Henrico County planning officials are looking for a new site on which to consider locating a western Henrico maintenance facility that was originally planned for Twin Hickory Park. The facility is designed to relieve the only existing western Henrico facility on Woodman Road and has been planned as part of Twin Hickory Park, behind Twin […]
Henrico County planning officials are looking for a new site on which to consider locating a western Henrico maintenance facility that was originally planned for Twin Hickory Park. The facility is designed to relieve the only existing western Henrico facility on Woodman Road and has been planned as part of Twin Hickory Park, behind Twin Hickory Library and Deep Run High School, since 2001, according to Recreation and Parks Director Karen Mier.
But some residents of Twin Hickory have complained in recent months that the facility would be an awkward and unwelcome addition to the park. The Deep Run High School PTSA also objected to the planned facility in a March 23 letter to Board of Supervisors Chairman Dave Kaechele, who represents the Three Chopt District.
County officials now are investigating the possibility of locating the facility near the county’s western landfill, off Nuckols Road near I-295, or near a quarry located near the Henrico-Goochland board, Board of Supervisors Chairman Dave Kaechele told the Citizen. The county owns the landfill site but would have to purchase land to locate near the quarry.
“It would be a lot less controversial,” Kaechele said of the possibility of locating the facility at one of those sites.
The facility is expected to cost $1.5 million; funding already has been appropriated for the project, Mier said.
The Board of Supervisors was set to approve a plan of development for the facility in January, but it deferred the issue when a number of citizens complained. Some objected to extra traffic on Shady Grove Road, while others complained that the serenity of the park site – which is used by joggers, walkers and the Deep Run High School cross country team – among others – would be ruined. (The current plan for the site would incorporate the existing, informal, one-mile trail with an additional 1.3 miles of trails.)
County officials have met with residents in the
onths since, initially suggesting the creation of a community task force to examine options, then scrapping that idea to provide planning officials a chance to search for other possible sites.
The board is scheduled to consider the plan of development at its April 28 meeting, but the matter likely will be deferred again whether or not a potential new site has been identified by that time, Kaechele said.
“I don’t think we’ll have a solution by then,” he said.
The Deep Run PTSA objected to the proposed Twin Hickory location in part because it would remove from the site’s master plan an open playing field, which the school could use for its athletic team, as well as an outside “classroom” space, which Deep Run, Twin Hickory Elementary and other county schools could use.
Some Twin Hickory residents contend that not only is the new facility a bad fit for their community but that it’s not needed anywhere. Resident Margie Swart took issue with the county’s assertion that a new facility is necessary to relieve crowded conditions and a lack of parking space at the Woodman Road location. Swart said she has spoken with employees there who disputed that notion, and she said that the Woodman Road site appears to have more than enough parking for the necessary vehicles.
“There simply isn’t a need for it, whatsoever,” Swart said.
But county officials contend they do need a new facility in the region because as the county’s park acreage grows, it becomes more difficult to maintain all of it from just two locations. A new western Henrico facility would serve 25 park sites and 19 school sites located west of I-95 (a total of 125 athletic fields and 359 acres of grass). An Eastern Henrico facility maintains an additional 378 acres of grass, spread among 86 fields.
No fuel tanks or pumps are proposed to be located at the new facility; vehicles based there would continue to use the Woodman Road depot to fill up.
Henrico County purchased the entire Twin Hickory site in April 1998 and adopted a master plan for it in December 1999. A maintenance facility was not part of that plan, Mier said, but the need for such a facility in western Henrico was identified in 2000, and the project became part of the county’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) in Fiscal Year 2001-02.
Kaechele conceded that officials “probably could have done a better job” of informing residents about plans for the facility, but said that the plans were available for public viewing.
If the county isn’t able to identify a suitable site for the facility, it still could move forward with plans to build at the Twin Hickory site, Kaechele said.