Donated land will be fourth conservation area

More than 400 acres of donated land along Swift Creek east of Interstate 95 will likely be the site of Chesterfield County’s fourth conservation area.

The property, which is adjacent to the Walthall Industrial Park, covers about 440 acres and includes about 1.75 miles of frontage along Swift Creek, Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation Director Michael Golden said last week. The parcel is mostly wetlands, he said, so “the opportunity’s not there for some of our typical ball fields.”

“We would put a conservation easement on it as part of the contract,” he said. The land would be developed into a conservation area with trails, boardwalks, interpretive signage and access to Swift Creek, he said. The park is across from a boat landing in Colonial Heights, he said, “so people could come in that way.”

The land is being donated by James H. Martin, Jr., of J.H. Martin & Sons, and G. L. Howard, Inc., according to a Board of Supervisors staff report on the matter.

“Closing costs, including payment of second half real estate taxes, which will be paid by the county, are estimated to be $20,000,” the staff report says. The site will also require some initial risk mitigation improvements, estimated at $10,000, related to excavation efforts that used to take place on the property, it says. There is enough funding for the closing costs, the real estate tax payment and the risk mitigation work in the Parks and Recreation’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), it says.

“We certainly wouldn’t have the resources to go out and buy” such a property, Golden said. There is considerable value to the donation, he said, so the department will likely look for state and federal grants it can use to build a parking lot and other features at the park. The land’s value could be used as the county’s matching portion of such grants, he said.

The county worked with Martin 25 or 30 years ago when he sought to make the property a wetlands mitigation area, Golden said. He walked through the property at the time and said it would make a great park.

“I know he’s enjoyed the property and he wants to give something back to the county,” Golden said.

There are beautiful views of the land from some parts of the industrial park, he said, and there’s a chance that employees there could utilize the park before or after work. Employees at the power plant at Dutch Gap often use the trails in the Dutch Gap Conservation Area, he said.

The Parks and Recreation Department is seeking a substantial accord determination for the park use from the Planning Commission at its Sept. 21 meeting, he said. The Board of Supervisors will then consider the contract to accept the donation at its Sept. 22 meeting, he said.

Click here to view location of the park.



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