Fredericksburg Riverfront Park Project (Community Plan Analysis)
All over the United States people are constantly trying to improve their communities. The community improvements can at times come at a hefty cost, both financially and economically, as we saw in the Atlantic Yards project. Although the Fredericksburg Riverfront project isn’t remotely as big as the Atlantic Yards project, for an area as small as Fredericksburg, it is a project of large impact. The Fredericksburg Riverfront Park project is a project proposed to improve the riverfront along side of Sophia St. The goal of this project is to create new public space in downtown Fredericksburg. In efforts to gain the space for this new park, the city had to tear down the former Prince Hall Lodge. The lodge building was not seen as being advantageous to the project, which is why they could not build around it. The Riverfront Project plans include a history walk trail, water play features, an amphitheater, boardwalk, shade structures and a boat dock. The development of the Riverfront Park was identified as one of high priority by the city council. The total budget for this project was set for $10 Million. The project layout is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016.
During the planning of this project, residents of the Fredericksburg community were given surveys in regards to their thoughts of the project. Many of the residents brought up the issue of parking, they stressed that the building of this site would take away the already limited parking available. This issue was also brought up in the Atlantic Yards project, which leads me to the conclusion that improvements cannot be made without sacrifices. Another concern brought up by residents is the congestion of traffic the park would bring to the downtown area. Residents also stated that they want to keep the historical downtown Fredericksburg feel so they requested more historical incorporations. The city intends to address this residential concern with the integration of its historical walk trail.
As seen in the Atlantic Yards project, as well as our article of voter turnout, residents don’t always have a huge impact on projects this large. The estimated population in the city of Fredericksburg as of 2013 was 28,132 (US Census). The number of responses to the surveys sent out was only 284, a significantly small amount compared to the population size, which by now is probably even larger. Since the plans for this project have started in 2014, there have only been 2 public meetings in regards to this project. In my opinion due to the size of such a large project I believe the public should be more involved, since this is something that will affect their community significantly.
The plans for this project are ran by the Riverfront Task Force, which to no surprise is made up of mostly elected officials. The task force is required by the city council to incorporate the community’s input. Although I would like to believe that this Task Force is truly incorporating community input into this project, I am hesitant. From the class reading I have learned that when it comes to situations like this one, elected officials tend to find people of the community who are for the plans as opposed to being against it. I feel that in order for the Task Force to truly represent the community’s input, they should add actually members of the community.
The Riverfront Park project brings both pros and cons to the community. A fault I noticed in this plan is the lack of consideration for environmental impact. The park will be built near an area that is known to flood; yet there isn’t anything is the park plans in regards to how the storm water would be controlled. They also do not address how the construction of this massive new park will affect the riverbanks. These are two issues that I believe should be considered. I also noticed that the final concept plan did not address any of the parking concerns. This makes me turn back to the Atlantic Yards project, improvements and new locations are built for the public to enjoy, but parking is somehow not taken into consideration. The fact that parking plans were left out reinforces how little influence residents of a community really have.
Aside from the few faults I’ve noticed, there are positive aspects to this project. The Riverfront Park Project will provide a space for the community to gather, this can improve the overall relationship among the city. The park will be built in a part of town that is historic; this upgrade may attract new people to visit the Fredericksburg community. The attraction of outsider’s will provide growth for the city of Fredericksburg. I do believe that the park will also bring improvement to the overall atmosphere of downtown Fredericksburg.
The plans for the Riverfront Park project have been approved and put into effect as of recently. The vote to move forward with the project was 4-3, with three council members opposing (Gould). The three council members opposed to the project mainly because of the historical aspects. They fear that the park will bring attention to the “bad history” of Fredericksburg. History is an important aspect of our lives. To truly live within and understand our community, we must understand both the good and bad of the past. I am looking forward to seeing how the plans for this project play out.
Fredericksburg Riverfront Park Plans. (2015). Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3853
Gould, P. (2015, January 14). Riverfront Park plans move forward in Fredericksburg. Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/local/fredericksburg/riverfront-park-plans-move-forward-in-fredericksburg/article_ac94adf1-4f28-50c1-b7cd-0ce1c1368c97.html
Riverfront Project Documents. (2015). Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3005
Welcome to an Engaged Community. (2015). Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/index.aspx?nid=982
Welcome to an Engaged Community. (2015). Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/index.aspx?NID=1095