Last year, the Town of Rocky Mount received a grant from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation’s Preservation Trust Fund, totaling $100,000, to further develop and connect a downtown park with hiking trails and stream-side relaxation at the upper reaches of Furnace Creek to the heart of Rocky Mount in Franklin County. Demonstrating the importance of leveraging natural amenities to foster a vibrant community, the locality has made its wooded trails accessible and an extension of downtown!
Less than a quarter mile from downtown Rocky Mount, Celeste Park, a 6.5 acre forested space, had never quite reached its full potential until recently. The park was donated to the Town of Rocky Mount over a decade ago, but the need for open spaces and places of quiet reflection have become more important and popular as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and local officials have been determined to provide more access to the outdoors for residents and visitors alike.
“Fundraising opportunities have yielded limited success since the town acquired the property. Funds from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation jump-started the park revitalization and allowed the town to really bring the park to life.” – Mark Moore, Assistant Town Manager, Town of Rocky Mount
The town’s quality of life project has helped to establish and improve sidewalk connections, hiking trails, park entrances and more. The town and other community groups are also working to install benches to create additional areas of respite, as well as wayfinding signage along the park’s three trails.
“It was a bit warmer yesterday as I was passing by, and it was so great to see a person walking into the park at the same time as another was walking out. I think there will be a lot more people seeking out the quiet spaces and shade of the park once we get to the spring and summer, and they’ll be using that new sidewalk to get there.” – Beth Simms, Economic Development Director, Franklin County
Click here to learn more about the town’s efforts to improve Celeste Park!
Photo Credit (stream): The Franklin News Post
Photo Credit (Celeste Park trail, sidewalk connection, entrance railings): Virginia Outdoors Foundation
Photo Credit (Celeste Park rendering): Roanoke Valley News