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Parks expand; Maymont visitation blows up

February 24, 2014 2:48pm

The Times-Dispatch had a couple of interesting parks-related pieces over the weekend that I thought were worth passing along. In the Saturday Metro section Ted Strong had a story on the opening and expansion of two parks in western Henrico Co.

Officials hope to have the new Twin Hickory Park near Deep Run High School open by the end of May, wrote Strong. Short Pump Park, located just south of Short Pump Elementary School, will be enlarged by about 35 acres. County plans had called for the expansion to include a number of athletics fields, but after looking at the site’s wetlands and grades, and after meeting with community members, planners are pursuing a much less intense plan of development. Planners hope to have the expansion complete by early summer of next year.

Maymont's Japanese Garden and Koi Pond.

Maymont’s Japanese Garden and Koi Pond.

We’re all for ball fields and the like, but we at RichnmondOutside.com like trails even more. So it was heartening to see this from Neil Luther, director of the county’s division of recreation and parks: “The balance of the additional acreage will stay wooded, and the only disturbance we’ll make in those areas will be basically trails and some picnicking areas.”

And, Strong wrote: Twin Hickory, like the expansion at Short Pump, will focus largely on features such as trails and picnic areas. “Because this park has a lot of wetland in it … it was a passive (recreation) focus as well,” Luther said.

Look for Destination entries on RichmondOutside.com when those parks open/expand.

Also in the T-D on Sunday were some numbers about Richmond-area attractions. We weren’t surprised to see Maymont top the list, drawing 527,153 visitors in 2013.

Wrote Katherine Calos: In 2013, the park counted 527,153 visitors with the help of new infrared sensors at two gates. That’s 147,399 visitors more than it counted in 2012, an increase of 39 percent. Maymont, which is operated by and primarily funded by the Maymont Foundation, installed the infrared counting system in May at the Hampton Street and Children’s Farm entrances.

Other outdoorsy destinations in the top 5 were Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden at No. 4 (339,139), and Three Lakes Nature Center and Aquarium at No. 5 (304,621).

We can only guess what the numbers would be for the James River Park System if they had infrared sensors to measure every visitor. Bet it would be close to 1 million.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?