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Monkey business in Byrd Park

Al Harris October 7, 2010 19

Add swinging through the treetops to the list of activities Richmonders can enjoy at Byrd Park.

Go Ape, a U.K.-based firm, is working on plans with the city parks department to build a zip line and rope bridge course in a forested section of the park. This would be the company’s second U.S. location; its first is in Rockville, Md. The firm has 30 locations in the United Kingdom.

The company will build a cabin next to the dog park as its base of operations and ticket office. The city’s urban design commission approved the cabin design following a presentation Thursday morning by Chris Swallow, the company’s director of business development. The next step will be for the company to formerly submit its plans to the planning commission for approval.

Swallow said Richmond is an ideal location for their company to set up shop.

“We were getting a lot of visitors in Rockville from Richmond, so we expect to have the same kind of draw for this area as well,” Swallow said.

Below is a video of the Rockville course.

The course accommodates groups of 15 people every 30 minutes. Pricing for Richmond has not been set, but the Rockville location charges $55 for adults and $35 for children. The entire experience lasts two to three hours, Swallow said.

Swallow said they plan to open in March.

The company has been working closely with the city parks department, with which it will share a small percentage of the revenue, according to J.R. Pope, the city parks director.

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  1. Irony October 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Now that looks like fun. My sons are the same age as the young men in the video and love this kind of stuff. I’ll have to drop some hints that I want to go too.

  2. RSweeney October 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Lord help the old folks when local HR departments decide to use this for “team building exercises”.

  3. Mr powers October 7, 2010 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    do it when Im inpuerta vallarta or manuel antonio costa rica. What a great idea. If you are ever in Mexico…I really don’t like mexico ….they have the best zip line. Lines are over huge canyons, through dense rain forest and one is down the middle of a river.

  4. Cindy October 8, 2010 at 7:34 am - Reply

    $55! w. O. w. Not gonna have many takers at that price!!

  5. cindy October 8, 2010 at 7:35 am - Reply

    Sounds “fun” in theory. However, the site mention is not in Byrd Park but rather part of Dogwood Dell and the Carillon Neighborhood. As a CCA board member, this is the first I’ve seen of this. It would seem that the city would want to get the neighborhood onboard before taking this to the press. A few questions immediately come to mind—where will these tree hangers park? Will the city provide additional services to clean up after them? How will this impact the neighbors especially those in Kanawa Trace? Will the extra traffic mean we need additional police patrol?

    Lots of respectable, tax paying citizens live in our neighborhood and the city would do well to want to work to keep the residents happy and contributing to the city. I’m all for bringing revenue in as opposed to keep paying out. However, it might be wise not to alienate or drive out the contributing citizens we have by continuing to not involve citizenry will you make decisions that really impact where we live. A little collaboration would go a long way here and there!

  6. JG October 8, 2010 at 7:58 am - Reply

    $55 for adults?!?! You might as well go to Kings Dominion for that price.

  7. Seth October 8, 2010 at 8:13 am - Reply

    GIve it a rest Cindy. I am sure the neighborhood will be involved, and I know a lot more happy tax payers who would be happy to buy homes in that location based on the fact the city is trying to create positive activities for our parks.

  8. Ben Dover October 8, 2010 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Perhaps this “monkey business” will drive the other “monkey business” that takes place in this part of the Park elsewhere. If not, I would hate to be the parent who has to explain to their child when they ask “Daddy, what are those two guys doing down there in the bamboo?” Perhaps the seedy visitors to this corner of the Park can find out where Seth lives, and take their “activities” to his backyard.

  9. Tom October 8, 2010 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Cindy – come to the Planning Commission and find out more. All of your questions were answered in yesterday’s presentation and will be discussed again at the Planning Commission. And this is nowhere near the Carillon neighborhood or Kanawha Trace. It’s over by the toll plaza.

  10. cindy October 8, 2010 at 10:18 am - Reply

    Great. All good to hear!

  11. Ken October 8, 2010 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Waaaayyy too much $$$ for my pocket. Sounds like a lot of fun but $5-$10 max is all I could pay. Wonder if they are thinking about families e.g. 4x$55=$220!!!

  12. Becky October 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    I think it looks like great fun! Kudos to Planning and Parks and Rec for thinking out of the box! If they chose Richmond because there are Richmonders willing to travel to Rockville and then pay the cost for entrance then apparently it must be enough of a potential market for GOAPE to take the risk. I’m an old woman, but I will certainly look forward to checking it out — at least once!

  13. Christina October 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    I did this course in their location in Maryland and it was a ton of fun! I can’t wait they to set up here!

  14. Carr October 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Sounds like fun. I’d give it a go. Would be cool for Richmond to be one of the first towns.

  15. Jeffrey October 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    The issue isn’t whether a rope park is fun or not; nobody denies it is fun. One issue is that the city is leasing city park to a commercial enterprise in an ecologically green area that has trees, vegetation, rare birds and other wildlife. Leasing out city property leads down a slippery slope. And, no, Tom, it is not over by the toll plaza, nor is it “near the dog park” as city officials will tell you. It is right along Pump House Road between two historical monuments (Carillon and Pump House.) Go to http://rvanews/go-ape on October 7th to see the map.

    Another issue is that this proposal is counter to Mayor Dwight Jones MPACC program in which he is lecturing around the city talking about making our city greener and opening the lines of communication to citizens. A public forum is now being planned but initially it was scheduled to go directly to the Planning Commission on October 18th and nothing was said about a public forum.

  16. Jack October 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    I’m all for this – it sounds like the city is trying to think outside the box a little bit, make some money and bring something new to Richmond. What’s the slippery slope? We already have a restaurant in the park (Sally Bell’s). To me, this is a perfect activity in support of Mayor Jones’ initiatives and it will in fact make the city greener by providing us with a “green” activity to do. Yeah the city should have done a meeting earlier, but at least they’re doing one. i’ll be there with bells on.

  17. Shaun_O October 13, 2010 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Great Idea, would be good for Richmond.

  18. SaveOurPark October 19, 2010 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    This British invasion should be done on private property, and not in a public city park. It is a wonderful nature area now that my family frequently enjoys. We can’t afford to GoApe, and I don’t want to give up this city jewel just so a few rich out-of-towners can swing from our trees. Do this on private land, not public. How about putting this in the middle of Maymount Park or Forest Hill Park instead? Or are our city planners saving those for the next venture that offers to throw some change their way? This is our park. Please don’t sell the citizens out. This is not your land to give. Can the city even do this?

  19. OSCaR October 22, 2010 at 6:25 am - Reply

    I support this for a few simple reasons…the proposed area that is being discussed has been a known area for several years where men ‘hook up’…as an avid MTB-er who rides through there often I can attest to the fact this is not a place I’d take my kids to ‘enjoy nature’ and happen upon a scene I’d rather not discuss (but have witnessed). Over the years, as MTB-ers have traveled the trails around RIC and especially Forest Hill Park, the amount of undesirable activities (such as the prostitution and drug dealing) has literally vanished b/c people are there and it’s no longer isolated enough to conduct those types of transactions.

    Secondly, I disagree that this is counter to the city’s green initiative. The basic fact is people won’t care about preserving green space unless they can experience it first hand. This is one way they can do so, from above and not directly impacting the area. The other green fact is, local government won’t care about it unless there’s $’s or a large community support behind it (or a federal mandate, which is driven by the same 2 factors). This brings tax dollars to the budget that aren’t there now.

    I hope to see this happen, and I wish them luck but do hope they diversify to other things that promote ‘eco-tourism’ in RIC.

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