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Office of the Governor, Governor Mark R. Warner
Date: January 12, 2006

Governor Warner announces acquisition of 1,100 acres of Widewater Peninsula property
Undeveloped parcels along the Potomac River will be preserved as a state park

RICHMOND - Governor Mark R. Warner today announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia has acquired a 1,100-acre portion of a Stafford County peninsula with two miles of Potomac River and Aquia Creek water frontage. The property, located 40 miles south of Washington D.C. and known locally as Widewater, will become a state park managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The state purchased the property using $6.1 million in Virginia Public Buildings Authority (VPBA) bonds.

"The Widewater peninsula is one of the most significant, undeveloped properties remaining on this stretch of the Potomac River," said Governor Warner. "This new state park will be an outdoor haven for Virginians and will preserve a significant portion of some of the Commonwealth's most impressive natural landscape."

Widewater was purchased from Dominion Resources with assistance from The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization. TPL, Dominion, Stafford County and DCR have spent the last four years resolving legal and land use issues related to the proposed development.

TPL held an option on the property and negotiated the purchase price. Dominion originally purchased the property as the site of a proposed power plant. It was later targeted for residential and commercial development. The $6.1 million purchase price agreed to by Dominion represents a significant savings as the land has an appraised value of $11 million and an assessed value of $7.1 million.

Studies have repeatedly shown that access to water is the top recreational need in the Commonwealth. This is particularly true in the northeastern part of the state where a majority of the state's population resides. The low-impact development of the riverfront land as a state park will also lessen stormwater problems, greatly reducing the potential for increased water quality degradation.

"The Potomac is really America's River and it is fitting that this land will now belong to the people, for all to enjoy as a new Virginia state park," said Debi Osborne, Senior Project Manager, The Trust for Public Land. The fact that over 1,000 acres of waterfront property are available for conservation during this era of rampant development is practically unheard of. Were it not for the leadership of Governor Warner, the commitment of Dominion and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the tenacity of The Trust for Public Land, this never would have happened."

"This has been a dynamic partnership of state and county governments, the private and nonprofit sectors, resulting in an outstanding acquisition," said Joseph Maroon, Director of DCR. "Future generations will have Governor Warner, Stafford County, The Trust for Public Land and Dominion to thank for protecting this site for their use. DCR will work diligently with the people of Virginia to plan and develop a state park befitting this tremendous piece of property."

The first step to establish the state park will be to develop a master plan. This is a public process facilitated by DCR that will guide development of the park over the next 25 years.

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