By Kim Guenther
President, Claudius Crozet Park Board
If this past year was any measure of intention, 2015 will most certainly be a tremendous year for our community-owned and operated Crozet Park.
In 2014 the Park was the beneficiary of many acts of kindness. Kindness that was clearly contagious as we saw it repeated again and again as the year flew by. In April the Park hosted the first ever all-day volunteer event sponsored by Comcast. The event attracted nearly 80 community volunteers who tackled and completed 20 different projects. This incredible display of volunteerism was repeated in September thanks to United Way’s “Day of Caring.” Along Park Road the view of the Park’s rolling 22 acres is framed by sparkling white four-board fencing and shows the great work by painting teams. Engaged volunteers helped the Park whittle down an extensive list of maintenance activities, many that had been carried over from the preceeding year.
The biannual Crozet Arts and Crafts Festival, the Park’s primary fundraiser, was a big success even though both weekends included a day of rain. Successful events like the Arts and Crafts Festival enable swifter reduction in the last bit of the Park’s pool dome debt, targeted for pay-off in 2015. The July Fourth celebration broke attendance records, and it appeared as though every person living in Crozet attended this annual celebration at the Park! And then in September, The Lodge at Old Trail hosted its Third Annual Culinary Competition, which served as the Park’s kick-off event for the “Play Crozet” Capital Campaign. Crozet Park is not county owned, which means events like these are crucial to raising much needed funds to support existing operations as well as building new amenities.
Meanwhile, the Park Board was busy getting its own house in order, establishing several key committees to better focus their work, and Board members worked to foster new partnerships throughout the area.
In May a survey soliciting community input helped the Board understand and prioritize Park development. The survey results have set the direction for capital improvements for the next few years. And thanks to a very generous local family, one of these improvements (part of the “Play Crozet” capital campaign), replacement of one of the Park’s primary pavilions, was completed. That amazing act of kindness will benefit Park users for years to come.
Just a few days into 2015 and the Park is already moving forward with ambitious goals for the year. In January the Board welcomed six new members:
Dan Bledsoe, Bevin Boisvert, Brad Heilman, Scott Just, Jennifer Sellers, and Matthew Sposato. We owe a debt of thanks to board members who have stepped down in 2014. These include Phillip Best, Robbie Maupin (past president), Erin Quinn, Kelly Altizer, Cheryl Madison, Denny Blank, and Jessica Maslaney. Along with Board member changes, we are also welcoming a new Crozet Arts and Crafts Director, Amanda Polson. Amanda’s skills and experience will continue the fine work of our previous director, Jody Giles, to develop this event into one of the premier festivals in Virginia.
The schedule for the year is already crowded.
To tackle a variety of projects throughout the Park, we will host two all-day volunteer events in April and September. We are hoping to develop a Brews and Music Festival (date to be determined) and add music to our current Picnics in the Park summer series.
We are poised to start several Park projects in 2015:
Perimeter Trail: a paved, 8-foot wide, multi-use path, almost a mile in length, will go around the entire Park. Funding for this project would come from a grant the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) along with a generous gift from a local family. Our goal is to break ground in early summer.
“Play Crozet” Capital Campaign: kicked off in early fall of 2014, this $170,000 campaign will continue throughout the year with the goal of raising the remaining $125,000 to build a pond-side amphitheater (the $45K pavilion was built in October). The amphitheater is expected to become a focal point at the Park and to attract a variety of local musical guests, events, plays, and other performances. In January and February the Park Board will solicit input from local stakeholder groups to refine amphitheater requirements and begin developing more detailed plans. Our goal is to raise amphitheater funds through grants, corporate sponsors and community donations this year and break ground in 2016.
Parking, Signage and Lighting: the Park is requesting Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding from Albemarle County to help with designing and expanding the Park’s current parking to include increased signage and lighting throughout the Park. If approved, CIP funding would become available in July.
Crozet Dog Park: after several successful fundraisers, “Pints for Pups” hosted by Starr Hill Brewery, $5,500 of the estimated $34,000 has been raised for this fenced-in dog park. With a potential challenge grant from a local organization and, a few more events, we hope to time development of the dog park to coincide with the Perimeter Trail project in early summer.
If you thought 2014 was an amazing year, please join us for what will be an incredible 2015. There are so many ways to participate by volunteering your time and talents and/or providing funding to one or several projects. For those of you who have already joined the effort, thank you. Together we are making Claudius Crozet Park a destination for all.