After years of disputes over who owned The Square, the central parking lot of downtown Crozet, CSX railroad legally transferred ownership to Albemarle County in July. The move means efforts to improve the lot can now be undertaken on a solid footing.
CSX retained ownership of a pipe-shaped strip of land 50 feet off the centerline of the main track in order to get access for maintenance. CSX has said it’s particularly concerned that it be able to reach the railroad trestle with heavy equipment should it need repair. At the east end of the lot, the railroad reserved an area permitting a 28-foot-wide gate to be installed.
County transportation engineer Jack Kelsey said the county has no plans for improving the lot and it is not included in the long-awaited streetscape project that will renovate Crozet Avenue from The Square to Tabor Street. Ownership does enable utility easements necessary to the project, which includes removing poles and lines from Crozet Avenue.
Kelsey said county officials are hoping whoever turns out to be the new owner of the J. Bruce Barnes Lumber Company parcels will be interested in joining in improvements to The Square.
County officials had approached the business and property owners on The Square about their taking on responsibility for maintenance of the lot, but for the time being the county is not pressing the point, Kelsey said.
Kelsey said a 15-foot strip in front of the stores that officially exists to ensure that the lumberyard had access no longer appears to be necessary. Next to it is a 40-foor-wide road way. Cars parked facing the tracks are essentially in the road easement.
The hemlock that has served as the town Christmas tree is now on county property.