The fallout from the City of Richmond’s floundering Go Ape! ropes course planned for Byrd Park has for now put the plans to build a biking & hiking trail through the park on hold.
Nathan Burrell, trails manager for the City of Richmond, announced the delay Wednesday night during a James River Outdoor Coalition meeting, indicating that city planners wanted to take a closer look at any plans within Byrd Park. The land for the proposed ropes course is not part of the same land that is to be used for the bike trail.
Burrell said that the city’s development of “bike trails has had a positive influence on neighborhoods, like at Forest Hill Park” and that one of the side benefits of trails is that they bring well-intentioned people to areas of the city that have had reputations for neglect or crime.
Richmond-MORE, the volunteer trail building group that has helped build and maintain the city’s highly regarded network of trails, was set to begin the work on 2-3 miles of trails in the wooded area between Pump House Road and the back of The Carillon in Byrd Park later this month.
Burrell said that the plan is to link the trail through Pump House Park to the James River Trail loop and North Trail at the Boulevard Bridge.
“We’re looking to expand our system and grow it at Dogwood Dell,” Burrell said, noting that the next two years will mark an “aggressive approach to trail building” in Richmond.
Greg Rollins, president of RA-MORE, said in September that the land is all city property and that the blessing had been given from the city to install the trails at least a year ago. Work was done by HandsOn Greater Richmond volunteers in October to remove invasive species and cut overgrown weeds and undergrowth in Pump House Park.
“RA-MORE likes to work and get things done,” Rollins said at the Mayor Dwight Jones’s Bike, Pedestrian and Trails Commission, noting that the volunteer trail work comes free to the city and that the trails were part of the mayor’s greenways plan.