A Verona trails project that Augusta County touts as a model for other localities has earned recognition at a statewide level.

County Administrator Timothy Fitzgerald recently announced that Our Trails at Mill Place, completed in September, has earned an annual Virginia Association of Counties excellence in local government award.

In addition to a paved, two-thirds of a mile walking trail, Our Trails at Mill Place amenities include a fishing pond, picnic shelter and benches in the middle of Mill Place Commerce Park, the county’s industrial park. The trails can be accessed by turning left on Centerview Drive in the industrial park between Sumitomo Drive Technologies and Shamrock Farms.

The $243,000 project, selected as one of 26 VACO winners for 2019, was completed in partnership with the Greater Verona Business Association, which contributed $12,000 for the purchase of the picnic shelter.

Last year, following the trail’s opening, Augusta County Parks and Recreation Director Andy Wells said there had been discussions for well over a decade about putting a park in Verona. Wells said then that the park had been a creative endeavor, making use of 400 acres in the middle of the industrial park that otherwise is used for stormwater management.

The park has been well-received by the community, according to Nick Grow, Parks and Recreation program coordinator. Grow said county staff consistently see people using the trail every time they visit.

“From the feedback we have received, the pond that is open for catch-and-release fishing has definitely been a popular aspect at The Trails at Mill Place,” he said in an email. “Due to its size, the population of fish, and accessibility, it is a great place to bring kids to introduce them to fishing.”

At this time, Our Trails at Mill Place success hasn’t directly led to plans for additional trails or parks, Grow said, but many of its aspects may be integrated into future projects.

“We don’t have any solid future plans for more trails, although we will be open to that when a feasible opportunity arises,” he said. “Future trails in Mill Place Commerce Park will be largely driven by buildout of the park, integrating trails with existing and new rights of way, utility easements.”

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