Rec building for the disabled planned for Camp Baker Rec building for the disabled planned for Camp Baker
A 10,000-square-foot in-door recreation facility for the disabled is being planned for Camp Baker near Pocahontas State Park. Doug Payne, a spokesman of the... Rec building for the disabled planned for Camp Baker

A 10,000-square-foot in-door recreation facility for the disabled is being planned for Camp Baker near Pocahontas State Park.

Doug Payne, a spokesman of the Greater Richmond ARC, said a site plan has already been approved by Chesterfield County with a ground-breaking scheduled for August and an opening in May 2019.

Most of the funds necessary for the $2.5-million project have already been raised, Payne said. The ARC is hopeful that it will receive block grants totaling $473,000 from Chesterfield and Henrico counties and the cities of Richmond and Petersburg to cover remaining costs. The ARC has clients in each of these locations, according to Payne.

The new facility will feature a 3,226-square-foot multipurpose room and two 900-square-foot classrooms, along with a kitchen and other rooms. The “training kitchen” will be used to hold cooking classes, where key life skills such as the preparation of food and clean-up will be taught.

“Physical activity and exercise are critical for our clients,” said John Walker, chief executive officer and president of the Greater Richmond ARC. In addition, he noted that many people who need ARC’s services have complex disabilities. “[Some] are more sensitive to weather conditions that include hot and cold, or rain and snow,” he said, noting that the new building provides crucial climate-controlled space for physical and group activities.

The organization has had a presence at the state park since 1957. Payne notes that the organization has been in partnership with Chesterfield since Camp Baker opened that year on 22 acres in the park.

The ARC serves 1,400 people in the Greater Richmond area each year and employs 450, including 200 who have some form of physical or developmental disability. Activities take place at Camp Baker year-round, Payne said, including a summer camp for children and adults, weekend and emergency respites, and adult day support and after-school services.

The ARC has four locations in the area, including one at the Defense Supply Center off Bellwood Road.