By Kim Guenther
In partnership with Albemarle County, Claudius Crozet Park will break ground on new parking spaces starting July 5. The project, funded via the County’s FY16 and FY17 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), supports the park’s ongoing effort to complete the top capital improvement priorities as identified in a community-wide survey conducted in May 2014. In the survey, respondents were asked to identify and prioritize capital improvements for the park.
Of all the park’s many improvements, both completed and planned, parking was identified as the number one un-met need. Anyone who has been to the park, especially in the spring and summer, can attest to the many parking challenges. Park usage continues to increase, especially as new amenities—the dog park and perimeter trail—are added, resulting in less-than-adequate parking areas. To put this in context, traffic volume coming into the community-owned 22-acre Crozet Park is second only to the county’s Darden Towe Park, a 113-acre park in Charlottesville.
Crozet Park benefits from the County’s CIP process for some infrastructure improvements along with seasonal maintenance of its grounds by Albemarle County Parks and Recreation (ACPR). In return, Crozet Park provides ACPR with much needed field space to meet the county’s current and growing demand for athletic fields.
The parking project has several goals: to increase parking spaces, with most of the new spaces located in front of the facility; to re-pave and line existing parking spaces; and to improve lighting and directional signs. Another key goal is to increase pedestrian safety in front of the facility.
The most noticeable change will be to close the current traffic flow between the upper playground and summer swim entrance. This area has long been a safety concern as people enter and exit the pool and playground while cars are coming through the area.
The new traffic pattern will bring cars to the south of the upper playground and then curve around to the back of the facility by the basketball courts. Overflow event parking will continue to take place on the basketball courts and the grassy areas along the main park’s exit and around the pond. The area between the playground and summer swim entrance will change to pedestrian use only.
To increase park security, cameras will be installed in various locations, along with gates, at each of the three entrances/exits. The park’s Board of Directors will hold a small ceremony at the park on Thursday, June 16 at 7 p.m. to dedicate the main entry gate to the late Carroll Conley for his many years of community service. Additionally, the park’s secondary exit, long known by many as “Perkins” gate, will be formally dedicated to Jo Ann Perkins and her late husband Walter. All are welcome to attend.
The parking project is scheduled to start following the weekend’s Fourth celebration and conclude just prior to the start of the fall Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival May 8 and 9. The initial construction will focus on the area directly across from the main fitness facility entrance, and includes developing new parking spaces, adding curbs, bumper blocks, and ADA-compliant parking/off-load areas and adding lighting conduit. The project’s later stages include paving and lining all other existing parking areas, installing light poles and fixtures and final landscaping.
The Park Board, County and the YMCA will be working closely to minimize disruption to park users by communicating changes as they occur and clearly marking available parking during the project.