Spiffing up Sleepy Hole Park

Published 8:56 pm Friday, March 27, 2015

While the debate rages over whether to use the old Obici Hospital site on North Main Street as a park, one of Suffolk’s oldest existing parks is set to begin work on a long-overdue facelift.

A contractor has been given a notice to proceed with work on a kayak and canoe launch at Sleepy Hole, city officials have said, and there are plans in the works for even bigger changes at the park, which is Suffolk’s biggest public outdoor space, save for the Great Dismal Swamp.

The latest version of the city’s capital improvements plan includes $600,000 to be spent during the next five years on a variety of projects that will help restore some of the faded glory to Sleepy Hole, while also adding new features that never would have been imagined there in the past.


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One of the most exciting things on the horizon for Sleepy Hole for those who remember it from bygone days will be the establishment of a group camping area, where scouts and other groups can spend evenings under the stars for teambuilding, earning merit badges or just learning a little about nature.

Sleepy Hole used to have a camping area, and it was a popular destination for church groups, Boy Scouts and others who wanted to spend a night or two outside, away from the city, but still within easy driving distance. It will likely be well-used in this regard again, once the city completes the project.

But Suffolk also plans some new features that will make Sleepy Hole better than ever. There will be additional parking, and public sewer will be extended to the restroom facilities, adding convenience for those who visit, whether for the day or overnight.

Plans also include a new interpretive center and an amphitheater to highlight educational and entertainment opportunities there. There will be new trails. And a new dog park and ropes course will ensure that there are activities available for all ages and for the canine friends folks like to bring with them when they visit Sleepy Hole.

The city will be using the $600,000 commitment to attempt to secure matching funds to help complete the projects, and parks and recreation officials plan to work with citizens to create a master plan for prioritizing and commencing the work.

Sleepy Hole Park has long been a gem waiting to be polished. It’s good to see Suffolk taking it off the shelf and preparing to make it beautiful.