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LETTER: Don’t let data centers threaten the county’s historic African-American sites | Opinion

There is a time-limited opportunity for our county to study and create an appropriate public experience area for African American history sites in West Prince William.

These sites are shown on the Prince William County African American Heritage planning office map. The sites are ‘the Settlement’ and the adjacent Thornton School. They are located in the Pageland Lane/Thornton Drive/Artemus Road area.

I call this a time-limited opportunity because these sites are in the core area of ​​the land currently under consideration for the proposed Global Plan Amendment (CPA 2021-0004), the Prince William Digital Gateway.

The application requests a change in the underlying land use designation for the property from “agricultural” or “environmental resource” to “technology/flex” to create a technology corridor along Pageland lane between Va. 234 and US 29. This change is intended to allow for the development of a data center corridor.

Our Board of County Supervisors has shown us the importance of historical research and preserving our Black History resources. On June 15, they earmarked $765,000 through fiscal year 2023 for the study, preservation, and creation of interpretive areas for Thoroughfare and Settlement communities in northwestern Prince William County.

Our supervisors are strongly encouraged to consider budgeting and allocating funds this year for the study, preservation, and creation of public interpretive areas of these Black History resources: the Thornton School and the community adjacent to the “establishment”.

The Prince William Gateway proposal directly threatens these historic sites. The supervisors’ decision on the proposed new data center corridor should be considered after the historical study is completed and a land use decision for historic preservation is made.

Stephanie Chartrand