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Council moves on design for new park

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Fredericksburg City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to move forward with hiring a firm to do the concept design of Riverfront Park.

Plans for the park have been ongoing for decades and last fall the city was headed toward hiring Alexandria firm Rhodesville and Harwell, but council debates delayed action then. Tuesday’s vote gave City Manager Bev Cameron authority to finalize a contract with that firm. Rhodesville and Harwell was the top-rated architectural firm after 11 proposals were reviewed.

In February, the council decided several steps should be undertaken before awarding the contract for the park that would be would be located on 3.6 acres between the Rappahannock River and Sophia Street.

At Tuesday’s meeting, City Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Bob Antozzi, Economic Development and Tourism Director Karen Hedelt, and Planning Director Chuck Johnston presented an update to the council on the status of those steps.

Steps the council requested included completing land and archaeological surveys of the site, securing a certificate of appropriateness from the Architectural Review Board for demolition of the Masonic lodge building, combining the nine separate parcels of real estate on the site into one parcel, identifying potential funding sources, and preparing a public presentation to City Council on the findings and regulatory restrictions on site development.

An archaeological survey included digging a dozen trenches on the property. It identified five high-sensitivity areas that will need more information and input from experts, Johnston told the council. He also noted that about two-thirds of the property is in a 100-year flood plain. Johnston also told council that the ARB postponed issuing a certificate of appropriateness for demolishing the lodge at this point to allow more study.

Hedelt told the council the project has a variety of potential funding sources including state and federal grants. However, such grants take time to obtain and can slow the process, she said. She also noted that some private donations have already been made, including a recent gift from the developers of the One Hanover project to be built nearby.

The council had allocated $200,000 for the park in last year’s budget and is expected to approve moving that to the current budget year, which began July 1.

The original contract amount was for $99,656, with a possible addition of $7,062 to cover presentations to the ARB. Assistant City Manager Mark Whitley said he thought the contract would remain approximately the same.

In other action Tuesday, the council delayed appointing its first taxi board. Councilman Fred Howe, the person who led the effort to create the board, said the council needed time to evaluate the names submitted as candidates for the board.

The board is to be made up of eight people including one from the Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging, two who represent taxi dispatch companies and one each to represent taxi owners, taxi operators, taxi customers, the council and a representative from Mary Washington Hospital or another contractor for taxi services. One of the first tasks of the board will be to advise the council on whether it recommends meters be required for all taxis serving customers in the city.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972


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