Earlier this month, Storefront for Community Design and James River Park System announced they were beginning to look at improving the entrance to Texas Beach. Opinions happened!
Storefront volunteers and JRPS check out the Texas Beach entrance last Friday.
A couple of weeks ago, we reported that plans were in the works to redesign the entrance to Texas Beach.
Many, many people on Facebook thought that Texas Beach should be left the heck alone! If I understand the uproar correctly, this sandy riverbank, accessed by a wild trail, is regarded by at least its most vocal fans as a well-kept secret where people can go get their party on with abandon. The fear seems to be that it will become some sort of Developed Plaza with No Character.
Storefront for Community Design is working with the James River Parks Service on this one–and we tend to trust Storefront to have its finger on the pulse and think carefully and thoroughly about the design they propose.
I met with Storefront’s Program Director, Tyler King, last week to set the record straight. What’s the plan for Texas Beach? Will its particular brand of unpolished charm be preserved?
Is it possible that there might be a really important community input process??
Tyler reminded me that accessibility improvements have already been made further into the trail, and this project will focus entirely on the entrance. Currently, the small parking lot where you leave your car or bike before charging bravely into the jungle doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. “It’s one of the most heavily traveled entrances in the parks system,” says Tyler, who’s already established an effective working relationship between Storefront and JRPS.
The parking will most likely not be affected, he says, if you’re arriving by car, that is. Bike parking will increase, amenities (e.g. water fountain and recycling) will be incorporated, as well as new signage via a larger and separate project with VCUarts.
You might also see some native plants. Everyone likes native plants.
In case you don’t know how Storefront operates, allow me to walk you through it. An idea gets to Tyler (in this case from JRPS), and if he thinks it’s worth working on, he puts a call out to his huge group of volunteer designers, architects, urban planners, and landscape artists, etc. and the most relevant and willing of them come together as a team of relevant experts.
Texas Beach got a visit on Friday from its personal Storefront team, who will now go back and brainstormed some entrance design ideas.
Then, the community (that’s you!) has the opportunity to take a survey to get some preliminary input.
Storefront puts together a final rendering, influenced heavily by response to that survey, turns it over to JRPS. JRPS will use this rendering in an attempt to get a grant for the project, and then they’ll be in charge of its implementation.
“We went through the same process with the 22nd Street access off Riverside Drive,” says Tyler. “The idea there was to improve the flow of people and water through the space. And it ended up in a grant!”
Who’s around the table?
Various volunteers work at various firms–it is true. And one could make an argument that the setup makes it possible for Joe Shmoe Landscape Design’s Senior Designer and Storefront volunteer to steer the process into actually hiring Joe Shmoe Landscape Design. But Tyler King wants to make it clear that when they’re around a table with someone Storefront’s partnering with, “They’re wearing their Storefront volunteer hat.” Their time is donated, their expertise is donated, and they’re “outside the silos of the private sector,” as Tyler puts it.
Where’s that survey!
If you have big feelings or even small-to-medium-sized feelings about Texas Beach. Here is what you need to do:
You’re of course welcome to leave comments on Facebook and on our site, but those do not make it into the official Storefront feedback process. We enjoy reading them though!