By Randy Arrington
LURAY, July 7 — Town officials cut the ribbon on Wednesday to officially dedicate Luray’s newest pocket park called “Creekside Commons.” The gateway project has been in the planning stages for more than 18 months, with final construction taking place over the last six to eight months.
“In addition to adding more parking for downtown, we wanted to get our visitors out of their car,” former Luray Downtown Initiative program director Meredith Dees told the small crowd gathered along the Hawksbill Creek. “We want them to stop, get out of their car, get out in downtown and shop.”
The pocket park is part of a gateway aesthetics project that the town launched several years ago beginning with new sidewalks and greenery along walkways on Route 340 just north of Main Street. The new park contains seven parking spaces, a picnic table, benches and a “bling frame.”
“This is a wonderful addition to our gateway into town,” Mayor Jerry Dofflemyer said prior to Wednesday’s ribbon cutting. “It was a several-phase project starting with the sidewalks on both sides…This one is really special to me because as some of you may know, my family owned the Ford dealership across the street…and when I was ‘Honest Jerry’, I sold cars on this lot right here.”
As a member of the Board of Directors for Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Dofflemyer also touted the free electric vehicle charging station, which occupies one of the parking spaces. It’s only the fourth public charging station in Page County.
The town’s newest pocket park cost more than $100,000 with a quarter of that cost covered by a $25,000 grant LDI secured through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VDHCD) and the Virginia Main Street program. LDI partnered with the Town of Luray and the Page Alliance for Community Action (PACA) to make the project a reality. Three private donors contributed funds for the benches and ADA-approved picnic table.
The project was initially projected to cost around $125,000 and actually came in under budget. The town utilized its own crews for most of the construction.
“I can remember two years ago when this lot had rusty barrels and used cars on it,” former LDI chairman Bill Huffman said at Wednesday’s event.
Josh’s Welding of Luray helped create the “bling frame” at Creekside Commons. The attraction is aimed at providing tourists and locals alike the opportunity to create a moment with a perfect backdrop of a Luray mural. The town and LDI plan to decorate the frame with a seasonal message to make it even more attractive to travelers. Dees said she had seen similar attractions in other tourists locations and thought it would offer “a cool photo opportunity.”
The pocket park marked an ending for both Dees and Huffman, who saw it through from the beginning. Dees stepped down as program director in February, but agreed to stay on to help finish Creekside Commons. Huffman stepped down as chairman on July 1 after serving in that capacity for four years.
Both Dees and Huffman offered praise and thanks to Luray’s Parks and Recreation Department, as well as assistant town manager Brian Chrisman, for their help with the project.
An improved kiosk and a sign provided by PACA will be installed at Creekside Commons soon.