THE ROCKFISH VALLEY FOUNDATION
Minutes of Annual Board Meeting – February 10, 2007
The meeting of The Rockfish Valley Foundation (RVF) Board of Trustees was called to order by the chairman Peter Agelasto at 2:30 p.m, February 10, 2007. Members present were Peter Agelasto, Parker Agelasto, Joe Prueher, Waite Rawls, Michael LeChance, and Chris Gensic. Absent was Peter Agelasto IV.
Mr. Agelasto began the meeting with a discussion of the RVF mission statement. It was decided that the current mission statement was too lengthy and too specific. The mission statement should be divided into “what is the mission?” and then list the goals as bullet points. The new mission statement was approved and a copy filed with these minutes as attachment 1.
Mr. Agelasto gave an overview of initiatives in which RVF was currently involved or which had been undertaken at ELK HILL and on the lands leased to RVF. These include a conservation easement granted to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Virginia Department of Transportation Rockfish River restoration project, the work of the Friends of the Rockfish Watershed, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation Department plans for replanting riparian buffers, the Chesapeake Bay Heritage Foundation warm season grasses plan, the Conservation Services contract to plant 450 trees, recognition of the trail by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Blue Bird Society, formation of the Central Blue Ridge Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program, UVA student environmental science projects such as geology trail and stream monitoring, the Virginia Adopt-a-stream program, and the Virginia Adopt-a-Highway program. Plans to improve Camille Memorial Park and Spruce Creek Park were outlined. The wish list includes an exercise station trail, kiosks, signage, parking, trail improvements and a permanent community structure. Liability insurance, Trustee and officer coverage and applicable state code provisions were mentioned. Suggestion was made to place an assumption of risk sign at each trail head.
Mr. Agelasto announced the IRS approval of RVF as a 501c3 public foundation, the registration with VA Dept of Consumer Affairs for fundraising and the Department of Taxation for sales tax exemption. Grant requests have been submitted to the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge and to Dave Matthew’s Band BAMA Works Foundation. Grant requests will be filed with the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation. April and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation on February 16. The following foundations might be approached for additional project funding: Oak Hill, West Wind, Blue Moon, and the Perry Foundation. RVF has been offered four picnic tables and received its first unsolicited donation from the Blue Ridge Sierra Club. Peter Agelasto IV continues to develop the website: www.rockfishvalley.org. Mr. Agelasto also announced that he plans to take a course on QuickBooks for nonprofits in April and Parker Agelasto has agreed to set up the books as Treasurer.
The floor was opened to discussion. Discussion followed.
- The term of the lease between Mr. Agelasto and RVF was discussed. A lease term of 10 years with rights of renewal is currently in place. This might be unacceptable to some grant makers; for example, VA DCR criteria calls for 20 years. Estate planning flexibility was important to the Agelasto family and prescribed the term. Would that deter a donor? Would a potential donor be concerned that support of a specific project would be to “enhance” Elk Hill? In development of the trail system, seeking grants for kiosks, signage, parking and interpretive trail development did not raise this concern. It was stressed that there was a need to consider the term issue but that time and success of the RVF mission would provide the answer. In the mean time some grants may be lost. Also Mr. Agelasto explained that the 15 leased acres sectioned off downstream of the Rockfish River Bridge would be used for RVF activities and could be gifted to RVF in the future. Later in the meeting, it was suggested that some plans and programs could be located at Spruce Creek Park instead of on this parcel.
- The absence of a budget was discussed. It was suggested that RVF use the “mission money matrix” in which one clarifies how close the project is to the mission statement on one side and how much it cost on the other side. It was pointed out that there should be a list of priorities and a time line. Also RVF’s position on priorities versus opportunities was understood to mean you do what you can when you can. Chris Gensic will help further the master plan with a time line priority and dollar matrix. The supported projects or budget items to be included in this matrix include 3 kiosks, directional signs, interpretative signs, crushed rock for 3 parking lots, the trail under RT 151 bridge, entrance gate, bridges over Reid’s Creek, Port o Johns at Spruce Creek Park, picnic tables and dog poop bag stations, Rather than a budget, the approach is operations without expenditures; postponing and deferring items until funding is available. Until the budget evolves there will be no paid staff and maintenance will be done by volunteer workers and Agelasto family contributions. The budget will evolve over time.
- The RVF projects could be broken down between Loop Trail system, Spruce Creek Park, and the 15 acre outdoor class room area. The Rockfish Valley Farm which adjoins the class room area is not part of RVF although it might be connected in the future after successful development and operation of the farm.
- Individual gifts must be sought from the community. What is the potential for Fund raising? A Friends Group or a Membership Drive could be organized. The Friends Group would not feel a need to receive something for their donation but could be part of a mailing list to be sent a schedule of events. A Membership Group would require something for their membership but a membership group would work towards raising money and networking the community. An annual event, such as a BBQ, could be their enticement. However, with both groups, money would have to be spent to send out mailings, requests, invitations, etc. What other ways are there to generate funds? The consensus was to use the website, print media and the kiosks to solicit rather than to establish a membership or fund drive mailing. An emailed newsletter announcing events and seeking support was most practical. There was a discussion about the connection of th e Loop Tral and the adjoining Model Farm.
- There was a discussion about the connection of the Loop Trail and the adjoining Model Farm. Would you need a separate membership to support the Model Farm? How would the Farm be integrated with the Loop Trail and with any educational programs? Would it be hard to solicit funds for the Loop Trail if the Farm was also a part of the RVF? Could a Community Supported Agriculture program be a viable part of the farm? Would the farm lose money? There was discussion about the farm and the Board recognized that, at this time, the work of the farm is not the work of RVF but will proceed on its own and develop its own set of community goals and objectives. It was suggested that the farm develop an exhibit of the legacy of agriculture and Mr. Agelasto stated he would consider a Community Supported Agriculture program.
- It was suggested that RVF revisit the plans for Spruce Creek Park. Perhaps the public structures should be placed at Spruce Creek Park, and the requests for funding from grants could be focused there. It was noted that Spruce Creek Park could easily become a “family park” with a loop trail for biking and for walking. The addition of exercise stations was strongly supported.
- What should be the first priorities of RVF? Three kiosks, directional and interpretive signage and parking improvements were the top priority. A central display describing where to go on the trail is important. It was suggested that RVF buy a router and a template for signs and partner with the high school students to make wood signs for the trail. (Ed McCann would be the high school contact.) Perhaps a grant request could be written for this. A grant request is outstanding for signage along a geology trail and UVA students are doing the research and design. The signs should be compatible to the landscape and attention made not to “clutter” the landscape with signs. The DCR grant should include a request to the state for a brown highway signs designating the trail. A second immediate need would be to complete the bridges to cross Reid’s Creek to expand the trail experience.
- Specific rules for the trail were discussed: “Dogs must be under your control.”
- Trails opened from “dawn to dusk.” Camping would only be allowed to significant supporters. Trail etiquette signage should be developed and the Piney River sign was referenced.
- It was determined that permanent toilets are not necessary. It will be much easier and cheaper to rent Port a Johns for the summer use of the trail or for events at Spruce Creek Park. That will be tried this summer. Funding will come from Wintergreen Country Store Land Trust which owns the land leased for Spruce Creek Park.
- It was suggested that RVF ask Peter Agelasto IV to enhance the website so that general unrestricted donations can be made with a check or with a credit card. The website could be referenced on the signage on all Trail kiosks.
- The possibility of the Farmer’s Market at Spruce Creek Park should be pursued. There is no immediate need to offer to provide a permanent structure for the Farmer’s Market; instead the Farmer’s Market if relocated could continue use of a tent as it currently does. (Note: During the afternoon visit to Spruce Creek Park, various locations of the Farmer’s Market were discussed. Concerns for parking, road visibility and road noise were considered. The choice should be the Farmer’s Market Board but the RVF Board felt a market would be best on the highway frontage and not back off Glenthorn Loop. As use of Spruce Creek Park develops, permanent buildings to be used for events, etc. can be discussed for the open area of Spruce Creek Park.
- “Postponing and deferring” is the best way to go. By doing this, the Board can learn better the needs of the Loop Trail and Spruce Creek Park and would know best the way to spend funds available.
At the end of the meeting, it was pointed out again that the Board should work to find ways to “enhance the experience” of the Loop Trail and Spruce Creek Park and look for a connection to the Model Farm as it develops. They should find ways to finance opportunities to fund projects and educational opportunities at these sites. And most importantly, the Board should help the RVF set an example seen by the community of being good stewards of the land and of sharing the assets of the beautiful Rockfish Valley with those that live within and visit.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:30 p.m.
Betsy Rawls Agelasto