Regions Southern Virginia

Danville plans park as part of downtown revitalization

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Print this page by Julie Rothey
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The park is aimed at aiding Danville’s effort to be a desirable
place to live and visit. Courtesy Danville’s River District

City officials hope a new riverfront park will flood downtown Danville with visitors.

Riverfront Park is planned for a 4.5-acre lot in Danville’s River District. Preliminary plans include a water feature, an open lawn, a small stage and a continuation of the city’s Riverwalk trail. The trail will connect the new park with several others in the city.

“This park along the river provides a great opportunity for the city to have an iconic feature that is a regional, if not a larger, draw,” says Danville City Manager Ken Larking.

The city’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 includes $2.5 million for the new park. About $1.3 million of that amount will come from a settlement with Duke Energy after tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River in 2014 from the company’s power plant in Eden, N.C.  The city plans for state grants and private donations to provide the remaining $1.2 million but has not yet received any money for the project. City Council is expected to vote on the budget before the end of June.

Larking expects an additional $2.5 million to go toward the project in 2020, which also would need to be approved by the council. Bill Sgrinia, Danville’s director of parks and recreation, says the park’s design and materials likely will be finalized by early June.

In a second stage of the park project, an old industrial canal could be turned into a whitewater course. The course would start on the White Mill property and end in the park. The city hopes this attraction will help it draw outdoor enthusiasts. The consulting firm S2O Design and Engineering estimates that part of the project will cost at least $2.6 million.

Larking said the park project and other city initiatives are aimed at ensuring Danville is a desirable place to live and visit. Danville has been working to boost its economy and attract more residents since the regional decline of the tobacco, furniture and textile industries. Beyond the effects of increased foot traffic to the park, Larking hopes it will increase demand for housing and office space in the area.

“The more people you have downtown, there is more of a need for more retail and more restaurants and other activities,” he says.

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