Park project to make big steps

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL — A massive, long-term park project in Warren County should reach some milestones in the next few months.

The county intends to eventually turn the 219-acre area off Rockland Road north of Front Royal into a vast, district park with many recreational amenities in phases over the next 10 years or so as money becomes available.

Grants and Special Projects Coordinator Brandy Rosser said Monday that plans are to complete the road, a shelter and playground, and an 18-hole disc golf course by Jan. 1.

Supervisor Richard Traczyk, whose district includes the park, said Tuesday he sees much potential for the site.

“We have limited funds and we’re taking time to develop what I consider to be the jewel of our entire park system when this is finished,” Traczyk said. “This just has so much potential that it’s just unbelievable.”

Meanwhile, a contractor for the Virginia Department of Transportation continues to move forward to build a new access road off Rockland Road into the park. County Administrator Douglas Stanley said the access route could be completed by the end of the year, weather permitting.

The $540,000 access road project replaces a long section of the existing gravel path with a paved route wide enough for bicycles. VDOT approved $310,000 for the project out of the agency’s recreational access program and half of the remaining cost. The county must cover the other $115,000. VDOT executed a contract for $382,406 to General Excavation Inc. of Warrenton in September, with completion slated for the summer.

Traczyk said he hasn’t heard much feedback about the work from his constituents.

“I don’t think a lot of people know what’s going on there yet,” Traczyk said. “All that stuff kinda happened pretty quickly.”

Work by a contracted firm and county staff also continues on the large, $235,000 playground and a $25,000 shelter respectively. The Rotary Club of Front Royal committed funds over five years to pay for the shelter.

The county also plans to complete an 18-hole, disc golf course consisting of concrete pads, baskets and signs, at a cost of $18,000, in December.

A trail system is also under development around the park site to connect with the William E. Carson Trail on land given by the family to the county at the Front Royal Golf Club in 1938. The county dedicated the trail to William Carson in 2012. The county received a $100,769 grant from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation through the agency’s Recreational Trails Program. The county plans to use the money to fund approximately 75 percent of the cost to build 0.7 miles of the Carson trail.

Zachry Construction had been leasing parts of the park property from the county as it built the adjacent Dominion power plant. Zachry graded the area it used so the county would not need to when it builds ball fields on the site.

The county bought the Fishet property from the Rev. Larry Andes for $3.5 million in 2005 with the intention of building a system of recreational facilities. The county paid $1.2 million up front and then plans to pay off the cost over four years. So far, the county has installed benches, signs and trash bins for the isopod trail — a path constructed in an area suspected to contain habitat for the endangered Madison Cave isopod — tiny crustaceans that often live in karst rock. The county plans to complete the isopod trail this month.

Future amenities and possible completion dates include:

  • Multiple exercise stations for the Red Blue Trail in summer 2015
  • Carson Trail Phases II and III in 2015 and 2016
  • Large amphitheatre for outdoor concerts in 2016
  • A fire and rescue training facility in 2016
  • New athletic fields for soccer and football as well as a set of four adjacent baseball fields and a concession stand in 2016-2018
  • Renovations to an old barn on the site for potential uses in 2017 or later
  • A boat launch with stairs and camping facilities in 2018 or later
  • Demolition of existing structures

The master plan adopted in 2009 includes cost estimates for each phase totaling $6.5 million, not including an $18 million recreation center.

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