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Jackson River Sports Complex opens newest features

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 5:30 PM EDT
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COVINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - “Twenty-eight years ago," Covington’s Director of Parks and Recreation Allen Dressler remembered, "this was nothing but a field of tall grass and overgrown gardens and a couple dilapidated facilities.”

But now it’s a completed park, with a half-mile walking trail, dedicated with a ribbon-cutting.

“It was an old hay field for a long time, where the ballfields are," said Mayor Tom Sibold. "But it’s been a lot of work that’s been put into this.”

Dressler saw more than an abandoned property when he first came to what is now the Jackson River Sports Complex.

“I came over, I made some notes," he said. "And I sat on my living room floor and took that eight-and-a-half, and I pretended to be 2 years old, 20 years old and 80 years old, so to speak. And I went to city council and they said: we support you.”

That 8 1/2-by-11 piece of paper became a master plan.

“This which you see out here today is pretty close to the 8 1/2-by-11 piece of paper.”

Now, beside the ballfields first put in, there’s the trail, a boat ramp, and a specially-built fishing pier that’s handicapped-accessible.

“Because I believe everybody deserves a chance to fish," Dressler said. "And if you’re not physically able, you still should be able to fish, and we’ve made that happen here.”

But though it’s part of the city, it’s still a natural outing with more than fishing.

“I’ve been right along this trail around this time of year, I’ve seen eagles flying along the river," Sibold said. "Birds I’ve never seen before, I’ve seen them out along the river. It’s just amazing what all you run across out here.”

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