Over the weekend the T-D’s Rex Springston wrote a piece about huge visitation numbers at the James River Park over the past year. It’s a story we’ve been on top of here at RichmondOutside since last spring when the park installed car- and people-counting cameras at a number of different park entrances.
Th cameras were installed in May, so they only counted for two-thirds of the year, but they still recorded over 900,000 visitors during that time — far more than the 527,153 visitors reported by Maymont for 2013. Maymont was first among local attractions as ranked by Richmond Region Tourism.
VCU researcher Vicky Shivy told Springston that in the summer of 2012, her students counted and interviewed park visitors. Based on their findings, Shivy estimated the full year’s park visitation at 1.5 million.
“We thought there were a lot of visitors, but we were not prepared for the actual numbers that we saw,” Shivy said. At times, for example, hundreds of people per hour poured into Belle Isle.
Others also found the numbers hard to believe. “I think some people thought I was out of my mind,” Shivy said.
In other James River Park news, I snapped these pics of a new walkway to the Northbank Trail while on my way to Texas Beach. According to James River Outdoor Coalition’s Facebook page, the stairs are the result of the first of two work days utilizing REI Richmond Market grant funds to complete new stairs at Texas Beach Access. These new stairs will create a safe path of ascent for park users looking to exit the Northbank Trail, or descend onto the Northbank trail. The stairs are located next to the covered bridge over the CSX railway.
Also last week, I spoke with JRPS superintendent Nathan Burrell to get some updates on stories we’ve featured here in the past. He said the construction work going on in the Reedy Creek parking lot is indeed the first steps in getting the long-delayed Greg Hawkins Memorial water fountain put in. The water lines are in. The human/dog-friendly fountain comes next. He added that he hopes to have five bike work stations (similar to the ones pictured) installed at JRPS units (Reedy Creek, Brown’s Island, Belle Isle, Great Shiplock Park, and Texas Beach parking lot) before spring.