A plan for improving the current gravel parking lot on the north side of Crozet United Methodist Church in downtown Crozet has been finalized, removing the last uncertainty plaguing the start of the Crozet Avenue streetscape project.
The Crozet Avenue/Library Avenue intersection will transform from a ‘T’ to a four-way intersection, with the west side of the intersection opening to the new lot. All of the intersection will be on church property. An entry to the Blue Goose Building from Crozet Avenue will be removed, as will the existing Crozet Avenue entrance to the church lot.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has agreed to be responsible for a 130-foot section of road extending from Crozet Avenue to a ‘T’ where the entry to the church lot will split to the left and the Blue Goose parking lot will connect on the right.
The solution to the north lot’s access is part of a comprehensive plan for developing the 20,000-square-foot church’s parking and landscaping, according to Mike Carmagnola, an architect who is serving as the church’s project manager for the plan. The plan has won the approval of the congregation, he said.
Plans include a smaller lot connecting to Jarmans Gap Road and linking to the north lot over a terrace, a ramped concrete section of road that will offer access to the rear entry to the church.
The cost of constructing the whole project approaches $1 million, Carmagnola said. The church will proceed to build the north lot next summer, at a cost of roughly $675,000, using money it got from VDOT for the property (and 30 parking spaces) the church lost along Jarmans Gap Road when it was widened.
The new lot will have new handicapped access points from the front and rear of the building. The church’s former handicapped access was from the lost parking area.
Carmagnola said the new lot will extend all the way from Crozet Avenue to Carter Street, taking over the existing volleyball area but not actually connecting to Carter Street. The new lot will have 64 spaces, he said, and be graded to be essentially flat. The lot will be paved and have curbs, gutters, sidewalks and shade trees. It will be able to handle another 20 cars along the curb on the lot’s church side if necessary.
The bamboo stand along the edge of the gravel lot will go. The fenced playground for preschoolers will be moved to the west side of the terrace. A terrace of pavers at the rear of the church will form a plaza planted with a ring of trees, a sort of outdoor foyer. A basketball court will be painted on the pavement and the goal posts will be nestled into landscaping islands.
“Our goal is to start in May after Kingswood Preschool closes. It has 50 students and it can be busy in the lot. We don’t want to interfere with them. We’ll do it over the summer and we’ll be done before September.”
The Crozet Farmers Market normally uses the lot over those months and Carmagnola is hoping the market can find a temporary alternative location in downtown while construction is happening. “We definitely want to continue to host the market,” he said.
County officials had expected to announce a schedule for starting the Crozet Avenue streetscape project at a town hall meeting set for Oct. 29 that was cancelled by the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
The last utility easements for the project, which was originally expected to happen in 2008, were secured in September after the county gained legal possession of The Square and circumvented a service supply obstacle caused by the railroad tracks. The project removes all the utility lines from Crozet Avenue and supplies service underground from the rear of the lots.
The most recent predictions expect the project to start next spring, after the utility relocations are done.