educational work, our website, our community actions, our research and our participation in the planning process, and our presence in the media, Save Crow’s Nest has tried to serve as a voice for those who want to balance the astronomical growth and development in this County with the preservation of a small piece of the County’s environmental heritage and quality of life.

It is important to acknowledge that the effort to save Crow’s Nest pre-dates our group by years and it extends beyond our group to include many individuals and organizations who have worked long and hard to see the dream of preservation finally realized.  The work of the folks who created the Crow’s Nest documentary you will see tonight is just one example of that.

But, so far, all of our work, all of our education efforts, all of our advocacy, appears to have been met by stony silence and inaction on the part of this Board.

We understand that the process must run its course.  Indeed, we have been patient and polite for month after month, year after year.  But now, as one development lawyer has aptly put it, we are in the ninth inning. The possible approval of a subdivision plan in just a matter of weeks would virtually ensure that development on Crow’s Nest will take place.

In the wake of that threat, we again are here to urge you to act.  We are non-partisan.  We don’t care if you are a Republican, Democrat, or Independent.  We only care that you come together to act to save Crow’s Nest.  As you have heard from us before—and as you saw in this morning’s paper—there are a number of steps that you can take immediately to help ensure the best use of the land on Crow’s Nest.

This issue has been on the County’s radar for years, if not decades.  The time for talk has come to an end.  The time for future referendums has come to an end. The time for future initiatives has come to an end. The time for action is upon us.

Save Crow’s Nest—and the other organizations and individuals who share our goals—are not going away.  We will be watching closely, and letting our members know what you are or are not doing in the next few weeks.

As part of a member education effort we are asking all candidates in the upcoming election—incumbents and challengers alike—to respond to a candidate questionnaire about what they will do to save Crow’s Nest.  Mr. Snellings, Ms. Hilliard, Mr. Pash, and Mr. Osborn, here are your copies.

We also know that it will take good faith negotiating by Stafford Lakes LP–represented by Kamel Tabbara, Walid Kattan, John O’Connell and Warren Montouri—and the cooperation of the development industry in Stafford County, to make real progress and reach a “win-win” solution for saving all of Crow’s Nest.

I’ve talked to a LOT of people about Crow’s Nest in the last couple of years and I have not heard a single person argue that developing Crow’s Nest would be a good thing for Stafford County.  I believe that with non-partisan action, that with sufficient education about the economics of the situation and the natural heritage of the peninsula, there will be overwhelming support for your acting decisively to save Crow’s Nest.

Stafford is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. No one can accuse the County of not accommodating growth and development.  But, enough is enough. Stafford County must draw a line in the sand and preserve the entire Crow’s Nest peninsula.  And you, on this Board, must act now to make sure that happens.