The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is developing three new parks in Stafford, Loudoun and Prince William counties. Each park is at a different stage in the process, but all of the parks will increase the opportunity for enjoying NoVA’s wildlife.
Widewater State Park
Construction will begin on a 1,100-acre state park in Stafford County within the next few months thanks to the recent approval of an $11 million bond issued to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation from the General Assembly of Virginia.
The VDCR received the land for Widewater State Park in 2006 from Dominion Resources, who originally intended to use it for an electrical generation facility. In 2008, Stafford County residents, adjacent landowners, government officials, user groups and local businesses worked with the VDCR to create a master plan for the park, dividing the project into three phases. Phase I will include building a boat launch, fishing pier, bank fishing, canoe launches/landings, trails, playgrounds and picnic areas. Phase II will bring a visitor center, office space, trail enhancements and additional day-use facilities. And phase III will include building overnight facilities and an environmental education center.
The total cost will be $43,052,081. Although they appealed to receive all necessary funds this year, the VDCR only received enough funds to complete phase I. Clyde Cristman, director of the VDCR, says this is because the state can only issue a certain amount of bonds per year, and the park is competing for funds with other public domains, such as public schools.
It is hard to say when Widewater will be complete, Cristman says, because it depends on the bonds that the General Assembly gives them.
River Mill Park
Occoquan opened a 1-acre park July 30 at what used to be the Fairfax Water’s River Station Water Treatment Plant. Fairfax Water still owns the land but will lease it to the town for $1 per year.
The project is a collaboration between Occoquan, which will maintain and police the tract at Mill Street’s west end, Prince William County, which is covering the $1.45 million cost of developing the park, and Fairfax Water, which demolished the old treatment plant. The project began in August 2014 with the demolition of the water treatment plant.
River Mill Park boasts a pavilion, a looped stone-dust trail, interpretive signs and historical exhibits. A building on the site, which will house a public restroom and storage, was designed to mirror Occoquan’s historical features. Visitors can enjoy walks, concerts and possibly outdoor movies and fishing. The park also has a water fountain for dogs and a view of the waterway that was hidden from the public for almost 50 years.
Loudoun County’s First State Park
The VDCR received 600 acres in northwestern Loudoun County from the Old Dominion Land Conservancy of Purcellville on June 14 for what will become the county’s yet-to-be-named first state park that includes historic farmsteads, woods and wildflower meadows.
Previously, the land was part of the 900-acre Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship. It’ll become what may be a state park of up to 1,500 acres, but it’ll take a few years before the VDCR can develop the land, Del. Dave LaRock said in a prepared statement. The local community, park planners and state officials will help the VDCR with the planning process, which is just beginning. Because the planning process is still in its early stages, a timeline for the project has not yet been established. The commonwealth will pay for the park