Forest Hill Park lake restoration underway

By Jola Szubielski - bio | email

Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Years of neglect have left the Forest Hill Park lake in bad shape. A permit was granted in April of last year to begin the restoration process.

Today, that work is finally underway.

The first phase of the project is already underway. Contractors are busy draining the lake -- and will then begin laying down a temporary bypass pipeline which will feed the waters of Reedy Creek directly to the spillway.

Located in South Richmond in the Woodland Heights area, Forest Hill Park Lake was once a treasure in this community. A part of an amusement park back in the early 1920's, it was used for swimming and boating and the neighborhood was a trolley car development.

But decades of silt accumulation from the reedy creek have made the lake unusable. Overgrown and rundown, its appearance has kept visitors at a distance.

"The people in the neighborhood, in the city most of them didn't know there was a lake here, they came down, they looked it doesn't resemble a lake," said J.R. Pope, Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities Director.

But with a permit from the Department of Environmental Quality the city got the go ahead to begin cleanup and restoration of the lake to its historic boundaries of 3 1/2 acres.

"You've got parents who were here as kids, and they'd like to bring their kids back, grandparents who want to bring grandkids back to fish, look at the wildlife. I think that's, it's just remembering how it was," said Pope.

This major transformation will require the removal of 40 thousand cubic yards plus of sediment, the relocation of Reedy Creek to its orginal channel and creation and enhancement of the surrounding wetlands -- while protecting the integrity of the current ecosystem.

"Basically they've already started with the de-watering, with nets catching everything from tadpoles to small fish and letting them go downstream," said Pope.

The $1.7 million project is being funded through the capital improvement, City of the Future program.

The entire project is expected to take about 6 months to complete. In the meantime this is a construction area, and city officials are asking sightseers to watch from a distance.

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