Vision for Riverfront Park in Fredericksburg advances
The vision for Fredericksburg’s Riverfront Park is starting to emerge.
The Riverfront Task Force met this week and, after everyone weighed in on the two design options presented by the firm of Rhodeside & Harwell, agreed to the one that’s likely less expensive.
However, cost was not a factor in the discussions that stretched over two hours in City Hall on Tuesday.
No cost estimate has been calculated yet for the park that will sit on 3.6 acres between Sophia Street and the Rappahannock River and is adjacent to Shiloh (Old Site) Baptist Church.
The cost will be calculated after the final draft of the design is created.
The design firm has a deadline of Aug. 1 to produce a final design.
City residents had a chance to weigh in on the two design options at an open house on May 3 and through online feedback.
Results of that feedback were shared with the task force on Tuesday by Elliot Rhodeside, one of the principals in the Alexandria-based firm designing the park.
The next step is to take the input received from the task force and incorporate it into a refined design that will be shared at the group’s next meeting.
That meeting is to take place in about a month but a date has not been set.
Input from residents was evenly split between the two designs, according to a report produced by the design firm. However, like the task force, many individuals liked features from both designs and wanted them incorporated into the final plan.
A majority of the task force members chose option A, though features from option B are to be incorporated into the next draft.
Option A includes multiple paths that lead visitors to the riverfront. It also has aquatic gardens, event space, a trail running parallel to the river, a water play area and a wall along the Hanover Street side with an interpretive history feature.
Option B included a curving walkway and a pedestrian bridge that would have served as a stage for events. That bridge, with a design that resembled the sail of a ship, could have been costly to create.
The consensus this week was to remove the Masonic lodge building on the Sophia Street site, though there would be more research on its history before that occurs.
The city’s Architectural Review Board was split about whether it should be retained, according to Rhodeside’s report.
Chris Hornung, who serves on the task force and the city’s Economic Development Authority, said the EDA unanimously supported option A and did not expect the lodge building to be saved.
EDA members has questions about plans for restrooms and wanted to be sure vendors would be able to access the park, when appropriate.
The group suggested using rotating art displays there.
Bob Antozzi, the city’s director of parks, recreation and public facilities, asked that the play areas be moved back from the street for improved safety of children.
Rhodeside said that features on the area’s history weren’t detailed in the original options but will be in the next round.
Several people providing input during the process expressed interest in addressing the history of African–Americans and offered ideas such as using stones to signify crossing the river to freedom.
In response to a question from Councilman Matt Kelly, who serves on the task force, the design team will calculate how many people can comfortably use the park at once.
However, it was clear this week that the park isn’t suitable for an event as large as Oktoberfest, which draws about 10,000 people.
Councilman George Solley, who chairs the task force, said it was probably better suited for a concert or for spillover from Heritage Day events.
After hearing from the task force, Rhodeside said his firm also favored option A and felt it could achieve more goals and would be family-friendly.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
To review the Riverfront Park project, including the two design options created by Rhodeside & Harwell, go to: