The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
RESERVOIR NEARLY READY FOR WATER
Stafford County’s new reservoir is on track to start filling with water as soon as December, and when that happens, a popular Hartwood cut-through will permanently close.
The county’s largest public works project has been nearly 20 years in the making, and now Rocky Pen Reservoir is nearly complete. Dam construction is ahead of schedule, so the reservoir could begin filling with water from the Rappahannock River around Dec. 1.
The Stafford County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday to consider abandoning Rocky Run Road, part of the connecting Brooke View Lane and all of Berea Woods Drive, each of which will be affected by the reservoir. The Virginia Department of Transportation will remove the segments from its system.
Timing for the many pieces in the $132 million project must be just right, explained project manager Bryon Counsell at a town hall earlier this summer for residents and neighbors following the project.
Water can’t be pumped until the rest is in place. But after years of planning, and about two years of construction on the dam, it’s almost time.
Some residents have expressed concern about the closure of a stretch of Rocky Run Road in the rural Hartwood area. It will remove a popular route that bypasses the congested U.S. 17.
Weeks of notice on message boards will precede the closure, Counsell said.
Cul-de-sacs will be constructed in two spots of what’s now a 3.47-mile stretch connecting Holly Corner Road to Greenbank Road.
The Board of Supervisors will also consider a new name for the western half of the road to prevent having two unconnected roads with the same name.
The Planning Commission last week 8/28 agreed with the board’s suggestion of the name Roberson Road, after a longtime Stafford family that once owned quite a bit of property south of U.S. 17, and lost a portion for the reservoir project. The Planning Commission will schedule a public hearing on the naming issue in September. The name can be changed from what was advertised, commission members noted.
Former Supervisor Joe Brito suggested either West Rocky Run Road or Old Rocky Run Road.
Planning Director Jeff Harvey said the county preferred to not use directional names.
RIVER WATER TO FLOW IN
The reservoir is designed to fulfill the county’s water supply through 2050.
When all is set for the reservoir and water treatment plant to begin operation, water will enter the system at the intake station on the Rappahannock River, on a quiet bend that allows the force of the water to push up against the bank.
“It’s a prime location,” Counsell said during a tour of the construction site earlier this summer.
Air bubbles will release when the water is in the wet well, which relieves the pumping process. Then the water will flow through the pipes under a field, cross below Rocky Run Road, and let out in the clearing, slowly turning the cleared land into a lake.
Normal water level will be measured at 226 feet at the deepest point.
The waterline will fluctuate based on Mother Nature and types of soils.
Residents have questioned if their home values may increase as they gain waterfront property.
Commissioner of Revenue Scott Mayausky said that a change wouldn’t happen immediately, but that it’s a good possibility that values could increase; homeowners’ tax bills are charged on assessment amounts. Real estate assessments are done every two years and are based on the marketplace, Mayausky said.
His office will monitor property sales over time. Nothing in Virginia law allows him to exempt existing properties from changes.
Long-term plans for the reservoir also envision some type of public park around the facility, but as of now, there’s no design or funding.
The lake, which could simply be named Rocky Pen Run or may be named after a notable person in the future, could be stocked with fish. Discussions are ongoing with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, but there’d be no natural habitat underwater for fish.
Ironically, many residents who live near the reservoir won’t actually get that water in their homes.
Those homes are outside Stafford’s identified urban services area, which sets where public water and sewer lines are connected.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975