The Richmond Region will soon be a national cycling and mountain biking destination thanks to a project to re-vamp the trail system within Pocahontas State Park. Richmond 2015, the planning committee for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, has planned to make the park the site of their first legacy project. Part of the project will be for the region to become a Ride Center, approved by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). There are currently only 11 other IMBA Ride Centers in the nation.
The project will look to improve and create 50 miles of trail within the park. The formation of the Ride Center will be orchestrated in partnership by IMBA, Richmond 2015, Pocahontas State Park, the James River Park System, the City of Richmond, representatives from Richmond and Chesterfield governments, and the Virginia Association for Parks.
At the press conference to kick off fundraising on Tuesday, July 9th Wilson H. Flohr, Jr., CEO of Richmond 2015, expressed his excitement over the project.
“While our event is nine days, the legacy will last forever. I’m thrilled that the Richmond region IMBA Ride Center will be our first legacy project,” Flohr said. “It’s a great example of community leaders, many sitting here, coming together for a common cause and it will be an outstanding bicycle asset to our community for both our citizens and visitors from all around the world.”
Later on Flohr said he is pleased with how the region has received Richmond 2015, and the announcement of the Legacy Project. He believes the attention to the trails will cause Richmond to become a destination hot-spot for bikers around the country.
“Well this is our first Legacy Project of Richmond 2015, which I think is important with all the initiatives the Sports Backers are doing and a lot of the bike coalition is looking at cycling as a health and wellness program for our community, as well as trying to integrate trails in and around neighborhoods,” Flohr said. “This is a perfect example of that, of community participation, regional cooperation and really kind of ear marking the Richmond region as a wonderful place to come visit not only about cycling but all the other wonderful activities and reasons people would want to come to the Richmond area.”
Magnum Economic Consulting, Inc. has been studying the possible economic impact of the project and has established that tourism accounts for $400 million per year to the area’s economy. This new project would increase economic activity in Chesterfield County by $2.7 million, $4.5 million throughout the state.
The state has given $50,000 to the project, which was approved by Governor Bob McDonnell, who was also present at Tuesday’s ceremonies.
“This is a regional partnership. It’s different localities working together with the government and with the private sector all to achieve a common goal of providing world class entertainment and avenues for a healthy lifestyle here at this beautiful Pocahontas State Park,” McDonnell said.
The Dominion Foundation has matched Virginia’s amount with a $50,000 donation to the effort. This leaves slightly over one million dollars needed to complete the trails, add new bathrooms and improve parking. All fundraising will be going through the Virginia Association for Parks.
“It’s a terrific opportunity for a company like Dominion to be involved in a project like this,” said Hunter Applewhite, President of the Dominion Foundation. “It makes great sense for the community. It makes great sense for Dominion to create an asset like this that so many people can enjoy – and not just folks in Richmond and Virginia but even outside of Virginia and around the country; around the world even.”
Steve Elswick, of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors was on-hand along with Richmond City Councilman Parker Agelasto in support of what the Ride Center will mean for their areas.
“I think the city has kind of established itself as a destination, but what this does is gives more trails. It gives a different trail system and people can come for more days,” Agelasto said. “What we currently have are people that may come for a single night and do two days. This will keep them in the region longer, which is great for the economic development and impact component.”
Elswick echoed Agelasto’s enthusiasm saying the region has many different parks and outdoor areas that this project will help highlight.
“Any time we can have a destination place in the metro area it benefits everyone,” Elswick said. “People come here and they want to ride a difficult course, and then they can go into the city and ride the river course. They can eat out in Chesterfield; spend the night here in Chesterfield. They can go to Henricus Park. There are so many things to do in the metro area; this just brings people in to experience that.”
For more information regarding donations visit http://www.virginiaparks.org/.