Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Charlottesville School Board to consider easement for Meadow Creek Parkway again on May 1, 2008

Yes, the Charlottesville School Board will again consider whether or not to approve the granting of a construction easement of about 9 acres of city property to VDOT for the Meadow Creek Parkway. I have been lobbying the school board against giving away use of this valuable school resource (including one softball field) with no positive compensation. The school will get traffic congestion, air pollution, noise pollution, loss of tree cover and screening, decreased student safety, and likely other negative results from this 'deal'.

The school board will consider a new resolution including some conditions discussed at the last meeting where the vote on the easement was tabled. I am unsure that any of these conditions will be enforceable and if I were a board member I would likely suggest that if VDOT wants to build the parkway it should acquire this land through eminent domain - and provide fair market value for the land used. The land to be eased is about one-third of the 27 acre parcel the city owns that is zoned R-15 (the county's highest residential density zoning) and assessed at about $7 Million. Fair market value would appear to be in excess of $2 Million. The school could then use these funds to mitigate the impacts to the school from loss of the land and impacts from the parkway construction and traffic load.

I am not convinced that a simple signalized intersection at Melbourne Road can handle the design year traffic (2000 vehicle in the peak hour on the parkway - and significant High School traffic in the morning peak hour on Melbourne Road) at an acceptable level of service. I suggested that the city provide an intersection analysis of delay at the signal, anticipated length of queues in the peak hour and related data for consideration by the school board and the public. I was surprised that the host of city, county, and VDOT staff present at the April 17 board meeting didn't have answers for many of the boards questions about the project.

You can participate in commenting on this at the school board meeting on May 1. It is at Charlottesville High School library and scheduled for 6:00 pm. The Meadow Creek Parkway item is early in the agenda so be there at 6:00 pm if you wish to comment.

Here is the text from the draft minutes of the April 17 meeting included in the School Board agenda packet. Check this out before you comment on May 1.

Draft Minutes from April 17, 2008 School Board Meeting

B. Meadowcreek Parkway Resolution: Prior to any discussion on this item, Mr. Wade said he was going to respectfully recuse himself from voting on or participating in any deliberation to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Mr. Wade is employed by Albemarle County as a Transportation Planner. Mr. James Henderson introduced this action item to the Board for consideration. At the April 3, 2008 School Board Meeting, Mr. Spencer DeJarnette, representative from the Virginia Department of Transportation, presented an overview of the Meadowcreek Parkway project which included the exact location and design of the right-of-way. VDOT contacted the City of Charlottesville requesting a donation of the right of way and easements necessary for construction of the parkway. The property involved is approximately 9 acres which is titled to the City of Charlottesville, but is utilized by Charlottesville High School for junior varsity girls’ softball practice. Spencer DeJarnette from VDOT; Gary O’Connell, City Manager; Craig Brown, City Attorney; and Angela Tucker, City Engineer were present at the meeting to answer any questions the Board might have. Discussion by the Board centered on issues of speed, pedestrian and bicycle safety and, access to the linear park on the east side of the parkway. Specifically, the following requests were made by the Board:

  • That the posted speed be 25 mph on the entire parkway and reduced (if possible) to 15 mph at the Melbourne/McIntire Road Extended intersection.
  • Signalization at the Melbourne/McIntire Road Extended intersection for pedestrian safety.
  • Flashing signals be appropriately placed on the Meadowcreek Parkway and McIntire Road Extended to alert motorists they are approaching a school zone.
In addition, Ms. Galvin asked that the Board consider amending the resolution to include:
  • That provisions be made to ensure the future design and construction of an east/west bicycle-pedestrian connection between the CHS site on one side of the Parkway to the multi-use trail and linear park on the other side of the Parkway.
  • In order to ensure the feasibility of funding the construction of the bicycle-pedestrian connection(s), it is understood that the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle will earnestly commit to working together to secure funds as required either through VDOT contingencies, State “Enhancement Grants” and/or other local public (and private) sources as necessary.
  • That ongoing School Board input into the design, location and funding of the intermediate bicycle-pedestrian connection(s) as well as the final design of the Parkway itself, especially at the intersections of Melbourne Road, Rio Road and the Parkway will be ensured by appointing a Charlottesville City School Board member to sit on a Parkway Design Review Committee or whatever established vehicle charted with that purpose.
  • That a suitable replacement field space be created that meets the needs of Charlottesville High School.
Ms. Blount made a motion to table action on the resolution until the May 2, 2008 School Board meeting. Ms. Dugger seconded the motion. Mr. Michie stated the delay will allow time to discuss this matter with City Council and for Board Members to consider the suggested amendments to the resolution. Mr. Michie called for a vote. The motion passed with Ms. Blount, Ms. Galvin, Mr. Michie and Ms. Dugger voting aye; Dr. Edwards and Ms. Puryear voting nay.

Graphic: from the Charlottesville City School logo.


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