High-tech Field Lights Will Expand Access for Peachtree

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Cheryl Madison, President of Peachtree Baseball and Softball, and Peachtree board member Ben Jones presenting at the October CCAC meeting. Photo: Michael Marshall.

The October 17 meeting of the Crozet Community Advisory Council featured an intriguing presentation by Musco Sport Lighting on the cutting-edge technology planned to illuminate Holzwarth Field in Crozet Park. Closing in on their fundraising goal of $140,000 for the purchase of four 70-foot light poles for the field, Peachtree board member Ben Jones said the lights will have a big impact on the rapidly growing league.

“We are bursting at the seams, trying to get in ten to twelve games per season plus practice time for the players,” said Jones. “The lights will really help in the early spring when it’s getting dark by 6:15 p.m., and since the coaches are 100 percent volunteer, we can’t start practice until 5:30.” Almost 500 kids participated on 41 teams this past spring, and the lighting will expand available practice time as well as allow games to be played into the evenings on weekends.

Joe Forche of Musco Sport Lighting described how the 1500-watt LED light fixtures will have inserts to make the lamps “visored,” dramatically reducing light spillage and glare. “Our priorities are safety, playability, and being a good neighbor,” he said, displaying photos of fields lit precisely to the fence lines and no further using the LED technology. Forche assured Crozet Park neighbors that the field lights will comply with dark skies ordinances and will not shine into nearby homes and yards.

One resident whose house is adjacent to the the park asked park staff to consider planting evergreen trees to block noise from the fields (they will), and realtor Jim Duncan asked what monetary penalties would be applied if games went “late” (none are planned), but the proposal was otherwise well received by those in attendance, including a dozen or so young Peachtree players. A Minor Site Plan Revision incorporating the new lights is currently under consideration by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.

“Small but mighty” was how Downtown Crozet Initiative (DCI) president Meg Holden described the five-person board of the community development organization whose primary objective is to develop the Plaza, a planned civic gathering place and retail/residential hub sited on the old Barnes Lumber property. Working closely with builder Frank Stoner, co-owner of Crozet New Town Associates (which owns the former Barnes Lumber Company parcels), the DCI has taken steady steps toward its goal.

“We began as a committee and have now applied for 501(c)(3) [tax-exempt, nonprofit] organization status and are waiting for that approval,” said Holden. “We hope to grow the board from five to fifteen.” Status as a nonprofit will allow the DCI to apply for certain types of county and state funding for major parts of their project, such as the Virginia Main Street Affiliate grant, designed to help communities revitalize their downtown commercial districts.

“We’re also involved with the Virginia Tourism Corporation, which offers lots of funding opportunities, and we’re really trying to increase our social media presence with our website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter,” said Holden. A fundraising race, the Downtown Crozet 5K, will be held on November 17, which Holden characterizes as a “friendraising” event as well. “The course will start at the Plaza and wind through old Crozet, St. George Avenue and up and around,” she said, “so people can get familiar with these places.”

Construction on the Plaza is anticipated to begin in the last quarter of 2019.

The CCAC’s final agenda item was a discussion of whether and how Crozet’s advisory committee might link with similar committees throughout Albemarle County in order to wield greater influence with county government on issues of commonality. For instance, said Tom Loach, CCAC member and former county Planning Commissioner, “[i]nstead of putting forth separate actions on all of these individual master plans, we could express that one main point of our master plan is that infrastructure must keep up with housing growth, and it hasn’t.”

Members agreed that a key requirement in the prospect of making joint resolutions with other communities is the availability of quantifiable and accurate data on population growth.  Jennie More, current Planning Commissioner, pointed out that getting such data is often a budget and staffing issue at the county level.

Two CCAC members, Valerie Long and David Mitchell, did not fully support the idea of working with other advisory committees as a block. “We don’t want our master plan to become too detailed,” said Mitchell. “We need it to be a flexible document, more broad. Others may have competing agendas.” Mitchell, a developer, asserted that in Charlottesville, neighborhood associations have become more of a barrier instead of a facilitator of growth.

Loach disagreed. “As we end up with less developable land, we need more detail in the master plan, not less.” CCAC chair Allie Pesch pointed out that while changing the master plan is not part of the committee’s mandate, sharing agenda items with other advisory committees to see if there are points of common interest is a fair starting point.

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