Cumberland Park Project

The CCGC continues to monitor wells next to the Cumberland Park toxic fly ash site located next to the New River in Narrows, VA.

Cumberland Park Project Timeline:


  • Giles County Partnership for Excellence (GCPE), a 501(c)3 Public School Foundation which is not recognized by the local school board, initiates due diligence phase


  • 4/3  Before GPCE purchasing site, AEP official requests assurance from Giles County Board and County Administrator that Cumberland Park Project will be approved.
  • 6/12 Cumberland Park site purchased from R.A.C.E. (Recreation Association of Celanese Employees) for $100,000
  • 8/25  Giles County Building Inspector and Zoning Official signs AEP/GCPE FEMA application indicating that the project meets all flood plain management requirements for the 100 year flood plain the Park will reside on.  In the application to FEMA, Coal Combustion Byproducts are referred to as "structural fill" a term typicallly used by FEMA to denote soil.
  • 11/21  Letter from Giles County Administrator (Chris McKlarney) to  VDOT stating County Board of Supervisors support and approval of the Cumberland Park Project.


  • 2/27  DEQ receives letter from the GCPE requesting a variance for the Cumberland Park
  • 2/28  FEMA sends a certified letter to Howard Spencer, Chairman, Giles County Board of Supervisors confirming plans for the Cumberland Park Project.
  • 6/6  Ad placed in the Virginia Leader providing public notice of the Cumberland Park Coal Combustion Waste Variance.  The notice was run once.
  • 6/29 Giles County Sediment and Erosion Program approves Cumberland Park Project
  • 8/1  The Cumberland Park Project is announced in the Virginian Leader.
  • 8/8  Giles County issues a "Land Disturbing Permit" to the GCPE signed by Giles County Building Inspector and Zoning Official for a permit cost of  $300.00. A second permit issued to allow construction of Cumberland Park at an estimated building cost of $5MM. "Building Permit # 11533" signed by John Mills, Building Inspector for Giles County issued at no charge.
  • 8/9    Application for the Cumberland Park Project received by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
  • 8/17   Partnership For Excellence claims that under the beneficial use clause of the VA DEQ they are exempt from regulations that normally apply to construction of landfills and toxic waste disposal sites. Under this clause the Partnership applies and receives approval from Giles County  i.e., "Request for Certification" signed by County Supervisor Chris McKlarney stating that the Cumberland Park Project is consistent with all Giles County ordinances.
  • 10/24 VA DEQ approval
  • 9/13  Concerned Citizens of Giles County organizes.
  • 9/25 VA  DEQ approves the Cumberland Park Project.
  • 10/2 CCGC hosts open community meeting at Giles High School
  • 10/3  VDOT issues "Land Use Permit" to the GCPE. $75
  • 10/17 Letter of support from AEP to the GCBOS
  • 10/24  Application submitted to DEQ for compliance with Code 9 VAC 20-85 (VA Coal Combustion By-Products Regulations)
  • 11/8   GCPE hosts informational meeting at Narrows High School
  • 11/22 Giles County Board of Supervisors requests a liner for the Cumberland Park landfill


  • 1/ 8    Nuisance Law Suit Filed by five members of Concerned Citizens of Giles County
  • 2/18    Listening Tour at VA Tech with Micheal Morris CEO AEP
  • 2/27   Motion to quash hearing, but sent to special grand jury
  • 3/26    First load of fly ash dumped
  • 4/6   Last load hauled due to water problems from rain.
  • 4/26 Dumping halted due to a design failure and related water problems
  • 4/15    VDOT sends Cumberland Park a letter indicating that there is no proper entrance to the Park
  • 5/12  Freedom of Information Act request placed with Giles County Administration for Zoning and Special exemption Applications to obtain information about materials submitted by  the Partnership for Excellence.  The County replies "No records exist."
  • 5/16   Re-engineered permanent berm & drainage plan
  • 5/22   Re-engineered seepage locations.
  • 7/1   Started dumping fly ash again,  Decel lane in place, no guard rails.
  • 7/12  Dumping stopped due to flooding in the site and campground.
  • 7/ 18 Dumping continued after pumping of the site.
  • 12/4 Wells drilled outside perimeter of Cumberland Park by Concerned citizens of Giles County to monitor potential leaching of heavy metals into groundwater


  • 2/5       AEP/GCPE releases  report on  Cumberland Park well tests
  • 3/ 19      Carleena Blankenship asks the  Giles County Board of Supervisors to clarify why a free building permit Cumberland Park Project.
  • 3/19      Vernon Kelley asked the GCBOS for an investigation of the GCPE & it's director, Howard Spencer.
  • 4/2        Mr. Paul R. Thomson, Attorney-at-Law addressed the GCBOS on behalf of his client GCPE and stated that  legal action would be taken if the attacks on Mr. Spencer continue from the CCGC.
  • 5/79    James McGrath, Chairman for the Concerned Citizens of Giles County addresses  the Giles County Board of Supervisors  with the well test results and  requests VA DEQ respond to the test findings.
  • 1/21, 7/21, & 8/7 After being assured that there was careful review of all materials related to Cumberland's Park's compliance with local ordinances by the Giles County Attorney, the Concerned Citizens of Giles County submit another Freedom of Information Act request for records of attendance and minutes from the meetings where materials submitted were reviewed. Once again, we were told "No records exist"
  • 11/? Board of Education once again clarifies at public meeting that it is not and never has been a sponsor or beneficiary of Cumberland Park Project and did not participate in decision-making that lead to its construction. This brings into doubt claims that the project is of beneficial use to the community as a Partnership of Excellence Project. Claims of future commercial benefit as a retail site are questionable given evidence from other projects ( e.g. shopping mall project and Battlefield Golf Course) where the coal ash fill has proven unstable and hazardous
  • Giles County School Board writes letter stating no relationship with GCPE


  • 1/13 Took GCPFE to Court and they must comply to turn over documents regarding grant 02-35.

The decision-making process that lead to the construction of Cumberland Park precluded public review and discussion. Public meetings were only held after decisions were made and the public pressured local officials to allow comment. Records of any meetings that did take place have not been made available to the public despite Freedom of Information Act legislation insuring such public access.