Residents push city to reject development proposal near park

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Residents in Newport News voiced their opposition to city council Tuesday night about the potential development of residential properties near a popular city park.

Many of the opposed are part of Citizens for Riverview Farm Park, a group dedicated to getting the nearby City Farm land to be part of the 250-plus acre Riverview Farm Park.

The park sits along the banks of the James River in Denbigh.

“It just adds to the city,” says resident Alexandra Cruz. “It’s our own little piece of heaven.”

Frye Properties, of Norfolk, submitted the unsolicited proposal in early November to build 205 high-end homes on the 58-acre City Farm property, according to city spokeswoman Kim Lee.

“The proposal received was for residential development that allowed public access to the waterfront,” said Lee.

Lee says the developer briefed the council about their plans on Nov. 22 in a closed session meeting.

Residents like Cruz want City Farm to become part of a nearby park.

“You don’t want all these buildings and structures around. You want some green area. You want somewhere where you can take your kids and go watch the beautiful sunset that we came here for,” she told 10 On Your Side Wednesday.

Citizens for Riverview Farm Park say 1,500 people have signed an online petition.

“You think about the tens of thousands of houses already in the city, 200 houses is not going to make a big difference, but a park there on the river will make a difference,” said Adrian Whitcomb, president of Citizens for Riverview Farm Park.

The view, access to the water and environmental concerns were all raised at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Frye Properties, who also developed the East Beach neighborhood in Norfolk, say plans for City Farm do include public access to the pier and beach.

“The only thing we know is that this could be lost and if it is lost, there’s no way we can get it back,” Whitcomb said.

The city says any future plans involving the site will involve getting input from the public.