Archived Story

River access projects vie for funds

Published 9:58pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The city of Suffolk says it is progressing with plans for river access at two sites in addition to Sleepy Hole Park, where plans for a project are further advanced.

Public access to the Nansemond River is planned for Constant’s Wharf and Marina and a site known as the Driver transmission station, city Director of Parks and Recreation Lakita Watson said.

“With the Capital Improvement Plan, we’re working to identify other areas to increase access to the Nansemond River, and the area in Driver would be a wonderful area to be able to offer access,” she said.

“Right now it’s in the long-term plan. We are currently preparing our capital works budget for the upcoming year, and I’m looking to incorporate additional funding to possibly move this project up.”

In a recent Suffolk News-Herald commentary, John Wass, of the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance, urged the city to open up more sites for public use, citing the Driver site which is “fenced off to the public pending improvements that are not included in the city’s capital improvement plan until 2017-2021.”

“The City Council should move up the date for improving this land for Suffolk citizens and let the citizens have a say in how it will be utilized,” Wass wrote, adding that the Sleepy Hole Park canoe/kayak launch — which the city hopes to open by early summer in 2013 — is “a good start.”

Public access projects compete for funding with various other projects, Watson said, such as buildings and public safety initiatives.

But her department is working to identify new opportunities for grant funding, she said.

Watson is set to present rough plans for the Constant’s Wharf project during the Suffolk City Council retreat today.

Through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, the city has applied to the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program for $30,000 toward the project, and an environmental review is under way.

Initial plans include a 30-foot by 30-foot floating dock with disabled access and a fixed platform pier.

“Right now, those are the only projects that we have,” Watson said. “We’re still continuing to work with our citizens and administration to identify projects, and that’s where our Constant’s Wharf project came out of last year, at the City Council retreat.”

The city would also like to provide access to Lake Meade, where a trail is planned, but Portsmouth’s ownership of the lake makes this complicated, Watson said.

“For the Constant’s Wharf project, we are looking at late-spring to early-summer,” she said.

For the Driver project, “We will … work to identify ways to possibly get it funded early,” she said.

The Capital Improvement Plan is a “rolling document. Some things move up, some things, they move out.”

  • suffolk girl

    What about the old Obici hospital site for a public park and boat ramp, similar to the one at Portsmouth City park? The have the nicest facilities I have ever been to both for boating and other recreation. Also, at Constance Wharf getting in and out with a boat trailer will be murder and there is not much space for parking. The Obici site is large and the traffic at that end of main street isn’t as bad as it is downtown at that intersection. Make sense to anyone else? I sent this in as a suggestion a few years back when they asked for suggestions for use of a surplus of funds. I got a polite email from someone in government, can’t remember who now, that they would consider it. Has anybody considered it?

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  • MrJiggyFly

    Can the city do something about the “dock flies” that hover at the ramp and dock at the Shoulders Hill ramp? Almost had a confrontation trying to dock on the return. It was not a pleasurable experience at Shoulders Hill.

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    • Lovebug

      This is what you do Jiggy……cover yourself in spray, wrap up in a mosquito net and run like hell! LOL The last time we were there we noticed that they seem to only be there at certain times of the day but omg when they are there watch out. I would love to see the City put something at Sleepy Hole and the things they could do at the transmission station are endless if they can ever get past the red tape with the Gov.

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      • MrJiggyFly

        I’m not talking about bugs; I’m referring to the riffraff that hang out at the ramp and dock. They fish there and it blocks the ability of docking your boat. I am willing to bet they are the one’s responsible for the trash in the marsh around the area. Super high tides will wash trash from surrounding properties also. I wouldn’t be quick to blame boaters. One afternoon a lady had parked her car half way down the ramp and sat there watching her husband fish from the dock. She was reluctant to move when it was explained to her that she was blocking the ramp.

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      • Lovebug

        Got ya I hadn’t thought about that but I do see many people out there fishing. I have participated in Clean the Bay Day for the past two years at Bennetts Creek Park and there is quite a bit to be picked up along the shore. This past year my husband and i got 17 full trash bags full of trash. Pretty sad! Some people just don’t think ya know? The bugs on the other hand pluck my last nerve incase you were wondering. LOL

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  • Lovebug

    I would LOVE to see a kayak/canoe launch go in like the one in Smithfield. Lord that thing is so nice. YOu put your kayak/canoe on the rollers, sit down and easily just push off the rollers into the water. When you come back you just float right up onto the rollers and pull your kayak/canoe right up into the launch with you inside of it. Its great. Don’t have to worry about getting in the water which is great in the cooler weather months. So happy that the City is doing this. There are so many in this city that kayak/canoe and go to other places with easier launches.

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