The Friends of Bandy Field has accomplished a great deal since its founding in 1998, but our work to preserve and enhance Bandy Field Nature Park is ongoing.
Our immediate concern on the field involves the continued removal of invasive plants and additional planting to replace those that have died. In addition, we are in the process of planning a dedication ceremony for the park.
An important long-term goal is to obtain a conservation easement for the park.
The effort to gain a conservation easement on Bandy Field Nature Park began in 1999 as an extension of the campaign to make Bandy Field an official city park. After success in that hard-fought struggle, many were concerned that at some time in the future the ordinance that made the city-owned property an official park could be rescinded by a cash-strapped city government that needed the revenue from the sale of property that had proved to be highly attractive to developers.
These concerns led to the establishment of a larger, city-wide grass-roots movement, called “ConservAlliance”: a citizen-based, loosely-knit coalition of local park support groups, community associations, environmental organizations, and individuals who saw wisdom in seeking the permanent protection of city parks that conservation easements would provide, especially for the parks that were the most vulnerable to development pressures.
“ConservAlliance” selected four city properties to target for conservation easements – two highly vulnerable “city treasures”—the James River Park System and the new Bandy Field Nature Park, and two other natural tracts that were not yet designated as parks – the Larus Tract in the 4th Council district and the Crooked Branch Ravine in the 3rd Council district. The strategy was to seek conservation easements on cherished natural parks and undeveloped nature tracts spread around the city that would gain a broad base of citizen support for the initiative.
This initiative went as far as a resolution passed by Council directing city staff to draw up the conservation easements on the subject properties. Subsequently, City Council backed away from completion of the easements, citing that granting conservation easements on city property would cause Council to give up too much of its control over such properties.
Though that first attempt to secure conservations easements failed, our efforts continue. In 2004 there was a threat of loss of a small island park in the James River Park System that the city proposed to give to a developer as an economic development incentive. This threat led to a renewed desire to obtain conservative easements to protect city parks, and the grass-roots “ConservAlliance” coalition was reactivated. The result is that the Richmond City Council has embraced the need for a conservation easement on the James River Park System, and the easement is currently being developed. Council is expected to approve the easement in the Fall of 2006, which opens up the opportunity to again seek a conservation easement to protect Bandy Field Nature Park!