N E W S R E L E A S E
Sept. 13, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Veda McMullen, Senior Communications Specialist
County parks, programs and partners receive top honors from Virginia Recreation and Park Society
Three James City County initiatives received top honors from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society, awarded in our population category of 50,000-100,000. The Powhatan Creek Trail was named Best New Facility-Parks, Playgrounds, Blueways, Greenways or Trails; Holiday Skating in New Town was awarded Best New Program, and the Williamsburg Botanical Garden in Freedom Park received the Distinguished Private Sector Award. The awards were presented during the 59th Annual VRPS Conference held in James City County in early September.
The Powhatan Creek Trail was recognized as an outstanding example of a community helping to design, fund and manage its Greenway and Trail system. Users of the 2-mile, 8-foot wide, paved multiuse trail - bikers, walkers, runners, skateboarders, parents with strollers and those with physical challenges who use ADA-compliant mobility devices – can voyage back in time as they stop to visit historic sites along the trail including Church on the Main, Mainland Farm, Jamestown Settlement, Jamestowne Island and the Colonial Parkway with connections to the Greensprings Interpretive Trail and the Virginia Capital Trail. The trail is also a safe connection to nine neighboring communities serving 1,500 households, an elementary school, high school and shopping centers. Funding for the trail was made possible through Department of Conservation and Recreation grants along with a County match from an approved Greenways and Trails bond referendum. To further minimize cost, design and engineering services were completed in house and a team of volunteers patrol and maintain the trail year-round. More than 6,000 visitors to date have used the trail since it opened in March.
Holiday Skating in New Town is a partnership between James City County and Town Management and Iron-Bound Gym to increase visitation to New Town as well as offer families and Williamsburg area visitors another fun recreational opportunity during the economically viable holiday season. The program was recognized as an outstanding public/private partnership – the County funded the cost of the synthetic ice rink and its daily operation, while New Town provided multiyear sponsorship funds as well as took the lead in marketing and securing business sponsors for events. Almost 1,000 guests visited the rink opening weekend and over 4,200 guests skated their way through the holiday season during its first year of operation. The skating program was so well received, the season was extended in 2012 as New Town business owners reported increased revenues during the operating season and projected County revenues from rink admission fees were 26 percent higher than anticipated.
James City County’s partnership with the Williamsburg Botanical Garden represents another award-winning example of the success of public private partnerships. In 2005, members of the private, non-profit Williamsburg Botanical Garden (WBG), volunteered their energy and resources to create, plant and maintain a four-season garden in Freedom Park to promote beautiful gardens through year round educational and recreational programs. Their outstanding projects in 2012 included the addition of a therapy garden designed to ADA standards to provide interactive, hands-on gardening for children and adults, especially those with physical disabilities; enhanced and diverse offerings of free monthly education programs in cooperation with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers; and increased citizen and visitor awareness and promotions of the garden which today features more than 800 species of native Virginia vegetation and numerous special areas including a native plant garden, herb garden, wetlands and a green roofed pavilion which serves as a habitat for butterflies, insects and more. Support for the Garden also flourished, with more than 400 volunteers contributing over 4,500 hours to maintain the two acre site in 2012, an annual gift to the community of over $103,000. The Garden is self-supporting through fundraising, memberships and grants for special projects. Over 14,000 people visited the site last year at no cost to James City County citizens.
VRPS is a private, non-profit professional organization designed to unite all parks and recreation professionals from across the State for learning, networking and support. Highlighting each annual conference is a formal presentation of awards. Awards were given in 14 different categories. Winners were judged by a jury of their peers for demonstrated excellence in their entry areas. For more information on the Society, call 804-730-9447 or visit vrps.com.
Accepting the VRPS Distinguished Private Sector Award for the Williamsburg Botanical Garden are (L-R): Nancy Ellis, JCC Parks Administrator; WBG Board Member Geoff Suter, Suter Printing; Karen Jamison, WBG Board Chairman; and John Carnifax, JCC Parks and Recreation Director during the annual VRPS Conference in September.