Parks and Recreation update: Meadow Creek Trail could be completed by summer 2024
Before 2023 can really get underway, there are still some meetings from late 2022 I want to go through. One of them is the December 15 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. There were no action items but there were many updates on projects.
The first was a progress update on an effort to complete the Meadow Creek Trail which is intended to span from Michie Drive up northeast to the Virginia Institute for Autism followed by an eastern spur to Greenbrier Park. That’s the number one priority for the parks department, according to planner Chris Gensic.
“We have [Virginia Department of Transportation] grants and then City Council allocated about $1.2 million to add to that pile because we did not get the second round VDOT grant that we applied for,” Gensic said. “Then we were informed a couple of weeks ago that another city had backed out of a project and if we wanted the extra $800,000 we could have it and we are going full forward with that with [Deputy City Manager] Sam Sanders’ full support.”
Council already allocated the required match. Gensic said that means all three sections of the trail can be completed so that construction can begin. Tonight, Council will finalize allocation of $700,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Work continues on a master plan upgrade for Tonsler Park as well as recent actual upgrades.
“We put new backboards,” said Riann Anthony, the deputy director of the parks and recreation department. “We actually put new bleachers in there per the input session.”
Anthony said there are construction drawings for expansion of the parking lot and that project will go to bid. New lighting has also been installed.
The draft capital improvement program for FY2024 has $175,000 to address drainage issues at the city-owned Oakwood Cemetery on Elliott Avenue.
“Basically if you look at Oakwood Cemetery way at the bottom there are grave spots down there and basically we don’t know why this part is always under water,” Anthony said.
Anthony added that this section of the cemetery was where Black residents were buried during segregation. Some of the work will be to reconstruct the history of that period as well as changing the hydrology.
There was also discussion of several projects that involve collaboration with other entities, such as the proposed site upgrades for the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial in McIntire Park or the future Van Yahres Memorial Grove planned for elsewhere in that location. Anthony said there is a lot of interest in the use of the parks by private groups and there is now a policy in place to govern that kind of work.
A request for proposals for a firm to conduct a master plan will be issued later this year.
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