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Thinking about the “Sunset Park” concept…

April 26, 2022, 4:32 PM

Those of you who have been following this website for a very long time may remember that one of the last quote articles, which ran about seven months before the feature was discontinued, was about the then-impending closure, capping, and seeding of the city landfill in Waynesboro, Virginia.  It was titled, “What Waynesboro needs now is a star!” and discussed a proposed redevelopment of the site into “Sunset Park”.  At the time, I said that it was a wonderful idea, and suggested that Waynesboro should consider commissioning some sort of large-scale art piece similar to the Roanoke Star, in order to have some sort of icon visible all across the city, and provide a landmark for the park, i.e. a reason to go up there.  Since my article ran back in 2004, the landfill was successfully capped and seeded, but as far as I can tell, very little has occurred since.  Plans have been drawn up, but that’s about the extent of it.  No construction to this end has taken place as of yet.

On my most recent trip down that way in mid-March, Elyse wanted to visit a hobby shop in downtown, and so while she did that, I went around to take the drone up to explore the old landfill site.  I wanted to see what it looked like up there, and, more importantly, I wanted to see what the view looked like from up there.

The sense that I got from my flight was that the landfill site seemed ideal for a park.  I found rolling terrain for the most part, with a gradual slope downward towards the city.  Gas vents are peppered throughout the site, consistent with its status as a former landfill.  An access road follows a curved path to the top.

View of the top of the former landfill site.

View of the top of the former landfill site.
View of the top of the former landfill site.

Sloping ground down towards the city.  The access road curves through the middle of the shot.
Sloping ground down towards the city.  The access road curves through the middle of the shot.

View towards the rest of the city, facing approximately west.  The area towards the center of the photo that juts out appears to be an ideal location for an observation platform of some sort, similar to the overlooks that exist at Mill Mountain Park in Roanoke.
View towards the rest of the city, facing approximately west.  The area towards the center of the photo that juts out appears to be an ideal location for an observation platform of some sort, similar to the overlooks that exist at Mill Mountain Park in Roanoke.

The view of Waynesboro from the landfill site.  It certainly is gorgeous, and I imagine that it would look equally gorgeous at night.

The view of Waynesboro from the landfill site.  It certainly is gorgeous, and I imagine that it would look equally gorgeous at night.
The view of Waynesboro from the landfill site.  It certainly is gorgeous, and I imagine that it would look equally gorgeous at night.

This view of the city is a bit more forward and elevated, i.e. I'm flying a bit higher than a pedestrian's view, but it does give a sense of grandeur of what one would see from the site.  It's by no means like the view of Roanoke from Mill Mountain Park, but it's not bad by any means.
This view of the city is a bit more forward and elevated, i.e. I’m flying a bit higher than a pedestrian’s point of view, but it does give a sense of grandeur of what one would see from the site.  It’s by no means like the view of Roanoke from Mill Mountain Park, but it’s not bad, either.

All in all, I feel like this is definitely something worth pursuing.  It’s not often that you have a stellar view like that within the city limits, and if you do, it seems worthwhile to take full advantage of it.

Meanwhile, I still can’t help but think that this park needs a landmark of some sort that’s visible from the city below.  In Roanoke, there is the Roanoke Star, which is visible throughout much of the city and is lit until midnight.  I love visiting the star, and it’s rare that a visit to Roanoke goes by where I don’t visit the star.  Then there’s Cumberland, Maryland, where the WTBO sign is visible throughout much of the city.  The WTBO sign is there because it’s on the property of the WTBO radio station (makes sense, right?).  But it still serves the same purpose, being something of a landmark feature of the town, albeit on a much smaller scale than the Roanoke Star.

For Waynesboro, for some reason, I think that the best thing to do would simply be to put the town’s name up in lights.  I draw my inspiration from the signage that Waynesboro used to have in a few places throughout the city:

Waynesboro, Virginia sign
Image: Google Street View

These signs were replaced around 2017 or so with newer signage sporting a more modern logo, but there’s a certain charm to this older logo that the newer one just does not have.  I think that taking this older logo, with the block letters and the larger “O” at the end, would fit the mountain quite well, lit up in white.  The newer logo’s font doesn’t lend itself as well to a mountaintop placement, and the extra elements around the text would look cheesy in that sort of application.  Plus, with that location’s being on a mountaintop, it’s somewhat out of the way and removed from the rest of the city, so a landmark feature like that up there would give people a reason to go up there.  I admit that in the case of both Roanoke and Cumberland, I would never have explored those parts of town had there not been a landmark feature to draw me there.  Without a landmark up there in Waynesboro, I feel like there won’t be much of a draw, and the park won’t see much use, and ultimately fail.  So if you’re going to build it, give them a reason to come.

And if Sunset Park ever comes to fruition, expect me to be there to capture the view the next time I’m in Waynesboro.

Categories: Waynesboro