COURTHOUSE – The city is in the process of converting the former Captain George’s and marina property along Old Pungo Ferry Road and the North Landing River into a park, and aspects of the property, such as a boat ramp and an expanded beach along the river, may be open late this summer.
It will be called Pungo Ferry Landing Park.
“We don’t have an opening day,” said Barbara Duke, an open space planner for the city parks and recreation, who added that the beach and a boat ramp would be the amenities available then. “It’s the latter part of the summer, for sure.”
The site is not now open to the public, she said. When it is, the marina portion of the property will not be available to the public due to disrepair. Duke said the city “in the future” might look at plans to reopen it, perhaps with a private partner.
The city is already restoring parts of the site, which it purchased using agriculture and open space funds last year. It had been largely unused for years. A plan to redevelop the site in 2007 for a restaurant and boat storage fell through, according to a city planning report on the land.
On Wednesday, April 13, the Planning Commission voted to recomend rezoning the property from mixed use — a far cry from nearby agricultural uses — to preservation, clearing the way for more significant work at the site.
Before that vote, planning Commissioner Karen Beardslee Kwasny, who represents the Princess Anne District, advised the Agricultural Advisory Commission about the proposed change.
“It limits development in an environmentally sensitive area, and it’s going to provide a super amenity for the city,” Beardslee Kwasny said in an interview.
During the meeting in Creeds, Councilmember Barbara Henley, who also represents the Princess Anne District, said mixed use zoning for the 20 acres would not be missed.
“That just would have allowed a lot of things that were not compatible with the area,” Henley said.
The council is scheduled to consider the matter on May 17, said Kevin Kemp, the city planner guiding the project’s rezoning through the approval process.
Some work at the site has been completed, and other improvements are planned following the rezoning.
Kemp said the city hopes to complete initial improvements so the public can use the “beautiful site” this summer, such as expanding a beach along the river — and renovating the the boat ramp.
“I know that’s the next thing they’re going to do,” Kemp said during a telephone interview.
Duke, among other officials, said the property is a special opportunity for the city to build a park in the southern reaches of Virginia Beach that will serve locals as well as, potentially, ecotourism.
“The stars aligned,” she said.
© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC