Charlottesville City Council unanimously passed a master plan for a park along Meadow Creek between the Meadow Creek Gardens behind the English Inn on Emmet Street and Greenbrier Park.
The plan includes more than a mile of trails, a disc golf course, a playground and a multi-use playing field. The plan will be funded with money allocated to the parks and recreation department in the city's regular budget process.
The city acquired the 42 acres for the park between 2001 and 2012. A series of sewer repairs and a stream restoration on Meadow Creek made the construction of the park possible, city documents showed.
Councilors passed the plan with little discussion, though most had expressed their support for the plan last week.
Council also voted to extend the lease for McGuffey Art Center for another year, while the organization works on a long-term plan. The art center has been housed in the former McGuffey Elementary School since 1975, according to city documents.
Incoming McGuffey President Bob Casey said that the long-term goals will include widening the center's appeal. "We are trying to be as inclusive as possible," he said. "We really need to come to some kind of direction by the beginning of the summer so we can get started."
Charlottesville Facilities Maintenance Manager Lance Stewart asked council to support the plan. "The McGuffey Art Center has been a vibrant part of our community since its inception," he said.
Charlottesville resident Brian Wimer asked City Council to intervene in a plan to replace the property containing Random Row Books with a Courtyard Marriott hotel. The property sits at the corner of Ridge McIntire Road and West Main Street. The hotel is a by-right development, and council has no authority to stop its development. "You guys are about community involvement, but you are about to lose an advocate for community involvement, and that is Random Row Books," he said. "If there is anybody who is doing this in the public sector on their own dime, these guys are doing it."
Councilor Dede Smith lamented the loss of the space, but pointed out the city cannot control what happens on private property. "Random Row is ... just offering amazing programs, and regardless of what happens in the future, we all hope that they remain a presence in our community," she said.
Councilor Kathy Galvin said the city should do more to involve the public in planning processes in response to situations like Random Row's. "We don't have the systems in place, I don't think, to make sure we are always keeping the public informed," she said. “It is private property, but I think anyone who owns private property is going to be more open to ideas if it is part of a much bigger conversation.”