The King George County administrators have decided to surround our home with public parks. Our family has been very frustrated with the handling of the Wayside Park relocation initiative.
From the very beginning, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the King George administrators secretly planned this project, keeping residents of Roseland Road and the county in the dark. These governing bodies were assigned the task of finding a waterfront property as a replacement to the existing park land lost due to the Nice bridge construction.
From what we have learned over the last six months, VDOT researched available properties to purchase for a new site. At no time did VDOT or the county disclose their final selection to our neighborhood or the citizens of King George.
Once the board settled on 3321 Roseland Road, they quickly and quietly signed a purchase agreement for our neighbor’s property. This is a two-acre site positioned within a stretch of high-value homes owned by seniors. Our neighbors were sworn to secrecy by these bodies for fear of losing their contracts.
They later shared with us that VDOT and King George said they could lose the contract if they told anyone about the pending sale. This lack of transparency and threatening our neighbors if they told anyone about the sale confirms that VDOT and King George County conspired to proceed with the purchase with no intention of disclosing it to the community.
Why the cover-up?
The first time this plan was made public was during a town meeting on Aug. 20, 2019, the same day the county voted and approved the purchase plan. This is not how democracy should work. This lack of transparency from our local government is unconscionable.
Our voice should count, but apparently this is not the view of our government leaders. The board clearly prevented us from lobbying against this proposal and completely disregarded and failed to address a neighborhood petition put forth at a later board meeting.
We now find our home is sandwiched between a replacement park on one side and public park lands on the other. The county also purchased the wooded lots across the street, adding a large parking lot to the neighborhood.
Our private and quiet retirement home is now ruined and VDOT and some of the King George administrators just do not care. Only one member of the board, Ruby Brabo, has shown any compassion and empathy for our position and has lobbied for a buyout on our behalf.
We quickly contacted Century 21 Battlefield to ask that VDOT and King George buy our property so we may escape this nightmare. VDOT’s Fredericksburg District engineer Marcie Parker offered a lame property exchange deal, which would leave us homeless.
Then our realtor communicated to me that three of the five current King George Board members refuse to negotiate with us because we have publicly criticized their relocation plan. They have the means to make things right, and they seem unfazed and uncaring at the prospect of ruining the setting of our retirement home .
Our realtor has estimated our home value will be reduced by up to $250,000 due to the park relocation plan. We even contacted Del. Margaret Ransone six times without a response.
We do not understand why VDOT and the King George administrators are sacrificing our home and refuse to do what is right. Shame on them all.
We believe that King George County does not need this park, and the majority of town people don’t even want it. The expense of maintaining this $750,000 acquisition is not warranted. Research shows us that 75 percent of the visiting patrons are from Maryland. The current park is not utilized by the citizens of King George.
A survey conducted at the local YMCA showed 130 of 145 King George residents do not use the current park. Along with their lack of transparency, the current board governs with a lack of competency by not researching who is currently using the park and the minimal use by the citizens of King George.
Thus they are not allowing the people of King George to have a voice on how to spend our hard-earned tax dollars. We need a board that is open and honest and will respect and recognize the people who elected them to serve.
The King George community needs to come together and not tolerate this abuse of power by local politicians. We lived the American dream, putting ourselves through school, and working hard our whole lives to accumulate enough wealth to purchase our dream home, only to have these governing bodies destroy our home life.
This poor and uncaring decision negatively affects our home, our savings, and our neighborhood.
You could be next.
Barbara and Peter Karabots are residents of King George County.