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James River Park System Master Plan Released

James River Park System Master Plan

The Friends of the James River Park have released a draft master plan, outlining what the future of the park system should look like.

The Friends of the James River Park unveiled the 80-page master plan last week. The plan identifies land for future trails and parks, but prioritizes increased accessibility, greenway expansion and protecting the environment around the river. The non-profit secured more than $250,000 to hire consultants to produce the plan, and they’ve spent the last year soliciting community feedback.

Katherine Mitchell, president of Friends of the James, said the group wanted to create the proposal to help ensure the future sustainable use of the park.

“The wildlife is at risk, the user experience is at risk if we don’t very thoughtfully plan out what we are going to do with it,” Mitchell said.

The James River Park System currently encompasses roughly 600 acres of land from Huguenot Flatwater to Ancarrow’s Landing. The master plan includes expanding parkland at the periphery to help ease crowding at the core parks like Belle Isle and Pony Pasture.

The Friends of the James hope to submit the draft plan to the Richmond Planning Commission in September for further vetting. Mitchell said she hopes the plan can be voted on by the City Council by the end of the year. It would then be incorporated into the Richmond 300 Master Plan.

While some of the projects identified in the report - like creating more parking lots at different access points - could take years to secure funding, planners have also identified priority projects that could be completed sooner. They include rehabilitating the Pump House, creating more public transit stops along the river and creating a Pony Pasture Education Center.

Residents go on the Friends of the James website until July 29th and  fill out a survey with their priority projects here.

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