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Waynesboro transforms landfill into mountaintop park

The summit of Sunset Park in Waynesboro provides a view of the mountains stretching down to Lexington.
Randi B. Hagi
The summit of Sunset Park in Waynesboro provides a view of the mountains stretching down to Lexington.

The city of Waynesboro has redeveloped an old rock quarry and landfill into a mountaintop park. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi visited and filed this report.

[breeze blowing, distant birdsong]

The 107-acre "Sunset Park" overlooking the Basic City side of Waynesboro opened to the public in early June. From a spacious pavilion on the hilltop, the mountains unfurl to a nearly 50-mile-long view down the Blue Ridge. The park is part of city leaders' broader vision to revitalize this part of town for residents and tourists. Dwayne Jones, director of Parks and Recreation, explains –

DWAYNE JONES: I mean, there's Basic City Brewing. We're two miles from Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway, the Crozet Tunnel – lots of things to do on this side of town and lots of ways to make an easy day trip.

Dwayne Jones, director of Parks and Recreation, is in his 30th year working for the city.
Randi B. Hagi
Dwayne Jones, director of Parks and Recreation, is in his 30th year working for the city.

He said the $3.2 million project took many years of planning and about 14 months to build. The former quarry-turned-landfill on the front slope of the park was capped in 2011. Jones worked with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to convert the property while monitoring residual methane from the buried trash and the cleanliness of nearby groundwater. The back of the park descends into a young forest with a one-mile walking and mountain biking trail.

Edrina and John Allen of Charlottesville took in the view from the park's pavilion.
Randi B. Hagi
Edrina and John Allen of Charlottesville took in the view from the park's pavilion.

Edrina and John Allen came over from Charlottesville earlier this week to enjoy the view. Edrina's grandfather used to have a small grocery store nearby called Paul's.

EDRINA ALLEN: It's just what I thought it would be. I grew up in Afton, and my grandfather had a store down at the bottom of this hill, and we used to look up here all the time and see the rock mountain. So it's nice, it's really nice! … I love it.

Three more miles of trails are in the works, and the city won a $950,000 federal planning grant to design a connecting trail to the Crozet Tunnel and Shenandoah National Park.

The Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition built the wooded trail, which is geared towards novice- to intermediate-level cyclists.
Randi B. Hagi
The Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition built the wooded trail, which is geared towards novice- to intermediate-level cyclists.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.