Goochland neighbors categorical issues about future COVID memorial

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday morning on the positioning of a former Goochland County golf course {that a} Richmond non-profit plans to show right into a memorial for victims of COVID-19.

“‘Gardens of Tranquility’ is a spot the place therapeutic begins,” mentioned Dr. Arlene Simmons, referring to the title for the deliberate memorial. “Whether or not it’s psychological, emotional, bodily, non secular or academic. We wish this to be a spot of peace and tranquility.

Simmons is the founding father of Humanitarian Ambassadors of America Neighborhood Growth Corp., a non-profit with 25 years in Richmond, and mentioned they bought the land earlier this yr and was impressed to show it right into a COVID-19 memorial by youngsters she labored with who advised her about what they skilled throughout COVID-19.

“They chronicled hardships associated to the lack of housing, dying of family members, well being points, despair, starvation, and different challenges skilled due to the COVID pandemic,” Simmons advised the gang. “Within the ache of their grief these younger minds determined it was not solely necessary, however obligatory to recollect family members and an honorable and everlasting manner.”

Simmons mentioned the plan is to redevelop the 151-acres in 4 phases with a $33-million price range. The COVID-19 victims might be remembered in rock gardens and memorial partitions, however Simmons mentioned additionally they intend to incorporate memorials for individuals who have handed from different well being points and children misplaced to gun violence.

“The design will characteristic and can prolong to programmatic alternatives geared towards constructive youth improvement processes,” added Simmons, who mentioned this might embrace issues like a par 3 golf course, gardening, and climbing. “It is a problem in case you’ve by no means been uncovered to it but it surely’s happiness if you find yourself uncovered to it,” Simmons mentioned.

Nevertheless, anybody attending Wednesday’s ceremony would have needed to drive previous dozens of yards indicators alongside the one highway resulting in the positioning expressing concern or skepticism concerning the mission.

CBS 6 spoke with among the owners who put up the indicators and so they mentioned whereas the mission appears to have good intentions, they raised issues concerning the quantity of site visitors it may usher in, the flexibility to take care of repairs of the property, and mentioned that they haven’t been included in conversations about proposed plans.

Simmons mentioned they didn’t need to have these conversations as a result of the property will not be part of the house owner’s affiliation and mentioned nothing they’re planning to construct could be outdoors of the property’s present zoning.

“It is a rural space, every little thing is gorgeous right here. And so we do not need something to alter, we simply wish to mix in,” Simmons mentioned.

Nevertheless, Simmons mentioned once they start designing the primary section subsequent month, they may maintain the county up to date on what they do and she or he mentioned the neighbors may have a seat on the desk.

“We wish them to welcome us and we welcome them to be right here,” Simmons mentioned.

Simmons mentioned they hope to have at the least completed renovating the clubhouse and constructed one memorial backyard and a wall for a ribbon-cutting ceremony someday in December.

CBS 6 additionally reached out to Goochland County and requested concerning the proposal and acquired a written assertion.

“County workers has met with representatives from the Humanitarian Ambassadors of America Neighborhood Growth Company who’re proposing the COVID memorial backyard on the former Royal Virginian golf course. Their representatives offered a number of potential future makes use of for the positioning, however no formal land use request has been made and nor has zoning approval been utilized for or given. It’s too early to say what could also be required till workers is offered further data,” wrote Neighborhood Affairs Supervisor Paul Drumwright. “If a zoning utility is filed, neighborhood conferences and public hearings are required the place residents can voice their opinions concerning the request.”

“Goochland County encourages all potential candidates and new companies and organizations to create an open dialogue and have interaction with the larger neighborhood as they transfer ahead on proposed plans and developments,” he added.

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