I’d heard about this and driven/ridden my bike by the site of the soon-to-come retention pond but haven’t yet taken photos.
Happily, I received this email from a reader today:
I wanted to bring to your attention a detention pond that VDOT has planned along Jarmans Gap Road. My hope is that you could post a story on Real Crozet to get the community at large involved. I have been trying to convince VDOT that this plan is a ridiculous solution to the storm water problem on Jarmans Gap but so far I haven’t gotten very far. It is my understanding that the developer for Old Trail also tried working with VDOT on an alternate plan to no avail.
I have a meeting with Ann Mallek on Thursday at the site to try and get the BOS on my side but the honest truth is the Western Bypass is occupying most of their time these days.
The plan, as I understand it; there is a large detention pond planned for the green space at the entrance to Old Trail (where the sign used to be). This detention pond will be filled from the bottom using the curb and gutters along Jarmans Gap. This water will then be drained through a controlled release into the storm water drains that run through Old Trail. This “pond” will be 10 feet deep and surrounded by chain link fencing that is 6 feet tall. There is landscaping in the form of trees and shrubs only only the South side (which is the side closest to the home on Old Trail Drive that it will sit beside). There are small plantings planned for the North side along Jarmans Gap. The other 2 sides will remain bare. Forgetting the fact that the fencing planned is hideous, I find the entire project offensive. VDOT has planned this as if it were way out in the country and wouldn’t be affecting anyone. This is a main corridor in Crozet and I think this will affect everyone! I can think of no other development/neighborhood in Albemarle County, or the City of Charlottesville for that matter, that has such an eye sore at it’s front door.
When I first discovered this plan, the VDOT employee that I spoke with said in no uncertain terms that it WOULD be a mosquito pit. When I asked him if he would want to live next to something like that he said “absolutely not”.
This is from Justin Beights, Old Trail’s Developer responding to my inquiry several weeks ago:
Many of you have contacted us regarding the work on Jarmans Gap Road. As you know, this is a VDOT project over which we have little control. However, please know that we have been attempting to work with VDOT for nearly two years to keep this work from negatively affecting our homeowners. Unfortunately, such efforts have met with resistance on the part of the transportation department.
Currently, the work at the intersection of Old Trail Drive and Jarmans Gap Road involves the creation of a sediment basin to collect run-off from the construction site. This is a typical environmental requirement of any construction that involves moving dirt (we have several in Old Trail Village, including the pond behind the town homes on West End Drive). Ideally, VDOT’s stormwater management would tie into the existing structures and systems in Old Trail Village. We have offered to work with VDOT engineers to create just such a solution, but they have not been open to this overture. Options for VDOT other than the collection basin at the intersection (Carriage Park entrance) would be to convert the permanent structure to a bio-filter or piping the runoff to one of our existing ponds. Neither of these options is attractive to VDOT because that would incur greater expense than the retention pond they’re digging now.
At this point, we are trying to convince VDOT that the sediment collection basin should be temporary in nature, and that a more attractive, beneficial solution should be conceived. Feedback from homeowners in the area should be directed to the VDOT, as it is a state organization responsible to the taxpayers. Regardless of your avenue for expression, please know that you have our support to reduce any negative impact on you and your quality of life here in Old Trail Village and Crozet.
Further update to include pictures and maps:
Update from Marlene Condon:
If you live in an area that has many mosquitoes, you are living in an area with lots of standing water (water that is not moving). In human-filled habitats (such as in towns and suburbia), human carelessness is most often the root cause of an abundance of these insects around human dwellings. People simply need to stay alert to the possibility of inadvertently creating mosquito habitat.
You should not leave anything lying about that can collect water. If you have tarps over lawn equipment, be sure to shake the water off after every rain. Children’s toys and toddler swimming pools, flower-pot saucers, and empty buckets and tires are obvious water collectors. If you can not avoid leaving these items outside, you must empty them shortly after every rain or use so that eggs can not be laid in the water or remain there long enough for the mosquitoes to hatch out and mature.
A not-so-obvious water collector is any area that is out of sight and therefore out of mind. Roof gutters are one such example. Check your gutter as soon as possible after every rain to be certain that it is not clogged and in need of cleaning. Gutters fill up quickly with debris from nearby trees.
If you own a bird bath, empty it every day or so for the birds’ health as well as to avoid creating a mosquito breeding area. Refill it with fresh water. In times of drought, use the cold water from your faucet that precedes the hot water you need for a shower. Simply fill containers with the water that is not yet warm enough for you to bathe in.
Avoid installing a water feature (a so-called pond or water garden that does not function like a natural pond with live animals in it) because these basins of water provide prime habitat for mosquito eggs. During Virginia’s Garden Week, I often tour many gardens that have fancy concrete water features that undoubtedly function as mosquito breeding grounds. If you notice your neighbors have such adornments in their yards, do not hesitate to suggest that they either empty the containers and keep them empty, or install a pump to keep the water moving.
Mosquitoes do not need to be eradicated (they are an important food source for other creatures) nor do we need to minimize their numbers by wholesale spraying of the environment at great cost to other wildlife and humans.
Life for a mosquito starts as an egg laid on the surface of standing water. Depending upon the species, it might be laid singly or in an irregularly shaped mass or floating raft of eggs. The eggs hatch very quickly, usually within two weeks (depending upon species and temperature).
Before man came along, an adult female mosquito wanting to lay eggs would find standing water only in tree holes, temporary puddles formed in animal tracks or in areas of slow-draining soil, or in still ponds. In such naturally wet situations, the mosquito eggs or larvae would be subject to predation–AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS AT RETENTION PONDS.
Birds obtaining water from tree-hole puddles would inadvertently slurp up mosquito eggs or larvae. Amphibians roaming around on the ground at night could find the maturing mosquitoes and eat them. Newts, dragonfly and damselfly larvae, and predacious beetles would take advantage of the floating mosquito meals in ponds.
Sadly, human habitats are—more often than not—inhospitable to these natural predators. Landscaping for wildlife instead of just human life would alleviate the majority of problems people have in their yards.
We simply need to take responsibility for our own welfare. Eliminate standing water in your yard so that mosquitoes can not successfully reproduce in your midst. Then these insects will not be so problematic for humans.
Marlene A. Condon (Author, The Nature-friendly Garden, Stackpole Books)
Naturalist and Writer/Photographer/Speaker
Crozet, VA 22932-2204