Town park project enters next phase

By Alex Bridges

Users of Woodstock’s W.O. Riley Park can expect to see big changes this spring.

The town recently awarded a contract to Woodstock-based F.D. Neal to build the second phase of the park revitalization project. The contract calls for the firm to complete the second phase of the project in 120 days. The town financed the $1.5 million project.

The second phase calls, at a cost of approximately $1.13 million, for the park to receive several new amenities. Town Manager Reid Wodicka said Friday the phase includes the construction of a concert area, a new restroom facility, a playground, an addition to the existing pool and on-site lighting.

Assistant Town Planner and Risk Manager Angela Clem said the hope is that the concert area is completed in time for the Woodstock Rocks events and that the park draws users from all over the county.

The project replaces the playground equipment in place, which was built more than 20 years ago, through a community effort, Clem said.

“It’s time to renovate the playground,” Clem said. “That was a community-build project so a lot of people were really actively involved in building that, which was a really great thing at the time. But now it’s time to upgrade.”

The natural play area will be new to the region, Clem said. She described the playground as a new concept that brings nature into the urban environment. The area includes rocks and tree stumps for climbing, a berm made of soil and grass with a plastic slide, a tunnel and an outdoor kitchen.

“It’s kind of a new-old approach,” Clem said. “Back in the day they used to play with natural materials as their play items and now it’s a lot of plastic, and so this kind of brings that natural play back in.

“A lot of research suggests that it’s best that kids are playing with natural materials and that being in nature enhances imagination and their aptitude to organize things,” Clem added.

Amenities also include swings, the traditional post-and-deck playground with a rubber surface to accommodate wheelchairs, a slide that goes down the hill at the park to the soccer field, and new climbing equipment made of ropes.

Plans also call for a splash pad near the pool. Clem noted that the popular water feature offers children a safe place to play and less of a liability than a wading pool.

Finley Asphalt & Sealing of Manassas completed the first phase of the park revitalization project in October. The firm replaced the tennis and basketball courts. The phase cost approximately $410,000. The town saved money by removing and keeping the tennis and basketball equipment. Wodicka had explained that the town decided to split the phases not only to save money but also to have the courts completed before school athletes needed to use the facilities.

The first phase added lights to four tennis courts near the swimming pool. The design expands the tennis courts to regulation size but relocates the basketball courts to Summit Avenue.

Town officials began work on the park project in the winter. Woodstock advertised for a financing package that would pay for the project. The town held two of the three public inputs meetings at different stages of the design phase. Woodstock hired Land Planning & Design Associates of Charlottesville as the architect for the project.

Visit http://www.townofwoodstockva.com/index.aspx?NID=308 and go to W.O. Riley Park Revitalization Project for more information.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com