Grants Given to Create Model of Coldwaters Restoration Center
A series of grants will help breathe life into an ambitious riverfront project in Waynesboro. The proposed "Center for Coldwaters Restoration" could bring jobs and tourism revenue.
It's expected to take millions of dollars and many years to fully build the Coldwaters center. But recent grants from Virginia Main Street, Dominion Power, and the Kiwanis Club could help create a model of the project to attract visitors and potential investors.
Chilly waters bubble up from natural springs and flow into the nearby South River, helping create the ideal habitat for prized brook trout. Waynesboro aims to capitalize on that resource.
Kimberly Watters with Waynesboro Downtown Development said, "We have a unique river system and water system here where the brook trout can grow. We're also location, location, location."
The Center for Coldwaters Restoration could mean jobs, jobs, jobs - perhaps 200 of them in research, education and natural resource management. The center would likely be housed in the waterfront Mill at South River complex, and offer an advanced fish hatchery, an aquarium and interpretive center.
20th District Delegate Dickie Bell (R) said, "We have a project here that the potential is unlimited, in terms of economic development, in terms of tourism. The question for me - and for people like me - is what do we do? How does the state participate?
Bell says key members of the General Assembly's Sportsmen's Caucus are working on ways to help fund the proposed $6 million project. But in the short term, a series of grants will help organizers build a scaled-down version of the center in Waynesboro.
"We're looking for something smaller, downtown - will attract people to downtown as well," Watters said. "And it's really a demonstration of what the big picture will be."
That first step should be completed next year at a cost of $50,000.
Coldwaters is also exploring a partnership with the Virginia Museum of Natural History. That state-run museum is in Martinsville, but could run the aquatic center in Waynesboro as a satellite attraction.
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