There is a limited-time opportunity for our county to study and create a fitting public experience area for sites of African American history in western Prince William.
These sites are on the planning office map "Prince William County African American Heritage." The sites are "the Settlement" and adjacent Thornton School. They are located in the Pageland Lane/Thornton Drive/Artemus Road area.
I call this a limited-time opportunity because these sites are in the central sector of land currently under study for the proposed comprehensive plan amendment (CPA 2021-0004), the Prince William Digital Gateway.
The application requests a change of the underlying land use designation for the property from “agricultural” or “environmental resource” to “technology/flex” to create a tech corridor along Pageland lane between Va. 234 and U.S. 29. This change is intended to allow for corridor to be developed for data centers.
Our board of county supervisors showed us the importance of historical research and preservation of our Black history resources. On June 15, they appropriated $765,000 through fiscal year 2023 for the study, preservation and creation of interpretive areas of the Thoroughfare and Settlement communities of northwestern Prince William County.
Our supervisors are strongly encouraged to consider budgeting and appropriating this year, funds for the study, preservation and creation of public interpretive areas of these Black history resources: the Thornton School and adjacent "Settlement" community.
The Prince William Gateway proposal directly threatens these historic sites. The supervisors’ decision on the proposed new data center corridor should be considered after the historical study is complete and a land-use decision for historic preservation is made.