July 30, 2010

Virginia Guard engineers begin first phase of park project

By Cotton Puryear
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — Approximately 20 Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard’s Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion began the first phase of a project to clear undergrowth in the Cannon Creek Parkway in Richmond during six days of their annual training period from July 22- 27.

 

Virginia Guard Soldiers from the Powhatan-based 180th Horizontal Construction Company, 276th Engineer Battalion work to clear undergrowth along the Cannon Creek Parkway in Richmond July 23. The project is a continuation of ongoing community reclamation and improvement of the 1.4 mile area that comprises the Cannon Creek Greenway, which includes a heavily-wooded ravine located adjacent to a section of the north-south Richmond-Henrico Turnpike between Valley Road on the south and Craigie Avenue. Soldiers are expected to be on duty from duty from July 22 to 27. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

This project is the continuation of an ongoing community reclamation and improvement of the 1.4 mile area that comprises the Cannon Creek Greenway, which includes a heavily-wooded ravine located adjacent to a section of the north-south Richmond-Henrico Turnpike between Valley Road on the south and Craigie Avenue. 

The work of the 180th Engineers came about through National Guard Bureau’s Innovative Readiness Training program. The city of Richmond submitted a request through the Adjutant General and Governor of Virginia, and once the request was approved the unit developed a plan to conduct the project work during their annual training.

The project also helps the 180th prepare for their mission as the Virginia Guard’s emergency response force package for debris removal, explained 1st Lt. Jessee Kopczynski, officer in charge of the project.

Kopczynski said the Guard engineers were able to clear a 20-foot wide path along the 1.4 mile trail, and were also able to lay down gravel on about half the trail.

Additional background information courtesy of the Richmond City Council:
Projects leading up to this work have included two community cleanups, held in 2009 and 2010 to remove unwanted trash and debris.

The clearing and cleanup are expected to prepare the Greenway for the construction of a bike/pedestrian trail and family-oriented park facilities. It is envisioned that this project will help to increase the social, economic, and physical revitalization of the Northside and Gateway Districts of Richmond. 

Planning for the features of the Greenway began in 2008 and have included a series of community meetings and workshops involving neighborhood civic associations, elected Councilmembers, residents of the Highland Park and Barton Heights communities, Richmond Department of Parks and Recreation, Richmond Department of Community Development, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and several environmental and recreation organizations. 

Beginning in 2009, an annual Richmond Cannon Creek Greenway Community Cleanup has been held to remove unwanted trash and debris from the Richmond Cannon Creek Greenway, which is a 1.4 mile area that includes the heavily-wooded ravine located adjacent to a section of the north-south Richmond-Henrico Turnpike between Valley Road on the south and Craigie Avenue on the north in Northside Richmond. 

The cleanups cleanup each year (held March 20, 2010 and January 24, 2010) have prepared the area for beginning the transformation of the site into a bike/pedestrian trail and family-oriented park facilities. It is envisioned that this project will help in increasing the social, economic, and physical revitalization of Northside Richmond.  In both years, more than 200 volunteers removed tons of trash from the area that, over the years, has been used as an illegal dump site.

Plans for the Richmond Cannon Creek Greenway’s include serving as a scenic park and recreational area for the 300 unit, mixed income housing revitalization initiative of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) that will be built nearby.  Construction of the RRHA initiative are planned for the near future.

The Cannon Creek Greenway Project may also be linked to the United States of America East Coast Greenway, which is being built in sections from Main to Florida, and to the Virginia Capital Trail, which would link Richmond to Williamsburg and Jamestown.

The sidewalk and street intersections of the Greenway’s bicycle and pedestrian trial will connect the Northside’s business and commercial corridor along E. Brookland Park Boulevard residential neighborhoods, churches, schools, and community centers for ease of access by bicycling or walking.  It will also provide an alternative transportation route for bicycle commuting from the residential neighborhoods of Highland Park and Barton Height to the City’s downtown.  In addition to its use for family-oriented, recreational activities, the Greenway may also serve as an outdoor environmental laboratory for the science classes of nearby schools. 

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