At their meeting on Thursday April 17, 2008, the

Charlottesville School Board

will consider a resolution

to donate the right of way on City-owned land
near Charlottesville High School (CHS) to VDOT for the construction of the
Meadowcreek Parkway.

The land is located
in Albemarle County.

The Board was
briefed on the item at a work session on April 3, 2008.

If granted, a field currently used by the high
school’s junior varsity softball team will be used for the County’s portion of
the road.

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VDOT is currently negotiating with property owners over the
acquisition of right of way for the Parkway. The agency must purchase land at
the fair market value, but is asking for a donation in the case of the City-owned

Spencer DeJarnette, who works on
right of way issues for VDOT, told the School Board on April 3 that their
resolution was needed to convey the easements on City property to VDOT.

DeJarnette presented the Board with maps depicting the
easements, as well as the pedestrian bike trail that will run along the route
of the parkway. He remarked that this trail will provide a direct connection
between CHS and CATEC.

Spencer DeJarnette

“The area that is needed for the road surface itself is 1.796
acres,” DeJarnette said. Other land is needed for a temporary construction
easement, permanent drainage easements and utility easements for a total of
just under 9 acres of land. Utility relocation is already occurring near CATEC,
and DeJarnette said the project will go to advertisement in September if all of
the right-of-way negotiations are complete.

City Attorney Craig Brown told the Board that the purpose
for acquiring the property in the 1980’s was to provide athletic fields for
CHS. He said that even though the land is owned by the City, it was his legal
opinion that the City School Board should formally give consent, given that the
land is used for school athletics.

School Board member Kathleen Galvin raised the concern that
traffic on the road would be too fast, and perhaps inappropriate given the
proximity to the school. “It’s very alluring to see the continuous

parkland going from Melbourne Road to CATEC,
however the reality it’s going to be a very fast road and it’s not going to be
pedestrian friendly by any means unless there is some conscious effort to
provide pedestrian overpasses,” Galvin said.

School Board Chairman Ned Michie shared Galvin’s concerns
about pedestrian safety, and also wanted more information on the timing of the
construction of the road.

“My concern
for the school and traffic is that the County portion… will be completed prior
to the other section being completed, and then you’ll have a lot of traffic
from Rio Road flowing down this and dead-ending on Melbourne,” Michie said.

Galvin suggested adopting the resolution with conditions,
and Michie appeared to agree as well. Board member Juandiego Wade, who is
familiar with the work because of his position as the County’s transportation
planner, suggested that City staff appear before the Board at the April 17
meeting to fill in the information gaps

left by DeJarnette. But Wade also said further delay will increase the
cost of the road.

Sean Tubbs


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