City gives Dayton last piece for planned nature trail around Silver Lake

Harrisonburg City Hall. (File photo)

Harrisonburg City Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved granting the town of Dayton the final piece for constructing a nature trail around Silver Lake.

Harrisonburg owns the lake, said City Attorney Chris Brown, who introduced the project proposal. Dayton officials requested permission to construct and maintain the lake trail, continue to protect it as a water system and undertake other park projects. 

“This is the last piece of easement that we need to actually finish that acquisition and begin the trail,” said Dayton Town Manager Brian Borne. 

Taylor Evans, director of land protection at the Valley Conservation Council, said that organization partnered with the Silver Lake nature trail “since its beginning,” with their goal to secure public access around the lake. 

Kim Goodwell, who spoke on behalf of the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, said they have 

also partnered on the project and are excited about the potential of the Harrisonburg city council’s action, which will “increase access and continue to be this source of drinking water,” while also providing a safe wildlife habitat and recreational space.

Silver Lake Mill owner Cheryl Lyon shared similar sentiments.

“We have quite a problem with people walking down the lake, fishing at the lake, leaving things they should not leave, and wildlife gets killed,” Lyon said. She supported the project’s emphasis on lake clean up and advocated for the easement. 

City to work with UVa center on population estimates

Councilmembers unanimously approved moving forward with collaboration with University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service to more accurately conduct city population analysis. 

City Manager Ande Banks emphasized the importance of accurate population analysis regarding “significant public policy issues” such as housing, public service and capital investments in the proposal. He hopes the partnership with the Weldon Cooper Center will benefit “future school enrollment projections in Harrisonburg,” as well as population trends in the future. 

Banks said the earliest the project could begin would be Sept. 1. 

Water and sewer rates to up slightly

Harrisonburg residents and businesses will see their water and sewer rates go up slightly. The council signed off on planned rate increases of 22 cents per 1,000 gallons of water and 18 cents per 1,000 gallons of sewer use. 

For an average household using 5,000 gallons of water and gallons 5,000 of sewer use a month, that would mean a bill of $52.90, up from $49.80 in 2022

“We’ve essentially already approved this part of the budget,” said Vice Mayor Laura Dent.

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