Bridgewater Retirement Community is working on new walking trails that will be open to the public and will complement existing trails and parks in the Town of Bridgewater.
The new trails, which will be located off Will Lane adjacent to Oakdale Park, are comprised of a mix of 8’-wide fully-accessible paved walkways and 6’-wide gravel trails. They will provide access to several destinations and overlooks, including a natural playground, outdoor classroom, marsh walk, woodland overlook, and more.
The 20-acre site is ecologically diverse with woods, a pond, native grassland, natural streams, and an expansive meadow.
“We want this natural area to be a resource for our entire community,” BRC President Rodney Alderfer said. “We love the idea of elementary school kids coming on field trips, nature lovers exploring the site, and Bridgewater College classes coming as well. And our residents are hungry for a place to walk close by where they can experience nature.”
The project is being made possible thanks to funding from BRC residents Edgar and Kathy Simmons, who made a special contribution to the BRC Foundation for the purpose.
“The plans were drawn up about three years ago for additional outdoor space that would serve the needs of those living in the area,” Edgar Simmons said. “It was time to do something about it. Folks can benefit from spending time on these trails in a park-like setting. I like knowing that the natural area set aside for the trails will be a protected space.”
“We know how important environmental wellness is to leading an active and engaged life,” said Carrie Budd, vice president for the BRC Foundation. “That is true whether you’re 10 years old, or 80. This addition to our campus will provide residents at all levels of living the opportunity to explore, picnic, spend time with family, and more.”
The land, which was gifted to BRC in 2000 by Paige and Ann Will, had once been eyed as an opportunity to expand BRC’s Independent Living Village. In 2018, as it became clear that BRC is the size it should be for the foreseeable future, BRC changed course and began to reimagine the site as an outdoor destination for BRC residents and the broader community.
BRC contracted with the Harrisonburg-based architecture firm Monteverde to develop a plan and will work with Monteverde to see the project through to completion. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held in May. BRC hopes to open the trails in the fall.