Have you driven by the Rappahannock County Park recently and seen anything new? 

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The new Rappahannock County Park walkway from the parking lot and handicapped spaces to the pavilion. No more climbing over railroad ties and uneven lawn surfaces to get to your family reunion or birthday party.

For starters, too many times park visitors with mobility issues have had to deal with crossing railroad ties and uneven terrain to get from their vehicles to the pavilion to attend a family reunion, birthday party, church picnic or some other affair. No longer the case. Two ADA-compliant parking spaces and a walkway to the pavilion were completed on November 8 and are now ready for use.

In addition, the frontage along Route 211 and Park Lane is no longer bare — it now has young ornamental trees planted along the VDOT right of way, some with bright fall colors. 

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Landscapers manhandling the heavy root ball of an eastern redbud to get it in its proper place.

The vision of the Rappahannock County Recreational Facilities Authority (RCRFA), which manages the park, is to inspire a passion for parks and healthy lifestyles by providing a sustainable, dynamic, and inclusive park system that supports a thriving community. Providing accessible parking and a walkway to the pavilion is the first of several steps in the RCRFA’s long term strategy to making more of the park available to people with mobility issues.

The RCRFA began planning for accessible parking in 2017 but failed to obtain funding in 2018. The RCRFA regrouped in 2019 and submitted a $12,000 funding request as part of the FY20 county budget, which was approved in late April. Additional funds required to complete the project were supplied by the RCRFA’s fundraising effort through the Fodderstack 10k race.

Competitive bids for the concrete work and striping were received and RCRFA volunteers purchased and installed signage. Finally, two truckloads of gravel were spread around the concrete parking slab to provide a smooth transition to the surrounding gravel parking lot.

Meanwhile, RCRFA first contacted VDOT during the summer of 2018 about the possibility of planting trees and shrubs on their right of way that lies between the park property and Route 211. And during 2019, the RCRFA developed a proposed planting schedule for the VDOT right of way as part of a larger phased multi-year program to beautify the park. 

“We want these trees to be the face of the park as they come off 211 and be a legacy for the next generation of Rappahannock residents,” said Michael Del Grosso, RCRFA chair.

VDOT approved the planting schedule and the trees were set in place on November 4 and 5 (an extra day was needed due to the rocky Rappahannock soil!)

The 14 new trees are arranged in three major groupings. Fronting Route 211, park visitors will find two stately sugar maples flanking two pink dogwoods. Between the skateboard park and the Park Lane entrance, a mixture of pink dogwoods and eastern redbuds have been planted. Lastly, between the shuffleboard court and Park Lane, four additional redbud trees have been set. All trees have been provided with protection against rodent attack and deer antler rubbing.

The RCRFA thanks the Krebser Fund for Rappahannock County Conservation (administered by the Piedmont Environmental Council) for their financial support with a generous $20,000 grant for the planning and improvements for conservation landscaping at the park. 

The grant also covers the costs of contracting with a local landscape architect to develop a Master Site Plan for the park, planting schedules for other plots in the park, and costs for purchasing and installing trees and shrubs in these other plots. The Krebser Fund supports projects that demonstrate environmental stewardship practices and improve the conservation and scenic value of public spaces shared by the Rappahannock County community.

By the way, the RCRFA is looking for volunteers to water and mulch these trees during their first year until they get well-established in the local soil. Please contact Torney Van Acker at torney630@gmail.com if you wish to help. 

The next phase in the park’s strategy is to evaluate ways to make the restrooms more accessible to those with mobility issues. Stay informed of park happenings atrappahannockcountypark.weebly.com.

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