A 107-acre site considered an eyesore for the City of Waynesboro for more than two decades is getting a facelift, and it’s possible the new Sunset Park could be open by the end of the year.
Construction on the former Waynesboro landfill site, located off North Winchester Avenue, began in April, and when completed, will offer breathtaking views of the River City, perfect for events, picnics, and eventually, hiking and biking trails.
Sunset Park will offer two overlooks, a picnic shelter and restrooms for visitors and residents, with a price tag of approximately $2.5 million including the necessary infrastructure work. Funding was provided through a Virginia Department of Transportation recreation access grant and American Rescue Plan Act local recovery funds.
Waynesboro City Council voted 3-2 to approve the project last year. Councilors Lana Williams and Bruce Allen voted against the project.
Stephanie Seltzer, project manager with the Waynesboro Parks and Recreation Department, told AFP that changes are happening every day at the Sunset Park construction site.
As far as an update on the project, she said the shelter is in place and is “gorgeous,” a lot of the cement work for the plaza area is done and walkways to the overlooks are complete. She said some final hardscaping is still in progress. Rock facing for the walls and the overlook floors still need to be done. She said utility work needs to be completed, and the septic system for the restroom still needs to go in.
The goal is to get the work done at the top of the park area, so the city can open it up and allow people up there to take in the city views.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll have it open to the public before the end of the year,” Seltzer said.
Of course, that goal could be pushed back due to weather and other circumstances. Seltzer said there have already been some delays because of backordered materials and minor tweaks to the plans.
“We’ve been kind of radio silent a little bit about it,” Seltzer said, “because it is an active construction zone, and we don’t want to encourage anyone to go out there and look. We haven’t really put out a lot of updates or anything because we just don’t want the curiosity factor to go up and have somebody trying to get up there and end up getting hurt.”
Even once the park is open to the public, it’s likely there may still be work happening to existing ponds that capture some of the runoff and a few other projects.
“It’s different from some of our other parks,” Seltzer said. “We’re not going to have a soccer field there, for example. We’re not even going to have a standard playground there. It’s really a passive park.
“Go take in the views. Have a nice picnic. I’m certain it will be a great place to have events overlooking the entire city,” she said.
The city is working with the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition to raise funds to eventually add hiking and biking trails throughout Sunset Park, eventually making it a recreation hub for walkers and cyclists.
“Once the trails are in place, we really envision it being a destination that you can come in to town and hit some trails trat are wooded and forested,” Seltzer said. “You won’t have to go up on the Parkway or into the Shenandoah National Park, if that’s beyond your reach or your comfort level.
“For folks that don’t get out in the woods to hike, it can be a really nice, safe, comforting place to kind of get your feet wet in that,” she said.
“And then, of course, cyclists have been chomping at the bit to get onto some trails back there for a very long time. I think the biking trail component of this has been a huge driver.
“We’re hopeful by next spring or summer, we have an idea of available funding and that we can potentially start doing trail work in the very near future.”