Waynesboro’s Fish Deck Unveiled

Things are starting to look a little fishy in downtown Waynesboro.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted Wednesday morning for the Waynesboro Fish-Deck, an elevated, 20-foot wide wooden deck designed in the shape of a rock bass, a native fish in the South River. The deck, which cost about $18,000 to build, is located behind the Dominion Pavilion at the northern entrance to the Greenway in Constitution Park.

“We had just finished the first phase of the Greenway and we wanted to do something special,” said Kimberly Watters, executive director of Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc. “Originally it was going to be just an observation deck. It wasn’t going to be in the shape of a fish.”

Don’t let the name of the deck fool you. It is not a fishing platform, but rather an observation platform where residents and visitors can view the South River as it peacefully flows past. Officials hope the Fish-Deck will someday be as popular as Staunton’s watering can or Charlottesville’s whale tails.

“It’s completely unique,” Watters said. “I think people are going to love it.”

The beauty and importance of the South River was a hot topic for speakers at the ribbon cutting.

“There are certain spots where you can discover new things about the community and new things about the blessings of nature, and personally, I have had that experience on this deck,” Waynesboro City Manager Mike Hamp said.

Waynesboro is known as the river city, but for years, the river was often viewed negatively, Len Poulin said.

“If we could have paved this river and made a parking lot out of it, we would have done it in a heartbeat,” he said.

However, the river has since been turned into an asset, he said.

“This Fish-Deck … represents what’s great about our community,” he added.

The Fish-Deck celebrates the South River, complimenting what the city has done with the Greenway, Constitution Park, Virginia Fly Fishing Festival and the planned development of the Center for Coldwaters Restoration, said Brad Belo, a community revitalization specialist with the department of housing and community development.

“The Fish-Deck has turned out to be a really great project,” he said.

Phase one of the Greenway, which was completed about a year ago, runs .88 mile alongside the South River, beginning at the Dominion Shelter in Constitution Park and ending by the Waynesboro YMCA.

“People are using it,” Watters said.

Phase 2 of the South River Greenway Trail Project will probably begin in the spring and take at least a year to complete, Watters said.

The deck was paid for with individual and corporate donations, including a $5,000 grant from the CSX Corp. Virginia Main Street also provided a grant.

Reprinted from the August 30, 2012 News Virginian