By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Friday, October 14, 2011

The

City Council

has directed the Charlottesville parks and recreation director to prepare a cost estimate for what it would cost to re-open Crow Pool to the public.

“Our expectation was the

YMCA [in McIntire Park]

would be underway by now, and that hasn’t happened, and that will factor into the decision making process during the next budget cycle,” said Mayor

Dave Norris

.





The meeting was held in the auditorium at Greenbrier Elementary School

The topic came up at a City Council town hall meeting for the Rugby and Barracks neighbor-hoods. The town hall meetings are held in community centers and are intended to attract citizens who do not usually participate in local government.

Marianne Lynch has lived in Charlottesville for 34 years, raised four children with her husband, Tom, and never attended a council meeting.

“They should never put the YMCA in McIntire Park,” Lynch said. “The park is a public place and even though we need one, I do not want it put in a public park when you have to be a member to go.”

Norris said the park had received all of its necessary approvals from the City Council.

“But, as with the

Meadow Creek Parkway

, it is currently in litigation and, hypothetically, the courts could come back and say the lease [with the city] was negotiated improperly,” Norris said.

When the decision was made to replace only one of the city’s two indoor pools, the council was told by then-parks director

Mike Svetz

that replacing both of the pools would have been too expensive.

The Council decided to let

Crow Pool

be replaced by the YMCA in order to save money. The city invested instead in a new

Smith Aquatic and Fitness Center

near

Buford Middle School

.

Camille Wilson said it was not fair that residents from that part of Charlottesville have to drive to Smith.

“Anyone who swims knows we need more lanes in the city,” Wilson said. “It seems to me that [by closing Crow] you were telling us that we needed to join the YMCA, and personally I am not going to do that.”





Parks Director Brian Daly responds to questions about Crow Pool

Crow Pool was closed to the public in October 2010 but is currently rented to the YMCA and other groups at a cost of $16.50 per lane hour according to Brian Daly, the city’s park and director.

“Opening to the public at general admission rates would not cover the cost,” Daly added.

He said he did not know what would happen, but if the YMCA does not get underway soon, the city may need to reconsider its decision.

A decision whether to open the pool could be made as the city prepares its budget for fiscal year 2013. That process will begin in November and will continue through next April.

Another woman said that

Greenleaf Park

has become a regional amenity rather than a neighborhood park.

“Parents get there at 6 [a.m.] and sit there all day to wait for a picnic shelter,” said Becky Calvert. “There were at least 10 parties this past Saturday. It’s a zoo.”

Calvert said heavy usage means trash is thrown into her and her neighbors’ yards, and she added she felt it was inappropriate that Albemarle County schools also use the park.

Daly said he would change the rules to allow groups to reserve the picnic shelter for parties. Currently the shelters are available on a first come, first serve basis. Daly also said he would notify Albemarle schools to not use the park.

The Barracks and Rugby neighborhoods are between the University of Virginia and the county’s urban ring. There are several wooded areas in the neighborhood, which has led to many unwelcome animals that seek that type of habitat.

“We have a very large deer herd in our neighborhood,” said a resident who did not want to be identified. He said he has contracted Lyme disease, which is spread by ticks carried by deer.

“You need to do something about this before there’s an epidemic,” he added.

The city would have to work with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to begin a project to kill the deer. Hunting is prohibited in the city, as well as in Albemarle’s growth area.

“There are two ways of getting rid of them,” said City Manager

Maurice Jones

. “Bow and ar-row or rifle. It’s a matter of whether or not the city wants to do that. And the deer would come back anyway.”

After a lengthy discussion, councilors said they would begin a community conversation to determine whether to begin such a program.

Two more town hall meetings will be held this year. The Greenbrier and Locust Grove neighborhoods will have their turn on Nov. 10 at Charlottesville High School. The Meadows neighborhood will meet at Meadows Church on Dec. 8.