Chapel Island Enhancement Project
Nathan Burrell, James River Park System Manager,
overseeing the building of the boat ramp on Chapel Island.
The RRPDC is partnering with the
City of Richmond
Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities/James River
Parks to sponsor
the creation of a system of trails, interpretive signage, and a
canoe/kayak put-in ramp on Chapel Island.
The project is funded by a grant from the Virginia
Coastal Zone Management Program (VCZM) obtained by the RRPDC, who
serves as the fiscal agent. The project funds are being matched through
in-kind labor by hundreds of volunteers from many groups, including
James River Hikers,
HandsOn Greater Richmond,
of the James River Park,
Altria volunteers, and school-sponsored groups.
The project was completed and a celebratory opening in
conjunction with the Virginia Capital Trail trailhead at Great Shop Lock
Park was held on October 15, 2013.
Chapel Island Final Report summarizes the project partners,
process and outcome of the work effort.
Chapel Island is accessible from the
Great Shiplock Park section of the
James River Park System and sits just across the canal from the
soon-to-be improved trailhead of the
Virginia Capital Trail.
Google map of Chapel Island.
This project will increase access to the James River in the east end
of Richmond by opening access to approximately 5.8 acres of riverfront
park land. The enhanced accessibility and safety on Chapel Island will
provide health benefits, wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing,
walking, paddling, and other environmentally friendly activities to a
Trails will make the island an extension of the City’s bicycle and
pedestrian network, and connect it to the Virginia Capital Trail, the
Canal Walk and the James River Park System as well as proposed trails in
the City Riverfront Master Plan. Through
interpretative signage, the project will
highlight the history of the island and its historic role for the City,
as well as the James River and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The amenity will be used by the growing number of area residents, and
will serve to promote the City and its history as more tourists take
advantage of the Virginia Capital Trail. The
Virginia Capital Trail
Foundation is undertaking a companion project transforming the Great
Ship Lock Park into a primary trailhead in the City of Richmond.
A canoe/kayak put-in will further increase access and diminish the
impact that human activity has on the river by providing well-defined
access for paddlers.
The interpretive signage will explain various features of the island
including the Combined Sewer Overflow retention basin, the ecology of
the James' tidal portion, and the history of the island and the Trigg
Shipyard. Informal overlooks will accentuate the impression of
interaction with the river.
History of Chapel Island
Chapel Island has a rich history, including being noted as a possible
first landing site for Captains John Smith and Christopher Newport in
1607, as well as the site of the Trigg Shipbuilding Company in 1898. Two
large 15-foot high concrete walls of the Trigg remain today.
Chapel Island is owned by the City’s Department of Public Utilities
and the western portion of the island is occupied by a 50-million gallon
combined sewer overflow (CSO) covered retention basin.