A park in Rocky Mount and a town square in Buena Vista are among the 33 projects statewide to receive nearly $2 million in grants from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
Approved Tuesday by the foundation’s board, the grants are intended to further public access to open spaces in communities that in the past have been overlooked or underserved.
“We are pleased to be able to award these grants that will advance projects in communities all across the Commonwealth, resulting in greater, safer, and more equitable access to the outdoors for thousands of Virginians,” the group’s executive director, Brett Glymph, said in an announcement.
In Rocky Mount, $100,000 was awarded for improvements to Celeste Park, a 6-acre parcel on Franklin Street.
Plans call for a picnic area along Furnace Creek, hiking trails in the nearby woods and a sidewalk connection to downtown, about a quarter-mile away. The improvements should be completed within the next year, according to assistant town manager Mark Moore.
The family of the late Keister Greer, a local attorney and noted author, donated the land to the town in honor of his youngest daughter, Celeste, who died at the age of 32 from diabetes.
In Buena Vista, a $78,000 grant will go to the creation of a town square that will include a pavilion for downtown gatherings, bike racks and information on nearby outdoor attractions.
Of the total $1.9 million in grants, other local recipients include the Roanoke Outside Foundation, which will get $25,000 for the second phase of the Morningside Park bike trail project, and the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council, which will use $12,260 to improve a trail along the Maury River.
The Virginia Outdoors Foundation, created by the General Assembly, is the state’s largest land conservation organization. Since 1966, it has protected more than 850,000 acres of farms, forests, parks and other open spaces.