New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | October 16, 2017

Primitive camping approved at Lawrence Lewis Jr. Park in Charles City

By Andre Jones | September 26, 2017 10:23 pm

Lawrence Lewis Jr. Park in Charles City will now be a camping site for hikers, kayakers, and bikers.

Charles City supervisors approved 2-1 a proposal for a primitive campsite at the park.

Justin Doyle of the James River Association presented plans for the construction of three primitive camping areas and one group camping area to county leaders during the Sept. 26 regular board meeting. The proposed locations for the campsites are on the northside of Lawrence Lewis Jr. park near the picnic and restroom area.

“The primitive campsites would create an existing gap of a camping network along the James River,” Doyle told supervisors. “By having a campsite, it would allow for multi-day expeditions.”

The primitive campsites consist of tent camping only, limited amenities, and no car camping. Campers are self-sufficient and no fires will be burned in the area. All cooking of food will be done on grills located in the nearby picnic area. The primitive campsites can host a maximum of four individuals while the group campsite can hold 20 individuals. According to Doyle, no vehicular access would be allowed to the sites and all construction costs are to be paid through a grant obtained by the James River Association.

“We believe the campsite will help attract those who use the James River and the Virginia Capital Trail and provide them a place to stay during the night,” Doyle concluded.

During the discussion period, District 3 supervisor Floyd Miles Sr. voiced concerns over the project.

“I am not sold on the reward compared to the liability that may fall on the county,” he said. “It is going to take a tremendous job to monitor activity going on down there.”

Miles specifically talked about using police resources to monitor activity of rules set forth by the recreation advisory committee that includes the length of stay, noise, in the area, and proper use of the facility. District 2 supervisor and board chairman Bill Coada also chimed in with his concerns.

“I disagree with the location from the standpoint of carrying paddles to the river,” the chairman said. “I have to agree with Mr. Miles when it comes to that particular spot because cars can access the campground since it’s not being protected by the gate.

“But as an avid biker and kayaker, I believe this will be another additional benefit for the county,” Coada concluded.

After a brief discussion, Coada and District 1 representative Gilbert Smith approved the proposal, while Miles casted the lone dissenting vote.

Campers will be allowed to stay a maximum of one night from 6 p.m.-8 a.m. Registration must be done in advance with Charles City Parks and Recreation department at a cost of $15 a night for a primitive camp and $5/person at the group campsite. Construction of the campground is expected to be completed by the end of fall.

In other board actions:

-Approved BB&T as the lender of $2.5 million for the funding of the proposed library. Payments on the loan will not commence until 2019, right around the time frame when all loans for Charles City’s Courthouse will be paid off.

-Announced the moving of the December regular scheduled meeting from Dec. 26 to Dec. 21 due to county offices being closed for the winter holiday.