County opens new boat landing

Scott Richardson, left, and Chris Lichvar, both members of Warren County's Fire and Rescue Swift Water Rescue Team, walk up the ramp at the new Farms Riverview Boat Landing on Friday after their inaugural launch following the opening ceremony of the new boat landing. Rich Cooley/Daily
Doug Stanley, county administrator of Warren County, addresses the attendees during the Farms Riverview Boat Landing ribbon cutting ceremony Friday in Shenandoah Farms. Rich Cooley/Daily
Scott Richardson, left, and Chris Lichvar, both members of Warren County's Fire and Rescue Swift Water Rescue Team, take a boat ride downstream Friday following their inaugural launching off the new Farms Riverview Boat Landing. Rich Cooley/Daily
County officials and community leaders line up for the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of Farms Riverview Boat Landing. Rich Cooley/Daily

LINDEN – Boaters can now access the Shenandoah River from a new spot in Warren County.

State and local officials joined community leaders Friday to cut the ribbon on the new Farms Riverview Boat Landing in the Shenandoah Farms subdivision. Members of the Board of Supervisors, the Property Owners Association of Shenandoah Farms, county staff, emergency responders and a representative from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries attended the event. Land Planning and Design Associates President Bill Mechnick, whose firm provided design services for the facility, attended the opening.

County Administrator Doug Stanley called it a great day for the community as well as for boaters who use the river. Stanley pointed out that Front Royal and Warren County, named as the “Canoe Capital of Virginia” boasts 10.5 miles of the river’s north fork, 20 miles of the south fork and 14 miles of the main stem. However, the county doesn’t boast as many access points to the river as some might think, Stanley said. The new landing serves as the eighth formal, public access point to the river in the county, Stanley noted. The county maintains three facilities – Farms Riverview, Simpsons Landing, dedicated in 2014, and Catlett Ford Landing on the North Fork.

While the construction of Farms Riverview Boat Landing began just this past spring, the effort began 20 years ago last month. A flood associated with Hurricane Fran in 1996 wiped out much of the riverfront and damaged a house on the lot, Stanley recalled. The county applied for funds through the federal Community Development Block Grant program to mitigate damaged properties. The county removed the house and obtained the lot, Stanley said.

“Fortunately, the county had the foresight to identify this as a potential river access point at that time and that was one of the stipulations we talked with the board about is let’s hang on to this lot because at some point maybe we can develop it,” Stanley recalled.

The facility serves as the only river access point between Riverton Landing and U.S. Route 50 while construction continues on the Morgan Ford Bridge.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Daniel Lenz lauded the efforts by his staff, inmates from the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail and crews with Warrenton-based General Excavation. Lenz also thanked Stanley, Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress and Grants and Special Projects Coordinator Brandy Rosser.

“This boat landing assists our overall goal in our parks and recreation facilities master plan on river access in this part of the county,” Lenz said. “As Doug mentioned, too, there are far too few nice facilities such as this for public boat access and for the general public to use but we’re very excited and we’re very hopeful that as many people can use this special place to get in the river.”

Vice Chairman Archie Fox recalled years ago seeing far fewer people using the river, locking boats to trees with chains along the shore, and he recounted as a child carrying a wooden craft his father built.

Shenandoah District Supervisor Thomas Sayre, whose area includes the landing, noted the improvements to Farms Riverview Road and Myers Drive, which lead to the facility. Sayre said some nearby residents have voiced concerns about visitors conducting illegal activities at the landing. While the county could not install security cameras, a sign posted at the landing lists prohibited activities, Sayre said.

Ralph Rinaldi, chairman of the board of directors for the Property Owners Association of Shenandoah Farms, thanked the county attorney’s office for providing legal assistance with the project.

Alberto Medina, a conservation officer with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, spoke at the event and read a piece written by Thomas Jefferson about the river and the Shenandoah Valley.

“This is a beautiful facility,” Medina said. “Such a smooth design. Such a beautiful process and it’s gonna be fun to watch people coming in, putting in, taking out, checking their creel, checking their fishing license.”

The county received a $50,000 grant that it combined with a local match of about $120,000 to construct the facility. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries designates the ramp for medium powered boats. The county also received a recreational access grant of $250,000 from the Virginia Department of Transportation, which required no match, to improve Farms Riverview Road and Myers Drive.

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

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