Chesterfield County and Virginia State University (VSU) officials and friends of the Appomattox riverfront dedicated the Appomattox Trail, one of the newest parks managed by Chesterfield County’s Department of Parks and Recreation, last month. The river trail and surrounding property is located in the Ettrick/VSU Trailhead at 3801 Main St., and is the riverfront portion of the 416-acre VSU Randolph Farm property, an agricultural research/education center.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Mark Battista, naturalist for Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation, welcoming guests to the ceremony. “We started in 2000…we had a few obstacles [to overcome] to get here.”
The 47.8-acre park fronts one mile of the lower Appomattox River, a segment which is designated as a scenic river in the Virginia Scenic Rivers System. The county acquired the park in 2010 by lease from Virginia State University, with the shared vision of developing trails along this scenic section of the river. The trail is phase one of the project which includes 12 parking spaces and a 1.3 mile bikeway and trail that will eventually become part of a larger trail network that will connect to other locations up and down the river. Future development will also provide additional water access to the Appomattox River.
“This park will be used for walkers, runners and bikers, and for those who just want to enjoy and observe nature,” said Steve Elswick, chairman of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. “It will become a resource for educational projects centered on its natural or historic resources. And, I know that Parks and Recreation has already added a number of different programs to encourage citizens to enjoy this location.”
Elswick thanked the residents of Ettrick during the ceremony for their patience and support with all the redevelopment around the university.
“We are rebuilding the community one brick at a time, one project at a time,” he said.
Dr. James Worsley, director of Chesterfield Parks and Recreation, talked about the benefits of trails for our community; how they promote healthy living and things we do outside; and how going back 100 years, trails were the footprint of America. “This is a regional asset and when completed we will have people from all over coming out to see the Appomattox River,” he said.
The project was funded in part through a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Enhancement Grant that provided matching funds in the amount of $375,000. These VDOT Enhancement grants fund creative projects that integrate transportation opportunities into communities and the environment.
“These funds enable us to get extra mileage from the county’s Capital Improvement Project,” said Worsley. “In addition, VDOT and Parks and Recreation staff worked together throughout the construction process to ensure that quality standards were met. We are fortunate to have received their support so that we could create this amazing trail for our residents and visitors to use, now and in the future.”
VSU president Dr. Makola Abdullah thanked all parties involved and remarked that the park was very important for the students at VSU. He specifically recognized Jane Harris, the university’s Vice President for Facilities and Capital Outlay, for all the work she had done to help with the project.
“This trail is so important to Virginia State University as we continue to partner with Chesterfield County,” he said
Mark Battista, naturalist with Parks and Recreation conducted a guided walk on the trail at the end of the ceremony.