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LETTER: Rural crescent data center debate should focus on local history

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LETTER: A letterbox with the inscription Letter to the editor

The arguments over possibly industrializing the rural crescent, including the potential tax revenue from data centers versus agribusiness and other kinds of growth, are necessary debates, but for the Prince William Digital Gateway proposal specifically, is that really the core issue?

This request for a comprehensive plan amendment proposes a massive data center complex that would run adjacent to Manassas National Battlefield Park. In the park superintendent’s official comments regarding this potentiality, he notes, “Not all areas where soldiers fought and died are within the park boundary.” He also indicates that there are “five historic cemeteries located within the application corridor” and that “ … [in] at least one … are the graves of Civil War casualties. … The application does not recognize an additional documented Civil War burial ground … that may still contain soldier remains. It is likely that additional unmarked graves exist within the subject area.” 

As Americans, we have a responsibility to protect our nation’s history, especially its casualties. Innovation Park and hundreds of other acres have already been approved for data centers, so why defile hallowed ground?

Instead, let us define ourselves and our values through our support of historic preservation and our respect for the dead, most especially those who were sacrificed in war.

It is not necessary to be against data centers to reject the Prince William Digital Gateway proposal. It is not even necessary to believe in protecting the rural crescent to fight this project. It is only necessary to recognize the sanctity of hallowed ground and the responsibilities of being its stewards.

Bridget Bell


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(8) comments


Ken Burns is pleading to preserve the history in the Manassas Battlefield and the open land around the park. The Virginia Department of Forestry head Ms Parmalee is asking the BOCS to consider the forests that clean our air, filter our water and shelter our flora and fauna before building data centers everywhere. The superintendent of Prince William Forest Park has warned against cutting out chunks of the park for data centers. Can’t you see a pattern of preservation, conservation, love of history?? Why can’t the Board of County Supervisors drop their destructive attitudes and see the positive side of our argument for less industrialization and fewer data centers?


There is no reasoning with unreasonable people. The facts were laid out by the Planning Commission consultants and ignored. The data on our watershed was never gathered or studied. History has been obliterated with the destruction of family cemeteries to build breweries. None of this is reasonable. There is greed and there is integrity. There is care for the land and habitat and there is industrial impervious paving. It’s one or the other. Where is your heart? Where is your children’s future? Where is the concern for your neighbor? Prince William County is losing its soul.


I agree with the comment from SandersChan. The author of this Letter to Ed is quick to throw the landowners under the bus for something that may or may not be factual. Let's not forget that the farms near the Park have been in operation since before and after the Civil War, meaning that plowing fields, digging and shifting soil, and other farm uses for over a hundred years have by now destroyed any human artifacts that time has not already destroyed. And you expect the landowners to pony up their property? What are you willing to contribute?

And why are we still venerating the 2 Confederate victories at Manassas? Why do we still have the Stonewall Jackson statue in pride of place in the Park?


Development is controled by zoning and based on our smart growth strategic long term goals. Industrializing the rural crescent is antithetical to those ideals that promote quality sustainable communities county wide.


No land owner, anywhere, has a right to devalue or destory the quality of our drinking water or our other natural resoureces, including our historical assets.

It's stunning that these EXACT same landowners said this a mere few years ago to protect their property from the bi county parkway. Their about face is stunning!

"The working relationship between the Pageland populists and the smart-growth movement is too informal to be termed an alliance. But their messages often align. They largely agree (a) that the Bi-County Parkway is a waste of public dollars, (b) that the project is driven by developers who want to enrich themselves at public expense and (c) that building the parkway is inconsistent with the goal of preserving the Civil War heritage of the Manassas National Battlefield Park and its environs."

But to be clear, this argument to industrialize the rural cresent should be moot, there IS plenty of land available in the current data center overlay district, including millions of sq ft of approved data center development inside, and now outside the overlay (approved in gainesville that total well over 7 MILLION sq ft) that isn't even built yet.

There are plenty of jobs and benefit to industrial development IN the industrial zoned areas without doing something so backwards as environmental destruction.

Seriously, IS anyone paying attention to the climate change issue???????


It astonishes me that your opinion on preserving "hallowed ground" fails to take into account the farmers who actually own this land and their rights. Does protecting so-called hallowed ground trump an American's rights under the constitution? It is important to point out what the Park Superintendent actually said: that there MAY have been areas outside the park boundaries where soldiers fought and died; that there MAY be a civil war burial ground on private property; that that MAY still contain soldiers' remains. Obviously, MAY is not the same as IS.

If you are so willing to "save" this undocumented "hallowed ground" then why don't you buy it at commercial tax rates and donate it to the Park? And where were you when Heritage Hunt was built on what MAY have been the site of skirmishes and death? And you say " It is only necessary to recognize the sanctity of hallowed ground and the responsibility of being its stewards". So, that responsibility falls to the landowner to sacrifice their privately owned land?


Owning the land does not give you the right to pollute the local streams. That is what you will be doing if you sell it to data centers. By designating the rural crescent it enabled you to buy the land per acre at rock bottom price. Now you want to sell at 10 times that price to an industrial development that will destroy the watershed.


Actually, owning the land doesn't prevent you from polluting streams. Farmers' cattle and horses defecate in streams. Runoff from farm pesticides and fertilizer pollutes streams. DEQ (Department for Environmental Quality) will in fact impose much more stringent measures against pollution by data centers than the almost complete lack of restrictions placed on farming operations. Streams will actually be cleaner. Get the facts. And so what if the farmers make money selling their land? Isn't that what our system of capitalism is all about? Haven't you sold something to make money?


Funny, the entire conservation community is in oppostition to this industrialization of the watershed and our other natural resources. Along with Superintendent of the Manassas National Battlefield AND the County Watershed Management department.

And to suggest that tens of millions of sq ft of impervious surfaces is the same as cow and horse poop belies every metric of watershed protection. industrial blight in the rural crescent, especially given the threat of climate change is simply not smart.

These landowners are not more special than anyone else that owns land in this county. You can develop at market value, no less, no more.

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