Crozet Sports Foundation Leases Library Space

Justin Byrd, founder and owner of Crozet Sports. Photo: Lisa Martin.

Crozet Sports has been out of the spotlight during the past year as it was forced to cancel all of its 2020 summer camp programs due to pandemic protocols, but its dream of building an indoor sports facility at the intersection of Rt. 250 and Old Trail Drive is still alive. The plan for an 85,000 square-foot facility that will offer sports training and after-school activities will continue wending its way through the county’s approval process in 2021. 

“We feel very fortunate that we’ve had community support all during the Crozet Master Planning process, and the one positive for us is that it does seem like some of the potential changes to that plan may benefit our project,” said Justin Byrd, founder and owner of Crozet Sports. “In February [of 2020] we had just completed multiple community hearings and we had a lot of momentum going into the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors phases, but we decided to pause that process. At this point we’ll wait until the Master Planning process is complete.”

The county’s proposed land use map currently designates the Old Trail parcel where Crozet Sports hopes to build its new facility as mixed Neighborhood Density Residential and Institutional use, a change from strictly residential zoning. Some members of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee have objected to any change in zoning designation for that parcel, concerned that should Crozet Sports decide not to pursue its project on that spot, the land is then available for other types of large enterprises to be built there that may not comport with the Master Plan’s intent.

At present, however, Crozet Sports is optimistic, continuing to raise funds privately for its facility as well as for its upcoming camps and after-school programs. The newly formed Crozet Sports Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, has leased the space recently vacated by the Crozet Running Shop in the lower level of the Crozet Library building, and Byrd says that move will make all the difference. “Because we relied on using county school facilities in the past, we were able to offer our camps for only six weeks, but now we are offering a full nine-week camp from June 21 to August 16.”

Crozet Sports submitted a competitive bid to the county in November to be considered for the library space lease, which begins June 1, 2021 at a rate of $33,396.96 per year, to be paid in monthly installments. “It was a true blessing that we were selected by the county for this space [in April] because now all the things we’ve been planning for while can go forward,” said Byrd. “We looked at many other spaces and they all led to a dead end. Albemarle County has a very fair structure for rentals in place, much more so than you see with a lot of other commercial rentals. Renting building space in the county can be very expensive, there are not a lot of options in western Albemarle and lot of competition.”

The library building space is about 1,700 square feet and Byrd and his crew will work in the early weeks of June to convert it into a multi-purpose classroom for campers. “It’s equivalent to about three classrooms and will serve as our academic and indoor space to be able to do activities with the kids,” he said. “We’re really fortunate in that we’ve already been able to establish relationships with Tabor Presbyterian Church and Crozet United Methodist Church (both only a few steps away) to be able to use some of their grounds for our outdoor recreation activities.”

As they did in the summer of 2019, Crozet Sports camp plans to use their “friends at the Crozet Trolley” to visit other sites such as Crozet Park, Mint Springs Park, and Chiles Peach Orchard. In the fall, the library space will be used for after-school care, and Byrd said that, so far, the reception to both programs has been encouraging. “We opened our summer camp registration a month ago and it’s already almost full,” he said, “and our fall after-school enrichment program is filling quickly.” Byrd said his organization also plans to offer a non-school-days kids program and to host kids night out events on weekends during the school year. 

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Lisa Martin joined the Gazette in 2017 and writes about education and local government. She also writes in-depth pieces about division-wide education issues and broader investigative pieces on topics from recycling to development to living with wildlife. Her Coyotes in Crozet story won a 2017 Virginia Press Association “Best in Show” award for the Gazette. Martin has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, taught college for several years, and writes fiction and poetry. She co-authored a children’s trilogy about two adventuring cats, the Anton and Cecil series, which got rave reviews from the New York Times Book Review, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and others.


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