April 4, 2024

The Ripple Effect: Bow Creek Stormwater Park Offers Unique Combination of Flood Protection and Fun

From birdwatching platforms to mountain biking trails, project manager Jeff VanFossen gives an overview of Bow Creek Stormwater Park, where construction is underway.

Flood Protection Program Engineer Jeff Van Fossen

Throughout Virginia Beach, Flood Protection Program (FPP) efforts are underway to protect vulnerable neighborhoods from excess rainfall, tidal flooding and sea level rise. As the project manager of Bow Creek Stormwater Park, Jeff VanFossen is excited to be on the City’s team of stormwater engineers working to mitigate flooding problems, many of which peaked during excessive rainfall from a series of large storms in 2016.  

“Virginia Beach is pushing really hard to be in front of the environmental changes we’re seeing,” he said. “There’s not a book written for how to do this. We’re creating it as we go.”  Growing up and attending high school in Virginia Beach, Jeff remembers Bow Creek as a municipal golf course. Now the site is under construction to become a state-of-the-art stormwater solution for the surrounding flood-prone neighborhoods.  

Construction of Bow Creek Stormwater Park

As one site of a larger FPP project, Bow Creek Stormwater Park will work together with other Windsor Woods , Princess Anne Plaza and The Lakes FPP projects to store 400 acre-feet of storm water. Among these sites, Bow Creek will store the lion’s share—320 acre-feet of water, which is approximately 104 million gallons. 

“This isn’t a run-of-the-mill fix for a flooding problem,” Jeff said. “This is a unique solution.” 

Another feature making Bow Creek unique is that the project offers the public so much more than flood mitigation. Integrated into the design are recreational activities including walking paths, a kayak launch, pickleball courts, a playground and mountain bike trails. Platforms will be built for viewing wildlife, and the former golf pro shop will be converted into a special events space.  

With an engineering degree from Old Dominion and a longstanding career in the public sector, Jeff says Bow Creek stands out among the projects he’s managed. “Flood control doesn’t typically leave such a lasting impression on an area. We’re going to leave behind something that is totally unique.”  

Jeff Van Fossen looking over construction plans

As the project gets underway, Stormwater Engineering Center staff members are working closely with civic leagues to update residents on wildlife protection efforts, construction progress and expected timelines. The park is projected to be completed in 2030, and water storage and recreational benefits are being added incrementally.  

“Because of the magnitude of the project, we’re working from east to west. In the next two to three years, we should have the eastern section of the park open to the public,” Jeff said. 

In addition to working for the City he grew up in, Jeff has enjoyed collaborating with co-workers in Public Works and Parks and Recreation. “It’s great how well we all get along, all to achieve one goal for the community,” he said, “to simultaneously alleviate flooding while giving people a place to ride mountain bikes.” 

The Virginia Beach Flood Protection Program—The Ripple Effect—is a comprehensive 10-year plan to address recurrent flooding in Virginia Beach. In November 2021, Virginia Beach voters overwhelmingly supported a resiliency package for several key flood protection initiatives to include drainage improvements, tide gates, pump stations and flood barriers throughout the city. The projects are led by Public Works with support from a community oversight board for transparency and accountability. Learn more at virginiabeach.gov/RippleEffect.

Contact Information

Public Works Stormwater Engineering Center

Keep Reading

See All Posts