As announced by Dr. Keiser in an email a few minutes ago, I am thrilled and privileged to be working with all of you as your new principal beginning tomorrow.
Joining—or in my case, rejoining—a school community is a time for reflection and goal setting. Thinking about this opportunity brought up memories of two Western principals who were powerful role models to me as a young student and an educator. Charlie Armstrong, Western’s first principal, was a dynamic and inspirational leader who worked with our community to build a shared vision of our new school as a place where students and teachers want to be and are proud of all we accomplish together. Anne Coughlin, the principal when I returned to Western to teach, brought a different style of leadership to our school with reflective and patient thoughtfulness and an innate ability to make everyone feel that they mattered and that their perspectives and input contributed to our shared vision.
Both fostered a school culture that supported my success as a student and a teacher and, later, allowed me as an administrator to continue to harness the power of relationships and partnerships with students, faculty and families. As an assistant principal here, relationships were at the heart of the work we did together to support all students. This will continue to be true.
Our commitment to all students is essential. Some of my most important work over the past three years has been with the Department of Instruction and the Office of Community Engagement and Empowerment, implementing our anti-racism policy and the expansion of our culturally responsive teaching program. This work will create more pathways for building on Western’s tradition of excellence as we push ourselves to meet each student’s needs and ensure their success.
This is a formative time for our high school as we recover from the pandemic, think expansively about how we will reimage and expand innovative learning experiences, and engage productively with our community, drawing upon the ideas and expertise of every member of our team. The years ahead will be an exciting time, and I look forward to working with and supporting you as, together, we realize our potential as a school community.
This process of working together will begin this summer when I will schedule opportunities to reconnect and to get to know all of you even better as we prepare for the new year. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to email me any time at [email protected] to share your thoughts and suggestions.
It has been my honor to be a member of our community and school for several decades. Throughout the years, I have appreciated the contributions of our students, faculty, families, and greater community in building that tradition of excellence. I continue to be impressed by the high expectations you each set and I am confident that, with your continued engagement, the years ahead will be an extraordinary time in our school community’s legacy.
And the email from Albemarle County’s Assistant Superintendent
In conversation with a client last night, I was asked, “how do you know all of this about what’s happening in Charlottesville and Crozet?” My first answer was that I read – a lot, and one of the best places to do so is Sean’s Charlottesville Community Engagement weekly roundup, daily email, and podcast. It’s why I pay to subscribe. Part of my job is to try to know more than my clients. Sean helps with that.
And frankly, it’s our job as citizens to try to know more, and be more involved in our community.
Today’s show focuses on Crozet in western Albemarle County. Crozet is not a town, but it is a designated growth area under the county’s growth management policy.
But it is a place with traditions. Here’s an announcement made at the June 9, 2021 meeting of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee about an event coming up on Saturday, July 3.
“I’m Tim Tolson, president of the Crozet Community Association, and along with other civic groups in Crozet we’re hosting the annual Crozet Independence Day celebration parade at 5:00 p.m. as part of the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department that ends at the Crozet Park where the celebration will take part, take place. We’ll have fireworks around 9:30 or quarter to 10 when it gets dark.”
The Albemarle Planning Commission will take up the Crozet Master Plan at a work session on Tuesday, June 22. At the June 9 CAC meeting, committee members and participating residents got a presentation on the implementation of projects intended to bolster Crozet’s urban character. They also had the chance to comment on the plan update to date.
But first, the implementation projects. The master plan is a large overview of the entire area, and further studies are suggested. The draft implementation chapter shows a list of ten potential topics ranging from a Downtown Neighborhood Architectural and Cultural Study to a stream health study for Parrot Branch, a local waterway. Initial feedback has already been submitted and planner Tori Kanellopoulos gave the rundown for how planning projects scored.
“The top ranked projects were the Crozet Avenue Shared-Use Path feasibility study, the Three Notch’d Trail feasibility study, and the Route 250 West design guidelines,” Kanellopoulos said. “And then the policy projects were also ranked and the top priority was updating residential zoning designations to allow for more preservation of natural resources.”
Potential capital projects were also ranked. Kanellopoulos said the highest ranking projects are the completion of Eastern Avenue, downtown Crozet intersection improvements, and sidewalk connections.
Let’s hear more about that Three Notch’d Trail.
“Lately there’s been a lot more focus and attention on the potential Three Notch’d Trail which would ideally connect from the Blue Ridge Tunnel along Crozet and over to Charlottesville,” Kanellopoulos said. “A feasibility study would look at this alignment and there are opportunities to partner with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and the Planning District Commission and trails groups to look at the feasibility study for the alignment.”
Supervisor Ann Mallek said later in the meeting that VDOT planning may not have staff to conduct that feasibility study this year, but community work can be done now to prepare for that work possibly in 2022.
“And the other blessing that goes along with that is 2022 is when [Virginia] is going to take over the rail access right of way from CSX and therefore that increases greatly the possibility that we will be able to have a trail beside the rail,” Mallek said.
Another “catalyst” project now in the implementation chapter is Western Park, which has long been called for in the plan and for which the county received 36 acres in 2010 as part of the Old Trail rezoning. A master plan for that project was created in 2018 that identified three phases. The first is recommended for funding, a decision which would be made by the entire Board of Supervisors during the budget process.
“This phase one would include the access road with parking, a playground, and additional support of infrastructure and utilities,” Kanellopoulos said.
Committee member Sandy Hausman noted the rankings were based on responses from fewer than a hundred people.
“I wonder if anybody feels like this there needs to be a bit more outreach, like a mass mailing to everyone who lives in Crozet,” Hausman said. “It just feels to me that this is a relatively small group of people who tend to be paying attention to this stuff and everybody else will be unpleasantly surprised in a year or two when things start happening.”
Committee member Joe Fore said he wanted to see all three phases of Western Park listed as catalyst projects, meaning they would be prioritized first.
“I think just given the fact that it’s been in the works for so long, that the phases of at least getting started, the land is already there,” Fore said. “I understand it’s expensive but it’s not an Eastern Avenue or Lickinghole Creek bridge expensive.”
Fore also said he would support the creation of a special taxation district to help pay for new infrastructure. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has previously been briefed on how service districts or a “business improvement district” could be levied in certain areas to fund amenities.
“I looked through currently, and this may be a comment for the full draft, there’s only one mention of service districts in the entire draft and that’s in reference to funding ongoing activities and services at the plaza and downtown,” Fore said. “But I would like to see maybe a little bit more and maybe a full suggestion saying maybe this is something we should explore in Crozet to fund some of these capital projects so we’re not constantly having these be projects are ten years out.”
The Board of Supervisors last had a formal presentation on service districts at their meeting on December 7, 2016. (presentation) (story)
“It’s a pretty broad statute as I read it,” Fore said. “Things like sidewalks, roads, programming, cultural events, economic development, beautification and landscaping. It’s a very broad statute. It seems to me you could raise money for most of the kinds of projects that we’re looking at. When we look at the list of priorities and say, yikes! Where are we going to get all the money for this? Well, rather than say let’s raise taxes on everybody in the county, you might be able to say let’s raise funds specifically from Crozet that would stay in Crozet for some of these projects we want to see in Crozet.”
CAC member David Mitchell is skeptical of the idea and said it would lead to Crozet receiving fewer direct funds from the county.
“Over time we will start to be looked at by the other Supervisors as ‘they have their own money, they can do their own thing’ and you’re going to slowly over time lose your share of the general fund,” Mitchell said.
Supervisor Mallek agreed.
“I would really discourage our citizenry from burdening themselves because I think David is right,” Mallek said. “We need to go to toe to toe, to say, this is a need that’s been on the books.”
Mallek singled out the Eastern Avenue connector road that will provide north-south travel. A major obstacle is the cost of a bridge required to cross Lickinghole Creek.
“We have made all of these zoning changes prior to 2007 that were counting on that bridge and we absolutely have a moral obligation to build it,” Mallek said.
Eastern Avenue is ranked #8 on the county’s transportation priority list and there was an update in May. There’s not yet a full cost estimate on what it will cost, but engineering work is underway.
“This project is currently being evaluated through an alignment study and conceptual design which is funded through the Transportation Leveraging Fund in the [Capital Improvement Program],” reads the update. “The alignment report was presented to the Board in January and the preferred alignment was selected. This project is being considered for a Revenue Sharing Grant application.”
Allie Pesch, the chair of the CAC, said she wanted Eastern Avenue to be the top implementation priority.
“I like seeing Eastern Avenue at the top of that list,” Pesch said. “That is a priority for everyone in our area and just so overdue.”
After this discussion of implementation, county planner Rachel Falkenstein turned the conversation to the working draft of the master plan. The draft that will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at their work session on Tuesday incorporates feedback from the June 9 CAC meeting. (download the draft)
“We still have a couple of steps to go before we get to our public hearings and we’ll continue to accept feedback and make revisions to the chapters and to the content,” Falkenstein said.
You’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement. On June 22 at 7 p.m., the Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society gives a glimpse into the cemeteries at Pen Park in Charlottesville. Tucked behind the Meadowcreek clubhouse are three, enclosed, family cemeteries, with the oldest dating back to the Colonial era.
Outside the enclosures of the family plots, the city has confirmed the presence of 40 or more unmarked graves, all likely those of people enslaved at Pen Park. Join us as a panel of three professionals discuss what led to the examination of this site, the process of the investigation, and the efforts to identify and commemorate those buried there. Register on the JMRL website.
A few days after the CAC meeting, the Downtown Crozet Initiative held a public meeting to talk about a 30,000 square foot plaza intended to be located at the former Barnes Lumberyard. The plaza would anchor a mixed-use building and a hotel through a public-private partnership. The idea involves construction of a connector road using revenue-sharing funds from VDOT. That process requires a local match.
Frank Stoner is a principal at Milestone Partners which seeks to redevelop the space. They’re putting up $2 million to serve as that match.
“This project started in 2014,” Stoner said. “We developed this road plan in 2016, 2017. Most of the design elements of the road have been resolved. We felt strongly and I think the community felt strongly and the county felt strongly that the streets had to be appropriate for the small town that is Crozet and not be a highway through the middle of downtown which is kind of where VDOT wanted to go with it.”
Albemarle County has contributed $1.6 million in cash to the project, and will provide another $1.6 million in rebates through a process known as tax increment financing. (read the June 2019 performance agreement)
Stoner said the idea is to build an urban plaza, not a park.
“And most importantly we wanted this plaza to be the heart not just of the neighborhood but the Crozet community,” Stoner said.
VDOT is contributing $2.5 million and the Downtown Crozet Initiative is seeking to raise over a million in private funds.
“Which will be used to fund essentially the furniture, fixtures and equipment, sculpture, artwork, seating, all of that kind of stuff that goes in the plaza,” Stoner said.
The designs aren’t close to final yet, but Stoner wanted to get feedback from the community. There are also no identified tenants for any of the spaces yet.
“We haven’t really been in the position to take commitments because there have been so many unknowns because of the VDOT plans and then we had some stormwater issues we had to work through and so it has just been one obstacle after another,” Stoner said.
Stoner said if all goes according to plan, construction could get underway next year. To Stoner, success means making sure it’s a place to expand what already makes Crozet Crozet.
“If we can’t create a place that’s affordable for local businesses, then we’re not going to succeed,” Stoner said.
In April 2020, the firm Downtown Strategies unveiled their report on a Downtown Strategic Vision for Crozet. Stoner suggested interested parties might take a look. (take a look)
Nearby there is a separate VDOT project to rebuild the existing Square to add sidewalks and address ongoing stormwater issues. (watch the June 14 presentation)
We are excited to report that we are going to host the Crozet Independence Day Celebration this year, on Saturday, July 3rd. We’re getting a late start because of the pandemic, but we’re working hard to make this a fantastic Independence Day Celebration in Crozet!We write to ask for your enthusiastic support of our small town tradition – our annual Crozet Independence Day parade and fireworks show!
Thanks to generous donations in past years, we continue some of the best traditions of Crozet – friends and neighbors coming together to enjoy good times, celebrate our nation’s independence and help out others. It’s an event that brings our community together and is an important fundraiser for many local organizations like the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department, Western Albemarle Rescue Squad, Crozet Lions, and the Claudius Crozet Park.
For the past several years, we donated over $7,000 to six to eight local organizations.
The fun starts on Saturday, July 3rd with a parade down Crozet Avenue starting at 5 p.m. We’ll follow the parade to Crozet Park to enjoy good food, local beer and beverages and music by a local band, Jacabone. We finish with a grand fireworks show at 9:30. Look for updates about the parade and celebration at http://bit.ly/cidc2021/ and our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Crozet.Independence.Day.Celebration
The event planning committee, composed of volunteers from Crozet’s civic groups, wants the event to be self-sustaining, meaning that each year’s celebration generates enough to ensure that next year’s celebration will happen, too. The single largest expense is the fireworks show (roughly $13,000 this year) and so far, despite ever-growing numbers at the park, the cost of the fireworks has been met by donations, as it traditionally has been. Of course, we appreciate all donations, however, like past years, we continue our three donor levels and we hope that you will support us by being a patron this year. • For a gift of $500 or more, we will prominently display your company banner you supply at the entrance to the park during the event (where more than 5,000 people might see it!), identify your patron status in the Crozet Gazette and event handbill, and provide you with ten passes to the celebration in the park.• For a gift of $250 to $499, you will receive acknowledgment in the Crozet Gazette and event handbill, and four passes to the celebration in the park.• And, for a gift of $100 to $249, you will receive two passes to the celebration in the park, published thanks in the Crozet Gazette and the event handbill.
To be listed on the event handbill, we need to know you are donating by Friday, June 25, 2021.
July 3rd will be here before you know it. Won’t you join us by donating online or sending a check today to help with these expenses? Please make your tax-deductible charitable donation payable to the Crozet Board of Trade and mail it to: DCA P.O. Box 261, Crozet, Virginia 22932 and note on the memo line “fireworks donation” and be sure to tell us how you’d like to be recognized. Or if you’d rather donate with a credit card, go to: https://bit.ly/CIDC-donation Either way, it’s a tax-deductible charitable donation. Please give as generously as you can, so that our entire community can continue to enjoy this patriotic tradition.
Since September 2019, Albemarle County has been exploring, alongside the Crozet community, how to best reflect the community’s vision for the future of Crozet in the latest update to the Crozet Master Plan.
The Crozet Master Plan includes 5 chapters: an Introduction, Transportation, Land Use, Conservation, and Implementation.
Over the past month, community members shared their priorities for recommended projects in the Implementation Chapter through an online questionnaire, at the virtual Crozet Community Advisory Committee meeting, and in-person at community pop-ups. The ‘Cataylst Projects’ in the Implementation Chapter reflect these priorities, read the draft Master Plan to learn more! Meet us at one of our pop-ups or participate anytime at PublicInput.com/ImagineCrozet!
Community Zoom Meeting on Monday: Crozet Plaza Update
We have been working behind the scenes with Albemarle County, VDOT, Milestone Partners (developer) and others to make progress on the future Crozet plaza. Please join us this Monday, June 14, via Zoom to view the most recent proposed plans for the plaza and hear a projected timeline for when the groundbreaking will commence! You also will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback, as community input is invaluable to the success of downtown. We hope to see everyone there!
Experts cite several factors for the surge. With gyms closed, people wanting to exercise went outside. People hesitant to ride buses or subways used bikes instead. Many cities took steps to make streets more bike-friendly.
For this month’s meeting we plan to spend the bulk of the time discussing implementation. The first several pages of the meeting materials include the information packet that summarizes the proposed implementation projects. Pages 32-33 are recommended priorities based on the feedback (these pages are also attached to this email for quick reference). This is what we would like to discuss with the CAC during tomorrow’s meeting.
We also have updated drafts chapters for Land Use, Transportation, and Conservation. Not many substantive changes were made to these chapters and we can plan to summarize what changes that were made at the meeting. We have a newly drafted Introduction Chapter. These drafts chapters are included in the “Additional Materials” tab on the calendar page. We won’t have a formal presentation on these chapters, but will be available to answer questions or hear feedback about the remaining content. Recognizing this is a lot of content to get through, we’ll plan to be available at other times for feedback on the full draft and will have it posted on the Imagine Crozet Public Input hub sometime next week.
A reason to participate in these surveys is simple – if you don’t express your opinion, be assured that someone else has, and you might not agree with that which they want.
Me? I want more sidewalks, bike lanes, density, and walkability.
Someone else probably wants zero growth, and wider roads only for cars.
Might as well spend a few minutes putting forth one’s opinion.
(as I’ve said many times; yes, I’m a Realtor. Yes, I earn a living representing people who buy and sell real estate in Crozet. No, I don’t benefit, either as a real estate agent or a resident of Crozet if we implement poor growth and transportation policies.)
Since September 2019, Albemarle County has been exploring, alongside the Crozet community, how to best reflect the community’s vision for the future of Crozet in the latest update to the Crozet Master Plan. This month, we are focusing on content for the “Implementation” chapter of the Master Plan.
This week, we will share information about recommended projects in the draft Crozet Master Plan at four pop-ups in Crozet, as well as a virtual information session that will be recorded and available online.
I’d not seen the March story in the Crozet Gazette, so was happily surprised to the see the emergence of a mural on English Meadows (I prefer the alliteration of Mural on Mountainside, but oh well. It’s still very cool.
This route was recommended by DCR’s 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plan as a potential Virginia Byway. The interest is to collaborate with Greene County to designate Rt 240/Rt 810 as a Virginia Byway from Crozet to Stanardsville in Greene County. This designation would connect other Virginia Byways in Albemarle County: Rt 250 Rockfish Gap Turnpike and Rt 676 Garth Rd. The US Bike Route 76 also travels on Rt 810 White Hall Rd from Garth Rd south to Buck Rd in Crozet.
The proposed segment of Rt 240 (Crozet Ave) passes through the downtown Crozet Historic District, changes to Rt 810 (White Hall Rd) passing scenic farmlands, vineyards, and orchards while it becomes Brown’s Gap Turnpike passing bed and breakfasts, artisan studios and artisanal farms where it changes names once more at Dolye’s River bridge to become Blackwells Hollow Rd heading northwest along the mountain foothills into Greene County. The entire proposed corridor is approximately 30 miles between Rt 250 in Western Albemarle and Rt 33 in Greene County.
Sounds like a nice place to live. And ride a bicycle.