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Cannon Creek greenway work continues

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)– Highland Park, on the city’s north side, has for years been known for crime and illegal dumping.

Now a major transformation is taking place.

If you drive along the Richmond-Henrico Turnpike near Dove Street, you can see it for yourself. For two weeks, you’ll hear the hum of chainsaws and bulldozers in the air.

The buzz is more than just the Virginia National Guard on a mission to change the face of that area. It’s the transformation itself of the area that has so many people excited.

Right now, the National Guard is using millions of dollars worth of equipment to complete phase two of a pedestrian and bike trail along the Cannon Creek greenway.

It’s work that would otherwise cost the city of Richmond more than three hundred fifty thousand dollars.

Neighbor, and volunteer Raymond Turner says the area has been used as a dumping ground for years. He’s thrilled to see this project move forward.

“It has been a sore spot.  When you say Highland Park,  people think certain things, but this has changed a lot of thoughts and ideas about Highland Park” he added.

The second phase of the bike trail is about six tenths of a mile long. It’s just one piece of the puzzle. City leaders say the trail will complement a planned 300 unit mixed income housing area, formerly known as Dove Court.

The Bike/Pedestrian Trail is expected to help connect the business and commercial corridor in that area to the schools and neighborhoods.

There’s also a new school in the plan and not too far away, the Matthew Heights development already under construction.

City Council Vice President Ellen Robertson, who represents the district, said that what’s happening in Highland Park is huge.

“The increase in  property values because of this trail,  the increase in the opportunities for us to attract new residents to move to the community and the added benefit of the health enhancements that it’s giving the community,  is tremendous” she explained.

Robertson and Captain Michael Schaeffer, with the Virginia National Guard both say the benefits to the city and to the soldiers doing the work, can’t be ignored.

“The community is getting cost savings and they’re getting a great product. Our men, well they’re getting real world with this  training ” said Schaeffer.

Schaeffer said  the clearing of this area will be done by July 25.  Robertson said the mixed use housing area in that old Dove Court area will soon see progress.

They hope to have a model home up on the site for the community to see in October.

Stay with CBS 6 for the latest updates on this North side revitalization project.