CHRISTIANSBURG — Amid further changes, the Town Council has no plans anytime soon to abandon its proposal to build a multipurpose park on Peppers Ferry Road.
Council, on a 6-0 vote this past week, decided that it will continue on its path of planned development for the park. More specifically, the council’s work moving forward will be based on a “deferred plan” that was presented to them on Nov. 18.
Council members clarified that their vote doesn’t mean they’ve approved the plans for the park and are ready to start construction. They said their recent action shows their intention to not halt their park plans.
“Each step we take, like this evening, is a decision point on … if and how to continue,” Councilman Brad Stipes said before the meeting Tuesday night. “Do we press the pause button or do we continue on the path we set out on?”
The recent vote and presentation of the deferred plan mark some of the latest progress in a now six-year-long discussion of what the town hopes would be a recreation hotspot on 60 acres of land that previously belonged to — and is informally named after — the later farmer Truman Wilson.
The town bought the land for $2.5 million in 2013. The property is behind Walmart.
The town gave the plan a significant push this past summer when it entered into a $996,550 design agreement with Charlottesville-based Faulconer Construction Company. The town unveiled diagrams of the proposed project in September during an open house.
Town officials said then that the plan was to divide the project into phases, with a timeline calling for council to vote on the first phase’s final design next spring and for construction to begin next summer.
The park proposal has since undergone further changes, the latest of which were shown this past week.
One change council members highlighted was the return of the splash pad, a feature that initially wasn’t going to be included in the first phase.
Mayor Mike Barber said during Tuesday’s meeting that one past concern about the splash pad was that it could cost $2 million. He, however, said it’s since been learned that construction of those those fixtures can start at as low as $200,000.
Another feature council highlighted is the “all inclusive destination playground,” which they said will serve children and adults of all abilities and ages.
“This whole park will touch everything from the cradle to the grave,” Barber said. “It will have something for everyone to do.”
Councilman Steve Huppert described the all inclusive designation as “a real plus.”
The remainder of the first phase will include four multipurpose fields, a meadow with trails, picnic pavilions, another pavilion with yoga gardens, restrooms, parking and a dog park.
Future phases of the park call for the addition of tennis and pickleball courts, sand volleyball courts, an amphitheater with a multi-purpose pavilion and more parking.
A significant feature that existed in past concepts of the park but has since been eliminated is a softball field.
The first phase is based on a $16 million concept shown in 2018. No new cost estimates are available at this time, town spokeswoman Melissa Demmitt said.
The latest park plans present no changes to the project timeline shown in September.
The costs and timeline for the park’s future phases are unclear.