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Now’s your chance to help shape Fredericksburg’s Riverfront Park

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One design idea for Fredericksburg’s Riverfront Park includes crisscrossing paths, an aquatic garden and an interpretive history wall.

The other one has a curving raised walkway above the river that can also serve as a stage for cultural events. It also has a sculpture for children to climb on.

Both design options have water features that can be played in and trails to draw people to the Rappahannock River. The park site is 3.6 acres between Sophia Street and the river, and is adjacent to Shiloh (Old Site) Baptist Church.

The two design options were posted online at fredericksburgva.gov/riverfrontpark this week. Residents are asked to evaluate the features of each and provide feedback via an online survey that will be available through May 18.

The plan is to consider all feedback and then create a final design, not necessarily choose one of the proposals.

The designers could end up taking elements of each and winding up with a third option, said Deana Rhodeside, a principal of Rhodeside & Harwell, the firm planning the park.

City Councilman George Solley, chairman of the Riverfront Park Task Force, encouraged people to weigh in on the project now while there is time to incorporate ideas.

The design is to be completed by Aug. 1, and Rhodeside said the project is on schedule.

The team held its second open house at the Dorothy Hart Community Center last Saturday and started getting feedback on the two design proposals then. About 50 people attended the event, despite other large events taking place in the Fredericksburg region that day.

Bob Antozzi, the city’s director of parks, recreation and public facilities, said people like the water structure that children can access and there were pros and cons offered to each design.

Option A was viewed as busier than Option B, which some liked and some didn’t, Antozzi said. Others weighed in on the openness of Option B.

One point of interest has been parking, which is being eliminated from the site but would be available on the street.

Each design features walkways intended to draw people from the connecting streets onto the site and to the river. The paths also are placed so they can eventually link to other trails.

Both designs would stabilize the riverbank and add native vegetation. Clusters of trees would be added to provide shade.

The designs make space for cultural events and for children to interact with various features, two things people said they wanted at initial information-gathering sessions.

The online information offers people photos of other parks where some of the features are in place, such as a water play area at Cumberland Park in Nashville, an interactive sculpture at Pierce’s Park in Baltimore, a promenade at Waterfront Park in Charleston, S.C., and a pedestrian bridge in Falls Park in Greenville, S.C.

The design firm will consolidate information from the surveys and the latest open house in preparation for the next meeting with the Riverfront Park Task Force on May 28.

So far, Rhodeside said people have been pretty divided on their preference of the two options but said there has been great enthusiasm for creating a great destination along the river.

At this point, there is no estimate on the cost for either design, but Rhodeside noted that economic consultant HR&A Advisors is part of the team for that aspect.

“When we see the general direction, we will bring in HR&A to talk about costs and funding options and phasing and how one could get the park done,” she said.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

The two design options for Fredericksburg’s Riverfront Park are online at fredericksburgva.gov/riverfrontpark.

An online survey to collect reactions to the designs will be available through May 18.

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