Recycled landfill will yield a new park
When Newport News, Va., closed its last municipal landfill in 1996, the city set out to fulfill a 1992 recommendation that the site be transformed into a park. With extensive public input, officials finalized a multi-phase plan to provide recreational facilities and green space for the area’s 184,000 residents. Today, the city is realizing its plan, preparing to break ground on the $8.7 million Stoney Run Park.
The 228-acre site for the park is centrally located at the northern end of Newport News, and it is bounded on the south and north by townhomes, mobile homes and condominiums. To ensure that the conversion project meets public needs, including those of the site’s neighbors, the city council appointed a 15-member citizens’ advisory committee (CAC).
The CAC consists of representatives from four planning districts, the Mayor’s Youth Commission, a citizens’ advocacy group and homeowner associations for the affected residential communities. The city departments of public works, engineering, parks and recreation, and planning and development assisted the committee, and Solid Waste Administrator Sue Hogue served as project manager.
In June 1997, the CAC held its first public meeting, during which 60 attendees were divided into small groups and asked to: * rank potential recreational activities by priority; * identify desired access and links with surrounding land uses; and * note noise, safety and security concerns for the project.
The initial input was turned over to Bowie, Md.-based design firm Post, Buckley, Schuh and Jernigan, which then produced three conceptual plans for Stoney Run Park. The city presented the concepts publicly in September 1997. Using citizen feedback in its work, the firm produced a final draft that incorporated the best features of each of the plans. The final plan capitalizes on the landfill site’s unique landscape. For example, the hill created by three filled cells will accommodate hiking, cycling, kite flying and sledding; one of two unfilled cells will be turned into a lake for paddle-boating and catch-and-release fishing; and basketball courts will be built on an out-parcel that now holds the scale house.
In addition to adding those elements, the city will move the existing yard waste composting/mulching operation to the north end of the site, next to the leachate lagoon, the methane gas burn unit and the wastewater dewatering area. (The public will have limited access to that area, but visitors will be able to take a ranger-led tour of the park and will have a clear view of the environmental operations from a hill.) When possible, the city will purchase benches and amenities made from recycled materials to be placed throughout the park.
Construction for the project is divided into three phases. * Phase I: The composting facility will be moved and enclosed for security purposes. Park amenities, including a lighted, five-field softball complex; two multi-purpose fields for youth football and soccer; paved and unpaved trails; picnic facilities and a ranger station, will be constructed. * Phase II: The city will extend the trails and add lighted basketball courts; a lake; a performance area; and an “observation mound” to the park. * Phase III: Additional basketball courts, a basketball tournament court, volleyball courts and a lakeside beach will be built.
Phase I will get under way this fall. Clough, Harbor and Associates, a Richmond, Va.-based consulting firm, is finalizing design for the tournament-quality softball complex, and an invitation for construction bids will be issued this spring. Newport News officials estimate that the softball facility will cost $3.6 million to complete and should open for play in spring 2002.
Stoney Run Park will be dedicated following completion of Phase I construction. Officials have not set a timeline for Phases II and III because the park — which is being funded primarily from the city’s capital improvements budget — must compete with other capital projects for priority.