Redevelopment to begin this fall
Gordonsville, Va. (June 23, 2023) – The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) has transferred two properties it owned in Gordonsville to the Town of Gordonsville for the expansion of Verling Park, moving forward a community-wide effort to improve the 70-year-old park into the redevelopment phase. PEC’s transfer of these two parcels enables the town to expand the park’s footprint, connect it to Firemen’s Fairgrounds, construct a regulation-sized swimming pool, move and improve tennis courts, install new park features, and improve overall connection of the park to surrounding neighborhoods. The first of the two-part redevelopment phase is expected to begin with a groundbreaking in October and conclude in June 2024.
“I’m grateful for how the community has come together to expand the park,” said Gordonsville Mayor Robert Coiner. “The expanded park footprint flows through the neighborhood and makes it more accessible for all. The collaboration with The Piedmont Environmental Council and Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) and local funders propelled the project forward.”
“Along with the Town of Gordonsville, the people of Gordonsville, and many other partners in this endeavor, PEC is celebrating the anticipated transformation of Verling Park into a larger and more accessible resource for recreation, open space, and nature at the center of town. Parks, trails, and sidewalks help weave a community together, creating a stronger sense of place and connection, and that’s why we’ve made creating new public access opportunities a priority in our Strategic Plan for 2023-2028. We are proud to partner with the community in a project that so aptly illustrates the public benefits of conservation in our cities, towns, and villages,” said PEC President Chris Miller.
The plan and effort behind the Gordonsville park initiative emerged from a 2016 University of Virginia School of Architecture community charrette that fleshed out concepts from the Gordonsville Comprehensive Plan. At that time, Verling Park, located adjacent to the Gordonsville Historic District and just a short walk from the town’s fairgrounds, was surrounded by homes and neighborhoods on all sides, with limited sidewalks to make the park’s open space accessible to all. It also had an outdated playground, a tennis court with severely cracked pavement, and a 70+-year-old pool. Beyond the pool, a checkerboard of vacant and available properties held an opportunity to expand the park to an entire block and connect it to Firemen’s Fairgrounds, which is owned and managed by the Gordonsville Volunteer Fire Company for community events. Over the next three years, with assistance from community members and a grant from VOF’s Preservation Trust Fund, PEC secured funds to acquire and donate two parcels that could be added to the existing park. The Town of Gordonsville has recorded deeds of dedication on the properties, ensuring open space and public use on the parcels in perpetuity.
“We are proud to support the work of the Town of Gordonsville, PEC, and all who have contributed to this project’s vision. Spaces such as these are vital to strengthening communities, improving health, and connecting people to nature,” added VOF Executive Director Brett Glymph.
“This public-private collaboration is an example of residents working together to address specific needs within their community, while tapping into the support of established organizations, like PEC and VOF. Through the collaboration, the Town secured PEC investment and professional support, which enabled it to secure public funding and charitable donations for the initiative,” said Gordonsville Town Manager, Debbie Kendall.
“This initiative over the past few years has enabled Gordonsville to double its public open space and multiplied everyone’s contributions, large and small. Urban conservation restores open space in the built environment where people live and makes access to outdoor recreation and nature more — and their public health benefits — convenient,” said Vice-Mayor and lifelong Gordonsville resident Emily Winkey.
Localities throughout the Commonwealth and around the country are using park and trail projects to revitalize communities and foster economic development. For example, in Charlottesville, neighboring community members are now able to safely get to the Fifth Street commercial corridor by way of the new Fifeville Trail, a public-private partnership and a component of PEC’s initiative to connect more people to natural areas in the City and Albemarle County. In Fauquier County, a new kayak launch providing public access to the Rappahannock River is also the launch-point for a planned community park that will offer passive recreation and pedestrian opportunities in the rapidly-growing town of Remington. And in Loudoun County, PEC has provided public access to the Old Carolina Trail and restored wetlands and meadows at Roundabout Meadows adjacent to NoVA Parks at Mt Zion Church and Gilberts Corner in Aldie.
Peter Hujik, Field Representative
The Piedmont Environmental Council
firstname.lastname@example.org; 540-347-2334, x7062
The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) works to protect and restore the lands and waters of the Virginia Piedmont, while building stronger, more sustainable communities. Founded in 1972, PEC is a locally based, community-supported 501(c)3 nonprofit and accredited land trust. At the core of PEC’s approach is a focus on educating, engaging and empowering people to effect positive change in their communities.