Article and photos by Seth C. Fisher
I recently had the amazing opportunity to have a 2-hour golf-cart ride/interview with Newport News Park and Recreation Director Michael Poplawski about the future changes coming to Riverview Farm Park. I have to say, as a life-long resident of Newport News and a frequent user of the park I am so excited with the updates and changes coming.
“There’s so much potential here,” Poplawski said as we stopped to look out at the sunset from an overlook near the Warwick Towne archeological dig, “it’s going to create an even richer park environment for the citizens to enjoy and benefit from the diverse natural beauty that the park will offer.”
*(For more information on the Historic Warwicktowne, visit: https://newportnewshistory.org/historic-warwicktowne/)
Beginning as a park in the early 90’s, Riverview Farm Park, known for its quiet and often tranquil spots, is now the second most visited park in the city. With the addition of the City Farm property, which brings the park acerage to 279 acres, will bring more spots of beauty and overlooks in the next few years.
Due to a recent land sale of 10 acres of property from the current park and City Farm to HRSD for $10 million, the city has been able to partner with HRSD for some beautifying projects in exchange for land use for soon to be constructed 6 aquifer wells on park property. Although that means building equipment and noise for the next few years, thankfully these wells will be buildings in the same pattern and style as the current park concessions building with the addition of historical signs, gardens, and much needed additional public restrooms.
Other projects will be a small walkway in the woods along Flax Mill Creek near Denbigh Plantation which will eventually be part of a new 2-mile trail that will be constructed starting spring 2022. This trail will wind itself along the edge of the park property and the old City Farm, including vistas and crossings of marsh, creek, beach, and river, ending at Menchville Marina. The acquisition of City Farm will also answer the call for more waterfront park/beach access once environmental fortifying can be completed to preserve the marsh and shorelines that will help restore and maintain a healthy beach.
“More waterfront access has been something the city has been hearing about from citizens since I was a park ranger,” Poplawski stated, “We are so excited to finally be able to give them the waterfront and beach access that we’ve all been wanting for so long.”
As our golf cart bumped across the field towards Fantasy Farm playground, he shared that there are plans for public input meetings and the formation of a Park Taskforce that will begin work next year to help compile and implement a new park plan for the future.
Two other small projects that are in the works include moving and enlarging the Fido Park and a project that should be ready within the next year is the installation of a new disc golf course on the old Denbigh/Menchville landfill that is part of the Riverview Farm Park land. “We have a unique system for the course,” Poplawski told me, “we have to be careful not to disturb the land with digging due to gassing off issues, but the system we have is built on concrete pads so it’ll be easier and safe to move and install.”
Once the public is able to access the City Farm, you will be as thrilled as I am with the rich beauty and family activities that will open up for you to enjoy! Stay tuned for updates!
Article and images (c)2021 The Bulletin Post