Members of the Claudius Crozet Park board presented updated plans for a major park expansion at the October 14 Crozet Community Advisory Committee (CCAC). Sanguine as ever, the park board is taking the required regulatory steps to receive a Special Use Permit from Albemarle county for additional parking areas at the site, in preparation for site plan approval and beginning construction on the project in mid-to-late 2021.
The expansion project has evolved in certain respects from the plan presented to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors in August of 2019. The most significant change is that the addition of an 8-lane, 25-meter indoor pool and its associated 21,000 square foot building—originally slated to be part of a Phase Two in future years—is now part of the current construction plan. The new 36,000 square foot two-story recreation center will house a multi-purpose hard court gym, indoor track, wellness areas, a stay-and-play area, and community spaces.
Other changes outside the building include more parking spaces (for a total of 342 as required by the county), a slight shift in the outdoor basketball court location to allow for better traffic flow, and an improved pedestrian orientation leading up to the building. The existing entrance driveway will connect to and extend through a parking lot expansion along the east and north sides of the current pool and up to a gated exit out to Hill Top Street.
The financial plan remains similar to the park board’s vision in 2019, with the addition of increased funding needed for the indoor pool building. “The total budget is $8.7 million,” said Drew Holzwarth, park board member. “Our plan is to raise $2.7 million in donations through the community and to take on debt of $6 million. Our first phase of fundraising is underway now, and as part of the plan to pay down the debt we’re going to request about $2.4 million in public funds from the county over several years to help us in this effort.”
The park board points to the track record of community fundraising success with projects such as the Crozet Library, dog park, and park field lighting project, and notes that the park is currently debt-free.
“Albemarle county decided long ago to make Crozet part of a growth area, and so there’s a responsibility to provide resources such as recreational opportunities to the folks that live and pay taxes out here,” said Holzwarth. “Historically, we’ve done public-private partnerships very successfully, and now we’re gathering community support to fulfill this need. Where else can [the county] invest $2.4 million and get a brand new $9 million facility?”
At the CCAC meeting, members asked about the amount of asphalt that will be added by the project, with one neighbor estimating that 7 of the park’s 22 acres will be paved. “If you look at the park now, where we’re putting the building is mostly asphalt,” said Holzwarth, “and the pavilion is already there, so most of the impervious surface that’s going to be added is for the parking areas.”
Residents also asked about the implications for local citizens and current park facility members of a fitness company such as ACAC managing the new park facility. “The park will forever be owned by Claudius Crozet Park, no matter who operates the aquatic and fitness center there,” said Holzwarth. “Who will operate the new center is an unknown at this point, we haven’t determined that yet.”
“People may think that by building a much larger facility and because they also see that the ACAC is involved that somehow the rates are going to go way up, but that’s not the case,” said Kim Guenther, park board chair. “The park board determines the rates, and our mission is affordable recreation for all, so rates will be kept reasonable.” Guenther also stressed that lease payments from the park operator, along with festival proceeds and other donations, are an important source of revenue that can be applied to debt from the new facility.
For more details and images of the future project, visit crozetpark.org.