SHAWSVILLE — Giving the newest park in eastern Montgomery County another name might have been almost unacceptable.
Creed Fields Park is named for former County Supervisor Gary Creed, who represented a district that spans the communities of Elliston and Shawsville.
Creed, who died just over a year ago, was also known for his services to young athletes. Among other duties, the former elected official had spent a lot of time coaching AAU women’s basketball.
“Growing up, he always believed in youth. He always thought we should have a place to go to train and play,” said Creed’s daughter, Niki Shumate, who played for her father. It’s something he really wanted to have in this community.”
Creed Fields quietly opened earlier this spring, but a grand opening celebration for the park was scheduled for April 30. The event program included baseball, softball, and tee-ball games, appearances by mascots Pulaski River Turtles and Salem Red Sox, and Creed Jaxon’s great-grandson Creed Bradley throws the first pitch.
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The $2.7 million park just off the Lee Highway on the site of the former Shawsville Elementary School features three baseball/softball fields and another multipurpose field that can be used for football, soccer and the butt.
The park’s walking path was usable as early as last fall, but the overall project still needed work at the time, county parks and recreation staff said.
Creed Fields, among other uses, serves as the home ground for recreational league games that are played throughout the county, said Ashley Hadidian, sports supervisor for Parks and Recreation in eastern Montgomery County.
Additionally, the park offers an approximately half-mile walking trail, picnic pavilion, playground, and restrooms.
“We are very lucky and blessed,” Hadidian said of the project.
Landscaping at the park, located near the South Fork of the Roanoke River, was specifically designed to mitigate flooding that would occasionally plague the site, said Chris Slusher, Auburn athletic supervisor of county parks and recreation.
As part of the larger picture, Creed Fields is one of a handful of completed or future mixed-use park projects across the county.
Other projects include plans to build a park with similarities to Creed Fields in the Riner area and an even more ambitious multi-use park that is operated by the city of Christiansburg.
Christiansburg Park will be just off Peppers Ferry Road in the city’s rapidly growing northwest section and local officials expect it to complement the economic activities taking place in that area.
County Board of Supervisors chairwoman Sherri Blevins said the provision of recreational facilities is important to the community. She said the pandemic has highlighted just how essential these outdoor recreation offerings and resources are.
“It’s a quality of life issue,” she said, adding that there’s also often a demand for kids to stay active in sport. “It’s something that communities need.”
The future park in the Riner area – which is served by the Auburn wing of the schools – will be of particular significance to this community due to the significant growth that has occurred in this part of the county over the years, said said Blevins. With growth comes challenges, including the need for more equipment, she said.
“This is one of the priorities that we keep talking about during this quinquennium. [capital improvement] plan,” Blevins said of the park for the Auburn community. There is a need for “equipment for baseball, softball, facilities to use, just as the population and the county grows”.
Blevins also referenced the latest annual population estimates compiled by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, which reported that Montgomery County is the largest locality by population in southwestern New Brunswick. Virginia.
Supervisor Steve Fijalkowski, who took over from Creed as District C representative, agreed with Blevins’ point about growth.
“You want to build the parks where the people are and where the populations are growing, so they make the best use of the parks,” Fijalkowski said.
On Creed Fields, Fijalkowski said it was the late supervisor’s dream to bring the park to this part of the county.
“Gary Creed wasn’t just the former district supervisor. He was also my friend,” Fijalkowski said. “I am so grateful that this came to fruition while I was on the board. You know, when it comes to parks and recreation, as we’ve seen across the county — not just in my district — there just aren’t enough opportunities for kids to play. sports outdoors.
Fijalkowski continued his talk about youth sports.
“It’s just a great opportunity, just like the plan for us to build the Riner [park] project,” he said. “It just opens up opportunities for all of our kids…to get away from video games and the internet, and get out there and enjoy the real world.”
Shumate said she and her brother, Tim Creed, were “both very proud” of the project.
Addressing further what Creed Fields means to her and her family, Shumate shared a statement written by her mother.
“Gary loved sports. He played, coached and watched sports whenever he could. Creed [Fields] was a dream, a labor of love he wanted for the children of this region,” the statement read. “He knew they needed a place to play sports and give them some pride in their community. He had a lot of support from his friends and the community to make his dream come true. He always believed in our young people and thought they should have every opportunity imaginable.