Plans in the works to transform Riveredge Park to environmental education center

Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 4:46 PM EDT
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AMHERST COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Students at Riveredge Park Thursday are learning about the James River environment.

Although that program isn’t new, leaders look to make new transformations to benefit generations to come.

“We’ll be able to expand the number of students that we can reach as well as enhance the learning experience for them,” said Bill Street, James River Association CEO.

Street says they plan to do that by doing two things.

One, they want to take an area of land at the park and transform it into a New River access point, featuring a landing, floating docks and ramp for ease of access.

“If they don’t have a boat or haven’t been on the river, they can go with an experienced guide. They can get out on a canoe, a kayak, a standup paddleboard,” said Street, who noted the access point will be above the falls, providing easier access to Scott’s Mill Dam.

The other objective is a focus on transforming the building that greets visitors to the park.

The building is planned to become a state-of-the-art environmental education center.

Leaders want to equip it with aquariums and technology to engage students, along with creating an outdoor classroom.

“So it’s important for them to realize how what they do at their house or their farm or their land impacts the river from Amherst County all the way down to the [Chesapeake Bay],” said William Wells, Amherst County Public Schools assistant superintendent.

The effort is part of JRA’s goal to add three educational centers along the James.

They look to call this area the Upper James River Center, with work beginning on the new access point as soon as mid-October. Street says that work should be completed before the end of the year.

Fundraising for the education center is expected to go through next year before work begins on it. Street says donations are encouraged to help meet the financial goal of $500,000.

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