A 900-acre site in Northumberland County that was approved for a planned unit development over two years ago is now to be used for research and educational purposes by James Madison University.
According to County Administrator Kenny Eades, Tom Dingledine, the owner of Bluff Point Holdings, LLC and a benefactor of JMU, recently gifted 37.655 acres of the Bluff Point property to the institution for students and faculty to use as a field laboratory.
Another parcel containing 6.347 acres along Route 669 was deeded to the county in the event that a wastewater treatment plant needed to be built, Eades told the board of supervisors Thursday.
The rest of the property, an 860-acre parcel adjacent to the Bluff Point land that was deeded to JMU, has been placed into a conservation easement by Dingledine.
A JMU press release said that the easement grants the university access to conducting research and teaching exercises in the pine forests and saltwater marshes neighboring the Chesapeake Bay.
Eades said they were looking at having access to different points on the water, including one on Jarvis Creek and one on Barnes Creek.
According to the release, university faculty who have visited the site are looking forward to studying areas in the easement such as water quality, marsh ecology, archaeology, geology, engineering, shore land mapping and public history.
“This presents a natural connection for us as JMU and Harrisonburg are located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” Jerry Benson, provost, was quoted as saying in the release. “The new field research site graciously provided by Tom Dingledine creates an opportunity for our existing research efforts to expand in further exploring the full cycle of ecological impact on the bay.”
After the meeting, Eades said via email that the plans for the field laboratory and the conservation easement at Bluff Point meant the possibility of a few jobs in managing the JMU facility.
“If the program gets to semester courses at this site, that will mean more jobs and a…
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