It was announced in December 2018 that the Pittsylvania County Department of Parks & Recreation was awarded a grant to enhance the Wayside Park facility, located along U.S. Route 29 Business in Hurt, which will offer greater protections for the park as a strategy to mitigate detrimental environmental impacts of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The purpose of the CORE Fund (Forest and Community Opportunities for Restoration and Enhancement) grant – an agreement between Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC and the Commonwealth of Virginia – is to serve as a competitive funding mechanism for localities within reasonable proximity of the pipeline – now under construction – to remediate forest fragmentation caused by the pipeline. Upon request by the County, West Piedmont Planning District Commission (WPPDC) staff assisted with the narrative of the application, technical assistance along with mapping, and other assistance.
Wayside Park, which comprises 50 acres, is heavily forested. The park is made up of two sections serving two distinct functions. One portion serves as a wayside area along U.S. Route 29 Business, accommodating vehicles and providing picnic tables. The other portion of the park is mainly a community facility and includes a baseball field, a picnic shelter, open areas, as well as Sycamore Creek which meanders through the premises. The park also features a 3,780 linear-foot maintenance road and a 1,500 linear foot basic trail – the latter created by the Boy Scouts.
The funding obtained by the grant will help to establish a deed restricting timber harvesting at the park, and this provision will help to preserve forest land, thereby serving as a remedial measure to the pipeline. In addition, the awarded funds, totaling $106,460, will enable the maintenance road and trail to be upgraded to one seamless 10 foot wide linear multi-use trail with a crushed stone surface. The funding is matched with $72,000 from the County, and the County plans to provide an additional appropriation later this year. Additionally, the Parks & Recreation Department are working with various regional grantors to secure additional funds for further improvements at the park which will include new picnic tables and shelters, the relocation of an existing amphitheater, landscaping, new playground equipment, and the possible establishment of campgrounds with fire rings, to name a few.
Taken together, the timber harvesting deed restriction and the facility improvements will help to reinforce Wayside Park as a civic point of pride for the Town of Hurt and Pittsylvania County, which will serve to enhance public health and recreational pursuits of both residents and visitors.