On September 18, 2019, a roundtable discussion was held by the Sierra Club York River group at Sandy Bottom Park in Hampton. Three topics were originally scheduled, but only two were covered due to time. The two topics covered – Endview Plantation and Riverview Farm Park – are near and dear to many local environmentally-minded activists.
Endview Plantation is a local historical site at the northern end of Newport News. City Council member David Jenkins and James Lawson (with “Preserve Newport News History”) spoke about a proposed housing development behind Endview Plantation. There was also a short video with historian and author John Quarstein. This development is currently at a very early stage; there were few details and a lot of uncertainty. However, this clearly was a hot-button topic, as there were many people in attendance who had strong feelings about this proposal. Among other things, there were concerns that the new development would negatively impact the viewshed (the geographical area that is visible from the location). Clearly, we need to keep informed as plans for this possible development progress.
The members in attendance greatly appreciate the fact that local leaders like Newport News Councilman Jenkins and Hampton Mayor Tuck regularly join and participate in the Sierra Club meetings. It is so important that our elected representatives remain accessible and open to comments, thoughts, and ideas about local environmental concerns from regular citizens. Although Mr. Jenkins’ discussion about the possible Endview Plantation development led to a passionate debate, it was clear that he listened with an open mind to everyone who had something to say about it.
Adrian Whitcomb, president of Citizens for Riverview Farm Park, spoke about the history and status of this Newport News landmark. The Sierra Club supports the initiative to keep this land open as a park for all citizens, rather than sold for development. The land borders the James River, and there are currently very few areas along the river in Newport News open to the public for recreation. In 2018, the Newport News city council voted 5-2 in favor of designating the City Farm site as protected park. This is an important step in the right direction, but apparently City Council could do more to preserve and expand it for use by all people.