Friends help river, and recreation along the Appomattox

Friends help river, and recreation along Appomattox
0 Comments | Progress – Index, The; Petersburg, Va., Aug 5, 2007
It’s good to have friends, even if you’re a river.

Friends help you, especially if you’re down and need a lift.

That’s what has happened to the Appomattox River recently.

Friends of the Lower Appomattox River recently completed the installation of two foot bridges across the river.

One bridge — 78-feet-long — connects to an island while a shorter bridge connects the other side of the island back to the mainland.

The bridges, known as the Battersea Bridges, are a critical element in a network of trails being constructed by Friends of the Lower Appomattox River. The regional, nonprofit group is working to complete a system of trails along the river from the dam at Lake Chesdin to the confluence with the James River at City Point in Hopewell.

The $115,000 bridge project connects two portions of trail that already exist in Petersburg.

The group received a number of sizeable grants which helped to offset the cost of the project, including $20,000 from Nysource and $45,000 from the Cameron Foundation. Other major contributors included Dominion, Boehringer Iingelheim Chemical Co., Vulcan Materials, the City of Petersburg, the Appomattox Soil and Water Conservation District and several other private donors.

The group understands something that should be emphasized to area government officials. The Appomattox River and the James River are major assets to the area and they should be utilized as much as possible to promote a good quality of life.

Petersburg Mayor Annie M. Mickens said the bridges were a great amenity in the city. She’s right about that.

She also said the bridges will help Petersburg to sell the city. Maybe.

What would really sell the city would be establish a riverfront park or nature area. An 88-acre waterfront park, at a possible price tag of $5 million to $12 million, complete with a boardwalk and amphitheater, was a key recommendations the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team unveiled to Petersburg residents this spring.

The R/UDAT plan recommended that the money for the park be budgeted within the next three years. The park would include an art trail, boardwalk and amphitheater and would connect open spaces near the harbor, the diversion channel of the Appomattox River on the north side of Pocahontas Island and the Appomattox River to the west of Pocahontas Island.

That park, combined with the existing trail system, would go a long way to providing a recreational jewel to Petersburg. It would be a key part of the city’s revitalization.

The river is a resource we need to maximize.

“It’s just a marvelous amenity,” Mickens said of the trail system. “The open air, the clean smell of the air, the sound of the water. It’s just a marvelous blueway and greenway trail system.”

We agree.

But will Petersburg move forward with a riverside park in order to promote the recreational and quality-of-life aspect of the Appomattox River?”

Copyright c The Progress-Index 2007
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.