PG board schedules vote on proposal for Nov. 14 meeting
PRINCE GEORGE — A proposal to create an adventure park on county-owned land near the courthouse complex has been sweetened a little as county staff and the developer continue to hammer out details and add new features to the plan.
The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to defer for the second time a request by Sutherland-based Tree Time Adventures Inc. for a zoning exception to open an adventure park on an undeveloped 130-acre parcel adjoining Scott Memorial Park, to give staff more time to work out the final terms of the agreement.
Deputy County Administrator Jeffrey Stoke, who is also the county’s director of economic development, explained that some significant changes have been made in recent weeks to make the plan more attractive for the county.
According to a staff report on the plan, “The park will consist of obstacles located in the tree canopy with zip lines, jungle bridges, tightropes, moving platforms, crab walks and Tarzan ropes. ... Tree Time will also create trails for walking, jogging and biking throughout the 130 acres of unused property.”
County staff and the Planning Commission have recommended approval of the project, in part as a potential source of direct revenue — the company will pay the county 6 percent of the facility’s gross revenue — and in part as an additional sports tourism asset. In addition, it would further the existing plan to develop the remainder of Scott Park by providing an events facility, access road and parking area at no cost to the county.
Sports tourism is a key component of the Economic Development Master Plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors earlier this month. The plan specifically mentions “adventure sports for adults” as a potential attraction to bring in additional visitors.
One of the changes made recently is the addition of a disc golf course, a feature that could potentially draw additional sports tournaments to the county, according to Tree Time owner John Bogue.
Bogue explained that disc golf is a fast-growing sport with its own professional association and tour. Fort Lee has a course already, and people who play there might welcome an additional option nearby, he speculated.
Like the hiking and biking trails, use of the disc golf course would be free of charge to residents, though they would have the option to rent discs from Tree Time if they don’t have their own equipment.
The company, Bogue explained, would get its revenue mainly from admission charges to the zip lines and other facilities in the tree canopy, fees from any tournaments or special events held on the property, and concessions.
Some concerns about the project were raised at a community meeting and public hearings by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Nearby residents expressed worries that the facility would create problems with noise and lights, and might draw vehicle and foot traffic into their neighborhoods, especially the adjacent Branchester Lakes subdivision.
Some of those concerns were addressed previously by including a requirement for a 100-foot buffer zone around the park and limiting hours of operation to daylight hours.
Members of the Planning Commission also expressed concerns about the original proposal to develop the park in two phases, with the 30-acre adventure park to open first and development of the hiking and biking trails on the remaining 100 acres to follow. Some members worried that Tree Time might open its adventure park but fail to complete construction of the trails and other amenities.
As it now stands, the plan requires the company to open the whole facility within one year, including construction of an access road and parking lot at the company’s expense.
Bogue said residents can expect the project to move along faster than required. “Our hope is to have it up and running by the spring,” he said.
The board voted to defer its decision on the project to its next business meeting on Nov. 14, and to hold a public hearing at that meeting on the proposed lease agreement between the county and Tree Time. Supervisors also agreed to discuss the proposal further at their retreat on Monday, Oct. 29, at the Central Wellness Center.