James River Park lovers will enjoy Rex Springston’s profile of Nathan Burrell in today’s Times-Dispatch. Burrell took over for the iconoclastic Ralph White as James River Park System superintendent earlier this year. Inevitably, he’s had to deal with questions comparing him to his predecessor, he told Springston.
“The comment that I get most frequently is, ‘You have big shoes to fill.’ And my comment always is, ‘Very true, but I’m not looking to fill anybody’s shoes. I’ve cobbled my own shoes, and I’m filling those. “
The “big shoes” questions were bound to come after 33 years of White at the helm. But my guess is they’ll fade in time (and probably not much time). You can already witness Burrell’s hand throughout the park. Have you seen those beautiful new cedar signs at places like the Belle Isle Bike Skills Park, Tredegar Street by the Belle Isle parking lot and now on Chapel Island? Burrell told me a while back that more of those will be going up in high-profile spots throughout the park. The idea is to standardize (and class up) the look of popular park entrances and give people more info.
“If you are in Tredegar Iron Works, and you are a visitor to the city of Richmond, how do you know to go to (the park’s) Belle Isle, where there’s more Civil War history on the island? You don’t, unless you are in the know,” he said. “Those are the types of things I’m really looking to push forward.”