River access projects move ahead

Published 10:57 pm Saturday, September 22, 2012

Several projects to create public access to the Nansemond River are in the works, and some have received grant funding, Parks and Recreation Director Lakita Watson told City Council members during their retreat Thursday.

Projects are under way to create canoe and kayak launches at Sleepy Hole Park and Constant’s Wharf. Both are in the environmental review phase, she said.

The Constant’s Wharf project has received a $30,000 grant from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, she told City Council. That project will include a fixed-platform access pier and gangway that lead to a disabled-accessible floating dock.


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The project also would call for a parking and drop-off area, since the closest parking currently available is the lot at the Hilton Garden Inn, she said.

The Sleepy Hole Park project also would include an accessible dock and extra parking, as well as an observation/fishing platform. It has received a $125,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

River access projects have become a priority in the last few years as City Council members have sought public to access water recreation.

“You said, ‘We want access to the Nansemond River,’” Watson reminded council members.

Another project at a city-owned Driver site is slated for further down the road. Funding is planned in fiscal year 2016 for the construction of a fishing pier and canoe and kayak access, as well as the associated parking and restroom facilities and a picnic shelter.

A larger project in the Capital Improvements Plan, listed for funding in fiscal years 2018 through 2022, includes the construction of a public-use boat ramp on the Nansemond.

“I applaud your efforts to get access,” Councilman Robert Barclay said during the retreat.

Many other recreation projects also are planned.

Construction on the repurposed Robertson Elementary School is expected to begin next year and wrap up in the spring of 2014. The new Whaleyville Community Center will hold a fitness center, game room, computer center, multi-purpose rooms and more, and a walking trail and sports field will be set up behind the school.

In addition, the city is working on a “real estate swap” with the federal government, in which it will give up land on Carolina Road in exchange for the old Army Reserve Center on Bennetts Creek Park Road. The facility would offer amenities similar to the Whaleyville center.

Finally, preliminary plans are under way for a playground in the Boston community, Watson said.

City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn said the staff is dedicated to finishing the recreation projects on its Capital Improvement Plan.