Marina Concept Plan
The Hopewell City Marina is a heavily utilized public access point on the Appomattox River. The facility is located just west of the Charles Hardaway Marks Bridge (State Route 10) and is just over a mile from the confluence of the James and Appomattox Rivers to the east. The marina serves thousands of residents and visitors each year in the pursuit of recreational activities such as boating, fishing, kayaking, and birding. The facility is also home to a variety of competitive fishing tournaments and supports community events like the Rockin' on the River Concert Series, FOLAR Paddle Battle, and Fireworks on the Appomattox.
For several decades, the marina operated as the Hopewell Yacht Club, a private boating organization that offered slip rentals, a clubhouse, boat ramp, and regular events through a lease agreement with the City. In the early 2000's, the City assumed day-to-day management of the existing facilities. In 2013, the facility received significant upgrades in the form of construction of a new store, expansion of the boat ramp, repairs to bulkheads, parking lot paving, site-wide dredging, and repairs to boat slips. The City then awarded a contract to a private firm to manage the day-to-day operations of the store, boat ramp, and slip rentals.
Much of the facility's existing dock infrastructure was established during the Hopewell Yacht Club's operation of the marina. The open and covered boat slips have been in place for more than 50 years and show significant signs of degradation. The docks and boardwalk are timber-framed structures featuring traditional decking supported by pilings driven into the river bottom. Over the last several years, the department has had to address issues with cross-sectional loss of support pilings, failing structural elements, failing roof panels, and structural shifting. Repair of these facilities has become extremely costly and increasingly difficult. The frequency of repairs has strained the marina's annual operating funds. Continued operation of the existing facilities is no longer feasible or sustainable.
The Future of the Waterfront
The City is faced with the challenge of determining the best path forward for the waterfront area at the Hopewell City Marina. The City could pursue rebuilding boat slips, selling the marina as a whole to a private operator, or converting the waterfront into a space for the entire community to enjoy. After a thorough analysis of each option, City staff recommends a redevelopment of the waterfront for expanded public access through a variety of recreational activities. The new concept plan eliminates long-term slip rentals and the corresponding facilities. It also removes the City of Hopewell from direct competition with other local privately owned marinas.
Key Elements of the Concept Plan
- Improve public access to the waterfront for the community as a whole
- Remove the City of Hopewell from direct competition with other small business private marinas
- Improve the existing boat ramp and its docks
- Create a public space on the waterfront to support events, tournaments, and general public use
- Increase pedestrian safety
- Create facilities designed specifically for the transient boating community
- Improve existing public fishing area
- Re-establish public playground at the overlook pavilion
- Create opportunities for public art and historical interpretation
- Address ongoing issues with bulkheads and shoreline erosion
- Improve parking lot conditions at the existing kayak launch and at the overlook pavilion
- Create connections to the Hopewell Riverwalk and Riverside Park Greenway Trail
- Address environmental concerns and provide better stewardship of natural resources
- Encourage economic development on adjacent parcels
- Create improved gateway aesthetics for travelers entering the City from Chesterfield County
Part of the decision to move forward with the new concept is based on available funding sources. Rebuilding new boat slips would be extremely expensive and outside funding sources are limited. Selling the facility to a private operator would result in one-time revenue from the sale but could jeopardize public access to the river. Redeveloping the waterfront to be more accessible provides a number of funding opportunities through outside sources, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Boating Infrastructure Grant program, Recreational Trails program, and other local philanthropic sources.