Home Waynesboro embraces connection to outdoors; prepares to open Sunset Park to the public

Waynesboro embraces connection to outdoors; prepares to open Sunset Park to the public

sunset park waynesboro pavilion2
Photos courtesy Waynesboro Parks & Recreation

Two years after Waynesboro City Council greenlighted Sunset Park, the city is preparing to put down the asphalt leading up to its newest recreation space, and officially open the greenspace to the public.

The 107-acre property that once was the location of a landfill has been repurposed with an overlook, pavilion, restrooms and a biking/walking trail.

The park, located off North Winchester Avenue in Waynesboro, is expected to open some time this month, though an exact date has not been announced.

The finishing touches are being put on the park now including the renovation of a stormwater pond and getting water hooked up to the site.

Project Manager Stephanie Seltzer with the city Parks & Recreation Department said it’s exciting to see the city shift from being known as a factory town to its new identity as a place for outdoor enthusiasts.

“When the city was looking to rebrand, everyone kept looking to the river, looking to the outdoor components,” she said. “It’s so exciting to see, all these years later, all of these things coming to fruition.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for the city to embrace that connection with the outdoors, not only on a personal level and health level, but also as an economic driver.”

For decades, people have been sneaking up the access road to the site to take in some of the best views outside of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Now, visitors will be welcomed to the site, and everyone can pack a picnic or simply enjoy the view, day or night.

“It gives people a nice spot that they can take their time and look out on the city and point to different places of meaning in their life,” Seltzer said. “People can slow down to the point where they’re sharing those sorts of stories with their friends or neighbors or a stranger that might be beside them.

“I think it’s going to be a really nice addition to the park system and a real place of enjoyment for a lot of people.”

The city did hear from some residents who were not in favor of the park. However, by a vote of 3-2, Waynesboro City Council voted to move forward with the project in 2022. Council members Terry Short, Sam Hostetter and Bobby Henderson voted in favor of the project; Lana Williams and Bruce Allen opposed the park.

Waynesboro resident Sharon Van Name spoke in favor of the project before the vote and 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.

With the opening now just days away, her words ring more true than ever: the time is now.

Sunset Park will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily giving residents and visitors the opportunity to capture the sunrise and sunset and everything in between.

Sunset Park amenities and design

sunset park waynesboro overlook1

The overlook will give residents and visitors the opportunity to see some of the best views in the region. On a clear day, you may be able to see as far as 40 miles away.

sunset park waynesboro pavilion

A 40’ x 50’ shelter was designed to mimic the post and beam trusses that many rail structures from the 1800s showcase. There are nine ADA accessible picnic tables that can seat up to 72 people comfortably. The shelter will be available for rental – but likely not until 2025 – to give residents the opportunity to enjoy the space without a wedding or other event taking place there.

sunset park waynesboro restrooms

The restroom design is based on the Basic/Waynesboro Union Train Station that once stood just below the peak of Sunset Park.

sunset park waynesboro trails

One mile of walking/biking trails have been installed on the eastern side of the park. The goal is to install four miles of trails once funds are raised to complete them. Signage will be posted on etiquette for a shared path for walkers and cyclists.

sunset park waynesboro lighting

Lighting will be available at night.

Sunset Park in Waynesboro has potential to be open by end of year
Published date: October 2, 2023 | 3:34 pm

Sunset Park under construction with $2.5 million price tag, trails on hold
Published date: April 19, 2023 | 11:30 am

Can Sunset Park help Waynesboro reach its potential as a destination?
Published date: April 26, 2022 | 7:00 pm

Sunset Park: Waynesboro actually moves forward with a good idea
Published date: April 26, 2022 | 6:03 pm

Waynesboro approves Sunset Park: Former landfill to become recreation hub
Published date: April 25, 2022 | 9:51 pm

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.