Foundation aims to save land in Toms Brook

The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation is working to save 24 acres of land in Toms Brook from becoming a housing development site.

The foundation noted these latest efforts in a June 18 post on its website that included a letter from Keven Walker, the foundation’s chief executive officer, to foundation supporters.

In an interview this week, Walker explained that the 24 acres of land are adjacent to 600 acres that they have already preserved.

In the late 1980s that land was divided into eight residential building lots, Walker said.

Recently, the parcels were set to be put on the market as land for housing development by a local real estate agency – before a county landowner notified the foundation.

“For a long time, we knew that they were potential points of conflict between us and development,” Walker said.

He said they then signed a contract with the realtors to buy the land for $250,000. The foundation has until Sept. 30 to meet that figure.

“If we are not able to live up to the terms of our contract, those eight building lots will have eight modern homes constructed on them,” Walker said.

The foundation plans to combine funding from private donations as well as state and federal matching grants, Walker noted.

He said the foundation is looking to raise $50,000 in donations which, as he stated in the June 18 letter to members, the foundation will match 4-to-1. He added that they are hoping to get more donations from valley residents for this project.

Rob Aitcheson, the foundation’s director of policy and communication, said 23 percent of the private donations the foundation received last year came from Shenandoah Valley residents.

“We need the support from private individuals who have an interest in preserving the valley heritage,” Walked said. “We will not be able to do this without them.”

From a historical standpoint, Walker said, “The Battle of Toms Brook was the largest all-cavalry battle in the Shenandoah Valley.”

The battle culminated in the Union-led chase of Confederate troops from Toms Brook to Mount Jackson. According to Walker, the 24 acres in Toms Brook are where the Union Army broke Confederate lines and began the chase.

Walker added that this massive battle — and subsequent chase — set the stage for the Battle of Cedar Creek in October.

“This is a last opportunity to save the heart of the heart of that important historic site,” Walker said.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com

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