On a sunny, blue-sky day overlooking the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach, a festive gathering of government, conservation, business, and community leaders cut the ribbon Friday, formally opening Pleasure House Point Natural Area.
Pleasure House Point, a quiet 118-acre peninsula of marsh, sandy beaches, and trees, was saved from intense private development by an impassioned community effort to preserve it for conservation and recreation. The effort, led by Virginia Beach, The Trust for Public Land, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, came to successful fruition this summer with the purchase of the property by the city in July.
Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms hailed the collaborative success to save Pleasure House Point as great news for the Hampton Roads community.
“This is one of the most breathtaking spots in all of Virginia Beach,” he told some 250 onlookers at Friday’s ribbon cutting. “And now it’s ours!”
CBF President Will Baker also announced some good news at the event -- the launch of a CBF $20 million fundraising campaign for Pleasure House Point. The campaign will raise $10 million to purchase a 10-acre corner of the property and create a super-eco-friendly environmental center, to be called the Brock Environmental Center in honor of a generous gift from Macon and Joan Brock (below).
CBF intends that the Brock Environmental Center meet the “Living Building Challenge,” a set of strict sustainability standards that require “net zero” environmental impact. When completed in 2014, the Brock Environmental Center will be the first of its kind in Virginia.
And reflecting the community collaboration that saved Pleasure House Point, CBF will share office space in the new center with Lynnhaven River NOW, a partner watershed advocacy and restoration group in Virginia Beach.
The CBF campaign already has raised about 70 percent of its goal. CBF hopes to complete fundraising and break ground on the Brock Environmental Center sometime next year. For more information, click here.
For now, however, Pleasure House Point is officially open for walking, jogging, birding, fishing, picnicking, and just enjoying. If you’re in the Virginia Beach vicinity, stop by and explore this beautiful waterfront slice of open space and wildlife at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. As a headline proclaimed in July, “This Land is Your Land.”
And stay tuned for more developments as CBF pursues its Pleasure House Point vision of sustainability, environmental education, and community engagement.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation