A wide range of amenities will be offered at Riverview Park, which will be created on a 117-acre plot of land obtained by Henry County. The county also continues to seek input from residents on the development of the new facility.
Roger Adams, director of the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department, said the land, which is adjacent to the Smith River Sports Complex, was obtained through a combination of grants and land donations.
“The county acquired the land through grants, through a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant and we used a donation. Newco Corporation donated part of the back property that goes to the river, and we used that as a match. We were able to get all of this property with no county funds,” Adams said.
The county has big plans for the park, including a zipline park, nature gardens, mountain bike trails, treehouse and tiny house rentals, an adaptive playground, interpretive areas, and more, but is asking residents for feedback and input on what they want to see.
“There’s a survey right now on the county website that we’re encouraging folks to go and make choices about what types of things they would like to have here,” Adams said. “A lot of different options and then folks can put their own options in too, if they’d like.”
Adams said he believes the amenities currently being considered, combined with the park’s proximity to the Smith River Sports Complex, will be a good match.
“The nice thing with this is, with the Smith River Sports Complex being right next door, we kind of envisioned this as an opportunity for folks who are coming for tournaments and things at the Sports Complex to maybe come earlier, or to give other family members that aren’t participating in the tournament something to do. We’re right next door,” Adams said of the park.
“If we have lodging options, of course that would probably book up during tournaments” as visitors rented available lodging, he said. “If they have several children and one child is playing in the tournament and the other is not, there would be things here for them to do.”
The county didn’t want Riverview to be just another park, but rather to offer something different to residents and tourists alike, providing both groups with a unique experience.
“We have 27 park facilities in the county,” Adams said. “We were looking at this as an opportunity to create things that we don’t currently have, so as to attract visitors here as well as for our residents to use.”
The county is seeking grant opportunities to fund the amenities offered in the park.
“There are numerous grant opportunities out there and coming available. Our plan is to apply for as many grants as we can to get the funds to do the different amenities,” Adams said. “Depending upon the amenities, there might be a certain grant that’s available for a specific amenity that we can apply for. There are some grants that are available for any type of recreational use and then there would be some that are specific for a certain type of amenity, so there’s a lot of different grant opportunities out there that we hope to take advantage of.”
The survey and announcement of the park has been met with positive reception, according to Adams. People are “excited about having something new here.” Adams said the response is similar to when a marina was built at Philpott Lake.
“There was no marina here,” he said, adding that “we didn’t have a place to get fuel on the lake or buy groceries or snacks, drinks, ice.” The marina provided an amenity.
Projects are underway to connect the Dick and Willie Trail, Adams said, and “we just opened the Dog Park in Collinsville. There wasn’t an urban dog park here for people to take advantage of, so just the new amenities we can offer to advance the quality of life in Henry County, providing residents things to do and also to attract visitors here from out of town to spend their tourism dollars here.”
He also is excited about all of the different projects that have happened or are planned to improve the experience of residents and visitors. Although Riverview Park will take a few years to complete, Adams also is excited to get the results on the survey and create a masterplan so that more of the work can get underway.
“Doing a project of this magnitude, you know it’s going to take a few years,” he said. “But we hope, once we finish the survey and see what residents want and develop a master plan, we can start applying for various grants.
“It’ll be a few years, but hopefully a park of this magnitude will just be a great amenity,” Adams said, and remind those who are interested either about the proposed plan or completing the survey, to visit https://www.henrycountyva.gov/riverview.