Portsmouth – The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) and its partners today officially opened Phase I of the region’s newest park, Paradise Creek Park, which is the first step in a multimillion-dollar environmental mitigation plan tied to the eastward expansion of Craney Island.
Paradise Creek and similar projects under development are the backbone of the VPA’s $60 million compensatory environmental mitigation plan that was specifically designed to offset the effects of developing the eastward expansion. Over the course of many years VPA, the Elizabeth River Project (ERP), the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and many other state and federal agencies have collaborated on the plan.
“It is truly rewarding on all fronts to see the transformation of this industrial property to a 40-acre ‘eco-park’ for future enjoyment by the generations of families that live and work in Portsmouth,” said Rodney W. Oliver, interim executive director of the VPA.
The development of Paradise Creek Park was a joint effort of the City of Portsmouth, ERP and VPA that started in 2004, said Heather Wood, the VPA’s director of environmental affairs. The $4.3 million project took two years to complete and entailed the reclamation of 29 acres of forest and the creation of 11 acres of wetlands. Among other positive environmental effects, the park will help restore wildlife habitat and reduce pollution.
“This property and park are the anchors of a restoration plan that will return 411-acres of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River to a fishable and swimmable state,” Wood said. “ERP and VPA wanted a marquis site that would provide public access to what will be a restored section of river and create educational and recreational opportunities for the Craddock neighborhood and all the citizens of Portsmouth.
“VPA is thrilled to be a partner in this project and the agency looks forward to completing the other elements of the vision -- more wetlands, oyster reefs and sediment remediation -- over the next decade.”
The eastward expansion of Craney Island is the only permitted and on-going terminal construction project of its kind on the US East Coast. The first phase of the project encompasses building a 600-acre landmass and then constructing a large container cargo terminal in stages atop that land. The first phase of the terminal is scheduled to open in the 2025-2028 time frame.
The park is located at 1141 Victory Boulevard in Portsmouth and for more information visit www.paradisecreekpark.org.