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801 Crawford Street, 4th floor
Portsmouth, VA 23704
Phone (757) 393-8836
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Recommendation Area: Additional Park Land

Additional land for neighborhood and community parks should be acquired and developed into parks to meet the active and passive recreational needs of all residents. This supports equity of access by users while creating a positive sense of place for all residents in the City. Having green space near every home is a desired goal.



1. Neighborhood park land acquisition is needed in under-served areas of the City and existing neighborhoods and community parks must be improved to meet the needs of residents.

  • Portions of the City are under-served by neighborhood and community parks when looking at a standard service area of one-half mile and two miles, respectively, for these facilities.
  • Existing schools could be used as community meeting places and outdoor recreational spaces. In doing so, immediate needs are met and costs to taxpayers are minimized.
  • Acquiring new land for parks could be considered. A log of potential land should be kept on file, including newly vacant parcels when they come available.

2. Develop a balance of park types, including neighborhood parks, community parks, sports complexes, trails, and special use parks to meet the needs of residents today and in the future.

  • A balanced park system needs to reflect the needs of the neighborhood as well as the City.

  • It was clear in the responses to the questionnaire that the residents of Portsmouth value pocket parks as much as recreation (sports) parks. While each serve different purposes, the City needs to maintain a balance so that all needs are reflected.

3. Development of park trails and greenways is needed throughout the City to allow people to use them for transportation, fitness and recreation purposes.


  • Greenways and multi-use trails can be used for transportation, as well as, recreation.

  • Rail corridors could be converted into greenways.

  • Greenways also serve as a way of connecting neighborhoods and expanding existing recreational opportunities to a larger market.

4. Reconnect residents with the waterfront.

  • The City of Portsmouth has 85 miles of waterfront land. A Waterfront Access Study completed in 1995 recommends creating multiple points of contact - dead end streets, road and bridge crossings, parks and school sites, marinas, and the downtown sea-wall. As the plan unfolds, most residents in Portsmouth will be within a 10 to 20 minute walk to waterfront access.

  • A Downtown Master Plan and Waterfront Strategy was completed in 2009 and recommends the addition and coordination of specific elements to create a cohesive experience along the entire length of the waterfront promenade....from Ft. Nelson Park to the nTelos Pavilion.

5. Implementation of a system-wide park signage program to inform and guide residents to parks.

  • This strategy should coincide with the communication recommendation.

  • A system wide signage package will inform residents and visitors of all parks and uses within the current system and is an opportunity for historical information, as well.

6. As new projects or developments are being planned, an allocation of space or money for public parks and open space should be an essential component of the plan.

  • A condition of approval for new projects and developments must include a requirement that an appropriate park or open space be incorporated into the plan.

  • The present development standards Portsmouth currently has in place should be reviewed. Specifically, this land is different from required landscaped areas and stormwater management devices that do not add to the recreational benefit of the City and should not be counted as the portion of open space provided to the overall public.

  • At least a portion of the open space set-aside should be for all citizens of Portsmouth and not just those within the proposed development (as it currently is). Likewise, the portion of open space for the public should be usable and programmable (active and/or passive) open space.


Return to the main Parks, Recreation & Liesure Service Master Plan page


City of Portsmouth, Virginia · All Rights Reserved · Portsmouth City Hall · 801 Crawford Street · Portsmouth, VA 23704 · 757-393-8000