Now that Albemarle County’s portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway is complete, the county is preparing to allocate $235,000 for landscaping for the linear park that is required to be built along the roadway.
“Part of the Meadow Creek Parkway compromise [with the City Council] was that the Virginia Department of Transportation would buy replacement [parkland] for land that was acquired from McIntire Park and VDOT did that,” said County Attorney Larry Davis.
In July, the Board of Supervisors deferred a funding appropriation for the landscaping because of a lack of details.
“My concern was that [the request said] we need to spend $235,000 for landscaping, but it doesn’t say what it’s going to do,” said Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd on Wednesday when the matter was once again before the board.
Jack Kelsey with the county’s Facilities Development Office explained that the landscaping was called for in a May 2001 study conducted as part of the Meadow Creek Parkway conceptual design.
“The Jones & Jones report was adopted in the land use section of the county’s Comprehensive Plan
and that document provides the guidance and the criteria for how to create the county’s portion [of the linear park],” Kelsey said.
Kelsey said the report does not get into specifics but sets criteria for how the landscaping should be installed.
“Landscaping … should reflect a park-like setting, create a gateway setting, respect and reinforce existing natural settings, be pleasing in all seasons, screen and preserve certain views and be low maintenance,” reads one criteria.
Supervisors balked after Kelsey suggested it would cost at least $50,000 to hire a consultant to develop the landscaping plan.
“If we have $235,000, we certainly be shouldn’t spending any more than $35,000 of it on the piece of paper and [instead] put most of it into the bushes and the trees,” said Supervisor Ann H. Mallek.
Kelsey said he felt that expertise is needed to develop a request for proposals.
“I wish it was as easy as being able to walk out there and say ‘three trees here, four trees there, a couple of shrubs there’,” Kelsey said.
Supervisor Duane E. Snow, who made a living operating Snow’s Garden Center, suggested that the county put out a design-build request for proposals.
“[It would say] this is what we’re looking for, we will review it and we’ll look for the bid that will best suit the design we have in mind,” Snow said.
Snow said shopping centers never need a consultant to come up with a landscaping plan.
“Any well-established nursery is capable of coming up with a plan and would implement that,” Snow said. “Then 100 percent of the money goes to beautifying the area. There are other ways to getting answers than consultants.”
Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker suggested that a University of Virginia class could conduct the planning work as a project.
Davis said the Virginia Public Procurement Act constrains how the board can act.
“We’re going to have to have specific criteria that has to be met and we’d have to accept the lowest bidder who meets that criteria,” Davis said. “There may be some variation of this that we could work out, but we can’t do exactly what you’re suggesting.”
County executive Tom Foley
said that he would follow up on some of the Supervisors’ suggestions and come back at the September meeting with more design options.
“There’s no urgency on you all appropriating these funds,” Foley said. “I think there might have been some thought about fall planting, but with the design process that’s not going to happen anyways.”
The county’s portion of the road has been renamed the John W. Warner Parkway. The city’s portion of the parkway is still under construction. The parkway’s interchange with U.S. 250 is expected to be advertised for construction bids later this month.