Wednesday, September 13, 2006

First Parks advisory meeting

The Parks & Rec department has a lot of responsibilities. The four primary areas are trails, parks, recreation and golf. The department works with the school system, RTF (rivanna trail foundation) and NDS (neighborhoood development services) (see me using all sorts of capital letters).

We spent a majority of our time discussing recreation. Recreation is at a crossroads. Parks & Rec has actively sought community feedback over the past two years through a needs assessment and community outreach. The question boils down to whether to pursue renovations of the current indoor facilities OR to pursue a modern central indoor facility with a pool, fitness and community rooms. Of course it all comes down to community value and financial resources. The director gave a presentation to Council last month, this page has a link to the .pdf document. It is lengthy. The revenue, operating expenses graph is the most telling, over time with the current facilities the operating expenses are predicted to increase dramatically while the revenue remains fairly stable. The modern, central facility has a dramatic upfront cost (25 mil to build, we all predict this number will go up if no decision is made soon v. 12.5 mil to renovate the current facilities but ultimately maintain the infrastructure).

The Board wants to know if partnerships with other local groups is possible. Historically these partnerships have not advanced, but we are optimistic. Everyone has lots of questions, our homework is essentially to visit the City's facilities and newer facilities in town (AFC, ACAC downtown, North Grounds) & consider what we want for the future of our City recreation facilities & to ask our members of the community what they would like to see. I encourage people to comment or email me with their suggestions, concerns etc.

The Trail component is doing great, a new hire, Chris G (not to be confused with my dh who is an engineer and rides on the trails) has as his mission to implement the master trail plan. The one project on the Planning Commission's agenda tonight is a trail from the County office Building to Cville Coffee (and presumably to the bike park). The City is working with Art in Place and the Center for Living Ecology to make a really beautiful trail. Additionally, Chris G will write grants seeking money for walk to school initiatives, this is very exciting.

The Golf part is doing great, the Meadowcreek Golf course is a great attraction and popular among recreational golfers, and most importantly bringing in more revenue than last year, so far.

Parks- what can you say, they are fantastic- we didnt discuss the Parks too much, although the City just acquired a brand new 15 ft lawn mower, instead of 5ft (the biggest one before this acquisition), the City expects mowing to be much more efficient so additional resources may be devoted to maintaining the sports fields.

Fairly productive meeting- I am really fascinated by the commitment the City has to preserving the Parks, Rec and Golf, certainly this is one reason I love living here.

1 comment:

Peter Kleeman said...

Jennifer,

Your impression from your posting that you are "really fascinated by the commitment the City has to preserving the Parks, Rec and Golf, certainly this is one reason I love living here" differs form mine. Of late there are threats to at least three of the city's parks. The McIntire Road Extended (Meadow Creek Parkway) project is proposed to build a road through the eastern portion of McIntire Park - our most significant park property in Charlottesville. Also, the Route 250 Bypass Interchange projects at McIntire Road will use even more parkland in McIntire Park, as well as Baily Park. If you want additional information on these projects, I have some material at www.angelfire.com/va3/stamp2025/blog/ that you might find interesting. Also, the interchange consultants have information on this project at www.250interchange.org including some visuals showing the impacts on charlottesville parkland.

The other major Charlottesville park is Pen Park - also threatened by a highway project. The city and Albemarle County are considering aligning a major roadway connecting northern albemarle county with the Pantops Mountain area (route 250 east of Charlottesville). Although Pen Park is a property protected by two separate Federal statutes popularly known as Section 4(f) and the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, recent news articles indicate that the city and county may consider use of Pen Park for highway purposes as one of their preferred alternatives.

In light of these threats to at least three of Charlottesville's park areas, I don't see that Charlottesville is all that committed to its parkland, outdoor recreation, or golf areas. If these roads are constructed, we would impact both Meadowcreek and McIntire golf courses, and parkland and outdoor recreation opportunities at McIntire, Pen and Baily parks. I for one hope that you and the Parks Advisory Board will challenge these roadway projects in light of the significant impact they will have on our city parks.