At their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, February 15th, 2022, Ashland’s Town Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase of three adjacent land parcels for development into a new public park. The Town is currently under contract for a purchase price of $658,000 for all three parcels and expects to close the sale in June 2022.
Located along West Vaughan Road in North Ashland, the properties when combined will total 6.58 acres, making the new park Ashland’s second-largest park. Carter Park is Ashland’s largest park at 13.5 acres and is located at the southern end of Ashland’s Town limits.
“Ashland’s Parks & Recreation Master Plan, developed by the Parks and Recreation Committee and adopted by Town Council in 2017, set a goal of ensuring every residential parcel in Ashland is within a 10-minute walk of a public park facility,” said Matt Reynal, Ashland’s Deputy Town Manager & Finance Director. “While there is already a small park and trail in the area, the Town has been actively looking for opportunities to develop a more substantial public park in North Ashland for some time.”
As of 2017, only 42% of residential parcels met the “10-minute walk” threshold outlined in the Plan, which also identified three areas of Ashland lacking adequate park facilities, including the area north of Route 54 and west of Route 1 (North Ashland).
Currently, the only Town-owned park facility in the North Ashland area is Railside Trail and Park, a passive park north of North Center Street that includes benches, tables, and a linear trail that parallels the railroad tracks. Based on initial discussions around the planned Berkleytown Heritage Park, located between Henry Street and the railroad tracks, that park is also likely to be a passive park. There is currently no park equipment (playground, courts, etc.) owned by the Town of Ashland north of Route 54.
“This purchase represents an investment in Ashland’s park system and quality of life for our residents,” said Ashland Town Council Member Anita Barnhart. “It is in alignment with our Parks & Recreation Master Plan and preserves green space in a growing community in a manner that makes strategic sense.”
“Based on the location, price, availability of utilities and transportation network, and the property’s topography, this is an ideal location to develop a community park to serve the neighborhoods in North Ashland,” Mr. Reynal added.
The location of the new park will increase inter-park connectivity within the Town of Ashland and further enhance pedestrian and cycling accessibility to downtown Ashland for residents in and around the Carter’s Hill, James, Snead, and Park Street neighborhoods, as well as nearby Randolph-Macon College.
Currently, there are no imminent plans or funding allocated to the development of the property. In the future, the Parks & Recreation Committee and Town Council will oversee a formal and strategic public development process to gather community input on desired amenities and features for the park. More details will be shared once that process is set to begin.