Behold the Sugar Pad Project.
As the brainchild of Replenish Richmond’s Rick Tatnall and Ralph White (RVA's former director of the James River Park System), the Sugar Pad Project's aim is to "transform this underutilized portion of the riverfront into a public asset that people of Richmond can be proud to call their own."
The Sugar Pad is a concrete dock and popular local fishing
spot located at the Intermediate Terminal directly beside Rocketts Landing (in
between our community and Great Shiplock Park. And for old-school Richmonders, it's
the site where the Annabelle Lee used to dock.). Owned by the City of Richmond,
this public space has been sitting mostly unused for years, causing it to fall
into a state of decay and decline. But thanks to inspiring visionaries like
Replenish Richmond — and the City of Richmond's approved Riverfront Plan (note: PDF) — this overlooked space has new life
breathing into it.
The Sugar Pad at Richmond's Intermediate Terminal is currently an empty concrete slate. Photo credit: Replenish Richmond
And the Full Moon Series is leading the way!
Launched this past June (and envisioned for years by Rick and Ralph), the Full Moon Series invites the public to the Sugar Pad once a month to watch the full moon rise over the James River and RVA skyline (from personal experience, these moon rises are stunning!). The gathering also includes poetry performances, drumming, fire pits — and whatever other creative inspirations people want to bring!
So far, Tatnall has hosted two Full Moon gatherings, and the last meetup attracted around 150 people.
"One of the biggest reasons we're doing the Full Moon
Series is because the City's Riverfront Plan talks about the value of events
down at the Intermediate Terminal," explains Rick, "but it was used
once, and the city hasn't really used it since. With the Sugar Pad Project and
Full Moon Series, we hope to raise awareness of the river access here and show,
functionally and visually, how the community can use this great public space."
A rendering of how the public can reinvent and use the space (notice Rocketts Landing in the background). Photo courtesy of Replenish Richmond
To prepare the Sugar Pad for gatherings, Rick has dedicated his free time to improving the spot. As a one-man volunteer effort, he's removed weeds and trash from the terminal, installed picnic tables, built makeshift brick firepits, cleared 90% of the main path — and even goes every Wednesday evening to take the Sugar Pad's trash to the street for weekly pickup.
But his efforts don't stop there. Rick says he
envisions public art installations, such as a sundial sculpture that could also
display the shifting fish populations with changing currents. Or perhaps
artists could use the space for painting and creating new works, drawing
inspirations from the river and city skyline. The Sugar Pad could also host
pop-up restaurants, food trucks and vendor fairs. Really, from Rick's
perspective, the sky's the limit.
A rendering of the Intermediate Terminal with improvements and the Virginia Capital Trail running beside the docks. Photo courtesy of Replenish Richmond
The next Full Moon Series at the Sugar Pad beside Rocketts
Landing is this Sunday, August 10. Free and open to the public, you'll be able
to watch a beautiful full moon rise over the river, listen to local poets and
drummers (who'll do back-and-forth conversational-like drumming between the
Sugar Pad and Ancarrow's Landing directly across the river), learn about the
Riverfront Plan — and celebrate with your fellow Richmonders all that makes our
James River such a wonderful community asset!
Photo courtesy of Replenish Richmond
To read more about Rick’s efforts at the Intermediate Terminal — and get involved (either as a volunteer or to coordinate your own public Sugar Pad events) — be sure to check out Replenish Richmond. As a direct neighbor to the Intermediate Terminal and supporter of the Riverfront Plan, we're genuinely excited to see this spot get some much needed attention and use! Thanks to Rick for all he's doing to make the Sugar Pad and Richmond the best they can be.
Flyer for the Sugar Pad Project's Full Moon Series, courtesy of Replenish Richmond.