Fonticello/Carter Jones Park has been around in one form or another since 1915. The surrounding area was subdivided and sold as lots, but the 11 acre section remained undeveloped as a park, and Fonticello Park was created alongside the establishment of the Woodland Heights and Swansboro neighborhoods. In 1924, soon after the land was annexed by Richmond, Councilman Carter Jones successfully advocated for the continued use of the land as a park, saving it from development. The park was subsequently renamed for him.
In 2020, the Friends group is made up of neighborhood volunteers who advocate for and collaborate to maintain and improve the park after years of neglect and deferred maintenance.
The Friends of Fonticello Park is actively involved in working with the City of Richmond through the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities to make improvements to the park that are aligned with the needs and vision of the community.
Friends of Fonticello Park recently launched a new slick website (https://fonticelloparkrva.com/) and Instagram @carterjonesfriends. Instagram looks to be a great way to keep up on what’s coming up in the Park and get involved. For example there is a planning meeting tonight.
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There are four main areas in the park that the Friends are working to improve right now.
- The Food Forest – Currently our FREE FarmStand is every Wednesday. Community members can visit any weekly Farm Stand to help set up, break down, go through produce for compost, or help in the food forest with weeding or planting. There’s always lots to do on Wednesdays.Our vision is to transition the FarmStand into an “always open” rotating free farm stand and food pantry, assisted by a network of volunteers who gather viable produce and rotate it into the farm stand while composting what can no longer be used.
- Dog Park – During the pandemic shut down in 2020, all organized sports at the baseball fields came to a halt. During this time of social isolation, many came to use the baseball fields as a safe space to run their dogs. The park eventually placed “no dog” signs at the entrance of the fields and used heavy chains and locks to prevent people from entering. This didn’t stop people from using their park and fields to exercise their dogs in a safe way in a large expanse of unused space. It was during this time that the need for a dog park became evident.A group of neighbors are currently working together to envision what a dog park could be in order to present their plan to the city. They held their first meeting on August 28th, 2022. After hearing community feedback, the group in attendance felt the eastern baseball field (decommissioned) would be the best place to put a dog park to address concerns about noise and location. Meeting notes can be viewed on the Agendas page and this page will be updated throughout the process to keep the community abreast of the plan and progress.
- Skate Park – The current conceptual plan and recent community surveys have all advocated to prioritize an expanded skate park. At the meeting held on September 14, 2022, the city stated there was no funding to move forward and that the community would need to raise funds for this expansion.Our plan is to continue to work with both the City and skateboarders to prioritize the expansion of the skatepark. If you are interested in getting involved in this work, please let us know on the form on the Get Involved page.
- Native Meadow– During the September 21, 2022, Friends of Fonticello Park meeting with Parks and Recreation, Shamar Young proposed that the city could begin immediately working on a native meadow in the old playground space. He indicated they would be willing to till and level the area and plant wildflower seed in that space as part of the city’s attempt to become a “Bee City” .While this idea was intriguing, unfortunately, wildflower mixes are only native to the country usually, not the region. While they would provide immediate gratification, the Friends of Fonticello Park would rather see this done with true native plants from our local ecosystems. We want to make this an educational space in the park, where community members can come to learn about local ecosystem plants, how they support wildlife and native pollinators, increase soil health, and contribute to cleaner waterways. Our hope is that we may even be able to support seed sharing for folks to plant in their own yard gardens.
- The Spring – They’re also looking at reopening the natural spring that is in the park but there are numerous hurdles including water quality etc. with that plan.
Verdant Richmond was founded in May, 2017 to address the – at times – poor condition of Richmond’s parks and public green spaces. Through volunteer efforts and charitable donations from the community, local small businesses, and the city’s large corporations and foundations, we work to revive and maintain the green spaces that provide moments of tranquility to the city’s residents.
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