By Brian Wheeler

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Friday, March 25, 2011

The city of Charlottesville announced Thursday that it has purchased 3.3 acres along

Meadow Creek

off Hydraulic Road. The property connects to another 18.3-acre parcel that was

donated to the city in late 2009

.

Charlottesville paid $20,000 to the

Region Ten Community Services Board

from the city’s trails development fund to acquire the land, which is located on both sides of Meadow Creek between Brandywine Drive and Michie Drive. The city has been acquiring land and negotiating easements along the creek to establish a multi-use crushed stone

trail from Hydraulic Road to Pen Park

.



“Now there is a linear park for all of Meadow Creek that is almost all publicly owned,” said

Chris Gensic

, the city’s park and trail planner. “We are continuing to pursue other park land acquisitions around the city and we hope to have more good news soon.”

“The city approached us some time ago about the possibility of acquiring the land to complete some trails,” said Caruso Brown, deputy director at Region Ten. “Our only concern was whether it would impact our existing or future programs.”

“The board met and agreed it was a worthwhile project,” Brown added. “It’s an excellent opportunity to partner with the city to help them carry out something they felt was important to the community.”

The land will now also be included in the

Meadow Creek Restoration Project

. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has designated Meadow Creek as impaired. The restoration project is aimed at reducing erosion of the stream banks, improving water quality and aquatic habitat, and improving the aesthetics of the surrounding natural areas.

“The initial conversation with Region Ten was to get a trail easement, and they asked themselves why they even owned the land on the other side of the creek behind their building,” Gensic said. “We noticed if we got land on both sides of the creek it would allow us to do stream restoration work even farther upstream, and it also allows us to protect some more forest land.”

Gensic noted that the

Rivanna Trail

runs parallel to Meadow Creek in this area. The city, he said, wants to build a multi-use trail farther from the stream that would accommodate strollers and bicyclists.

“The Rivanna Trail is a little more adventurous as a single track and you can’t always walk side by side,” Gensic said. “A multi-use trail is several feet wide, at a minimum, where you can use strollers and walk side by side. It opens up usage to a wider audience that might not walk on a nature trail.”

Brown noted that once the more gently sloped multi-use trail is in place, Region Ten’s clients might also be able to get better access to the park.

“We have a day support program located there where we provide training and rehabilitation services to people with intellectual disabilities,” Brown said. “We have had to be careful with the slopes to ensure safety. We would see the [multi-use trail] as a wonderful activity for our consumers as well.”

Gensic said the city would begin a master planning process later this year to gather more public input.

“With this acquisition in hand, we hope to open a public discussion about all the park land we have acquired,” he said. “We wanted to wait to get them all in place, then start a master planning process for all the natural areas and trails.”

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