By Katie Demeria
Developments on Seven Bends State Park near Woodstock are inching forward.
Shenandoah County officials met with representatives from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation this week to discuss the next steps in preparing the 1,066 acres for public use.
According to Director of Tourism and Marketing Jenna French, the county reached out to the state earlier this year to speed up the process of opening the park. The county is planning on partnering with the department and the town of Woodstock in order to complete the project
"The land had been given to the state nearly 10 years ago and we wanted to see what we could do to help move things along," French said.
After meeting with the representatives, the next step will be inspecting the structures remaining on the land, including a house and a few lodging structures.
"It's believed that the smaller lodging facilities may contain asbestos, and just how we would go about demolishing them depends on whether things like that exist," French said.
But once any asbestos is taken care of, she added, the buildings will hopefully be used for training exercises for fire and rescue crews.
It is unclear as of now whether the town or the department will take over demolishing the buildings. If there is asbestos in the buildings, the abatement process will need to follow state guidelines, French said, which is something department would likely contract out.
There are various benefits to partnering with the department, French pointed. It saves the state funds, since it does not have to contract with private companies, which means it will pay localities for the use of equipment.
"And it will help cut down on some of the time needed to make these things happen because we're closer and readily available," she added.
In addition to the building demolition, some trail improvement will be necessary before the park is ready to open, French said. Some of the farm roads that exist on the property will need to be maintained, as well.
According to the park's master plan, which was created in 2008, developing the complete park, including cabins and on-site bathrooms, will cost $43.8 million.
But a significant portion of that plan has had to be put on hold due to a lack of funding.
Right now, French said, the hope is that primitive trails and river access will be open to the public within the next few years.
"At this point there are still a couple of variables that we're waiting on," she said.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com