September 17, 2012
Camp Friendship was founded in 1966 by Chuck Ackenbom. For the past 46 years thousands of kids from around the world have traveled to Fluvanna County to spend their summers canoeing, horseback riding, and playing tennis.
"Any given summer we have 20 different countries represented," said Ackenbom. "Kids come here and make friendships that last for years and years."
Ackenbom still runs the camp; with the help of his wife and grown children. But a new housing development is putting his life's work in jeopardy. The proposed Walker's Ridge community would sit on the same site as the now abandoned Rivanna Resorts Golf Club, which is across the road from Camp Friendship. The proposed housing development would share the same entrance as the camp.
"This will ruin my camp," said Ackenbom. "They have big buildings, apartment buildings, lining the entrance with big parking lots. Can you imagine driving through that expecting to come to the wilderness to go to camp."
The development is far from a done deal. The first of several public hearings was held in early September. Officials with Fluvanna County's Planning Commission say the project is still under review and several issues need to be ironed out with the developer. Supervisor Shaun Kenney says the plan is in "very preliminary stages".
Ackenbom hopes the development will at least be modified. The current plans call for 1200 new units to be built on the 230 acre site. The majority, 900 units, would be apartments. Only a quarter of the units are designated for single-family homes.
"There are some ways they can build now but not in those numbers," Ackenbom said.
The next public hearing is scheduled for September 26th.