What do We Want Crozet to Be?

I posted the following thought on the RealCrozetVA facebook page and it generated quite a few thoughtful comments, but I much prefer to center the conversation here. That said, the comments added to my original thought by changing my premise from “what do we want Crozet to be” to first, let’s define the Crozet culture as it currently is and then define what we want Crozet to look like.

This is something that is been going through my head for the last 12 or 18 months: what is Crozet going to look like in 12 or 20 years? More importantly, what do we want it to look like in 12 or 20 years?

Our town is going to change. That is a known known. But what are the unknowns? Will we encourage the homogenization that is happening in Charlottesville? Will we be able to encourage adoption of the Crozet
culture to those who are new?

If we don’t plan (and act!) accordingly and wisely for the coming growth – the school traffic coming from Old Trail comes to mind as well as the traffic to and from all the schools in the mornings and afternoons, and presumably more when Re-Store ‘n Station opens, and from Westlake Hills – then Crozet won’t be as wonderful a place to live as it is now.

I love Crozet; we’ve been here for 11 years (I think) and I intend to be here for a long time. I make my living representing buyers and sellers moving to and from Crozet, so I have a different perspective than many, but my goal remains to work to do whatever I can to keep and make Crozet a special place to be.

I’m posting below the comments from the conversation … please, take some time to read them all (and thank you to everyone who has already commented). They’re thoughtful, insightful comments about what Crozet was, is and could be. I’ll call out this one as I think it well articulates what most may be thinking:

I think we have to combine and find the way to bring the new into the fold of the old unique Crozet so we can grow together.

* For the purposes of this conversation, “Crozet” means (very roughly) – from the railroad bridge at 240/250 intersection to Greenwood Gourmet just past 64 to about two miles past Crozet Elementary. Seriously. Getting into a discussion about “what are the boundaries of Crozet” won’t serve this discussion well … and may lead to moderation of comments.”

What do we want Crozet to be?

Storified by Jim Duncan· Sun, Jan 20 2013 18:10:13

We had this problem in Colorado. Many people from different areas moved to the are we lived. Everyone that had left their areas because they didn’t care for it, brought that to the new space…. And, since it was the only thing they knew, started to ma…See MoreBeth Seliga
Just my two cents. To have a culture means to be known for something. There has to be something that the whole town centers around. We see this easily on college campuses with outstanding sport teams, namely football and basketball. College campuses ac…See MoreAndrew Wymer
I think we have to combine and find the way to bring the new into the fold of the old unique Crozet so we can grow together. Jennie Lafferty More
These questions need to be raised. Even though we have a master plan, there is still a lot of development to come. What do we want for the ACME visible records property? For the lumber yard? The county seems to think only in term of "light industrial" or office parks. Does Crozet want to become an outpost of Northern Virginia? Or do we want to live in an unique community that can combine and apply the traditions and history of Crozet with experience and expertise of people who are new to the community, in order to craft a town that that is both livable and economically viable?Lisa Goehler
It is true that there are A LOT of new homes and far less trees, a fact that I have accepted. My fear is that as commercial growth prospers in Old Trail and on 250 it takes away from the actual Crozet Village…our heart. That is where I want to see new local businesses grow and prosper. I don’t want to see the satellite commercial clusters fail. I wish them no ill will, but I fear it will pull away from growth in the Village…and there is the rub…where does the village grow. There are some unused spaces, but not lots of commercial space to grow into. I don’t know the details of what is happening with the old Barnes Lumber Mill, but even though that property is zoned industrial I think it is a ideal space for growth in the village…in the "real" Crozet. My family’s history is so intertwined with Crozet I feel such a strong connection to the area. I moved away for 10 years and now I am back in the home that my family built over 100 years ago. I don’t know what Crozet will look like in 10 or 20 years, but i know my family and I will be here to see it.Jennie Lafferty More
I miss the old Crozet. It seems that is all about Old Trail. I would like to see Gola’s Restaurant and Miss Ida’s on 250, Pop and Etha’s, Acme and Morton’s on 240. The Crozet pool room and the old National Bank columns on Main Street. Miss catching pigeons in the old cold storage and climbing the water tower behind the cold storage and Bill Hall. Miss sneaking a beer at the Oak Grove.Who remembers??Randy Snow
What is the Crozet culture? I came out here because I enjoy the mountains, the wineries, walking the trails and walking my dog. I am amazed at how few people I meet on these walks in comparison to the number of cars that fly by. I was in one of the restaurants last night and there were 5 tables occupied, when we got there and we were the only ones there by the time the main course arrived. What does Crozet want to be know for. I am struggling to figure it outLinda Scotland Leiser
I grew up in Crozet and recently moved away, but my greatest hope is that when I return to raise my kids, its essence will remain unchanged.Andrew Robb
‘It ain’t the small town it use to be’Connie Sandridge
sad! there has already been to much change! depressing to see so many houses & so few trees!Vickey McCue

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  • dukenilnil

    My ideal Crozet? A highly walkable town with a city center that revolves around the new library and the historic downtown. I think the OT commercial district can be a nice side corridor to the downtown if done properly. It’s a long walk from downtown to the OT commerical district, but doable, and certainly an easy bikeride with the new lanes and sidewalks on Jarmins. In this view, I picture the small, historic New England towns. It will be important to this future, that the organizers LIMIT the number of parking spots in downtown to encourage walking and discourage the driving culture.

    That said, Bill Bryson writes about how he moved to a New England town similar to those of his youth with thoughts of living the quaint, walking lifestyle he had in England. He quickly realized that times change, and even though he chose to walk everywhere he could, he would constantly be offered rides from those who saw him walking and didn’t realize it was by choice. So even in the idealized New England communities, the car culture has a firm grasp.
    Nevertheless, I think there is a real opportunity to balance that culture with an inducement to walk and get out and meet your larger-community neighbor. The inducement must be two-fold, though – (1) the ability to walk and bike with sidewalks everywhere, designated bike-lanes, and centralized-compact commercial district and (2) a discouraging of driving by strictly limiting the number of parking spots so that it becomes too much of a hassle to drive vs. walk (there should be, however, sufficient handicap spaces and perhaps some spots designated for those who, while not handicap, are unable to walk long distances – akin to “stork” parking at some stores).
    N.B. My family is going to be a new transplant to Crozet, but we have some perspective having lived in numerous places, some small, walkable, and charming like Lexington, VA and some large like NYC (which also, though, is immensely walkable) and some of everything in between.

  • Edward Strauss

    Crozet is not a town. I feel that it needs to become a town with elected officials that will be able to represent what the voters want. It would then have the ability to tax for what it desires and be able to guide the direction that it wants to go in. So, I think that Crozet needs to become a town, legally. Stop
    being an unincorporated community that has all these needs. Time to grow
    up. Also, for town status the actual boundaries of Crozet may not be what people now desire it to be. I doubt that it will stretch past I64.

    • Evan S.

      Crozet is a town, the same way that Free Union, Greenwood, White Hall,
      Batesville, Ivy, Keswick, Afton, Covesville, etc. are towns. We’re just not an
      incorporated town, the way Scottsville is.

      Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t hear too many people (other than you) say that Crozet isn’t represented at the local level. Any evidence that we’re not represented? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a comment that Ann doesn’t represent what the voters want, unless they voted for David but even then its not an opinion of non-representation.

      The real issue with non-representation is at the State HOD and Senate levels and US Congress.

      Also, I don’t know if you live in Crozet or what you’d define as Crozet, but if you don’t, why are you involved with the legal definition of town in regards to Crozet? If you do, why don’t you run for BOS on that platform? Constant complaining on this blog wont do anything other than annoy people (including myself). Time to grow up…

      • Edward Strauss

        Crozet is an unincorporated community. Unlike the other communities you mention they are constantly wanting more of the
        Counties money to get what they feel they are entitled to. With
        so many wants and demands it is only fair to the rest of the
        County that they incorporate with a Town Charter and elected
        officials that can raise the revenue that is needed. It does annoy
        more than a few people that an area as nice as this, with all that
        is here, has to be made over at taxpayers expense to satisfy a
        relative few. Our Supervisor has nothing to do but play politics.
        She is not board chairman for life and should step down. I am
        involved because I choose to. Your way is not the only way…
        How did you contribute to the last place you lived? Did you pay more taxes? Did you get what you want?

        • CrozetResident

          I’m not sure what you mean by Crozet wanting more then their entitled to. The improvements on Jarman Gap Road were the requirements of VDOT based on the development approved for the road and not a request from the people of Crozet. The library has by definition has been undersized for its circulation since 1993 and serves the entire western part of the County. The improvements to the downtown were paid for mostly by federal transportation money. This is not to mention that the population of Crozet has gone from about 2,500 to over 5,000 and enough development has been approve to bring the population to over 10,000. So just what is it that you think Crozet doesn’t deserve?

          • Edward Strauss

            The total cost for the library/municipal building were out of line. The fact that Crozet had a library and would not settle for anything other than what they got and now struggles to
            actually find a use for it. Leasing space would of been a better option. Most communities would be happy to have a library period. I think it would be fair to make all this a ballot
            issue. People should have a chance to choose whether they
            want to be a chartered, incorporated town or not. It would be a very interesting outcome and we could finally see what
            people actually needed over what a few wanted. Walking trails or vehicle parking for instance…

          • CrozetResident

            As to the cost of the library you make sound like it was the community of Crozet that was the sole factor in getting a new library. The fact is the county saved a considerable amount of money by building the library while the economy was down. As for the ballot issue, I would remind you of the fact that it was those elected officials your always blabbering about on Board of Supervisors who voted for the library funding. The fact is the size of the library was determined by professionals who design libraries and if studies are correct will the new library will benefit the entire community especially the local businesses. So your statement about Crozet not settling on anything other then what they got is completely false. This is not to mention the fact that the community has raised almost a half a million dollars to support the new library showing the library has significant support from the community minus you, but what else is new.

          • Edward Strauss

            What is the total cost of this library/municipal building?
            Is this library going to occupy the whole building? Was a building that size really needed? $500,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to total cost. It’s only taxpayers money…

          • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

            Once again, we’re off the track/topic of the conversation I intended … how about offering a positive vision of Crozet rather than deriding what’s already been decided?

            No, the library is not going to occupy the entirety of the building. As has been discussed many times at the CCAC meetings you shun (they were looking at prospective tenants last I heard), but also available on the internets:

            http://goo.gl/NhWwx

            “Q: How big will the library be?

            A: Based on the analysis of service area and population projections, staff recommended planning for an eventual 20,000 square foot library. Given the construction savings that can be realized by building the necessary square footage upfront together with the library’s commitment to provide funding to keep the project close to its original budget, the Board of Supervisors directed that the building be designed and built at 23,000 square feet with the understanding that the space beyond what is currently required by the library be dedicated to a temporary compatible community focused use until it is needed for library functions. The new library will exceed Virginia State Standards for size on opening day and is projected to meet the State Standards until 2026, at which point the library may expand into additional floor space on the lower level.”

          • Edward Strauss

            We are off track. My idea of positive is for a chartered, incorporated community with elected officials and where all voices are heard. In your comment above you did your best to walk around a basic question of mine. What was the total cost of the Library/Municipal building? With actual, elected officials, a simple phone call or e-mail to the BOS will get
            you that amazing number. Politics is an expensive game best played with other people’s money…For the actual money spent we could of had a far more modest building
            that was a fully functioning library the day it opened. With
            dollars to spare. These are the type of questions that are asked at At BOS public meetings. That is the elected official
            difference. The ability to respect both sides of an issue.

          • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

            I didn’t walk around anything; I just didn’t answer it as I don’t know but I’d love to hear the number when you get a response from the BoS.

            Respecting both sides of an issue isn’t a skill solely shared elected officials but having the ability to recognize when one is saying the exact same thing many times is something even the most respectful person can see.

            Look, this is a conversation about what we want the future of Crozet to be, not how much did the library cost? Please, respectfully, if you have nothing new to say, please wait until the library is mentioned again.

          • Edward Strauss

            I was asked further up on this thread what I thought Crozet
            did not deserve. That was the only reason I brought it up.
            To get back on topic I’ll say again that Crozet should incorporate and become a town with a Charter and Elected
            Officials. The outcome might not be the same but far more people will be involved.

          • CrozetResident

            It’s not that Ed’s idea is not reasonable, unfortunately for Crozet it’s 25 years too late. That is to say if you really wanted to influence the way Crozet would develop, well that time was before the development occurred. It’s not that the subject hasn’t come before, but it never gained support. Why, because to incorporate Crozet would mean having to add not only an additional level of government, but also would include an additional level of taxation, which was never supported. Interestingly, even if Crozet was a town like Scottsville, it would have had no effect on the decision to build the library, which was a county decision and based on serving the needs of the entire population of western Albemarle. The county made the decision, purchased private land to build it on and is paying for it. The reason for putting it in Crozet is the same reason why they put Northside library where it is, because that’s where the people are.

            As for involvement I don’t think you could find a community more involved nor a community with more opportunities to get involved. Just because Ed doesn’t care to take the opportunity to exercise those opportunities doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

          • Edward Strauss

            I do get involved, just not the way some people would like.
            The more I think about it the more I wonder why there has been no demand for the release of the total cost of this
            Library/Municipal building project. At budget time, the cost of everything is up for debate. How did this slip right on by?
            Northside Library is leased. That would of been the better option for Crozet. It is not too late to incorporate Crozet.
            It is always better to control your own future than to rely on
            others. You probably will have to pay more for want you want though. In my opinion a turn key library could of been built far cheaper than what is going up now. Politics tends to make thinks more expensive.

          • Evan S.

            And yet you want to bring a whole new level of bureaucracy (and expense) to Crozet by writing a town charter?

            At least you provided an answer to the question, Ed wants more government in Crozet. You’re big idea for improving Crozet is more government, wow.

          • Edward

            Yes, It would bring accountability and I feel would do a better job of representing ALL the people that live within it’s
            boundaries. Oh, has anyone been able to find out the total
            amount of money spent on the library/municipal building?

          • CrozetResident

            The Daily Progress, NBC 29, The Crozet Gazette and press releases from Albemarle County reported the cost at 5.8 million, which came in under the 6 million dollars budgeted by the county. In the most recently published list of unfunded projects, the Crozet Library does not appear, which would denote the project has been fully funded. As I mentioned before the community has already raised over 500,000 dollars toward furnishing the library and has pledged to raise a total of 1.6 million.

            Hope that helps.

          • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

            Thank you @e6ea3f3b531e413f84e112b26b79858a:disqus

          • Edward Strauss

            Yes, that is a nice number. Does that include the land, parking lot and anything else that was spent on it? Walk in
            cost? I believe the building alone was 5.5 million. Add the
            1.6 million you mention and you get one very expensive
            library/municipal building. A more reasonable approach
            could of been taken and maybe the school system could
            of been allocated more money and there still would of been a turn key , fully functioning, walk in ready library. It would only be fair that the Northside Library be replaced with one of these…

          • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

            9 million dollars. http://goo.gl/nBvVu

            But really, by continuing this line, are you adding value to the conversation?

            Feel free to write a guest post, and I’ll publish it.

          • Edward Strauss

            The value is that the real numbers are coming out and people can then make up their minds whether they got
            maximum value out of the taxpayer money that was spent.
            Elected officials do not have a problem discussing alternatives when taxpayer money is involved. When all this
            is done and finally put to some use there will of been an obscene amount of money put in to something that does not even fit into it’s present surroundings. Isn’t that the same thing that is being said over and over about the new gas
            station on Rt 250? At least that is being built with private funds. I never really care what a person does with their property or money. Involve taxpayer funds, I do. Get me
            an exemption from County Taxes and I will never say a word.

  • Evan S.

    Preserve farm land. Preserve rural character: It’s the reason people moved here and what the people who have lived here their whole lives have enjoyed. Contain the development within the 810, 240, 250 triangle and stop its spread outside of that area.

    The commercial strip from Morton’s to DQ could use a huge revitalization. I don’t think the current management/ownership is doing a good job. The buildings are in need: traffic flow, parking, appearance, structural, and on and on. There was an architecture firm in town that was working on the project but nothing has happened (I assume with the difficulty of obtaining a loan).

    No more commercial development outside of the current area: Old Trail, 250, and Downtown.

    Enhance quality of life with community wide activities, Crozet sport’s leagues, dining around Crozet week, etc. The 4th of July and Christmas parades and Arts & Crafts fairs are good examples.

    Incorporate peaches and apples into the town. Chiles’, Henley’s, and to a lesser extent Wayland’s are not only an important part of our history and culture but are things both the old timers and new comers appreciate and we should embrace that.

    Bring some sort of manufacturing/industry/agricultural processing back into the Morton’s and Acme building. We need some sort of skilled trade jobs in Crozet.

    Connect the neighborhoods with bike and walking trails, sidewalks, roads, and bike lanes. It is time that all of the neighborhoods have interconnecting roads. No more construction should be approved until this is done.

    Encourage a Crozet identity, not an individual Highlands, Emerald Ridge, Old Trail, Orchard Acres, Greyrock, etc. mentality, but a Crozet mentality. We need some design elements or landscaping elements that brings all of Crozet together – unified flowers, trees, sing posts, mail boxes, street lights, or something along those lines. For example, the firm that did the intersection in front of the DQ did a terrible job – that doesn’t tie into any other ‘look’ in all of Crozet. And no more bradford pears – plant some real trees like Oaks and Dogwoods – they’re native and attractive.

    Stop continued development on 250. It is already over congested and is a major transportation route. There is no need for 29esque development and we need to prevent it. (PS, I hope someone stands outside the new R’N’Store with a picket sign marching back and forth encouraging traffic to go to the other existing gas stations)

    • geo

      well put Even S.

      Having sidewalks and/or trails that get neighborhoods access into the center of town is a must. Not only for new neighborhoods, but for all arteries of crozet. Sidewalks & paved ways are not only for town and cities.

      Centralize business by growing the downtown.(e.g.. Scottsville has a nice center of town feel) Create more public space. More places for kids to play; a place for teenagers to hang in the evenings to keep out of trouble; a few more watering holes for adults to mingle.

      As you said, some people have chosen Crozet for its rural character, but some have chosen it for sense of community.

      I also think crozet’s identity should include the railroad. Similar to the way Dillwyn is creating a public center near the railroad would also be of benefit to Crozet to hang out reading on the history of Crozet while watching the trains pass by.

      Entice to preserve and maintain older structures (commercial and residential). The sals/Great Valu center is in need of some TLC. Too many towns will destroy old structures and put up new structures, only to destroy a little character of their town.

      its difficult for me to say that i would be welcoming to large manufacturing/industry/agricultural. That would entice significant growth and possibly environmental issues if not done properly. I would desire to work in town, but also understand that my *wish* wouldn’t come without negative side effects.

  • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

    From Katrien on Storify (for the life of me I can’t figure out how to embed it):

    Here is what I count on about Crozet, and I have no idea if it is old or new. (I have lived here only 7 years.) I love that my boys can walk to the soccer field, meet friends there, and play. I love that I could send my son today from the church to the bookstore, library, and movie store–on foot–and not worry for a moment about him. I love Cocina del Sol, Fardowners, Over the Moon, the library, the pool, the sound of baseball games wafting to my house, walking to a sledding hill, having 10 different running routes around town that let me go in and out of neighborhoods and see old and new, side by side. I love the people we’ve met here and how much they care about the neighborhood, the park, their children, and making life better for all involved.6 days ago