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Henrico honors Tuckahoe's Patricia O'Bannon

A group of people, several of whom are wearing dress coats, stand in a green setting behind a sign that read "O'BANNON WAY"
Courtesy
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Henrico County
From Left: Henrico Board of Supervisors Vice Chairperson Tyrone Nelson of Varina, Patricia O'Bannon of Tuckahoe, Daniel Schmitt of Brookland, Chairperson Frank Thornton of Fairfield and County Manager John Vithoulkas celebrate the unveiling of a new plack at Tuckahoe Creek Park to honor O'Bannon.

The boardwalk in Tuckahoe Creek Park is being renamed after the longtime supervisor.

Henrico County renamed a park boardwalk on Wednesday to honor Tuckahoe Supervisor Patricia O’Bannon, who is retiring this December after 27 years on the board of supervisors.

Officials unveiled a sign near the Tuckahoe Creek Park trailhead emblazoned with the words “O’Bannon Way.” The plaque — which includes her portrait and years of service — symbolizes her long-standing legacy, said County Manager John Vithoulkas.

“Tuckahoe Creek Park would not exist without the incredible vision and steady leadership of Mrs. Pat O’Bannon,” Vithoulkas said.

Seeing her family, friends and longtime colleagues come together at the park to celebrate one of her long standing achievements moved O’Bannon to tears.

“Thank you so much. I obviously appreciate it,” said O’Bannon. “I’m overwhelmed. Thank you!”

The idea for Tuckahoe Creek Park, which opened during O’Bannon’s first year as a supervisor in 1996, came about after a discussion she had with local landscape artist Dan Bartges as a part of the western Henrico property was slated to be developed as a subdivision.

O’Bannon said providing an open space for the public — not just property owners — was one of the driving factors in creating the park.

“Dan introduced me … to the idea that there’s got to be something that we can do with all this beautiful land,” she said. “I came out here and looked at it. … I knew there had to be something that everybody could enjoy.”

The park has recently undergone a spate of upgrades, including adding the boardwalk renamed after O’Bannon this week. Phase 1 of the project — which included 500 feet of boardwalk and a neighborhood pedestrian access near Ridgefield Parkway — was completed in 2016. Phase 2 added an additional 1,000 feet of boardwalk and connected the trail to Old Coach Road. It was completed in December 2020.

Funding for those phases — totaling about $940,000 — came from multiple grants administered by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

In November 2022, voters approved a referendum authorizing $5 million in bond referendum funding for enhancing the entire Tuckahoe Creek Park system. The board of supervisors appropriated that money in 2021 to expand upon the initial phases and improve access for nearby neighborhoods.

The third phase is in the planning process as the county explores land-use options for the entire 240 acres along Tuckahoe Creek. This land, some of which the county must still acquire, consists of several parcels that stretch across the Three Chopt and Tuckahoe Districts, from just south of Broad Street to Patterson Avenue.

Like O’Bannon, Chairperson Frank J. Thornton has been a long-standing member of the board. Following their first elections in November 1995, O’Bannon became the first woman to serve on the board and Thornton became the county’s first Black representative.

With them both set to retire after their seventh terms end Dec. 31, Thornton reflected on their years of firsts together.

“There is a definite Pat O’Bannon way of leadership and service,” Thornton said. “It’s about openness and transparency in everything that we do. It’s about going the extra mile to encourage public participation and input in the decisions that impact the community. And, of course, it’s about outstanding financial stewardship and excellence in all that you do.”

Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.
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