Grant issued to support shoreline stabilization at Chickahominy Riverfront Park

Staff writer

The Virginia Environmental Endowment has awarded a $781,900 grant to help bankroll a shoreline stabilization project at Chickahominy Riverfront Park.

That money, along with a matching grant from James City County, will be used to devise a means to address severe erosion on the western bank of the park using breakwaters and a living shoreline, as well as marsh enhancement and stabilization on the park’s north perimeter along Gordon Creek.

Since the match is a 50-50 split, the total project cost is pegged at $1.6 million, said Darryl Cook, James City County assistant director of stormwater and resource protection, in an email.

Cook said this project appears to be the first major effort to address shoreline stabilization on the park’s west bank since the county acquired the park in 2002. There have been small-scale projects in localized areas in the past.

At the helm of the project’s design is Stantec, an international design and engineering firm. The firm’s local engineers and environmental experts will provide design services, construction documents and permitting for the project, according to a Stantec news release announcing the grant late last week.

Not only will the measures improve the area’s water quality, they’ll also help preserve recreational space at the park. Design work is already underway, and construction could begin by winter. The county would put the project out to bid to find a contractor to make the design plan a reality, said Daniel Proctor, a project manager with Santec.

The park’s shoreline is characterized by an eroding bank that ranges from 3- to 15-feet tall. The erosion creates a large amount of sediment and nutrient pollution in the James River, which is downstream of the park, Proctor said.

To fix that, the project will establish a living shoreline with breakwaters on the west side of the park. Rock marsh sills in specific areas will provide enhancement and stabilization to marsh areas along Gordon Creek. The project also includes about .75 acres of riparian, or vegetation, buffer, the release states.

Breakwaters will serve to minimize erosion of the bank by waves, as will the establishment of marsh areas in the project area, Proctor said.

A living shoreline will have a minimal impact on wildlife, and the project is expected to improve the quality of the area’s wildlife and fish habitat, said Andrew Tiefenback, an engineer in training.

The project will also help preserve archaeological resources in the area.

Chickahominy Riverfront Park is owned by James City County and located in the western part of the county. The park offers camping, water recreation and fishing, among other amenities.

Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007,, @jajacobs_

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