Grant application for riverwalk denied

Published 2:40 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation has denied the City of Franklin’s application for a $268,000 Recreational Trails Program grant. The city had requested the grant earlier this year for the construction of a riverwalk park on 15 acres of land bordering East Second Avenue and the western bank of the Blackwater River.

According to a letter from the DCR to Franklin’s community development director, Donald Goodwin, dated Sept. 28, the Recreational Trails Program received a total of 23 applications this cycle, requesting over $5.6 million in assistance.

Though the DCR gave no specific reason for denial in the letter, Interim City Manager Clarence Monday said that grant applications tend to score better if other people or businesses already have money invested in the project at the time the application is submitted, and if the project is connected in some way to other initiatives.

Had the city received the requested grant, it would have matched $67,000 in local funds – roughly 20 percent of the estimated cost of the project — with the grant funding the other 80 percent. With the application rejected, the city now plans to form a stakeholders committee to evaluate options for other funding sources, and to move forward with possible amenities to the park area that will strengthen the city’s application during the 2020 grant cycle.

In March of this year, International Paper donated the 15 acres of land on which the park is to be constructed.

Plans to create a riverwalk on this land have been in the works for several years. In the city’s 2015-2025 Comprehensive Plan, it is stated that, “The use of the area along the river for recreational purposes should be a priority for the City’s future. The downtown area is a prime candidate to attract tourism by expanding the shoreline to offer greater opportunities for residents to access the riverfront while helping in the protection of wetland areas.”