Adventure park proposal heads to public hearing

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: July 9, 2018 | 11:15 a.m. 

Tree Time’ looks at undeveloped portion of Scott Park for new home

PRINCE GEORGE – Roughly two months after making their initial presentation before county leaders, the operators of a proposed outdoor adventure park with have an opportunity to hear from the public regarding their concept to use part of Scott Park for their new facility.

Supervisors in June approved moving forward with scheduling a public hearing on a proposed lease agreement for July 10 that would see Tree Time Adventures, Inc, operated by John Bogue, lease roughly 130 acres of land from the county to serve as the new home of the proposed outdoor adventure park that would utilize the trees and terrain of an undeveloped portion of Scott Park where the land’s topography makes it difficult for additional fields to be created. 

The public hearing comes about two months after Bogue presented their idea for the rugged area of Scott Park, which would offer visits a variety of experiences, such as a “tree-top adventure,” which Bogue explaining that adventure would include an obstacle course that would move within the trees, along with a variety of other activities, such as tightropes, jungle bridges, crab walks, “Tarzan ropes,” and zip lines. 

While the tree-top adventure would be geared more toward teens and adults, Tree Time would also see an experience for younger patrons through their “Junior Adventure.” In that, Bogue said it would be similar to the tree-top experience but would be closer to the ground and less challenging.

The final element of Tree Time would be ground-based as the outdoor park would utilize the earth and soil around the trees to create a number of ground courses. Those courses would be, according to Baugh, military-style fitness trails that would be prime opportunities for special events, such as family fun runs, charity runs, and other outdoor events. 

In May, Bogue told leaders the average Tree Time experience uses an average of 20 acres and, according to county documents, the proposal between the company and Prince George would see roughly 30 acres be utilized to start with but, “if successful, [the facility] could expand within a 130-acre zone identified within the Scott Park boundaries.”

“The project is aligned with [the] Scott Park master plan,” county documents read. “[The] proposed property to be leased is property the county cannot use for ball fields due to water features and topography. Staff sees [the] potential adventure park as complimentary use of sports tourism. County trials and ancillary features could be co-mingled with the private project.”

On July 10, the public will be able to offer their thoughts on the proposed project and the lease agreement between the two entities, which, if approved, would run from July 1 of this year until June 30 of 2023. As part of the proposed agreement, Tree Time would initially get access to roughly 30 of the 130-acre area of Scott Park and, based on business at the facility, could approach the county to amend the lease to add acreage within the 130-acre area.

Within the first 12 months of the lease, Tree Time Adventures would have to, at their own expense, build an “all-weather access road to VDOT standards equivalent to or better than the existing access road to Scott Park,” a new parking area, and “an administrative structure at the entrance to the adventure activities.”

Maintenance will be the responsibility by Tree Time Adventures, per the lease agreement, which includes maintaining security and addressing garbage collection, along with providing on-site restroom facilities as required by the health department or building officials.

The lease agreement prohibits Tree Time from selling alcohol during business hours but, after advance approved by the county, Tree Time Adventures could serve alcohol “for private special events, upon compliance with ABC special event requirements.”

Tree Time would be required to have a minimum two employees on-site at all times who are “trained and qualified to assist in safely operating and supervising the activities of customers” and the company is required to notify the county promptly “of any damage, accidents, or personal injuries” within the leased area.

Regarding compensation, through this proposed lease agreement, Tree Time Adventures would not have to pay any rent during the first year of the agreement as they roll out the required tenets of the agreement, such as constructing the access road, parking lot and other facilities. Following that first year, the company will have to pay the county “six percent of gross receipts annually in quarterly payments.”

In addition, the agreement would see Tree Time “[paying] all taxes, assessments, and other charges in connection with its use of the leased premises.”

The agreement also calls for Tree Time Adventures to “annually provide 50 free passes to the County’s Parks and Recreation Department for use by Prince George County students and county special needs children.”

Tree Time would also have carry and maintain comprehensive liability insurance and those participating in adventure activities at the park would be required to sign a waiver regarding the assumption of risk. 

Should Tree Time not comply with the conditions of the lease, the county could terminate the lease with 90 days notice to the company. Upon termination, the company would be required to remove all equipment from the trees and terrain to “as similar condition as existed before the property was leased as is reasonably practical.” 

Also, if the county ends the lease within the first five-year term, Prince George would have to refund the company 50 percent of the cost of constructing the access road and parking area.

This would be Tree Time Adventures’ second pitch to a Southside Virginia community following an unsuccessful proposal in neighboring Dinwiddie County in early 2018. At that time, the county’s planning commission recommended not moving forward with issuing a conditional use permit for the facility and, when the decision reached the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors, leaders in the county unanimously voted against it.

According to county documents, at that time, concerns about traffic impacts were the primary points of concern for Dinwiddie leaders given its then-proposed location along Blackwell and Quaker roads, which is in a more residential part of the county just off U.S. Route 1 and a short distance from Southside Elementary, as opposed to the Prince George proposal which is utilizing an area already home to recreational facilities. During a later public hearing, those Dinwiddie residents voiced their opposition to the proposal, citing traffic issues and the risk to their neighborhood’s ambiance. 

As for the Prince George proposal, residents will be able to discuss the issue during next week’s public hearing on July 10 in the County Administration Boardroom.

Copyright 2018 by Womack Publishing
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