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Hampton’s Air Power Park Set for Upgrades

Hampton’s Air Power Park and its proximity to Newmarket Creek is scenic, but it has some drawbacks, especially during rainstorms. A new round of renovations hopes to capitalize on the wetlands hugging the perimeter.

Spring upgrades include a new drainage system, regrading, paving and fortifying the infrastructure that will address the low-lying grounds and muddy flooding and direct the rainwater back into the creek. The renovations are a part of a multi-phase plan to upgrade and clean up the distinctive park that opened in 1966.

That should enable other enhancements — guardrails, a floating dock and an expansion to an existing kayak launch — to make better use of the shoreline at the Mercury Boulevard park, Hampton History Museum, curator Allen Hoilman said in an email.

Hampton officials began soliciting bids from contractors for the job and hope to begin work in May, but don’t expect it to be completed until at least the fall.

The section of Newmarket Creek that runs behind the 15-acre aviation-themed park has access to Hampton’s 2.25-mile Waterwalk, with a bridge that crosses the creek. Once upgrades are completed, the park will feature picnic tables, biking stations, a playground and exercise stations.

“At the end of the work, we should have a very nice public space, useful to our visitors year around,” Hoilman said. “It will be the best access point for kayaking and canoeing.”

A $700,707 federal grant awarded last year is helping to fund this round of renovations. Hampton set aside $3 million from its capital fund for upgrades and repairs, cleaning, repainting and remounting several vintage aircraft displays. Continuing work to remount displays begins again in March. The indoor museum visits are available via appointment.

“We are indeed a heritage site,” Hoilman said.

by Lisa Vernon Sparks, 757-247-4832, lvernonsparks @dailypress.com