A big challenge calls for big solutions.
The City of Virginia Beach is on a journey to mitigate flood impacts to low-lying, developed areas in The Lakes and Princess Anne Plaza subdivisions. The city has decided to transform the 121-acre Bow Creek Golf Course into a multi-faceted facility, the Bow Creek Stormwater Park Facility, that will provide stormwater storage, allowing for flood mitigation while restoring natural systems. It will also continue to provide recreational opportunities. According to early esti- mates, the project will have the capacity to capture and store approximately 320 acre- feet of storage volume. The golf course was chosen as the project site as it is one of the only non- residentially developed parcels in one of the most low-lying flood prone areas.
“Due to its location and elevation in the watershed, the site was an ideal can- didate for flood storage in this low-lying area,” said Jeffrey VanFossen, with the City Virginia Beach Public Works.
The namesake, Bow Creek, bisects the golf course and receives runoff from the adjacent neighborhoods, which totals a 680-acre drainage basin. When finished, the stormwater park will host storage containing permanent pools of water, floodplain and upland storage that can provide other stormwater benefits, such as removing excess nutrients, sediment and other contaminants before they flow into the Lynnhaven River. In addition to stormwater benefits, the park will feature 3 miles of greenway, wildlife viewing platforms, nature trails, a long-range overlook, interpretive signage, a 2.5 mile mountain bike flow trail system, pickleball courts and sand volleyball courts.
“Not only does this facility allow for the storage of stormwater, which will alleviate structure and street flooding, but it also restores the sites’ natural ecology and will be a signature city park with many active and passive recreational amenities for all to enjoy,” VanFossen said.
Prior to construction starting, the City of Virginia Beach Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments began the design process with hand sketches, stake- holder workshops, and public meetings to review the various layouts. The two entities also hosted numerous public open house meetings and an online survey was conducted to seek public input. Before the park provides these ameni- ties, the team must solve some challenges. Approximately 1 million cubic yards of excavated material must be removed, and finding suitable locations to dispose of this matter has proven challenging. Proving to be an even bigger challenge is determining how to construct this large project within a residential neighborhood. The project team decided to phase con- struction into two phases, working east to west, and to open a portion of the site not being constructed into temporary trails for the public to use.
As of publication, the first phase ofthe project is under construction and is expected to be completed in January 2026. Though there are many aspects to the project, VanFossen said one stands out: the park.
“Working in concert with other proposed flood mitigation measures, including tide gates, pump stations and flood barriers, the Bow Creek Stormwater Park is the storage workhorse of the program,” VanFossen said.