Battery Park to celebrate reopening Saturday

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond's historic Battery Park is ready to officially re-open nearly three years after Tropical Storm Ernesto destroyed the area.

By all accounts, Battery Park was destroyed in 2006.

"I remember standing here 3 years ago in the pouring rain and just watching up it fill up with raw sewage," said Richmond Council Member Chris Hilbert.

"A catastrophe, a terrible catastrophe," said Richmond resident Mary Strayhorn.

The tennis courts where Mary Strayhorn once watched Arthur Ashe play were under 30 feet of water. She can't believe what it looks like today.

"It's just pretty and then the different sports that the kids can play out here, and you can feel comfortable brining your kids out here, standing watching them," said Strayhorn.

The 10 tennis courts have been resurfaced, the basketball courts were moved. The bathrooms were replaced, green space was added and there are now two playgrounds.

"It's a beautiful place to play tennis to play basketball or to just enjoy the outdoors. Just a beautiful place and I'm very excited about its reopening," said Hilbert.

Public utilities also built a multimillion dollar pipe under the golf course to prevent future flooding.

"We've had some pretty good rain issues come up since it was all done. And there's not a speck of water in the bottom like it was. I mean every thing's draining like it should. It was done and done right," said J.R. Pope, Director of Parks and Recreation.

Mary Strayhorn's just hoping it never again takes flooding in this city to see a rebirth like this.

"It's just good to have something that's right in the middle of the city that you can just go to and sit down and relax and enjoy yourself," Strayhorn said.

There's still a little work that needs to be done out here. Two more tennis courts will be built by the end of the summer. The Battery Park grand re-opening celebration begins Saturday morning. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. followed by music, food and entertainment. A basketball tournament will kick off at 11 a.m. and the pool opens at 1:00 p.m.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.