The Mount Jackson Town Council on Tuesday night approved a request to apply for a grant to build a canoe landing site at a bridge near Triplett Tech in Mount Jackson.
The vote was 5-1 with Councilman Dennis Andrick voting against it.
The $100,000 grant would come from the DuPont Waynesboro settlement, which gives out money to improve areas of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River after a DuPont plant in Waynesboro leaked Mercury into the South Fork of the Shenandoah River near Waynesboro in 2016.
David Brotman, executive director of Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, gave a presentation along with Shenandoah County Planner Tyler Hinkle.
Hinkle said the Virginia Department of Transportation is already planning on replacing the bridge where the canoe landing site would go and that agency would be willing to put the canoe landing ramp in as well.
The proposed allocation of funds for the $100,000 grant was to go to three different areas. The proposal was to have $50,000 go toward the canoe landing site, $25,000 for improvements at Meems Bottom Covered Bridge and $25,000 for the Red Banks river area in Mount Jackson. Hinkle said that if they receive the grant then they could redistribute the money however they want.
Two Mount Jackson residents spoke during the meeting's public comments section about the canoe landing site.
Joe Beckenstrater and Jonathan Day said they own land near the site and are worried about the amount of people a canoe landing site would draw.
Beckenstrater said trash is constantly being left near the proposed landing site. He said there were three open bags of trash near the site on Tuesday afternoon, and that trash is always blowing onto his property.
"We're the ones that's going to take the brunt of the trash, just like we are now," Beckenstrater said. "We're picking it up, and I stopped doing it because I wanted everybody to see what's happening so you guys understand what you're going to be doing to us."
Day said that he owns land at both the bridge near Triplett Tech and the Meems Bottom Covered Bridge. Day said has had problems with people at both places for years, but it was even worse this summer.
"For years I get people with trash, trespassing, parking on my land, driving into my crops," Day said. "...They're destroying my livelihood. They're taking it away. They're constantly in the road. This summer's just been horrendous. They don't look, they just walk out in front of you, they park everywhere. The trash is despicable."
Brotman said that he was glad that Day and Beckenstrater spoke at the meeting and they will do everything they can to address some of the issues.
"When you invest in something in a way that shows a bit more respect in a sense for the area, it tends to generate more respect," Brotman said. "It will not be perfect. Where there are people, there will be abuses and trash as is seen today. So this is not meant to be the thing that wraps up all that problem. But I think it's a sound investment."
Councilman Rod Shepherd said he believes that they can address some of the issues that need to be fixed.
"This will not be just done without input from you all," Shepherd told Day and Beckenstrater. "I kind of like the idea of seeing a problem because ideas usually do have a solution."
Councilman Roger Rudy said that they clearly need to fix the problems that are ongoing near the bridges.
"Regardless of where this goes, I think it's been raised to our attention that something needs to be done in these areas regarding the use of the areas as well as the abuse of the areas in terms of trash and human waste," Rudy said. "I was not aware that the problem existed to the extent it does. So regardless of where this goes, I think that we need to address that."
Rudy also noted that the $100 a year for maintenance listed in the allocation of funds for the grant is a low estimate.
Andrick said that he does not see a need to put the canoe landing site in at the bridge near Triplett Tech. He said that most of the trash is coming from people who are taking picnics. He also said that he's talked to people who canoe in that area and that most all of them have said they start at Meems Bottom and get out at Red Banks because Meems Bottom and the bridge at Triplett Tech are too close together.
Andrick also said that there generally isn't even enough water to canoe in the area at Triplett Tech and they usually have to carry their canoe or kayak through that area.
"One of the problems you have there is 90% of the time you do not have enough water for access of a canoe or a kayak," Andrick said. "So it makes no sense to put a boat ramp there."