By Rebekah Paulson, ex. director, Friends of Stadium Woods
I am a Hokie Football Fan. I enjoy watching the games and cheering for the home team. The last three years I’ve had a chance to meet many of our fine players. They are friendly, humble, gracious and respectful.
I spend a great deal of time in Stadium Woods during football season. In October 2012 I was arrested along with four others during a peaceful protest blocking vehicles from parking on ancient white oak tree root systems. The Stadium Woods Five, as The Roanoke Times called us, were arrested and criminally charged during the peaceful protest because we objected to the vehicular traffic and parking on the root zones of the 300-350 year old trees by the football player vehicles.
The protest was effective. In 2013 the parking location was amended. Unfortunately while improved, the majority of spaces remain located on turf on the woods edge. Fifteen of the 59 spaces are located in the former Cranwell Center Parking Lot. The additional vehicles drive on the sidewalk to turf locations along the paved path. We object to the 44 turf spots and the vehicular sidewalk traffic.
We have been in conversation with Athletic Director Whit Babcock since March 2014 and met with him in May 2014. We explained in depth why the vehicular traffic and parking in the woods is not a good policy. We also provided countless alternatives to the current non-parking lot locations.
In December 2014 Babcock told me that he is “ok with the parking arrangement as it currently” stands with one exception. He wants to move mulched spaces closest to the trees to turf along the fence. “My position is to not eliminate parking up there in any other significant way. I know you may not agree with that stance, but that is mine after thorough review.”
While we are grateful for the open dialogue with Whit Babcock we are deeply disappointed and disagree with his decision.
An ACC football program with an impressive infrastructure including a 66,000 seat stadium, a state of the art locker room and a soon to be completed Indoor Athletic Practice Facility can certainly find a bona fide parking lot for their player’s vehicles by the start of the 2015 football season.
Stadium Woods is an exceptionally rare urban old-growth forest remnant that should be celebrated and protected by a legally binding agreement. It is a historic and natural treasure–not a parking lot or thoroughfare–and should be treated with respect.
If you agree please send an email to AD Whit Babcock (HokieAD@vt.edu ) expressing your support for our position and ask him to find a solution to the problem.