Concept design for McIntire Skate Park

Charlottesville’s McIntire Park may one day welcome not only skateboarders and visitors to a future botanical garden, but also residents commuting to work.

A multi-use commuter path was one suggestion mulled by the PLACE Design Task Force at a meeting Thursday.

“You could get around the entire city without going on a major street,” said committee member and City Councilor Kathy Galvin.

The suggestion for the multi-use commuter path came up in a briefing on a number of projects in the park given by Maurice Jones, city manager, and Brian Daly, director of parks and recreation.

For the design of the new skate park in McIntire Park, the city has hired “action sport” consultant Stantec. The consultants met earlier this week with community members and the Charlottesville Skate Park Advisory Committee to develop ideas for the park.

“[The Skate Park Advisory Committee] has been involved with this all the way through,” Daly said. “We really need those folks who are skaters to give us a sense of what is out there today.”

“There were about 45 or 50 people there,” Daly said. “There is some really neat stuff out there. … It is a skate park, but it doesn’t look like one. It looks like a plaza.”

For the improvements and designs in the east side of the park, the city hired Mahan Rykiel, a landscape architecture firm from Baltimore.

“We met with the contractor a couple of weeks ago,” Daly said. “Folks from the McIntire Botanical Garden joined us to start talking and visioning the master plan, how it is going to integrate with the skate park, how the firm will work with the skate park design firm and other things. It was very productive.”

The firm will present rough schematic drawings to the city near the end of April. The first public open house will be at the end of May and likely be held at the Carver Recreation Center.

“Things will actually move relatively quickly,” Daly said. “We will have construction documents for what we want documents for by September or October.”

“The big question is what kind of building — what is the size, scale, program and cost that we want,” Daly said. “The other big question is, a pond or a lake.”

The conversation’s focus turned to the possibility of multi-use commuter trails through McIntire Park.

“The question came up if the trails through the park could be used [for people] to commute downtown, and how they would shut down or be open at night,” said committee member Rachel Lloyd.

“They may just need lighting when the sun sets early in the winter time,” Galvin said.

The conversation about providing commuting paths through the parks proved complicated but possible.

“That is a city code issue,” Daly said. “City code identifies when parks are open and closed.”

“There are some other practical issues such as lighting, and there might be some expectation for increased policing,” Jones said.

Several members offered possible solutions to the foreseeable issues.

“Is there a way to designate the trail as not technically park property, like an easement?” asked committee member Scott Paisley. “If you leave the trail after closed hours, you’re trespassing, but if you stay on the trail, then you’re not.”

“Maybe lights shut down after the commute hours as a way to regulate that,” Galvin said. “This could be incredible.”