Suffolk’s ‘Central Park’

Published 10:35 pm Thursday, September 26, 2013

A walking trail around Lake Meade will provide easy access to a healthy lifestyle and nature, the city’s Parks and Recreation director says.

Lakita Watson said the design for the 1½-mile trail around the lake has already been finalized.

“It’s currently in the final stage of site review by the various city departments,” she said.


Email newsletter signup

“Right now, the last thing we have to do is verification of the underground utilities.”

This all should be finalized next week, she said, “then we’ll put this thing out to bid, get the bids, and start construction by the middle of November,” with work taking 30 to 45 days, depending on the weather.

The surface of the eight-foot-wide trail will be formed with a crushed-stone base topped with stone dust, Watson said.

It will carry pedestrian and recreational bicycle traffic, giving users the opportunity to spot wildlife including hawks, bluebirds, cardinals and other birds; foxes, deer, raccoons, and also American holly grove, oak and poplars.

“Our goal is to also create lookout points,” Watson said. “It’s definitely maximizing the local resources so we can educate about the various plants and animals that inhabit that part of the city.”

Healthy People Healthy Suffolk, a community initiative promoting healthy eating, active living and citizen engagement, will partner with the city to maintain the trail.

“Suffolk has some naturally beautiful places to walk, but not many people know about them,” HPHS program manager Keisha Cutler said.

“Our group wants to get people to use what is already here — it’s free, open to the public and, for the most part, accessible.”

In-the-know locals already use the trail around the lake, which Watson says has been legal to hike.

Indeed, there is a group organizing a walk around Lake Meade this Saturday. Walkers will meet at 10 a.m. behind Farm Fresh, 1401 North Main St.

The trail project is expected to cost $125,000, Watson said, with $100,000 from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the rest locally funded.

She said it’s an opportunity for Suffolk to have its own park in the middle of the city, with an off-leash area for dogs, tennis courts and community playground being the other components.

“The trail fits perfectly into the scheme of things,” she said.

Cutler invited those interested in helping maintain the trail and other city recreational facilities to call her at 539-1525, or email

“Some of the parks need tender loving care, and we have some citizens really interested in helping the city keep those things cleaned and maintained,” Cutler said.