The Claudius Crozet Park board would like $2.4 million from Albemarle County to build a new facility.
Park board member Drew Holzwarth presented the request to the county Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, asking members to think about possibly splitting the funding over the next two budget cycles.
“The new facility will provide additional space for the growing number of community sports and civic organizations,” he said.
Claudius Crozet Park is an approximately 22-acre recreational facility and is managed by Claudius Crozet Park Inc., a nonprofit organization led by volunteers.
According to the summary in the meeting packet, the current facility is now inadequate due to its membership growth.
Holzwarth cited a county community recreation needs assessment that acknowledged that recreational opportunities need to keep pace with the growing population, especially in high-growth areas.
The concept plan presented to the Board of Supervisors showed a new facility that is about 47,000 square feet and includes a multi-purpose gymnasium, fitness and wellness area, indoor walking track, community room, a play area and afterschool and summer activities for elementary schoolchildren.
A letter of support approved by the Albemarle County School Board at its Aug. 8 meeting states that there is a current afterschool care program operated by the YMCA at this facility, but the available space limits capacity to 27 students.
“If the building is expanded, the program will be able to accommodate more than 10 times as many students,” says the letter signed by Jonno Alcaro, who chairs the School Board. “In our western feeder pattern elementary schools, there are now 123 students on waitlists for our Extended Day Enrichment Program.”
At the School Board meeting Thursday, member Kate Acuff said she hadn’t heard some of the information that ultimately was presented to the Board of Supervisors and that the School Board should be more careful about what it endorses.
The total cost of the new facility is estimated to be about $6.53 million, and Holzwarth said the additional funds will be financed through community fundraising and structured debt through a local community bank.
He cited many recent projects that received donations from Crozet-area residents, including a dome project over the park pool, interior components of the Crozet Library, the Crozet dog park and baseball field lighting.
“We’re fortunate where we live, we’re fortunate we have an enormous amount of wealth in this community, and that we feel confident with the campaign we’re ready to release ... that when we reach out to the stakeholders who are already in the park and reach out to the Crozet community members, we’ll come up with [fundraising] to hopefully be debt-free by the time the facility is finished,” Holzwarth said.
Supervisor Rick Randolph, of the Scottsville District, pushed on the comment about the enormous amount of wealth in Crozet.
“If in fact Crozet has enormous wealth in the community, why should the county pony up 36.8% of the financing for this facility?” he asked.
Holzwarth said that when the Board of Supervisors is looking at capital project needs, it has a limited amount of money to spread around the county.
“Where else can you take $2.4 million of these scarce funds, leverage them and get a facility that will change the lives of the amount of people that this facility will change lives of,” he said, citing children, teenagers, active adults and seniors.
Supervisor Diantha McKeel said she was struggling with the proposal.
“Because when you ask me that question, I would say to you that that amount of money leveraged in the urban ring where we have a high level of poverty would really improve the lives of the people in the urban ring area,” said McKeel, whose Jack Jouett District includes parts of the county’s urban ring.
She said some students who are “living blocks away” from the Brooks Family YMCA can’t get to the facility for swim lessons.
“I’m so taken aback by this, that I have to think this through,” she said. “But I’m going to stop right now.”
Supervisor Liz Palmer said she voted for the county to help fund the new site for The Center (formerly called the Senior Center) and the Brooks Family YMCA, but she doubts many from her district use those facilities.
“But one of the things that strikes me with this is one of the things that really bothered me about the Senior Center and the YMCA is it suddenly came up,” the Samuel Miller District representative said. “We have things in our [Capital Improvement Plan] for years, we have things in our capital needs assessment that just grind through the evaluation by our staff.”
“You’re not asking for an answer now, but it does bother me that it’s the next two years,” Palmer said.
Randolph said the board should consider waiting until after the Crozet Master Plan is updated, a process that is beginning now, to see what the priorities are in the community.
“There is no perfect time to present this because it’s either you haven’t raised the money yet, so come back when you do, or it’s too late because the process is gone,” said Supervisor Ann H. Mallek, who represents the White Hall District, where Crozet is located. “The point was just to come and lay it out as an opportunity.”