Forest Hill Park is finally complete, and I couldn’t be happier. I took a walk there today to confirm it for myself. The park is a treat to visit and is a very diverse and under-appreciated gem. The natural beauty combined with wonderful walking, hiking and biking trails are a delight.
The lake looks quite placid, and I assume that it is much deeper now, which would allow for stocking with fish. My favorite part of the park will likely remain the rocky bed of Reedy Creek as is curdles down toward the lake from Forest Hill Avenue, on its way to the James River at the Reedy Creek takeout and the James River Park System visitor’s center. I’ll be glad to see the gray, silty water clear again at the takeout.
I wrote about the City of the Future helping Richmond parks earlier this week. A big thank you again to City of Richmond parks director J.R. Pope and his staff.
Michael Martz of the Richmond Times-Dispatch had a report on the project:
The lake, more than a century old, is brimming with water again in the historic South Richmond park. Turtles have been sighted, and so have largemouth bass, even though Richmond hasn’t yet stocked the lake with fish for recreational anglers.
“It’s gorgeous down there,“ J.R. Pope, director of parks, recreation and community facilities, said during the final meeting on the project Tuesday.
More details on the work that needed to be done:
Richmond finished the $1.7 million project with about $145,000 left in the bank, though some work remains to be done… The contractors began in May to remove fish and other aquatic life so they could begin the process of dredging 34,000 cubic yards of muck that had built up over 30 years, turning a former quarry lake into a cattail-choked marsh. Walkways and water channels that had been buried for years suddenly reappeared.
NBC12’s Andrew Freiden did a nice story about halfway through the project, back in August:
Years of development along Reedy Creek provided the dirt, and rain storms washed it all into what used to be a lake, a gathering place that entertained families for years. But sediment slowly erased the lake from the map. It’s been slowly filling up since the 70s.
So what’s to stop the lake from filling up yet again? It’s not like dirt and trash will stop flowing along Reedy Creek into the park. The solution: two forebays.
“A forebay is basically a hole. It’s a settlement hole where the silt will kind of build up. We will be able to clear it out with a Bobcat and haul it off and it will fill up again. So the process will be able to continue. But it will not affect the lake so that the citizens’ investment that they have in the lake will certainly be safeguarded,” said Richmond Parks deputy director Roslyn Johnson.
There is some concern that Reedy Creek could silt over the lake again. I work very closely to Reedy Creek and cross it in several places often. Even the smallest of rain showers causes a large amount of runoff to reach the creek. The buffer zones and concrete walls built to contain the creek around the German School Road area and down to Forest Hill Park is likely not helping, as it just speeds up the flow of water as it heads to the park. Time will tell.
For now, enjoy the scenery and take a walk around the lake. To complete a circuit, you’ll have to walk on the sandy natural trail along Reedy Creek, crossing over a wooden footbridge toward the top of the hill near Forest Hill Avenue. Or start there and walk down hill, the park is great to see from every angle and is safe for kids, except around the rockiest portions.
One of my favorite details of Forest Hill Park is the granite walkways and walls along the trails. In so many shaded areas, there is a deep green mossy hue covering many of the mortar lines and cracks along the walls. Very beautiful.