Early History on the Battle for Haymaker Forest

Local area residents across 3 of the 7 City Wards bordering the forest, along with residents citywide and in the county, considered every possible funding and preservation option for Haymaker Forest that anyone could think of, and tried to pursue whatever seemed most feasible. To give you an idea of how long and to what extent this effort has been ongoing, I’ll post here an email in this effort dating back to October 15, 2015 from City Ward 6 representative at the time, Jay Redmond, to at that time President Bill Wasson of the Southpoint Circle Neighbor Association. This is one early bit, not the earliest, of three years worth of correspondence and effort involving many residents, organizations, agencies, officials. This single email gives some insight into the breadth and depth of the effort from early on, spanning possible city, state, federal, environmental, and university funding sources as noted in this email. Further efforts and appeals were made to the County as well, to no funding effect. Also, in fall of 2015, residents proposed to the City dedicating a portion of the new Service/User fee to permanently fund both green space acquisition, such as Haymaker Forest, and ongoing Boparc activities and infrastructure. This made some minimal progress with that different City Council before being dismissed. Much else was considered and explored from then on, with to my knowledge no funds ever being secured. Since Jay R and Bill W are no longer serving in their official capacities, I’ve deleted their email addresses from their correspondence here:

From: “Jay Redmond” 
To: “wasson b” 
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2015 7:59:21 AM
Subject: development update

Bill,

Here’s an update on issues related to the development. Please pass along to the committee and others as you see fit. Thanks.

The city has investigated the conservation easements that would provide tax breaks to the property owner or developer and preserve the forest. The WV Land Trust would be interested in administering a small conservation easement (they typically look for larger tracts of land). The city has discussed other options with the WVU Law School Land sustainability Clinic, but nothing beyond easements were identified. The city manager will continue to pursue these potential opportunities and discuss available options with the developer.

The city is reviewing the Westover annexation by minor boundary adjustment (case is getting appealed to the Supreme court) and the seven points of consideration that are required for the County Commission to approve. Many of the points that were seen in that annexation do not apply with undeveloped property. As for the potential thoughts of the commissioners, Eldon Callen voted against the Westover annexation and Ed Hawkins has often mentioned the same concerns as Mr. Callen.

The city is reviewing the Forestry Grant that became available October 8th ($200,000 grant with 50% match). The city manager has dealt with the Land and Water Conservation Fund federal grant for land purchase (Dorsey’s Knob) for outdoor recreation and will speak to Bob Hannah, State Forester about other ideas. The city manager will discuss any options that are identified with the developer.

The access application from the developer has been received by the city and discussed internally. A public forum will be scheduled in the near future to air the request and allow the developer to make the case for access and allow the public to express their concerns, etc. Once a date, time and location is identified, this public forum will be promoted to encourage attendance. Within their MUB request for a cost estimate, the developer has identified a couple of other streets that they want to access. The city and the developer will be discussing all the requested accesses in their draft design, and possible bring all into the public forum.

Let me know if there’s any other information I can provide at this time. I’ll send any other information I receive or learn your way for distribution.

Jay

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