Honoring the ‘O’Bannon Way,’ Tuckahoe Creek boardwalk named for Supervisor Pat O’Bannon

Tuckahoe representative will retire when 7th term ends Dec. 31

The boardwalk on Tuckahoe Creek is being named “O’Bannon Way” in honor of longtime Tuckahoe District Supervisor Patricia S. O’Bannon.

Henrico County officials surprised her this afternoon by announcing the honor and unveiling a sign at Tuckahoe Creek Park’s trailhead near Ridgefield Parkway. The sign features “O’Bannon Way” in bold, gold lettering above a plaque that includes her portrait, years of service (1996 to 2023) and record of promoting “Government Efficiency, Transparency & Engagement with Community.”

“Thank you so much. I obviously appreciate it,” said O’Bannon, who teared up with the announcement. “I’m overwhelmed. Thank you!”

The plaque credits O’Bannon as a “champion” of Tuckahoe Creek Park and includes her quote – “A beautiful way to get to the water” – from the park’s Phase II opening in December 2020.

In remarks, she said the idea for the park emerged after property along Tuckahoe Creek was being prepared for development as a subdivision. For the inspiration, she credited local landscape artist Dan Bartges, who has work displayed at Tuckahoe Area Library.

“Dan introduced me … to the idea that there’s got to be something that we can do with all this beautiful land,” she said.

“I came out here and looked at it,” she added. “I knew there had to be something that everybody could enjoy. Too many places have beautiful waterfront, beautiful lakefronts, beautiful creeks like this, and the people who live near them can’t even get access. And that was the idea behind this, to allow the people who live in this area to have this beautiful amenity so that they can go walk their dog or they can take their grandchildren there – go fishing and that sort of thing.

“I’m glad we have this for people because other lakes in Tuckahoe aren’t accessible except to the people who back up to them. … This is open for the public, and that was really one of the driving factors.”

O’Bannon was accompanied by her husband, Dr. John O’Bannon, a former Henrico representative in the Virginia House of Delegates, as well as their daughter Ginny Deasy and her children Meg, J.D. and Mike. Other family members, including sons Jack and Andy O’Bannon, were able to watch via a livestream.

Before revealing the sign, Board of Supervisors Chairman Frank J. Thornton said he has enjoyed serving alongside O’Bannon and has learned much from her over the past 28 years.

“There is a definite Pat O’Bannon way of leadership and service,” he said. “It’s about openness and transparency in everything that we do. It’s about going the extra mile to encourage public participation and input in the decisions that impact the community. And, of course, it’s about outstanding financial stewardship and excellence in all that you do.”

“As I look around this beautiful park, I see the work of Pat O’Bannon and her brand of public service,” he added. “I see a park that was beautifully planned and executed – an excellent use of precious county resources. I see a place that is open to nature … and [encourages] engagement, not only with wildlife but with one another.”

Both O’Bannon and Thornton have been trailblazers for Henrico. Following their first elections in November 1995, she became the first woman to serve on the Board of Supervisors; he became its first Black representative. They’re both retiring when their seventh terms end Dec. 31.

Tuckahoe Creek Park offers opportunities for passive recreation, including walking and observing wildlife, in the floodplain of Tuckahoe Creek, which serves as Henrico’s western boundary with Goochland County.

The park, which opened in 1996 and was expanded in 2020, features more than 1,500 linear feet of boardwalk and trail extending between Ridgefield Parkway and Old Coach Lane.

The 2022 bond referendum approved by county voters includes $5 million for additional improvements. The Division of Recreation & Parks recently held meetings with the community to discuss the project. Henrico owns about 240 acres along the creek in noncontiguous parcels between West Broad Street and Patterson Avenue.

“It is worth repeating that a community amenity like Tuckahoe Creek Park does not happen without political leadership,” County Manager John Vithoulkas said. “Everything, everything – and I do mean everything – that we do as a county is a result of our Board of Supervisors and the service that they provide. And as such, Tuckahoe Creek Park would not exist without the incredible vision and steady leadership of Mrs. Pat O’Bannon.”

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