By Taylor Boyd
The Rotary Club of Stuart recently started work on a new trail on the north side of the property.
“We’re just beginning to sweep back the leaves and carve in the trails. There’s a little bit of handwork that has to be done, but the woods lay pretty good,” Wayne Kirkpatrick, club member, said.
Kirkpatrick said the trail will follow along an access road that goes to the Staples Family Cemetery.
“One trail goes to the cemetery and also beside it. Then, it’ll come down and come by a back grass field. Then, you can walk along the grass and then there’s an access road that picks up and brings you back to the start,” he said, adding the loop maps out as seven-tenths of a mile.
He said the organization has ideas for other trial loops but has not gotten past the planning stages for development.
“We’ve blown the leaves off some of them, but we haven’t addressed the actual needs on the ground or places that are steep that we have to level the treed. We still have a lot of places to work on, not continuous along the trail, but in spots that have to be worked on,” he said.
“There’s a gorgeous creek that runs alongside part of it,” Laura Clark, club president, said, and added that the trail could be used as a meeting place, or by parents who wanted to walk during a ballgame or practice.
She said the trail is part of a site plan the organization worked on with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s Community Design Assistance Center to develop the 77-acre property.
“They were able to section it out in pieces as to what we could do budget wise” within a 10-to-15-year timeframe, she said.
Clark said the club decided to start with the trails because trails “are something our community has really kind of asked for and wants. Especially now with COVID and getting outside and being able to walk, and also I think the trials are important to start with because it gains excitement for this property.”
Kirkpatrick added the trails are the first order of business because they’re mostly “grunt labor with not too much money involved.”
He said the plan also plans to expand the 1.8-mile Mayo River Trail as a future endeavor. “Eventually the Mayo River Rail Trail will come along the edge of the field and come down the upper end” of the field.
Clark said the group is also considering adding campgrounds to the property.
“I don’t know if we would quite go the route of trailer camping, it was just an idea. But we definitely may want some primitive camping along the river. That would be a big logistical as far as working with the sheriff’s office and the county to keep that maintained and safe,” she said.
“Another big need is bathrooms that are accessible to the ballfields. So, we have a concept plan for a bathhouse that’s kind of associated with a potential amphitheater and concessions building, so it would be accessible to people who are watching games,” Clark said.
She said the potential outdoor amphitheater would be constructed behind the field parking area and include “a stage if someone wants to hold an outdoor theater, have music, storytelling, you name it.”
“Even as it is now, I think I’ve seen published that 40,000 people use the facility yearly. So, it’s quite busy all the time and we hope this will just add amenities that will make it more user friendly,” Kirkpatrick said.
“Nothing’s set in stone yet. It’s very flexible and it’s just as we have the funds and the personnel, we’ll advance through the concepts we have here,” he said.
“It’s ever evolving,” Clark said, and added “it’s a community property. Sure, we might own it, but it’s very community minded and we want people to be able to use it to the best of their ability. You can see that with the fair the ballgames and the practices and our partnership with the Recreation Department.”
For more information, to join, or to volunteer, contact the organization by messaging the Facebook Page, Rotary Club of Stuart VA.