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New Virginia State Park opens in Stafford with two miles of waterfront on two rivers

Governor Ralph Northam today, Nov. 8, officially opened Widewater State Park in Stafford County, the Commonwealth’s 38th state park. Widewater State Park covers 1,100 acres, including two miles of water frontage along the Potomac River and Aquia Creek. The cost to taxpayers was about $13.6 million—$6.1 million for the 1100 acres from bonds plus nearly $7.5 million for the improvements/infrastructure.

“Virginia’s state parks attract millions of visitors each year, serving as affordable vacation destinations and adding to the economic vitality of the communities where they are located,” according to Gov. Northam. “With the dedication of this new state park we build upon Virginia’s legacy of conservation and environmental stewardship and expand opportunities for the public to experience our Commonwealth’s natural beauty and renowned system of state parks.”

According to the Governor’s Office, the property was originally purchased by Dominion Energy as a site for a proposed power plant. It was later approved for development of 700 residential units, a resort conference center and extensive infrastructure. Dominion sold the property for $1 million less than the assessed value in 2013. The Trust for Public Land and Stafford County assisted in the transaction.

According to Matthew Strickler, Secretary of Natural Resources, “The development of a low-impact state park on waterfront property significantly reduces the possibility of increased water quality degradation.”

Funding for the $6.1 million property was from Virginia Public Building Authority bonds and a federal appropriation of $225,000 secured by Virginia’s congressional delegation, a news release said, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

“This has been a long journey, from purchasing the property to adding nearly $7.5 million in improvements—roads, buildings and other infrastructure,”Clyde Cristman, Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), was quoted as saying in the news release. “So many partners have contributed along the way to make this park a reality.”

Ten million people visit Virginia each year, according to State Parks Director Craig Seaver. “Widewater State Park allows us to provide water access in one of the most heavily populated areas of Virginia while maintaining the serenity people expect when they visit one of our 38 state parks,” he was quoted as saying in the news release.

For more about Virginia State Parks, visit http://www.VirginiaStateParks.gov.

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