ExxonMobil has agreed to remediate and improve a 4.3-acre section of Ancarrow’s Landing in order to reuse an area that once housed a fertilizer-mixing facility for park improvements along the James River, according to Richmond officials.
The plan, which ExxonMobil is committing to voluntarily as the corporate successor to the former Virginia Carolina Chemical Corp., will involve the removal of about 5,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated by lead and arsenic from the chemical facility that operated there from the mid-1920s to 1962.
The subsequent restoration will involve an expanded parking area with space for up to 30 boat trailers and 73 cars. Canal stones that have been stockpiled will be reused by being placed around the park to provide seating and define certain areas. More lighting will be added and access trails will be improved, including the area near the beginning of the Richmond Slave Trail. The city may also locate a historic slave cabin at the site.
“The city has been in talks with ExxonMobil about what we’d like to see happen in this important, historic area that is a key feature in our overall Riverfront Plan,” Norman C. Merrifield, the city’s director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department, said in an announcement this week. “As a result of this planned remediation and ExxonMobil’s initiative, park users will benefit from a number of upgrades and enhanced environmental protections.”
Ancarrow’s Landing is a popular fishing spot and boat launch on the south side of the river before Rocketts Landing. The 24-acre park area is located at the end of Brander Street.
The improvement project, which will be paid for by ExxonMobil, is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Some trees will be removed during the project, but the area will be reforested. The lawn area will also have to be restored with new sod.
The environmental remediation, which is being done through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s Voluntary Remediation Program, will involve the removal of contaminated soil at depths of up to 2 feet and the removal of an old concrete tank.
The material will be sent off-site to a DEQ-approved landfill.
Tax incentives are available for some voluntary remediation projects, according to a DEQ spokesman, but it wasn’t immediately clear if the Ancarrow’s Landing project would qualify.
The project is scheduled to be reviewed by the Planning Commission on May 19.