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News and Events
Park Improvement Updates
A running list of improvements that are happening in the JRPS!
JRPS staff is repairing trails in the Wetlands and Pony Pasture. The improvements include grading, laying stone and gravel, and compacting these materials to create the ideal trail surface. Work should continue through February, weather depending. This effort is estimated to cost $30,000. We appreciate Park staff efforts to continuously improve the park!
New Grant for the Manchester Climbing Wall
The Richmond Chapter of the American Alpine Club recently awarded a $1,500 grant to repair and improve the Manchester Climbing Wall and surroundings. Volunteers from the Club as well as JROC will carry out the improvements, which will include rebolting walls, replacing wooden benches, refurbishing gravel pathways and providing a new information kiosk. The work will be done in February and March.
T. Tyler Potterfield Pedestrian Bridge Opens
The long-awaited T. Tyler Potterfield Pedestrian Bridge connecting Brown's Island and Manchester is finally open to the public! The 0.3 mile metal bridge is lighted and will remain open 24 hours a day and is handicapped accessible. This is the first major project to be completed in the City's Riverfront Plan. Photo by Rich Young (Instagram: @sandys_dad)
Read more about the project:
New Interpretive Sign Installed
A new interpretive sign providing details about an historic pumphouse facility from the City's 1832 waterworks system. The sign is on the North Bank trail behind Dominion Virginia Power's riverside offices.
The Rings Have Arrived
New public art in the form of a series of 17 foot tall rings has been installed on the south side of River near the terminus of the soon-to-be-complete Potterfield bridge.
Belle Isle Bike Skills Park
Unless you head straight for the rocks and never venture in the other direction, you may have missed the major new construction at the bike skills area of Belle Isle. $84,000-worth of improvements have created a site that will improve the skills of any cyclist, from beginner to seasoned trails rider.
- Read more at WTVR: Belle Isle's new bike skills course designed to challenge kids and adults
Conservation Easement Signage
Since 2008, several parcels of the James River Park System have been covered by conservation easements, legal agreements that permanently limit any development on those parcels. Recently, signs have been installed in those areas to alert visitors that they are entering protected places.
- To read more about what easements are, go to the James River Park System Conservation Easement mini-site.
Riverfront Plan update
A number of organizations have signed off on a letter to the city of Richmond to urge that additional funds be included in the next budget to implement parts of the riverfront plan, including the completion of the southern end access to the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, as well as components of the plan around the Intermediate Terminal.
Award for the Design of 21st Street Entrance
The Better Housing Coalition gave a 2016 Golden Hammer and People's Choice winner award for "Best Placemaking Project" to the environmentally sustainable entrance to the JRPS between 21st and 22nd Streets. The award was announced in May at TransformRVA: A Day of Celebration, Education & Transformation.
If you haven't seen this, it's very much worth a visit. And keep your ears open for a possible renovation of the Texas Beach/North Bank parking lot area.
- To see all winners, visit the Better Housing Coalition website.
Progress on the Tyler Potterfield Bridge
Workers on the future Tyler Potterfield Dam Walk are having their own shiver in the river as they make cosmetic repairs to the sturdy concrete piers upon which the dam walk will rest.
To learn more about this dangerous but necessary, and much appreciated, work, see the recent RTD article:
New Boardwalk on Belle Isle
Volunteers with the James River Outdoor Coalition first dismantled a boardwalk on the western end of Belle Isle and then constructed a new and improved one there. Many thanks to all the hard-working folk who built this sturdy and handsome amenity.
Water and Bike Stations Added in 2015
In case you haven't seen them, the JRPS now has two water fountains, one in the Reedy Creek parking lot and one at the entrance to the North Bank parking lot.
Additionally, there are now five bike repair stations in the park: at the top of the 21st St. entrance, in the Reedy Creek parking lot, at the bike skills park on Belle Isle, along the Capital Trail at Great Shiplock Park, and on the western side of Brown's Island.
Renovation at 22nd Street
Have you had a chance to check out the improvements at the 22nd Street entrance? If not, watch it happen in time lapse-video below!
James River Hikers work throughout the Park
In the summer of 2015, The James River Hikers installed a boardwalk at Texas Beach, with supplies brought there via a batteau. Later the group added a few feet to the boardwalk to help folks keep their feet out of the mud.
Additionally, the Hikers have been replacing boardwalks and bridges at Pony Pasture and have made a remarkable difference at Pumphouse Park, having cleared underbrush adjacent to canals and painted structures. The Washington Arch, part of one canal, is now visible from both sides -- a major improvement. For more about this group, go to www.meetup.com/James-River-Hikers.
JROC builds stairs at Texas Beach access
Our friends at the James River Outdoor Coalition (JROC) have been busy building, at which they are expert. In 2015, using REI grant funds for the materials, JROC members constructed a new stairway access to the Northbank Trail from the Texas Beach parking lot. These stairs replace a very steep, slippery, eroding slope that's a crucial connection to the Northbank Trail. You can find them on your next JRPS hiking adventure, heading east from the parking lot, just before the bridge over the train tracks.
Buttermilk Trail Extended
Members of rvaMORE and other volunteers have been hard at work building Buttermilk East, a new trail heading east from the 22nd Street tower and continuing east toward the Lee Bridge, with the ultimate goal of connecting to the Floodwall. Expanding our urban trails and greenway!
Reedy Creek Water Fountain
If you frequent the park's main area at Reedy Creek, you will have seen the new water fountain installed next to the parking lot, just in time for the warm weather. James River Outdoor Coalition dedicated this wonderful park addition to the memory of Greg Hawkins, who mentored many people in outdoor activities. There are spigots for your mouth, your dog's mouth, and your water bottle.
State Awards city $75,000 Grant to Conserve Vauxhall Island
In January, the Enrichmond Foundation completed its purchase of the 2.82-acre undeveloped Vauxhall Island, which lies upstream of the Mayo Bridge and next to the blue heron rookery at the Pipeline Rapids. Subsequently, the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, a state board, announced that, as one of 14 projects, Vauxhall Island will benefit from a $75,000 matching-funds grant awarded to Richmond for the property's conservation.
- Read more at the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Chapel Island ready to explore
Chapel Island, which is city property and accessible from the Great Shiplock Park section of the James River Park System and adjacent to the Capital to Capital Bicycle Trail, adds so much to Richmond's robust urban park system.
FOJRP is proud to be part of a project that has opened river access of what is now an underused area to underserved communities. River access at Chapel Island offers health benefits, wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing, walking, paddling and other environmentally friendly activities to a wider community.
Butterfly garden at James River Park (Reedy Creek)
VCU's Associate Professor of Biology Karen Kester and volunteers are turning the butterfly garden at Reedy Creek into an interactive educational “Bug Garden.” The vision is to create a sort of “living zoo” to educate the public about how insects and plants interact.
Last summer, Kester's Insects & Plants Service-Learning students, in cooperation with a few prior students and Master Naturalists, and of course Mr. Peter Bruce at JRP, removed (almost all of) the wire grass from the beds and paths and did some hardscaping. Last fall, they planted lots of perennial seeds but alas, none germinated, so they are now looking for “divides” from local gardeners. Almost any perennial or small shrub that blooms (esp. beyond May/early June) and or serves as a host plant for insects would be appreciated.
In addition to plant donations, Kester hopes to attract the interest of Master Gardeners who want to help with this long-term project to design and maintain the plantings. Anyone interested in being part of this worthwhile project should contact Professor Kester directly at email@example.com.
RVA James River news
Richmonders love their river. There are many sources for James River specific current news.
Here's a sampling:
- Richmond Times Dispatch: Outdoors section -- alas, the James River Journal was retired with the redesign of the RTD
- Richmond on the James
- Hill and Heights Neighborhood News
- Oregon Hill Neighborhood News
Outdoors: Bound by nature and a column
Andy Thompson leaves the RTD after years of covering the Virginia outdoors. The Friends wishes him the very best. Read his last column at the Richmond Times Dispatch.