Recently, James City County’s Shaping Our Shores project presented a master plan for the Jamestown Beach Campground. The county has done a good job putting together the plan and incorporating input from the community, but as I’ve thought about it further, I think there are issues worth taking a second look at. One issue is improved sustainability and environmental quality, which the county has been very supportive of in past projects. Are there ways in which the sustainability of this project could be enhanced? With that question in mind I put together a quick study of a possible alternative site plan for the park.
The main suggestions I have are:
1. Preserve the existing woods at the top of the site. The current plan looks like it might involve clear cutting a fairly sizable portion of the woods to make room for the proposed cabins and BMP’s (detention and/or retention basins). I think it would be great to maintain these woods for trails as well as plant and animal habitat.
2. Place proposed buildings on already disturbed sites. In my sketch I’ve located the proposed cabins in the empty area along the existing park drive. Supplemental plantings could be added so a woodsy feel develops over time.
3. Avoid putting buildings and accessory structures within 250 feet of the James River shoreline to preserve the existing views and minimize runoff that might go directly into the river.
4. Maintain the integrity of the area around the Vermillion property. The County’s proposed plans shows an access road between the house and Jamestown Road. It seems like this road will divide the site up into small, less useable spaces. This access road also creates additional impervious area in the park. Is it absolutely necessary?
5. Increase the wooded feel of the property by adding areas of trees. Additional trees will improve air and environmental quality, provide habitat for birds and other animals, and make the property much more attractive.
Of course, I haven’t been a part of the planning process and am not entirely familiar with all the concerns and discussions that went into putting the plan together, but I do think there are areas in which the proposed plan can be improved. Jamestown Beach, with its beautiful Vermillion house is such a beautiful setting; I would really like this project to be the best that it can be.
Below is a video showing a possible design for new gardens centered around the Vermillion House. Gardens like these could be a popular destination for tourists, possibly generating money to help maintain the Jamestown Beach campsite.