After an intensive 12-month process that began with a $100,000 grant from The Cameron Foundation last spring, Friends of the Lower Appomattox River has released its Appomattox River Trail Master Plan. The document represents the combined efforts of FOLAR and two consulting design companies – Land Planning and Design Associates as well as AB Design – along with significant input from regional stakeholders and the public.
The ART Master Plan is a guide to locating and prioritizing shared-use trails with a coordinated signage system through the six municipalities that border the lower Appomattox River. The area encompasses the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Prince George, and the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg. The planned trail and signage offer walkers and cyclists safe, enjoyable connections to recreational opportunities, greenspace and nature, as well as connections to historic sites and structures, businesses, jobs, schools and transit.
“Our region is fortunate to have a designated state Scenic River with stunning natural beauty and incredible historic sites and structures as well as potential for premier recreational opportunities. The Appomattox River Trail will connect them and make them available for everyone,” said FOLAR Chair Ken Newman.
Since FOLAR was founded in 2001 with the support of the Crater Planning District Commission, a central part of the organization’s community-driven vision has been to create a trail connecting the six river municipalities. The ART master plan project builds on years of developing partnerships and community outreach by FOLAR to engage businesses, industry, government and thousands of volunteers, so far producing 10+ miles of trail and $3.5 million of investment in the region. Through these partnerships, and with significant capacity-building support from The Cameron Foundation to strengthen FOLAR’s operations, FOLAR has successfully led the completion of the ART Master Plan and moved the vision one step closer to reality.
The ART Master Plan comprises several components. It provides an inventory of existing trails and identifies the preferred routes. It presents information on trail types as well as corresponding wayfinding signage. It offers guidance to assist with plan implementation, including prioritization of more than 60 proposed trail segments and a summary of potential funding sources. The plan also includes an assessment report on the environmental impact of the proposed trail routes.
Through an additional grant from the Crater Health District under the Virginia Department of Health, the ART Master Plan incorporates recommendations for pedestrian amenities, walkable trail connections, and corresponding signage and mapping in both Hopewell and Petersburg to provide residents more opportunities to add exercise into their daily routines.
“This has been a huge effort on the part of the consultants and FOLAR, and it encompassed the entire community,” said Wendy Austin, executive director of FOLAR. “We feel that we now have a comprehensive and useful tool for communicating the vision of building the trail. Successful implementation will take time, cooperation, diligence, and of course, funding. Developing a unified body of support for the plan will be critical to acquiring funding for implementation.”
The implementation of the ART Master Plan will be an ongoing, coordinated effort involving each of the six municipalities, FOLAR, the Crater Planning District Commission, and key community stakeholders like The Cameron Foundation and the John Randolph Foundation, both of which recently awarded grants to FOLAR for operational support.
Links to the full plan can be found here: