The Ad Hoc Fort Ward Park and Museum Area Stakeholder Advisory Group, working with City staff, has developed initial ideas for how to best manage the significant historic, natural and recreational resources of Fort Ward Park. Recommendations include the development of a Management Plan for Fort Ward Park. This plan will serve as the guide and policy document for future park management and park use. The plan will:
The City will monitor the board regularly and pass the information on to Lardner/Klein between February 10 and March 21. Staff will also monitor the comment board and address any questions requiring a City response.
Please do not plant azaleas. There are a billion azaleas in Alexandria already, and they do nothing to support wildlife. Please install native plants for pollinators, including a Virginia-appropriate variety of milkweed (Asclepias) for the endangered Monarch butterfly.
Betty Ann (441) | User | March 9, 2014 - 1:18 PM
For those of us who just enjoy the large green space of our park on a daily basis, it would be so nice to have the azalea gardens restored to their original glory, and to replant the trees that have been lost due to age and natural causes.
Liz Frommer (434) | User | March 5, 2014 - 11:02 AM
We have many native plants that are equal to exotic azaleas in ornamental value. Beautyberry, (Callicarpa americana) for instance, is a show-stopper with a much longer period of high interest than azalea: delicate pink and fragrant flowers in spring followed by gorgeous dark purple berries that persist throughout the fall. Buttonbush, itea, clethra, native mock orange, sweetshrub, red chokecherry, winterberry, hypericum spp, spicebush, fetterbush, and our own kalmia, or mountain laurel are all truly beautiful shrubs that would not need to be pampered and fertilized the way exotic azaleas must. Planting these shrubs would further expand the mission of the city's efforts to become more sustainable, and to support our local pollinators and birds. We can be eco-friendly, cost effective, and enjoy beautiful pathways by using native plants.
suzanne dingwell (433) | User | March 5, 2014 - 6:21 AM
I wanted to add a quick comment about this plan and how much I support the idea of adding more native plants where ever we can. I was able to take a brief look at the plan and I am very excited that there is already a planned native plant area, and I would encourage landscapers to add even more native plants where ever possible. For example, Virginia has some gorgeous flame (orange) and pink azaleas and rhododendrons that would make beautiful substitutions in the azalea beds. Keeping a lot of our natural areas full of native plants helps wildlife immensely! The native pollinators will encourage more plants to set seed, which will attract more songbirds for everyone to enjoy. Having more natural areas is helpful to the pollinators themselves, too, of course- and they need all the help they can get. I look forward to attending the March 8th meeting to ask more questions and hear more details. Thanks for considering natives!
Samantha G (428) | User | February 28, 2014 - 1:16 PM
I just wanted to express my support for the plan and particularly the efforts to have community programs in the amphitheater. We appreciate the efforts to preserve the Fort, cemetery, and other historically significant sites. We have also missed the concert series and other programs that were suspended several years ago at the amphitheater and relocated away from this side of the city. I am excited about the possibility of reviving and expanding such programming with movie nights, concerts and other programming and would certainly support a "Friends of" group.
Ft. Ward Neighbor (426) | User | February 26, 2014 - 12:29 PM
March 19, 2014To: Fort Ward Advisory Stakeholders GroupFrom: Dave CavanaughI appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Draft Fort Ward Park Museum Area Management Plan (Draft Plan). The Fort Ward Advisory Stakeholders Group is to be commended for taking on a unique challenge to improve overall management of Fort Ward Park and Museum.I support efforts to provide a framework for recommendations improving overall management of the park. A resource management plan recommending actions necessary to maintain and protect the recreational, cultural and environmental resources in the park is a step in the right direction.The park has suffered from neglect and conflicting ideas for long term management of the Park and Museum. The Draft Plan provides a reasonable assessment of the current conditions and establishes the need to fund and improve conditions in the park. Key to generating public support is a management plan that provides reasonable and achievable goals and minimizes controversy. I support recommendations to improve the overall attractiveness and health of the park. Fort Ward should be a premier park for residents and visitors.The recent commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War has brought attention to a variety of themes not presented at Fort Ward Park and the Museum. As the anniversary period winds down it is important the Fort Ward Park and Museum stay relevant. This is a critical moment and plan recommendations will influence continued public support for the park itself and programs presented at Fort Ward Park and Museum in the future. A thoughtful and well written Management Plan outlining an action plan for long term sustainability of the park will hopefully generate public support for additional funding. I suggest the following outline for restoring and sustaining public support for the historic park and museum.1. Take steps to improve the health and conditions in the park. Restoring the health of the park, making the park more attractive and minimizing over use would improve public support for funding. 2. Mitigate drainage problems impacting the Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery.3. Explore alternatives for improving utilization of the amphitheater. Renovating the amphitheater is important in providing a wider variety of entertainment, cultural programming and a venue for “storytelling.” It would also facilitate public and private funding for possibly enclosing the amphitheater.4. Broaden and expand the interpretation of history and cultural events presented at the museum. This includes incorporating the role and involvement of U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War and the settlement by African Americans near the Seminary (now Virginia Theological Seminary) and Episcopal High School and on the site of Fort Ward. 5. Create a multidisciplinary Park Planning Advisory Group, including local citizen groups, to monitor implementation of an action plan for the park. The purpose of the Park Planning Advisory Group is to integrate operational planning and recommendations to improve public use of the park and museum. Potential topics include:a. Park beautificationb. Restoring former maintenance yard to park usec. Mitigating drainage issues near Oakland Baptist Church Museumd. Evaluate operation of the MOU for maintaining the parke. Improving utilization of the amphitheaterf. Implementing the American Disabilities Actg. Provide comments on a proposed Comprehensive Interpretation Plan (see below) broadening the presentation of Civil War history presented at the museum and park.h. Explore partnership arrangements to improve educational programs, displays and exhibits. Introducing the struggle and role of African Americans and the community that settled near the Seminary during the Civil War has been made unnecessarily controversial. Until recently the contribution of African Americans and their struggle for freedom and equality has been overlooked. Their role and treatment is central to understanding American history and conditions faced by minorities. So it is not surprising there are divergent views on how best to tell the history and stories passed down through families. The Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) should organize a separate multi-disciplinary team to prepare a Comprehensive Interpretive Plan (CIP). OHA should contract with firms having the background and skills to assist in preparing the CIP. The plan should help guide and assist City staff in preparing displays and exhibits that allow visitors to connect in a meaningful way to the past. The CIP would be integrated with overall plans to improve the park and museum. A CIP would: 1. Encourage regional planning with other cooperating parks, museums and partner groups.2. Improve chances for cost sharing when applying for grants.3. Foster community involvement on themes, values and programs at the park and museum.4. Facilitate research and development of new programs relevant to a broader audience.5. Increase public support for a more meaningful public education program.The current draft suggests interpretive themes that lack any context and unnecessarily provoke racial discord. Suggestions regarding themes (Civil War to Civil Rights”, “We’re Still Here”), the location and naming of trails (We’re Still Here Trail) and including themes associated with City of Alexandria acquisition of the land for Fort Ward or T.C. Williams, Jim Crow, segregation and the Civil Rights movement would significantly transform the character of the park. The management report should delete any recommendations or suggestions for presenting interpretive themes and the location and naming of trails until a CIP is prepared and submitted to staff for their consideration.The multidisciplinary team should be comprised of (historians, educators, writers, archaeologist, anthropologists and naturalist) including citizens should be created to assist consultants in preparing a CIP. To the extent possible, the stories and experiences of African Americans that settled near the Seminary or at what is now Fort Ward Park could be used to support major historic and cultural themes.Thanks again for the opportunity to comment. More specific comments were sent earlier. To be successful, we need to demonstrate that taxpayer money is being spent wisely and steps are being taken to make the park more attractive and provide a broader, more relevant and meaningful interpretation of history at the museum and park. Sincerely, Dave Cavanaugh
Dave Cavanaugh (71) | User | February 19, 2014 - 2:14 PM
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