Blackwater Park is now open to the public

Published 4:22 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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The city of Franklin’s Blackwater Park, located at 1716 N. High St., is now open to the public.

Shortly after 8 a.m. on Friday, March 31, the Franklin Department of Parks and Recreation posted on its Facebook page, “We are excited about Blackwater Park opening today.”

The post noted that the park will operate seven days a week from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

The park’s ribbon cutting ceremony took place Dec. 13, with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and other state and local officials participating, but there was a significant delay with regard to the park being open to the public.

Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt explained Dec. 14 that the city was waiting on a gate installation before the park could be open to the public, and she said city staff anticipated receiving the gate in the next few weeks.

Receipt of the gate did not end up happening until March.

“With all these supply chain issues, it’s taken us forever to get the gate,” Jarratt said during a March 3 interview. “The gate is supposed to be delivered first of next week, so I would say that we hope to open (the park) to the public in March.”

That estimate was met, with the new 203-acre park’s debut to the public happening on Friday.

“The city of Franklin is thrilled to finally open Blackwater Park to the public,” Jarratt said early Friday afternoon. “The access to trails, the boardwalk into the Blackwater swamp, and picnic pavilion are amazing additions to the community.”

She emphasized how grateful the city is to the various funding agencies that made the park possible.

“We hope that the entire region will enjoy the incredible amenity that this facility is and the access to nature,” she said.

Franklin Mayor Robert “Bobby” Cutchins acknowledged that it has been a long wait, but he said he is hearing from the community that everybody is excited about being able to finally explore the park.

“(We’re) just trying to do what we can to make Franklin the best it can be, and we’ll never stop making things better — that’s got to be our goal,” he said. “With people to be able to get a touch of nature out there on that walk, it’s just beautiful. So I’m excited for people coming in.”