Category Archives: Parks and Recreation

Albemarle begins work this week on Biscuit Run park

Fifteen years ago, the hottest development story in Albemarle County was what would be built at Biscuit Run, an 828-acre tract of land in the growth area that was rezoned in September 2007 for a large mixed-use neighborhood.

Then the Great Recession hit, and the developer sold the property to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2009 for it to become a state park. While a master plan was created by the Virginia Department of Conservation in 2013, funding from the state did not immediately materialize. 

In January 2018, Albemarle County entered into a lease with DCR to operate the land as a regional park to be funded locally and not by the state. This week, work will finally begin to get the first phase of the project moving.

“To prepare for the construction of these park improvements and amenities, Albemarle County will begin clearing approximately 7 ½ acres of land on Wednesday, March 8, 2023,” reads a press release that went out last week. “This work is expected to be completed by Saturday, April 1, 2023.”

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City Parks & Rec seeking entries for post to mark 50th anniversary of City Market

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of Charlottesville’s downtown City Market and the city’s Parks and Recreation is looking for help to promote the event. They’re asking for people to design a “fun and fresh” poster. 

“Charlottesville Parks & Recreation will select 1 winning poster design that depicts a combination of engaging graphics, informative messaging, and regional or market identity. The winning artist will be awarded $500 and bragging rights,” reads the call for entries. 

The deadline is March 12, 2023 and people can submit more than one entry. 

The market operates April to November on space rented from the Woodard Company, who in turn rents it from the Charlottesville Parking Center. The city market used to operate on the city-owned lot next door, but moved to the more level space after a city-requested development by Woodard called West 2nd was withdrawn following a denial from the city’s Board of Architectural Review. 

For more information on the poster contest, visit the city’s website

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the February 15, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

Albemarle PC endorses Botanical Garden of the Piedmont

The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont has cleared a technical hurdle to its future existence in a portion of McIntire Park that is within Albemarle County. 

“The proposed activity has been determined as a public use… by our zoning administrator,” said David Benish is a development process manager with the Albemarle County Community Development. “Public uses are permitted by-right in all zoning districts. However, if the proposed public use is not identified in a Comprehensive Plan, a review for the proposal’s compliance with the Comprehensive Plan is required, and that’s a state code requirement.” 

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Supervisor LaPisto-Kirtley starting a parks foundation for Albemarle

Many localities across Virginia have a private foundation that works to raise money to support their park systems. This week, one member of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors told her colleagues she is working to start one. 

“I am exploring starting a parks foundation with a group of people and I would look for the Board’s support in doing that,” said Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley of the Rivanna District. “This is very similar to the Police Foundation.”

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Parks and Recreation update: Meadow Creek Trail could be completed by summer 2024

Before 2023 can really get underway, there are still some meetings from late 2022 I want to go through. One of them is the December 15 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. There were no action items but there were many updates on projects.

The first was a progress update on an effort to complete the Meadow Creek Trail which is intended to span from Michie Drive up northeast to the Virginia Institute for Autism followed by an eastern spur to Greenbrier Park. That’s the number one priority for the parks department, according to planner Chris Gensic. 

“We have [Virginia Department of Transportation] grants and then City Council allocated about $1.2 million to add to that pile because we did not get the second round VDOT grant that we applied for,” Gensic said. “Then we were informed a couple of weeks ago that another city had backed out of a project and if we wanted the extra $800,000 we could have it and we are going full forward with that with [Deputy City Manager] Sam Sanders’ full support.” 

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Charlottesville Climate Action Plan to be added to the Comprehensive Plan

City awards contracts for Preston / Harris study, new fuel tank for city fleet

When they meet on December 13, the Charlottesville Planning Commission will vote to recommend the re-adoption of the Comprehensive Plan in part to address a legal issue that may have occurred when the current version of the document was originally approved on November 15, 2021. 

In late August, Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Claude Worrell dismissed three of four counts on a lawsuit calling for the Comprehensive Plan to be overturned, but said he would hear arguments on a claim that the public notice was not sufficient. The readoption will render those claims moot because a new public hearing will be held on December 13. (read my story)

But the notice is not the only change that will be made before the public. Charlottesville’s Climate Action Plan will also be added to the document but in slightly revised version not yet seen by Council. (Review the November 22, 2022 Climate Action Plan)

“It is a community-wide plan that has been developed based on the key sources and sectors of greenhouse gas emissions and contains a framework of actions that can be implemented by and throughout the community,” reads a December 8 press release

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Charlottesville receives funding to buy land along Moores Creek

The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation has awarded nearly $15 million in grants across the Commonwealth to help preserve land from development. That includes $175,000 for Charlottesville to purchase 8.6 acres of land in Albemarle County along Moores Creek. That falls under the “Open Spaces and Parks” category of the program. 

The money can be used to purchase property, acquire conservation easements, or some other method of preserving land. In this case, Charlottesville will use the funding to buy land currently used by the International Rescue Committee for an urban farming project. That use would continue.

“This property is a priority for developing the Moores Creek Greenway as it allows a shared use path and the [Rivanna Trail] to stay on the same side of Moores Creek as the trail upstream and means we don’t absolutely have to build a bridge, which could cost as much or more than the land itself,” said parks planner Chris Gensic in response to a question. 

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Fall 2023 date current target for roadway entrance to Biscuit Run Park

It has been nearly 12 years since the Commonwealth of Virginia purchased nearly 800 acres in Albemarle County’s growth area for the purposes of creating a state park. The land had been slated for the Biscuit Run mixed-use development, but the previous developer found a buyer in then-Governor Tim Kaine. 

It has been nearly five years since the Commonwealth of Virginia entered into a ground lease with Albemarle for the county to program the 1,200 acre park, an agreement signed by then Governor Terry McAuliffe in January 2018

McAuliffe had requested a $42 million bond package during the 2016 General Assembly but that did not make it through to passage. That would have paid for at least some of a master plan to program the park. 

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City crews preparing to remove some Downtown Mall trees

Later this week, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department will hold an information meeting on removing some of the trees on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. Riann Anthony is the deputy director of the department. 

“We are very lucky that the Downtown Mall trees have been in existence for this long,” Anthony said. “Some of them are healthy and others are not healthy but per our urban forester is that all of the trees are stressed from a number of factors.”

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Botanical Garden of the Piedmont seeks firm to design future buildings

A nonprofit organization that seeks to build a botanical garden on the eastern side of Charlottesville’s McIntire Park has issued a request for proposals for architectural firms to design future buildings. 

The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont has a ground lease with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to operate on 14.74 acres. 

“The design of the major architectural components of the Garden is a major next step in bringing our award-winning Schematic Plan to life,” said Jill Trischman-Marks, the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont’s executive director. 

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