By Kim Guenther
Claudius Crozet Park has been awarded a $115,000 Recreational Trails grant by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation through its Recreational Trails Program, a matching reimbursement program for building trails. The Federal Highway Administration provides the program’s funding. The RTP program is very competitive and the park has applied for the grant before.
Combined with a generous private donation from the Neumeister family, the founders of SK8CROZET, the grant will allow the park to develop its long-awaited perimeter trail. The three-quarter mile, six-foot-wide paved, multi-purpose trail will encircle the Park and serve runners, walkers, skateboarders, and cyclists. Once the trail is established, spurs will be added to access other park amenities such as the new dog park expected to open late this year and a future pond-side amphitheater.
The perimeter trail has been on the park’s master plan for more than a decade. It was identified as the most important amenity to add to the park in a community-wide survey regarding park priorities conducted last year. In the long term, the perimeter trail will serve as an “anchor” trail connecting to the Crozet Connector Trail and the Greenway Trail Network set out in the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan. With the perimeter trail as the “hub,” the trail system will eventually link existing neighborhoods and downtown.
Through fundraising and trail building, the SK8CROZET team is playing a pivotal role in building parts of the network. The perimeter trail is the first phase of the much larger SK8CROZET Trails Project, which aims to build paved, multi-purpose trails throughout Crozet. SK8CROZET was founded by the family of Daniel Mark Neumeister in his memory. The family is partnering with Crozet Park to help extend the park’s mission of providing affordable recreational opportunity for residents of Albemarle County. More information about SK8CROZET, including how to make a donation, can be found at www.sk8crozet.com.
The Neumeister family’s donation was critical to the grant application; it demonstrated the deep community commitment to the multi-use trail concept. Just getting through the grant process, which required five different state agency approvals, was a significant effort. Park board members Kelly Strickland, Nancy Nerem and Jessica Mauzy were instrumental in developing the application.
Next the park will complete the many county planning requirements needed to issue a Request for Proposal, optimally by the end of year, that will solicit bids to build the trail. To reduce the disruption to park users, trail construction will likely be timed to coincide with the park’s parking expansion project scheduled for next spring.