Located in Russell County in southwest Virginia, Dante was originally settled in the late 1700s and early 1800s by western frontiersmen and farmers; explosive growth occurred in the early 1900s with the discovery and exploitation of numerous bituminous coal seams. The last area mines closed in the late 1970s. With the loss of the coal economy, the town began a steep economic decline. In 2016, the most recent renewed interest from residents prompted community organizations to begin discussions on a path to revitalization.
The Dante Downtown Master Plan and Park Design was part two of a two-part project for the Dante community toward developing a conceptual downtown master plan that featured public open space. For part one, in January 2017 the Virginia Tech Landscape Architecture Program, with funding support from a Virginia Department of Forestry grant and from The Richard G. Gibbons Public Landscapes Planning and Design award, held a charrette to begin generating a host of ideas for short-term and long-term actions to improve public open space located by the former trail depot for use by Dante residents and visitors. (See Dante Charette for more information on that process).
The purpose of the second phase of work was to work with the community to take the best themes and ideas from the ten teams of student work and create two refined alternative conceptual designs for both the downtown area and the open space, present those for feedback, then revise into one final conceptual master plan for the downtown area, one for the open space as a park, and planting recommendations.
Project team: Elizabeth Gilboy, Xiaofei Shi, Boram Kim, and Nick Proctor
Sponsor: Virginia Department of Forestry