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May 28, 2012

Virginia’s top court to hear YMCA case

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, May 28, 2012

The Virginia Supreme Court has scheduled a June 7 hearing date for a pair of lawsuits seeking to block the Piedmont Family YMCA’s aquatics center from being built on the west side of Charlottesville’s McIntire Park.
Artist's rendering of the planned YMCA (Source: VMDO Architects/Piedmont Family YMCA)
The Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association filed separate suits against Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville in 2010, claiming that each had violated Virginia’s procurement rules.

Related stories by Charlottesville Tomorrow

City to advertise lease agreement for McIntire Park YMCA, September 18, 2007, by Sean Tubbs

Council approves McIntire Park lease for YMCA, December 18, 2007, by Sean Tubbs

County approves use agreement for McIntire YMCA; pool details to be ironed out, January 10, 2008, by Sean Tubbs

Fitness group sues Albemarle and Charlottesville over YMCA, May 13, 2010, by Sean Tubbs

YMCA officials hopeful for summer construction, pending lawsuit, February 19, 2011, by Sean Tubbs

Testimony heard in case against lease for YMCA fitness center, April 2, 2011, by Sean Tubbs

Judge dismisses second YMCA lawsuit; Fitness clubs considering appeal, April 21, 2011, by Sean Tubbs

VA Supreme Court to hear YMCA case of fitness clubs vs. Albemarle, August 22, 2011, by Brian Wheeler


The City Council awarded a $1-a-year ground lease to the YMCA in December 2007. The organization developed plans to build a 70,000-square-foot facility and received approval from the city Planning Commission.
However, the lawsuit against the city alleges that the request for proposals unlawfully excluded for-profit companies from submitting bids.
Judge Cheryl Higgins dismissed the city case in April 2011. In her ruling, she said the city was within its rights to limit who could bid on the project.
The city has budgeted $1.25 million toward construction of the aquatics facility. Albemarle will contribute $2.03 million.
The suit against Albemarle alleges that the county does not have the legal authority under state law to accept a donation for a specific purpose. The case against Albemarle was dismissed in November 2010.
Both cases were appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Continue reading "Virginia’s top court to hear YMCA case " »

May 16, 2012

City parks board recommends plan to remove McIntire golf by 2020

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The golf course on the eastern side of Charlottesville’s McIntire Park will make way for other uses if a master plan recommended Wednesday by the city’s parks and recreation advisory board is adopted by the City Council.
A new concept was unveiled before the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board began their discussion. (Click to enlarge)
The board voted 7-2 on a transitional plan that would give the First Tee of Charlottesville time to find another course to serve as its primary location.
“The golf experience would remain in the park, but it would revert to passive area no later than January 1, 2020,” said Brian Daly, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
The area on the north side of the park would immediately be reserved for a botanical garden. That would give a nonprofit foundation time to raise funds to get their project off the ground with potential expansion after 2020.
Three concepts were taken through the public planning process, which has been underway since last September. The board’s discussion was launched by a new conceptual drawing that had not previously been seen by either its members or the public; phasing the transition was its main update.
“What we’ve done at this point is take the universal comments that have been received and worked really hard to come up with a concept that is thoughtful and meets the community’s desires for how the land should be used well into the future,” Daly said.
Daly said staff suggested a phased approach because access to the park will be limited during the construction of the city’s portion of Meadow Creek Parkway and its grade-separated interchange with U.S. 250.
The new concept would relocate the McIntire skate park to the southern end of the park. The Dogwood Vietnam Memorial would remain in place. 
The wading pool would remain in place through Labor Day of next year and then would be closed to provide room for the skate park.

Continue reading "City parks board recommends plan to remove McIntire golf by 2020" »

March 26, 2012

Charlottesville Parks Board takes input on McIntire Park’s future

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, March 26, 2012

Members of Charlottesville’s Parks and Recreation advisory board listened Monday as organizations and individuals presented their vision for the future of the eastern half of McIntire Park

The panel will make recommendations on the park’s master plan to City Council

Option A (Click to enlarge)
“This is your chance to give comments to them so that they can, over the next 30 days, meet and discuss and recommend what they might come forward with,” said Chris Gensic, a city parks planner, in his remarks to a crowd assembled in the Buford Middle School auditorium. 
The 61 acres that make up the eastern half of the park are going through the city’s master planning process. The park’s use today is primarily for the McIntire Golf Course, which has lost two of its nine holes due to the construction of the Meadow Creek Parkway
Three concepts are under consideration. Two envision a park in which a smaller golf course shares land with passive recreation activities, such as a potential botanical garden. A third concept was introduced by supporters of a botanical garden that envisions the majority of the park being dedicated to that use. 
Advocates of a botanical garden said it was time for the city to move the golf course out to give others a chance to view sights currently only visible by golfers. 
“The city has looked at four master plans since 1972, and each one opened the park to a series of trails to connect parts of the park to each other as well as to connect the park to the city’s entire park system,” said Helen Flamini, the president of the nonprofit McIntire Park Botanical Garden. “Plans to move the nine-hole golf course have been in place since 1992 when a second municipal golf course was built at Pen Park.”
However, golf proponents said they were willing to share the park with other uses. 
“We need some of the park to continue the [youth golfing] program,” said Wayne Hall, the chairman of the First Tee of Charlottesville, a youth development program. 

Continue reading "Charlottesville Parks Board takes input on McIntire Park’s future" »

March 21, 2012

First Tee officials make pitch for continued use of McIntire Park

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The directors of First Tee of Charlottesville asked the City Council Tuesday to keep local golfers in mind as they consider the future of the eastern half of McIntire Park.
A master planning process to determine the future of the park is currently underway, and the organization is hopeful that golf will continue to have a home there in some form. 
“No one here is averse to having another facility,” said Wayne Hall, the chair of First Tee of Charlottesville’s advisory board. “[But] the question is where, and how much. You already have golf at McIntire. It can be [kept] in part of the park.”
The meeting was attended by Councilors Dave Norris, Dede Smith and Kristin Szakos. Councilor Kathy Galvin and Mayor Satyendra Huja did not attend. 
The First Tee Program is part of the Parks and Recreation Department, but is also a chapter of a national organization that has over 200 branches. The city entered into a contract with the group in 2004, and that contract expires in 2019. 
Sue Parson, associate director of Central Atlantic regional affairs for The First Tee, said the program teaches core values that are embodied in the game of golf and aims to instill resilience, the ability to set goals and interpersonal skills.
“Do you know how many people don’t know how to look someone in the eye and shake their hand?” Parson asked. “This is what we mean when we talk about life skills, and when they’re off the course, they can still use it.” 
In 2011, the program had 402 children enrolled. More than half of them came from Albemarle County, and 30 percent came from the city of Charlottesville

Continue reading "First Tee officials make pitch for continued use of McIntire Park " »

March 15, 2012

Residents share feedback on Virginia’s plan for state parks

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Supporters of local parks voiced their opinions during Thursday’s state public hearing about the Virginia Outdoors Plan. The plan is updated every five years and is the gateway to acquiring state and federal funding for land conservation, outdoor recreation and open space planning.

Representatives from organizations like Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee, Virginia Canals and Navigation Society, the Piedmont Environmental Council and others gave input as to what they believed had been left out of the plan.

Topics included increased collaboration between localities and agencies to connect trails, protection of rare and endangered species, safety issues facing bike paths and the accessibility of local trails to the handicapped.

Lonnie Murray, representing the Albemarle Natural Heritage Committee, asked the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to focus on connecting natural areas so that wildlife would be able to move freely between them.

“We’re not just creating isolated pockets of protections — we’re creating corridors,” Murray said.

Continue reading "Residents share feedback on Virginia’s plan for state parks" »

February 29, 2012

McIntire Park planning process continues

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department unveiled three conceptual drawings Tuesday depicting possible master plans for the eastern side of McIntire Park.
Supporters of the First Tee of Charlottesville golf program and advocates for a proposed botanical garden both made their case for space in the park, but city staff said the meeting was only held to get more information on the table. 
“We are not going to make a decision tonight,” said Chris Gensic, the city’s trails planner. 
The meeting was the fifth since the design process began last September. At another meeting in January, staff unveiled three concepts, each of which included both a botanical garden and some form of a golf course. 
Supporters of the nonprofit McIntire Botanical Garden introduced a concept that removed the golf course entirely. That option received the most votes in January. 
Participants at Tuesday’s event were shown three conceptual designs that had more distinct differences. 

Continue reading "McIntire Park planning process continues" »

January 29, 2012

Meet Your Government: Dan Mahon

Dan Ashby Mahon
Dan Mahon
Dan Mahon

Outdoor Recreation Supervisor, Albemarle County

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?

Born in the former backwoods of Fauquier County Virginia but soon after my family and I floated downstream to the Bay and we washed ashore on sandy strip of salt marsh at a place called Grandview Island, Hampton, Virginia. I have relations that go back to dust in Virginia and I am never surprised when I run into a distant cousin.

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?

After graduate school I tried to leave Virginia but at the border I was repeatedly turned back by the ghosts of those ancestors mentioned above and ….so in 1993 I finally gave up all notions of moving to Tibet, Tahiti or Tallahassee and decided not to carry my heart out of old Virginny. And further reinforcing my decision to stay was a recollection of something I learned from my 4th grade Virginia History book. There I was taught that it was in Virginia that the Cradle of Western Civilization rocked and here somewhere between the James and Rivanna Rivers and below the Blue Ridge Mountains was the spiritual center of all that…..so it seemed to me that the right place was not far from where I was. 

What neighborhood do you live in now?

I currently live in one of the 1950’s era neighborhoods in Crozet.

Family (spouse, kids, etc)?

My wife Jan is currently the Director of the Arboretum at JMU. Our daughter Alanna is dancing and artfully working her way through her senior year at Western. And our son Marsh is an EMT proudly serving on the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad, and contributes the local music scene.  

Continue reading "Meet Your Government: Dan Mahon" »

January 23, 2012

City shares designs for McIntire Park in attempt to balance competing uses

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, January 23, 2012

The city of Charlottesville unveiled three design concepts for the eastern portion of McIntire Park at a public meeting attended by almost 90 residents Monday.


In September, city staff kicked off the public input process, saying the 61 available acres in the park were a “blank slate.” In December, more than 100 citizens put pen to paper in a planning workshop to suggest how activities as varied as golf, skateboarding, soccer and botanical gardens could be accommodated.

The three design concepts unveiled by city staff shared a lot of common ground. All accommodated some degree of golf, botanical gardens, a relocated skate park, the Dogwood Vietnam Memorial, perimeter trails and a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks to the park’s western side. Two of the three concepts include a wading pool and a rectangular athletic field.

Shown plans that would share McIntire Park between golf and garden enthusiasts, local golf coach Leonard Taylor said his sport should continue to take priority.

“The First Tee program needs a golf course, and there is already a course there and they don’t have to spend a nickel,” Taylor said. “The uses in the park can be balanced to some degree, but you can’t let it get out of hand.”

City Councilor Kathy Galvin challenged the goal of designing for both uses.

Continue reading "City shares designs for McIntire Park in attempt to balance competing uses" »

January 12, 2012

County support for Crozet pool sparks renewed interest by swimmers at Fairview

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, January 12, 2012

An effort to upgrade the pool at Claudius Crozet Park to a year-round facility took a major step forward Wednesday after the Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted to reallocate $200,000 in capital funding towards improvements at the park.


Supporters of the Claudius Crozet Park wore green to support their cause 

The investment, which will allow Crozet Park to allocate other funds it has raised towards a pool enclosure, had supervisors asking whether a similar proposal from the Fairview Swim and Tennis Club should also get support.

“The number one priority of Crozet Park has been an aquatics and recreation center, and they have been fundraising towards this effort since 2004,” said Bob Crickenberger, the county’s director of parks and recreation.

Claudius Crozet Park is owned by a nonprofit organization. The county has spent nearly $1 million on capital improvements at the park since 1997 and is responsible for routine maintenance.

Crozet Park’s directors unsuccessfully approached the county in 2008 seeking funding for an inflatable pool enclosure.

“We took away from the staff recommendation, when we were turned down, to form a partnership with the [Piedmont Family] YMCA and to come back to the board and ask for some help down the road,” said Heidi Sonen, a member of the Claudius Crozet Park’s board of directors.

Continue reading "County support for Crozet pool sparks renewed interest by swimmers at Fairview" »

December 30, 2011

Plan in works for land swap to create athletic fields at Biscuit Run

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, December 30, 2011

Throughout this year’s master planning process for the new Biscuit Run State Park, local officials repeatedly pushed for the inclusion of athletic fields. It was also the No. 1 request from the public.

CONCEPT illustration provided by Habitat for Humanity

However, the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation said such facilities were the responsibility of local governments and not something to be included in a state park. DCR staff emphasized at one meeting that they were not “changing their paradigm.”

“We have been barking at the state officials for many months to include fields in the Biscuit Run master plan,” said Bob Crickenberger, Albemarle County’s parks and recreation director. “I don’t think that’s a possibility anymore.”

However, a paradigm shift of another sort appears to be under way. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville has stepped forward with a proposal to swap land it owns at the neighboring Southwood Mobile Home Park for land in the state park that it says is well-suited for a complex of up to five fields and parking.

“The county was deeply disappointed that there were no athletic fields as part of the master plan,” said Habitat’s executive director, Dan Rosensweig. “We know that the Biscuit Run development itself deeply divided this community, but there seemed to be one area of 100 percent consensus, and that is the fields are a great need and a great community amenity.”

Continue reading "Plan in works for land swap to create athletic fields at Biscuit Run" »