Waynesboro City Council voted 3-2 Monday night to greenlight the proposed Sunset Park, a project that would turn the long-time eyesore overlooking the city into a public recreational greenspace.
Mayor Bobby Henderson joined Ward D Councilor Sam Hostetter and At-Large Councilor Terry Short voting in favor of the $2.1 million project, the bulk of the funding of which is to come from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Ward A Councilor Lana Williams and Ward B Councilor Bruce Allen voted no.
The line of the night in the two-hour-plus public hearing that preceded the vote came from Sharon Van Name, the chairman of the Waynesboro Democratic Committee, who quoted an ancient Chinese proverb about the best time to plant a tree.
“The saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now,” said Van Name, who spoke in support of the project.
Hostetter, whose Ward D seat is up for re-election in November, cited Van Name’s remarks during a discussion among City Council members preceding the vote.
“Let’s not sit and look at that empty space for another 20 years and say, we should have done something about that back then,” Hostetter said.
Sunset Park, on the location of the former city landfill that closed in 2003, has been in the works almost since the landfill closed.
The plan for the 107-acre property, an eyesore visible from many vantagepoints across the city because of its location at the base of the Blue Ridge mountain range, of late has been to effort to provide public access to this area for recreational uses.
The city received a VDOT grant in 2018 to make upgrades to the gravel road leading up to the top of the landfill, and to develop a conceptual design for the park.
Mountain bike trails are currently being planned/developed by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition.
Story by Chris Graham