Nov 2, 2022 - News

Richmond's James River Park just got bigger

The James River. Photo: Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Richmond's beloved 600-acre park, the James River Park System, is now 3.46 acres bigger.

Driving the news: The growth came from a donation by Westover Hills residents Josh and Carrie Belt Rogers of a portion of their property in South Richmond from Westover Hills Boulevard to the Boulevard Bridge to the Capital Region Land Conservancy.

Why it matters: A small portion of Buttermilk Trail — one of JRPS' most popular trails for hikers and mountain bikers — has always been on private property.

  • As recreational use, including competitive bike races, has increased in recent years, so have liability concerns.
  • The land transfer includes all of the trail on the private property and makes the Westover Hills portion officially public.
Purple shows the new acreage. Map courtesy of Capital Region Land Conservancy

Flashback: In 2014, a portion of a bike race during Dominion Riverrock was nearly rerouted onto a busy street over liability insurance worries for the 200 racers on the private property.

  • The city ended up adding the portion of the Rogers' property to its insurance policy for the race and subsequently through a recreational easement still in use.

That easement has a termination clause, though, which is why the couple wanted to officially donate the land, per a news release.

What they're saying: "We have been proud to protect the public use of these trails for the past 15 years and are thrilled to share that this land will be conserved as parkland for all to enjoy for generations to come," they said in a statement.

Capital Region Land Conservancy will handle the transfer of the property to the city and ensure it is added to the park system through a $25,000 grant from Friends of James River Park to facilitate the transaction.

  • "Opportunities to expand JRPS are usually pretty hard to come by, so we are grateful for the chance to help CRLC make this a reality," Josh Stutz, executive director of Friends of James River Park, said in a statement.

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