The CIty of Hopewell Recreation and Parks Department along with the American Water Charitable Foundation and National Recreation and Park Association held a groundbreaking ceremony at City Park Wednesday morning. The City Park Improvement Project is scheduled to be open to the public in April 2017 and the grand opening celebration in May 2017, according to a press release issued the day of the event.
The City Park Improvement Project was made possible through the Building Better Communities grant offered through the American Water Charitable Foundation and administered by the National Recreation and Park Association for the amount of $150,000, the largest grant the Hopewell Recreation and Parks Department has ever received.
During the ceremony Aaron Reidmiller, director of Hopewell’s Recreation and Parks Department, along with other important figures shared their thoughts on the project and the progress of the park.
In the past, the park was full of untamed wildlife. Residents would come to the park to appreciate nature. Eventually the park was utilized as a recess and play area for the old Carter G. Woodson school at City Point. When the building was removed, Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) stepped-in to reclaim the park and further improve upon its makeup.
Wayne Walton, former Hopewell City Councilor and former chairman of FOLAR, kept a picture of the park when it was overgrown and unvisited. What was once a field of kudzo will take on a new life of its own.
Reidmiller opened the ceremony thanking the American Water Charitable Foundation for its support, as Hopewell was one of two localities to receive the grant, the other located Davenport, Iowa. He also thanked those who have continually supported the river and its parks from the beginning, people like Walton and organizations like FOLAR.
“Now we’re one step closer to creating one of the most unique experiences in the region,” Reidmiller said addressing the crowd of residents supporting their park service.
Hopewell City Manager Mark Haley and Assistant City Manager Charlie Dane commented on the project’s place in Hopewell’s continuing improvement.
Dane expressed his excitement on providing another “building block” to the foundation of the city’s improvements. Haley echoed Danes’ remarks and noted this day marks another step in the metamorphosis of this park.
Though unable to attend, Hopewell’s Mayor Jackie Shornak passed on a few words which were shared by Councilor Christina Luman-Bailey.
Shornak’s remarks described how this park adds to Hopewell becoming not only a desination but a regional gem. She also thanked the handiwork and care from the city staff and partners.
Councilor Luman-Bailey reflected on the park’s special memories and its rich history. With these improvements, she hopes it provides the community an opportunity to come together as a family and re-create some of those memories.
Barry Suits, president of Virginia American Water, and Kathy Pape, senior vice president Mid-Atlantic Division, and board member for the American Water Charitable Foundation, attended the ceremony as well.
Suits commented on the commitment Virginia American Water has made to communities like Hopewell. For 45 years, Virginia American Water has been a steward for the Appomattox River and work to engage even more community interaction.
For Pape, the project is just one way that the American Water Charitable Foundation can tangibly show a their commitment to the communities they serve.
In a press statement, Pape added, “The American Water charitable Foundation is proud to help the City of Hopewell create this public project. City Park will encourage greater interaction with, and appreciation for, the Appomattox River—the source of Hopewell’s’ drinking water supply—and also our nation’s water resources.”
The park itself will highlight the nature around it, according to one of the designers from the Timmons Group, Scott Wiley. Wiley claims the focus of the design was bringing as many elements from the surrounding environment together. The design team examined materials from local wood and plant life, local stones surrounding the river and incorporated that into the aesthetics of the space.
Amenities added the park include a new, nature-inspired playground with multiple components, gravel resurfacing, wooden bridges, fenced areas, rain garden, picnic shelters, parking, restrooms and more.
City Park will be reborn as a park with areas to appreciate, educate and preserve nature. The impact of this project will last not just today but for many years.
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