A Virginia Beach plan to install a dog park, playground and walking trails near the Oceanfront is safe from the chopping block as the city braces for a forecasted $33 million budget shortfall, the project’s manager said.
The city has not begun discussing potential cuts for the upcoming budget, which begins July 1, but Barbara Duke, a Parks & Recreation senior planner, said she’s not worried about Marshview Park.
Nestled on Lake Rudee near Lands End Condominiums and the Salt Marsh Point neighborhood, the 100-acre property has been on the parks department’s radar for decades. That’s partly because the area sits “in a gap in park land” compared to the rest of the Beach, Duke said.
The area is smack dab in the middle of nature land, though.
Thousands of trees, at least 15 acres of wetlands and many rare birds, reptiles and plants surround the planned construction site, according to the city’s master plan for the park. Duke says that all adds to its charm.
Marshview Park is also notable in history.
What likely was a farmer’s homestead sometime between 1660 and 1730 sits nearby the-soon-to-be constructed play area, the plan says. Along with another nearby site, remnants at the park provide rare windows into the city’s early days, the plan says.
“I like to call (Marshview) the mini-First Landing State Park,” Duke said, adding that the park is unique among the city’s 265 parks and recreation areas.
The City Council re-appropriated about $1 million last year to complete Phase I of the park’s improvement, which Duke said includes a playground, walking trails, dog park, field for team play, parking and shelters. She said those funds are safe.
Design of the first phase is about 50 percent done and could be finished by summer 2016.
“And barring unforeseen issues we’ll be under construction in the second half of the year,” Duke said.
After that, the park should expand to Phase II, which includes bike trails and a disc golf course, Duke said.
In the early ’80s, the Navy bought the land that is now Marshview Park from developers to prevent it from becoming suburban sprawl, but it did not actively use it, according to the city’s website.
The Beach entered negotiations with the Navy a decade later to acquire the land for a park. An agreement was reached in 2010 when the government entities swapped land, allowing the park’s birth.
A paved walking path that runs for about a third of a mile, the park’s first improvement, opened in 2014.
There are no other expansions planned beyond Phase II, but because what is already scheduled will consume only 17 of 100 acres, Duke didn’t rule out a third phase down the road.
“It’s possible,” she said.