Good morning Friends of the James River Park,
The Park is so green and lively right now, I really hope you are all taking advantage of the cooler weather before things really heat up. I have been spending a lot of extra time in the Park with volunteers over the past few months and it has been incredibly rewarding. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to have a job that allows me to spend my time taking care of this great resource.
Between our time in the Park for work, and our time in the Park for fun, we found time to put together and approve our FY 24 budget. The year we are in right now, FY 23, has been our most successful year for fundraising and James River Park System spending. Together we will have raised and spent more than $600,000 towards our work to protect, expand, and enhance the Park.
Next fiscal year we are making significant investments in the JRPS Education team, and increasing our commitment to the “Superintendent’s Fund”. This is a dedicated fund that allows Giles to make purchases and cover smaller projects in the Park at her discretion. This year the fund was used to pay for things like the Pony Pasture parking lot repairs, new equipment for the education team, supplies for the invasive plant removal team, and staff appreciation events. We pay for this work out of the funds you donate and we are grateful for the chance to support the JRPS team this way.
This year we also made significant investments in smaller projects. We worked with JRPS staff to expand the trail from the 21st St. Tower to Belle Isle, replace the Tredegar St. boat ramp, install new directional and interpretive signage, and we will begin construction on the Reedy Creek Bypass in a few weeks. Next year we will be focusing on fundraising for a larger Master Plan project, which we will announce at the end of the Summer, and working on a sketchy section of the North Bank Trail.
We also worked with partners to purchase new equipment for the Park this year. Working with the City and rvaMORE, we purchased a new trail maintenance vehicle called a Marooka. Our friends at the Beirne Carter Foundation also provided support for us to be able to purchase a brand-new patrol vehicle and an off-road vehicle for the Urban Park Ranger program, which is about to launch. Next year we will be replacing an aging piece of JRPS equipment that will make a big difference for the Park’s Operations team.
The last thing I want to highlight about our FY24 budget is the unprecedented investments we are making in invasive plant removal and awareness next year. Thanks to the tireless work of the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and our new funding partners at the Richard King Mellon Foundation, we have been able to grow the fight against invasive plants. We will be launching a project to engage Park neighbors in the process as well. This is important environmental conservation work and I am especially proud that we can provide a support system to make this work possible.
We are a lean organization, striving to be the Park support organization the JRPS deserves. The FY24 budget reflects our goals to protect, expand, and enhance the Park. We are excited to be able to continue supporting the JRPS team next year. None of our work is possible without your financial support, and we appreciate your ongoing contributions. If you have not made your 2023 gift yet there is still plenty of time! https://jamesriverpark.org/
See you in the Park!