At the Planning Commission’s Crozet Master Plan Land Use Work Session on January 12, Scottsville Commissioner Rick Randolph approved of the planning staff’s proposals of both a new Middle Density Residential category, which would be applied to Hilltop Street, and a Downtown Overlay District, which would run adjacent to Hilltop Street. Both increased density opportunities and in-fill development incentives for the affected neighborhoods. Speaking about the Downtown Overlay District, which borders Claudius Crozet Park on two sides, Mr. Randolph said, “Our responsibility as the planning commission is to not only look at today, but to look where the community is going in the future. I get what the planning staff is recommending here for the downtown zoning district and the goal of seeing intensified urbanization, with all the attendant features of that, so I’m supportive of the category.” He went on to suggest that, because the county doesn’t have a “roads department,” if Crozet wants to create its own tax base by seeking legislative designation as a town, Crozet could “fund whatever it wants to fund.”
Two months later, with the support of the county staff report and the Crozet Community Advisory Committee (CCAC), Crozet residents serving on the Claudius Crozet Park Board of Directors came before the Planning Commission March 23 with an application for a community-initiated, 501(c)(3) non-profit owned, and largely community-funded infrastructure project in the form of a sorely-needed enhanced park facility, which includes, among other improvements, an indoor pool to end the need for the temporary dome each winter, an indoor walking track, new bathrooms, and correctly sized basketball courts to replace the existing ones. Is this not Crozet “funding whatever it wants to fund,” specifically in the form of the “attendant features of intensified urbanization” in our downtown?
And yet, Mr. Randolph and several other commissioners disapproved of the project, ironically citing the same concerns about traffic, loss of greenspace and trees, and increased impervious surfaces that CCAC members raised in response to planner’s proposed density increases to the same surrounding residential area.
However, in this case, the traffic to the park already exists, and the “urbanization” of the Hilltop Street area is already in their plan. As some commissioners admitted they haven’t visited Crozet Park, they might not understand that the park already hosts swim meets, baseball tournaments, the Fourth of July fireworks celebration, a biannual arts and crafts festival, soccer games, orchestra practices, and more. As pointed out by our own Commissioner Jennie More, whose support of the proposal and its location was disregarded by many of her colleagues, this is an enhancement of existing amenities—it isn’t a new use for this location.
To say that this park is wrong for a recreation hub is not only hypocritical, it is false. Claudius Crozet Park is the cornerstone of the Crozet Master Plan’s park and greenway system. If you drop a pin in the center of a map of the Crozet Growth Area, it lands on Crozet Park. It has unbeatable pedestrian and bike connectivity. The Crozet Trails Crew has designed its entire trailway system, in coordination with county planners, to have Crozet Park as its nexus. Western Park in Old Trail is a largely natural park. Mint Springs Park, just a mile from the growth area, is another natural park. Crozet community members of all ages need a place for sports, exercise and social gathering. When the Albemarle comprehensive plan designated specific growth areas for development, that also applied to the development of the community spaces within them. Not only does the community deserve this facility, Claudius Crozet Park does.
Chair, Crozet Community Advisory Committee