It’s handy when trying to finish a 130,000 word guidebook about Richmond that’s a few thousand words too long at the moment  to live in a region where the localities find separate but equally short-sighted ways to balance their out of whack budgets.

Chesterfield County is on the verge of cutting out all of its Outdoor Adventure programs, closing Rockwood Park Nature Center, and taking away whatever support it gives to the few historic and unique sites in the county that are left.

So all I have to do now is delete everything in my book that was interesting about Chesterfield County and I’ll be under the word limit. Goodbye coolest outdoor program in the region–one of the few examples of regionalism since Greg Velzy and company teach water sports classes at city parks with the city’s blessing. Goodbye access to Magnolia Grange, federal plantation across from the old courthouse. Goodbye  Challenge Course, another cool part of the Outdoor Adventure program. Good bye animals that brought nature alive, literally, to kids at the nature center. Good bye jobs that these people have done so well to make Chesterfield something other than the poster child for sprawl. 

But on to my modest proposal. Henricus Historical Park, in Chesterfield though it sounds like it would be in Henrico, won’t be shut down in the budgetary mess because it’s run by a regional entity.  How did that sneak by us? Richmond and Henrico help Chesterfield out there. It’s a worthwhile place, but it’s odd that it gets the benefits of regionalism when so many more heavily used parks don’t. The James River Park System, www.jamesriverpark.org , in Richmond comes to mind.  Most of its users come from the counties and beyond. If you’ve ever been to Pony Pasture on a sunny summer afternoon, you know it’s a madhouse. I’ve spent too many hours directing traffic there as a Friend of James River Park board member than I care to count. The entire park could use more dough for staff salaries, maintenance, parking management,  trail improvements, etc. etc.

So to fix everything, I propose we change Pony Pasture’s name to Chesterfieldo.  Has such a great ring to it. (It was a field in Chesterfield County before the 1970-something annexation.) No doubt then the regional money would start pouring in and all would be well. Who knew regionalism could be so easy?

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