A merry band of Crozet residents clambered aboard the Crozet Trolley for an informative Character Tour of Crozet on Saturday morning, October 26, after a welcome reception of coffee and bagels in the Crozet Square provided by the Albemarle County Planning Dept. A simultaneous Crozet Connectivity Tour aboard the Crozet Connect/Jaunt bus was joined by several members of the Crozet Trails Crew and others. These tours are part of the “Imagine Crozet” effort to gather local input on the Crozet Master Plan update currently in progress. The Crozet Master Plan has not been updated since 2010.
The tours, along with the ongoing Crozet Master Plan Workshops—the next will be on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the Field School auditorium—are part of the Visioning stage of the update process. Albemarle County Planners Cameron Langille, Andrew Knuppel, and Michaela Accardi led the Character Tour, which focused on “what defines Crozet’s character and how to preserve and enhance our history as we grow”—with Ken Harris driving and gaily ringing the bell. Tori Kanellopoulos and Rachel Falkenstein led the Connectivity Tour, which highlighted trails, road projects, and transportation needs. Thirty residents signed up to join the two free tours, and both Crozet Trolley owner Shawn Bird and Crozet Connect donated their bus services.
The Character Tour travelled along the border between the rural area and the Crozet Growth Area to draw our attention to “edge conditions”—from The Square down Crozet Ave. to Rockfish Gap Turnpike, over Hillsboro Lane to Half Mile Branch and over Lanetown Rd, along St. George Ave., and over Three Notch’d Rd. to Park Ridge Drive, using the new Eastern Ave. connector to return to the Square via Park Rd. and High St. The “original road trace” along 250 through Brownsville and Yancey Mills was explained, highlighting Freetown, Hillsboro, and Piedmont Baptist Church. Clipboards with maps and questions were provided to allow riders to give feedback on how they preferred the transition from rural to developed areas to look. Other questions involved preferred architectural attributes in neighborhoods, such as porches and setbacks, how to “preserve and uplift” Crozet’s history, and suggested uses of the historically industrial area along Three Notch’d Rd. The three tour guides reviewed Crozet’s evolution from an 1870s rail depot, to an agricultural center of apple and peach orchards, to an industrial home to Morton Foods/ConAgra and Acme Visible Records, to its current mix of residential, agritourism, service and technology businesses. Three stops were made in key Crozet areas: in the historic district of St. George Ave., in Westhall to demonstrate features of the County’s “neighborhood model,” and near the historic African American community of Unionville, which in the early 20th century featured a one-room schoolhouse in addition to the Baptist church.
The Connectivity tour followed a similar route, but traversed Old Trail Drive and Jarmans Gap Road as well. Its goal, as stated on the handout, was to understand “what the needs are for getting around in Crozet, by bicycle, on foot, by car, and even transit.” They visited several areas that showed how pedestrian and bicycling connections are working in Crozet, such as the East Village section of Old Trail and the pedestrian underpass where the Crozet Connector Trail goes beneath Eastern Avenue. They also viewed areas where connectivity is an issue for both drivers and pedestrians, i.e. along Crozet Avenue, Route 250, and Three Notch’d Road. Riders were asked such questions as “How can we better connect the Meadows and nearby neighborhoods to other resources in town, such as schools, downtown, and Old Trail?” A strong presence by members of the Crozet Trails Crew on this tour helped to foster an active exchange of ideas (thanks to CTC President Terri Miyamoto for this description).
The blue vertical line in the “Existing Trails & Priority Road Projects” map represents the Eastern Ave. extension connecting Route 240 to Route 250 to the south, proposed in the 2010 Crozet Master Plan. Connections north over the railroad tracks as well as south from Westhall to Cory Farms are needed. “The roadway requires a crossing of Lickinghole Creek, and recent estimates put this project in the millions of dollars due to that crossing,” explained county planner Rachel Falkenstein. “On the tour, we discussed how the road is a top priority project for the County and recommended in the 2010 Master Plan, but we do not yet have dedicated funding for the completion of the road, so timing is unknown.”
Both tours were extremely informative and helpful in understanding where Crozet has been and envisioning where it is going. Many riders wished they could take both tours, and hope they will be offered again. For more information about the Crozet Master Plan process, visit www.albemarle.org/department.asp?department=cdd&relpage=24060 or find them on Facebook.