A River Renaissance

Rivers have always been a key defining element of human activity, settlement and culture, from sustenance, transportation, commerce and culture. Rivers have defined the history and culture of Virginia since pre-historic times. They can offer seemingly insurmountable challenges and deliver wrathful devastation all while providing the basis for human survival, culture and economics. We have used them and abused them to the point of forgetting their value. Now we look to them again to improve our community’s environments, health, social equity and economics.

The Appomattox River is exemplary of this dynamic. The Lower Appomattox River weaves through three counties (Dinwiddie, Chesterfield, and Prince George) and three cities (Petersburg, Colonial Heights, and Hopewell) for over 23 miles, connecting Lake Chesdin to the James River. The river corridor is visually spectacular and offers amazing opportunities for environmental, historic and cultural interpretation and education. Over a 10-year period LPDA has been involved in several projects focused on this historic river and water shed. Our work has included park and recreation planning, greenways and trail planning and construction, interpretive sites and redevelopment studies for property within its influence. The projects are community based and have been spurred by individuals, groups and municipalities that realize the importance of the Appomattox River in their future.

The Friends of the Lower Appomattox (FOLAR) is a leader in river and community revitalization.  They are working on several fronts to improve environmental quality, access, education, health and wellness. Partnered with surrounding communities and community foundations this group has made significant accomplishments in fund raising, trail construction, signage.  FOLAR’s Web Site

(FOLAR) and LPDA worked together to complete a Master Plan for a greenway and park system along the river, connecting to other trails in the area and creating a greenway system in Southside Virginia. The Master Plan includes trail design standards for the corridor, descriptions of different trail types, suggestions for park improvements along the corridor, and implementation steps for the project. In addition to the planning and design, LPDA conducted several public input workshops, stakeholder meetings, and public presentations. Current work includes park and trail design and construction documentation. Project Page

A recent group onsite tour and presentation by Dutch designer Adriaan Kok provided some inspiration and galvanizing of a can-do attitude among participants. The group discussed ideas for river crossings and access solutions that took advantage of existing conditions and respected context. Adriaan’s focus was optimal solutions using smart and custom design rather than using templatized design. Adriaan is a project manager with ipv Delft in the Netherlands, with a background in industrial engineering and urban design. He was the Project Manager for the Hovenring. The Progress Index Article by: Sean Jones