The carousel along the water in Downtown Hampton may be finding a new home.
City Manager Mary Bunting wrote in an email to Virginia Peninsula Media, that the Downtown Hampton Development Partnership (DHDP) has requested that city council consider relocating the carousel to make room for a large public waterfront space. Their suggested relocation spot is Mill Point Park. Over time, council has also received inquiries about moving the carousel back to its historical site in Buckroe. Staff is currently researching the cost of all options that include maintaining in current location, move to Mill Point Park, as requested by DHDP or relocation to Buckroe. They will present that data to council sometime in February.
Currently the carousel, which needs repairs, is in Carousel Park between the Virginia Air and Space Science Center and The Landing Hotel.
Rick Bagley, president of the volunteer arm of the DHDP, said a study was done by Sasaki, interdisciplinary architecture, planning, landscape, and design firm with offices in Boston, Denver, New York, and Shanghai. They were hired to determine how to best utilized the area along the waterfront. It was recommended that waterfront area be more accessible.
“The study showed that we need the ability to gather at the waterfront,” he said noting that the potential move is part of a three-part plan for downtown.
“This isn’t out of the blue and has not been done in a vacuum. It is based on professional guidance,” he said.
With the carousel needing repairs, it makes sense to repair and move it at the same time, Bagley added.
Having the carousel at Mill Point Park would give it more visibility, he said.
Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck said there are no plans to move the carousel and cautioned that social media posts have created rumors that a decision has been made.
“There are no plans to move the carousel,” he said. The council decided to hire a consultant to evaluate what is a better solution.
The 1920-era carousel began its life in Hampton at Buckroe Beach along with other attractions. After the amusement park closed was torn down in 1991, it sat in storage for several years before being restored and placed in a climate-controlled pavilion.