County to accept gift of 94 acres for park in Fairlawn

The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors on Monday adopted a resolution accepting a gift of some 94 acres of land fronting the New River in the Fairlawn area.

The land – what’s left of the Smith Farm in Fairlawn – will be turned into a public park.

According to the resolution, Margaret V. Smith left the land to the Virginia Outdoors Foundation following her death in 2016. It was understood that the land would be preserved as farmland, or the foundation would work with a local government or other organization to develop the property into a public park.

Board Chairman Andy McCready explained the property ties nicely into a trail project the county is developing on land leading from the old Riverlawn Elementary School to the New River, then on to land acquired by the county along the river that may eventually be a boat launch or dock.

“This will give citizens another access point to the New River in that area,” McCready said.

He added the whole project fits nicely with additional recreation and ball fields planned at old Riverlawn in the future.

He added the county had been working on the project for quite a while.

County Administrator Jonathan Sweet noted the property is being gifted to the county by the Foundation, and Pulaski County is footing the bill – about $48,000 – for legal expenses, travel, staff time and other costs of completing the transfer of the property.

McCready said that means the county is getting the property at a cost of only about $500 per acre.

Cloyd District Supervisor Joe Guthrie said the 100 acres is the remaining property from the original 500-acre Smith Farm in Fairlawn.  He said the first 400 acres had earlier been developed into the community of Fairlawn which surrounds it.

Guthrie explained that shortly after the construction of the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, the Smith family sold 400 acres to become housing for workers at the Arsenal during World War II.

“They viewed it as part of their contribution to the war effort,” Guthrie said, adding the Smiths also housed workers in their own home, which they made into a boarding house as another contribution to the war effort.

Smith asked that the final 100 acres be kept as a farm or park.

“She always held that it should be left as open space – either a farm or a park. She loved recreation and children having the opportunity at recreation. It was her dream and we are happy to help fulfill that wish by accepting the donation from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation,” Guthrie said.

Another seven acres along Dudley Ferry Road, that are isolated from the rest of the property, will be left out of the project with Pulaski County selling or leasing it, with proceeds used to operate and maintain the park.

Sweet noted there are still a couple more parts of the project that must be completed before it is final, such as approval of the resolution by the county’s Economic Development Authority.