Wednesday, September 26, 2012

City to Open New Bike Skills Training Area on Belle Isle

The department will open its new Belle Isle Bike Skills Area on Saturday, September 29, at 10 a.m. with a celebration that will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, demonstrations, and tours. The public is invited to attend and to bring their bicycles to try out the mountain bike training area.
     “I encourage residents and visitors to come discover the Belle Isle Bike Skills Training Area as it is another step Richmond is taking to create bike-friendly, outdoor tourist attractions, as we prepare for the UCI Road World Cycling Championships in 2015,” comments Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “The benefits of cycling are tremendous to our city in many ways, including our efforts to encourage city residents to get active and adopt a healthy lifestyle.”
      The new training area is located within the James River Park on Belle Isle across from the Tredegar Street suspension bridge. It includes a beginner and expert pump track, rock gardens, and log and rock skinnies in addition to other features. Bicyclists can learn to handle these obstacles and challenges, which they will find on the trails throughout the James River Park, in a controlled environment.
     “This site, which has been built largely with the labor of volunteers who love mountain biking, will provide a place to learn and practice mountain biking skills and introduce the fun of mountain biking as a recreational activity to a much larger audience,” said Dr. Norman C. Merrifield, director of the department.
      In addition, while this new facility provides “off-road” training, the city also has plans to add an “on-road” training component on Belle Isle adjacent to this site. The on-road training facility will provide a place for children and adults to become competent bicyclists, as well as learn and practice the skills needed to ride safely in an urban environment. 
     “The James River Park is already known throughout the East coast and internationally for its outstanding network of urban mountain biking trails. Now with the addition of this skills area Richmond has enhanced its reputation as a ‘bike city,’” said Jakob Helmoldt, the city’s bicycle, pedestrian and trails coordinator.
      Organizations that provided volunteers who helped construct the new training site, as well as in-kind donations, include the Friends of the James River Park, the James River Outdoor Coalition, the Richmond Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, the International Mountain Biking Association, Virginia Bicycling Federation, Hands-On Greater Richmond, SportsBackers, Altria, Luck Stone, Tektonics Design Group, Sattler Creative, Alpine Trails, Dreaming Creek, and Green Side Up Landscaping.
     The Belle Isle Skills Area is free to use and is open from sunrise to sunset. For more information, call (804) 646-5733 or visit


Monday, September 17, 2012

Spotlight Gallery to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the City’s Department of Parks Recreation and Community Facilities will host an art exhibit featuring the works of local artist, Helene Ruiz. The exhibit, titled “Sabor Feminina” (Feminine Flavor), will open with a reception on Friday, September 21 from 6 to 8p.m. at the Spotlight Gallery, which is located within the department’s Pine Camp Arts and Community Center, 4901 Old Brook Road.
      The works on display will include Ruiz’s Goddess series with paintings influenced by Afro-Cuban/Latin spirituality and culture. Born in New York City, Ruiz has exhibited and curated numerous shows and is the founder of The Urban Individualists, an international artists collective.
     The free exhibit is open to the public and will be on display through November 2 in Pine Camp’s Spotlight Gallery. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Department Introduces Exciting, New After School Program with Open House

Are you looking for an after school program that children will love? If so, consider the new program sponsored by Richmond Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities in area elementary schools.
     “We’ve enhanced our program significantly to include a sports and art component,” said Dr. Norman C. Merrifield, director of the department. “We know that kids love sports, and at this young age when they are 5 to 10 years old, that’s when they should be getting an introduction to sports and picking up the basic skills,” he said.
     “At the same time, we know that not every child is interested in athletics, so we’re also expanding their exposure to cultural arts, the environment, health and fitness. The point is that recreation should be fun for the children we serve and give them what they want,” he said.
      The department will hold an open house to introduce the new program on Sept. 5 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at each of the elementary schools where it will be offered. Children and their parents or guardians are invited to attend to meet the staff and learn about the new offerings. 
      Registration will take place Sept. 4 through Sept. 7, at each site in the cafeteria after school. Early registration is encouraged as enrollment in the program at each site is limited.
     The cost per semester is just $50 for one child, $40 for a second child, and $30 for a third child, and it includes a free meal each day.  In addition, payment plans and financial assistance are available, and families served by TANF should bring their number to registration. A copy of immunization and physical exam reports also are needed at registration.
     Following are the 18 elementary schools where the department will offer the program:  

Bellevue                            George Mason
Blackwell                          J.E.B. Stuart
Broad Rock                       John B. Cary
Chimborazo                       Mary Scott
E.S.H. Greene                   Miles Jones
Elizabeth Redd                 Overby-Sheppard
Fairfield                            Patrick Henry
G.H. Reid                         Summer Hill   
G.W. Carver                      Swansboro

For more information, call 646-6034.