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Green Pastures park prepares to reopen after decades of neglect

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 6:43 PM EDT
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CLIFTON FORGE, Va. (WDBJ) - “You know, it’s just a beautiful piece of quiet community that’s being underutilized,” said Steve Nicely, “and we’re hoping that’s going to change real soon.”

It’s something he is looking forward to happening after years of lobbying.

“So it’s really, I want to call it a miracle in the mountains,” said Pam Marshall, who has also worked for the restoration of Green Pastures. “Who knew that four years ago that we would be standing here today on the cusp of reopening this historic park?”

Green Pastures was cleared in the 1930s for a special purpose. In the age of segregation, it was the only public park for African Americans in the area.

“The state parks were not allowing African Americans,” Marshall explained. “And a church got together, First Baptist Church, and the local NAACP wrote to the government and said: We need a place for African Americans to recreate.”

But with desegregation, even though the park was a beloved part of the community, it fell into disuse and disrepair.

“I used to come to the park as a teenager along with every other person here,” Nicely remembered. “It was about all we had.”

“It was more than abandoned,” said Marshall. “It was in disrepair, it was overgrown. Our water was stagnant. I just didn’t see any hope for it.”

But now, the signs are ready for unveiling as the final work is done for the first phase of repair, and soon Steve Nicely will be able to play on the old ball fields again.

“I live just three miles from here,” Nicely said, “and I’ll spend a lot of time here.”

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