Special to the Mirror from Citizens for Central Park
Up to six additional lamplights will be installed in Cape Charles Central Park this year thanks to a $13,500 grant to Citizens for Central Park from the Eastern Shore of Virginia Community Foundation and $5,000 in capital improvement funds from the Town of Cape Charles. Central Park has evolved over the past fifteen years from an unused school football and baseball field surrounded by a chain link fence, to the vibrant park that William Scott intended it to be when he laid out the Town of Cape Charles in 1883. This change was initiated by a group of interested citizens who in 2002 went on to form Citizens for Central Park as a non-profit organization.
Over the past few years Citizens has focused on encouraging the greater use of the Park. It purchased several thousand small lights which the Town Public Works staff use each winter to create Christmas trees on the Park’s lamp posts, and with the Town it holds an annual Grand Illumination that attracts several hundred people in early December. Soccer goals have been installed on the center grass area and are actively used by youth groups throughout the year. In 2015, Citizens began offering free concerts in the Park during summer weekend evenings that now each attract 300-400 residents and visitors, and local churches and wedding parties have found the gazebo and large grass area in front to be an attractive location for various functions.
The total investment made in the Park to date is close to one million dollars, with a significant portion coming from federal grants to the Town authorized by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) that went toward the multi-use trail (walkway) that rings the Park’s interior and provides four entrance plazas. This funding also covered the installation of 18 lamp posts to light the walkways at night.
Unfortunately, because of budgetary constraints when awarding the construction contract there were not enough funds available to install lights at all of the locations that were planned and pre-wired. With continued increases in Park use during the evenings and the growth in size of the Park’s trees, Citizens made it one of its project priorities this year to purchase and install lamp lights at the north and south ends of the walkway that lead to the gazebo’s western entrance and others along the north and south walkways that lead into the Park from the Strawberry Street and Plum Street entrances.