By Sally Voth email@example.com
The Shenandoah County Park grew by about 10 acres following Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.
The panel agreed on a 4-2 vote to transfer 9.9 acres from the County Farm to the adjacent 62-acre park, allowing for expansion of the disc-golf course.
The County Farm advisory and the parks and recreation advisory committees had been dickering over the use of those 10 acres, with the former preferring to keep it in pastureland.
The farm is home to the county's alms house, which houses clients of Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter, and also includes about 65 acres that would be used to demonstrate grazing and forestry.
District 3 Supervisor David Ferguson and District 1 Supervisor Dick Neese were the only members of the board to vote against the plan.
"I oppose the encroachment on the County Farm of any additional acreage," Ferguson said prior to the vote. "There's a way that you could handle this."
Rather than siphoning off the land to the park now, the county could negotiate a short-term lease of the 10 acres in question in its requests for proposals to farm the rest of the land under a 10-year lease, Ferguson said.
"What's the necessity to strip that off right now and give it to use for parks?" he asked.
The county doesn't have the money to maintain it now, he said.
"My proposal is to include it as the county farm, but only bring it under contract for a short term, but when and if it needs to be part of the park, it has to come back to the board for action," Ferguson said.
District 4 Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli said, "Wasn't this all discussed by the joint advisory committee? This was tossed back and forth for a year-and-a-half."
Parks and Recreation Director Pam Sheets said about 4 1/2 of the 10 acres are forested right now, and with the timeframe for fencing, there won't be any additional land to mow now.
"It's not exactly the Taj Mahal when it comes to land," District 5 Supervisor Dennis Morris said.
Ferguson pointed out the numerous town and county parks in the area.
"We live in a rural area with a river going through it," he said. "We have all the national forest...how much park do we need?"
Only Neese supported a motion proposed by Ferguson to include a short-term lease on the 10 acres as part of a larger 10-year lease.
"I only seconded that because he's leaving it intact for a while," Neese said. "I personally want to see it intact forever. I think it sets a bad example to us to the public. Here we're pushing agriculture [conservation]."
District 2 Supervisor Steve Baker made the passing motion to delineate the land to the park, saying both committees had reached that as a compromise.