a community newspaper serving western Albemarle County

County Police Propose a Station in Old Crozet Library Depot

Albemarle Police Lt . Greg Jenkins and Major Ron Lantz

Albemarle Police Lt . Greg Jenkins and Major Ron Lantz

Albemarle County police are proposing to use the county-owned Crozet depot as a police station for western Albemarle now that it no longer houses the library. The idea will go to the Board of Supervisors for approval and inclusion in the capital projects budget. It would be the first local station in the county.

Police Lt. Greg Jenkins, who heads the department’s Blue Ridge District (the western and southern parts of the county) in the department’s new geo-policing strategy, prepared a report on the idea for Chief Steve Sellers before the suggestion was advanced for the supervisors’ consideration. Police Major Ron Lantz said that White Hall District Supervisor Ann Mallek had asked the police to look into the feasibility of using the depot as a police station.

Jenkins said his investigation revealed that the county’s cost in maintaining the depot while not being used is nearly what it would cost to maintain it if it were being used.

“When we transitioned to geo-policing, we began looking at the decentralization of headquarters and the idea of using the depot came up,” said Lantz. “It’s all timing. There are some costs in converting it for our use.”

Lantz said the report’s “wish list” of renovations—such things as upgraded bathrooms, a locker room, an interview room, a roll call room and kitchenette, plus preparing it for use as an emergency headquarters—come to about $349,000, but that fewer, cheaper alterations could still make it suitable for the department.

Lantz said the depot could be configured to have a “shelter” for officers that would allow them to stay over in times of emergency, such as when storms cause power to be lost. It could also be configured to host training sessions.

“It’s not going to require that much stuff. We need new reinforced doors and a kitchenette. It’s not an overhaul.”

Lantz said the station would be the base for seven officers assigned daily to western patrol sectors in the county and would likely be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. He said the department would look for volunteers to staff the station while officers were on patrol and that he hoped Crozet Safety Corps members would participate.

Crozet Depot, the now former home of Crozet Library

Crozet Depot, the now former home of Crozet Library

Jenkins said that officers assigned to the district would come to work at the station and start their day already in their sector rather than report first to the Charlottesville headquarters on Fifth Street.

“If we’re there, we become neighbors in the community,” said Lantz. “That’s our philosophy, and it should mean a reduction in response times. If you get that reduction, it’s a sign that geo-policing is working. Plus, you should get a reduction in crime because the presence of the police is more strongly felt and it creates deterrence. We should also get better information because we are here and people know our faces.”

Lantz said that parking is limited at the depot and that an arrangement to use available spaces across Three Notch’d Road may be necessary to accommodate situations such as training sessions. He said three or four cruisers could park at the service door of the depot.

Lantz said the department is receptive to using part of the depot as a museum space for the western part of the county where exhibits about Crozet history could be staged.

“I cut my teeth as a patrolman on the west side of the county,” said Jenkins. “The folks here do want to help the police. People are receptive to us. If we get the green light, we’ll have a community meeting here to solicit input.”

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12 Comments

  1. Great Idea! Let’s use the back room as a VABC headquarters. Then we could set up sting operations at the Great Valu, and Dollar General. Anne Mallick, you’ve lost my confidence.

    • I agree with all of the above comments – this space is way to crucial to the downtown to turn it into a police substation. Ann and other BOS members please do NOT consider this use of our beloved train station. There is land at the Meadows or closer to 250/64 which would be far better location for a substation. Do not squander our downtown space with county offices – if you have to put the visitors center here and a museum.

  2. This seems like prime downtown real estate and could be better suited for commercial endeavors. Would be great if a commuter trail to and from cville could stop a few times a day with a diner/cafe. I am sure there is a more reasonable and cheaper way to provide a police station in Crozet if we really need one. The county should sell or lease.

  3. This is a terrible idea. I don’t feel that increased police presence in Crozet is either necessary or welcome. We are already subject to multiple “safety stops”, and I do not wish to be an expanded revenue base for the police.There are far more worthy project to spend $349,000, and this historic building should be put to better use, like a teen center or a train station. I for one, do not wish to make it a nice sleep over place for the police, and I do not want any sort of jail in Crozet. Beware the expansion of this organization. The actually location is totally inappropriate, as parking is already limited in the area, and is currently utilized by nearby businesses after hours. Also, due to the driving habits of the police officers have observed, someone is likely to get run over and then charged for jay walking. It sounds like this has already been decided without any public input, gosh, (they already know how much money they need, but hey, they will compromise, and even concede to sharing the space) and I find this unacceptable. No one I have spoken to about this is in favor of it. I looked on the agendas of the board of supervisors, and I did not find any .discussions regarding this. I for one, say NO! Please read this article, and consider the actions of the recent actions of the police department. Do we want them in our town with all their guns which they readily use? Do we need this kind of defense? I think the cost MUCH to high, and the return of limited value.

    http://www.readthehook.com/110051/swat-overkill-our-military-weaponry-now-aimed-us

    Please remember the word of Ben Franklin

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety

  4. Please open and read the following link. The plans have been formed behind closed doors. Pay special attention to subject # 4-A question came from a member of the public about apparent ACPD activities at the
    library . Officer Watson and Ann Mallek said that this was not in the public arena at this point but that Officer
    Greg Jenkins will be involved if the matter proceeds.

    http://www.albemarle.org/albemarle/upload/images/forms_center/departments/community_development/forms/Crozet_Master_Plan/2013_February_21_CCAC_minutes.pdf

  5. What a terrible idea for such a wonderful building. Having grown up in Crozet and now raising my children here too, I would like to see the building remain a place where I can take my children. What about offering some of the parks and recs classes there? Or turn it into a museum. Or a music studio or dance studio for classes. Or lease it to the bookstore. But a police station, really I can’t think of a worse way to keep people out of the building.

  6. Too much hating on the cops. The Alby county police department is not a subcontractor to the NSA.

    Don’t forget there is very limited parking for the likes of a restaurant or other retail place.

    • Crozet is a peaceful place, and I for one would like to keep it that way. A substation would result in more police activity, including “safety stops”, and tickets. These activities are designed to increase revenue, to pay for the substation. There is no need for a substation. According to the supervisors meeting, 2/ 21/ 2013, Crozet crime is described as “most is relatively minor.” You are right about the parking, which has been used by local business patrons legally for after hours parking. The building should be used as a day time facility, to promote Crozet and the White hall district. It can be utilized as a center for train travel, to promote recreation, and a historical center to promote tourism. This would be beneficial to the area. A police substation on the other hand, would deter people from going to the area, as available parking would decrease, and most people avoid the police due to the threat of being cited for traffic infractions.

  7. I think the idea of a permanent police presence in or near Crozet is a good one, but I am not inclined to think the depot is the right place. It would make more sense, to me, to work out some arrangement with the VFD – possibly an addition to their building, and maybe use of whatever lodging facilities are there.

    As to the depot itself, a more attractive option might be a railroad themed museum which covers local history and development, to include model displays, and dioramas arranged in a chronological format. Features might include a working model railroad which operates on a terrain which mimics the local geography, and includes Claudius Crozet’s famous tunnel. Drawing on local talent, a cinematic presentation could bring history into life, and into focus. And most certainly, the identity with the library should be maintained as well – perhaps a special collections space. Much of this might be accomplished by the efforts of local civic organizations. A gift shop operate by volunteers might produce some revenue. Otherwise, an area for a thematically related business (such as a model train store) might be leased to a tenant. In addition, an area to demonstrate local craft (breweries, vineyards, the nun’s cheese, etc.) may be possible.

    The central issue is limited parking. But this, too, might be resolved with a crossing protected with automatic gates; or otherwise by a pedestrian bridge or tunnel. Park in the square, walk over to the museum.

    In summary, the potential for cultural outreach and additional commerce with a low environmental footprint are facially a more attractive and sustainable use then the police presence at this location.

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