City Council receives update on Riverfront Park
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
The Fredericksburg City Council received an update Tuesday night on the status of Riverfront Park outlining plans for the coming year.
Councilman George Solley, who chairs the Riverfront Park Task Force, said he thought the timing would be appropriate since the park has been brought up as an election issue and $200,000 has been allocated for the park in the proposed 2013 city budget.
The park has been on the City Council’s radar since 2006, when the council first adopted goals related to developing a riverfront park.
From 2007 to 2009, the task force, which is made up of members from stakeholder organizations, made progress on plans for the park. But the downturn in the economy put the project on hold. During that time, the task force worked with a landscape architect on a concept design, which was approved by the City Council in 2008. The same year, properties were purchased and structures were demolished to prepare for construction of the park.
While the project was put on hold, measures were taken so the park could be used by the public in the meantime.
In February 2011, the City Council adopted goals and initiatives for 2011–2013, which included:
Completing the design of the park;
Reviewing the existing preliminary concept plan;
Working with the construction program manager on issues;
Modifying the plan and authorizing a landscape architect to prepare final plans and construction specifications;
Identifying funding for the construction.
In late 2011, the city purchased a 0.64-acre site from Prince Hall Masonic Lodge 61 for $925,000.
This year, the task force has a set of new recommendations for the project.
Perhaps the biggest suggestion is that the city not continue with the current design, but bid the complete design of the
project and select the best applicant.
If the city does decide to allocate $200,000 in the proposed budget for the park, it would go toward that.
Solley outlined four tentative phases for the future of the park:
April to July: Select the design team.
July to October: Develop the concept and hold a public forum and briefings for stakeholder organizations.
November 2012 to March 2013: Develop a detailed plan, and hold a public forum and briefings for stakeholder organizations.
April to June 2013: Obtain plan approval, hold briefings for stakeholder organizations, hold a public forum, and seek approvals from the Architectural Review Board, the Planning Commission and the City Council.
Right now, there is no money planned for construction of the park until fiscal 2017.
After Solley’s update, Councilman Fred Howe III said he would rather see the funds used for more pressing city issues, such as improvements for Wicklow Drive, in the Bragg Hill area.
He requested that the council hold a work session to discuss the money allocated in the budget for the park.
Howe said that he supports the revitalization of the park, but wants to open the project to the public more.
The City Council also:
Approved subdividing land in Eagle Village in preparation for the mixed-use center’s proposed hotel.
Held public hearings on the recommended budget, proposed real estate tax increase and sewer and water rate increases.
Appointed new members to the city Clean and Green Commission, Economic Development Authority and Building Code Appeals Board.
Approved the schools budget.
Authorized the use of $421,616 in motor-fuels taxes for the Virginia Railway Express and $26,600 to the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission for fiscal 2013.
Authorized the city manger to accept a perpetual open space and temporary construction easement for the Virginia Central Railway trail as part of a litigation settlement.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413