20170405_Raggeed Mountain Reservior103.JPG

The Ragged Mountain Reservoir in 2017

The Ragged Mountain Natural Area is set to grow by 144 acres.

Charlottesville City Council finalized the appropriation of a $600,000 grant for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Forest Program at its meeting Monday.

The land is adjacent to the 980-acre natural area containing the city’s Ragged Mountain Reservoir in Albemarle County.

The landowner, who isn’t named in city documents, will receive the grant money and donate the land, valued at $1.6 million, as a tax benefit.

Once ownership is transferred, the city will create a forest management plan to outline a trail system and access.

In other business, council also signed off on the proposed concept for the East High Streetscape project.

The multimillion-dollar project encompasses East High Street from 10th Street Northeast to East Market Street, and then East Market to City Hall. The proposal ties into the $23 million Belmont Bridge replacement project, which covers Ninth Street Southeast from East Market to Levy Avenue.

The city received $5.63 million in state funding for the East High project in 2016 through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale program.

The project focuses on improving bike and pedestrian facilities along the road.

It includes wider sidewalks, bike lanes, intersection improvements, landscaping and signal upgrades.

Overhead utilities will be relocated, and bus stops and bike racks will be improved.

It will loop into the replacement of the half-century-old Belmont Bridge.

The existing 440-foot span was built in the 1960s and has needed repairs since 2003, when city inspectors discovered the bridge had crumbling concrete and rusting steel beams.

The bridge plan was approved in 2014 and will replace the existing structure with a 236-foot-long bridge.

The bridge will have one travel lane in each direction with bike lanes and sidewalks. Landscaping approaching the bridge also will be enhanced.

Both items were on council’s consent agenda and passed unanimously without discussion.

Council also was scheduled to vote on a resolution altering the structure of the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau. However, the vote was postponed until January.

The proposed changes would add a second elected official to the bureau from each locality.

Council also unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding with Albemarle County to keep the county’s court facilities downtown.

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City hall reporter

Nolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, nstout@dailyprogress.com, or @nstoutDP on Twitter and Facebook.

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