Nine acres on the Elizabeth River are set to become a waterfront park, thanks to a partnership between the Living River Restoration Trust (LRRT), the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the City of Virginia Beach.
LRRT bought the site late last year, securing $141,525 from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, $73,475 from the City of Virginia Beach Open Space Program, and $55,000 from VOF’s Preservation Trust Fund. VOF placed an easement on the property, and LRRT gifted the parcel to the city. The easement, which was recorded in January, limits development on the site while also requiring permanent public access.
“This has been such a unique opportunity not only to conserve some of the last lands on the Elizabeth River but also provide public access to one of the most scenic portions of the river,” said Diana L. Bailey, chair of LRRT.
Urban sites like this one are becoming increasingly vital to state and local conservation efforts. The Elizabeth River shoreline provides drainage for the city’s built areas, helping to prevent flooding in surrounding neighborhoods and protect water quality in the river. And access to the river means a healthier city in other ways as well.
“Projects like this are important because research tells us, and common sense supports, that there is a direct correlation between mental and physical health and access to nearby open space for people who live in urban environments,” said Brett Glymph, VOF’s executive director.
The park will be the first in the city to offer access to the southern shore of the Elizabeth River for public recreation, with a kayak launch, trails, parking and other potential amenities managed by Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation. The city expects to open the park later this year.
The Living River Restoration Trust was set up by the Elizabeth River Project in 2004. It is the only locally based land trust in the Elizabeth River watershed. Learn more at https://www.livingrivertrust.org/.