Parks and REC

Parks and Recreation is doing a master plan. Consider participating..

Parks and Recreation Dept <>

Dear Charlottesville Parks & Recreation Stakeholder,

This is a reminder email to respond to the invite below for the Parks & Recreation Master Plan Focus Group Meetings. If you have already responded, please ignore. Thank you.

Planning is underway to develop a Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan for the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department. This document will guide future planning, policy, and development of Charlottesville Parks and Recreation programs and facilities for many years. The goal of the Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan is to provide a concise and user-friendly roadmap that will incorporate the community’s values to assist the City with decision-making regarding key issues.

We know you are passionate about parks and recreation and we are respectfully requesting your valuable input at an upcoming Focus Group Meeting so that the collective park and recreation vision of the community in Charlottesville can be developed.

The City of Charlottesville has contracted with PROS Consulting to conduct and develop this study and they will be in town the week of February 5th to conduct focus group meetings in-person. Our consultant, Mike Svetz, is copied on this email to assist with scheduling. We are very excited to have PROS on board as they did a fantastic job with our 2005 Master Plan. Once we hear back from the majority of you all, Mike will email to you a calendar invite for the meeting. The focus groups will be conducted IN-PERSON and will last approximately 50 minutes.

Please respond to this email by MONDAY, JANUARY 22nd with your two most preferred dates and times from the list below or if you are unable to participate.

Monday February 5th:

10-10:50am, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street
11-11:50am, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street
1-1:50pm, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street
2-2:50pm, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street
6-6:50pm, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street

Wednesday February 7th:

9-9:50am, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street

10-10:50am, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street
11-11:50am, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street
1-1:50pm, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street
2-2:50pm, Parks & Recreation Admin Office, 501 East Main Street

If you are unable to attend a focus group meeting, we hope you will provide feedback on Charlottesville Parks and Recreation on the project website Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Master Plan | EngagePros (

Thank you for your interest in Charlottesville Parks and Recreation and we look forward to hearing from you one way or the other by Monday January 22nd.

Once we receive responses from most people, we will send out meeting invites to confirm your date and time no later than Wednesday January 24th.

We are looking forward to hearing back from you all.

Local News

Rivanna River

Rivanna River

honey truck

septage hauler

Tomorrow night, City Council is expected to officially refer the new “Development Code” to the City Council.
Local journalist Sean Tubbs is interested in receiving community responses to a line in the staff report which accompanies the Development Code, it reads:

“There has been extensive community engagement over the entire time period of the Cville Plans Together process as well as specifically in relation to the Zoning Ordinance,”

Please let Mr. Tubbs know what you think.

230807 staff report

Sean Tubbs reports

Wednesday June 2 the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will receive an update on a project to extend the Old Mills Trail along the Rivanna River. “Implementation of the Old Mills Trail Extension between Pantops and Milton will require the acquisition of easements across multiple properties,” reads the report. “This easement acquisition process is partially complete. The remaining properties where greenway easements must be obtained are now all owned by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello) following their recent acquisition of the last remaining privately-owned riverfront parcel in this planned greenway corridor.” 

The above from local independent journalist reporter Sean Tubbs. Sean thoroughly covers local events. Subscribe and support his efforts!

Attention to Detail

The smokestack one sees most prominently entering Charlottesville from the east on I-64. Nowadays, a favorite roosting spot for crows and black vultures

The Charlottesville and Albemarle Railway (C&A) was a short electric street railroad operating within the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, during the early 20th century. The line was preceded by several streetcar lines operating both horse-drawn and electric powered cars dating back to 1887. After facing financial difficulties, the predecessor lines were reorganized into the C&A in 1903. The C&A’s electric streetcars operated off of an overhead line system that was powered by the railroad’s own power plant. The C&A also offered electric power generated by its plant to the city of Charlottesville. During the mid-1910s, the line received numerous upgrades, including the construction of a new power plant on the Rivanna River, a new company headquarters building, expansion of track, and the purchase of new streetcars.–Wikipedia

Holsinger Studio Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

County and City cooperate!

Michele Simpson, RWSA senior civil engineer, touring folk around the Rivanna Pump Station.

Michele Simpson, RWSA senior civil engineer, touring folk around the new Rivanna Pump Station following the ribbon cutting, October 5, 2017..

submarine station stairs

It was a seven year process from the old pump station to the new station. This is the circular stairway to the old RPS (Rivanna Pumping Station). A smelly hell-hole, next to a park in a residential neighborhood.

Frederick and Carroll

December 8, 2010. Tom Frederick of the RWSA and Janice Carroll of Hazen Sawyer confer during slide presentation to the Woolen Mills neighborhood regarding RWSA’s Rivanna Interceptor Sanitary Sewer Pumping Capacity Improvements. The meetings continued for almost two years.

ribbon cutting

At the ribbon cutting for the new Rivanna Pump Station October 5, 2017 Charlottesville City Councilor Kathy Galvin spoke about the process.
“It is through that long series of meetings, those many many chats over coffee, walking the site, getting everybody to understand the significance of this, both at the very local level, which is the neighborhood, and then at the City level, then at the County level, then at the regional watershed level, it was a major learning experience… It was a big issue then. So I want to say thank you to the community for being good stewards of your home and of your neighborhood and of your city and of your region.”
listen here

it wasn't easy

In the end, it was a good outcome, best solution for all concerned. It was a case of County/City cooperation. The design was approved secondary to courageous RWSA Board leadership by Mike Gaffney. The new pump station is the product of good engineering by Hazen Sawyer and RWSA staff.

Paul Goodloe McIntire’s Rivanna (10)

At Pantops, Mcintire was attentive to the vestiges of a prior institutional landscape and a set of buildings that could be adapted for the treatment of patients with mental illness. In 1877, Reverend Edgar Woods had purchased 373 acres at Pantops and opened Pantops Academy, a boys’ preparatory school, with close connections to the University of Virginia.

Pantops Academy

UVA Special Collections Pantops Academy

The Academy promoted the healthy, uplifting, character of the site–a setting and a rhetoric that could have easily been adapted from education to healing patients. In 1894, the Academy catalog declared, “The place formerly belonged to Thomas Jefferson, and is on the hill opposite his home, MONTICELLO. Its name was given by him for two Greek words, meaning ‘All seeing,’ in allusion to the prospect, which embraces the town of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia and a wide extent of plain and mountain scenery, not excelled by any other portion of the land. The surrounding region is one of the most healthy which the country contains, and is absolutely free from every kind of malaria …. It is scarcely possible to emphasize too much the unsurpassed location of the Academy, which not only delights the eye with the wide range and beauty of the landscape, but which ensures the best sanitary conditions, through perfect drainage and purest mountain air. Its distance from Charlottesville secures it from town temptations.” The Pantops Academy drew much of its food from its own farmlands declaring, “The teachers and pupils live together as one large family. The table is largely supplied from the farm, thus commanding abundance of milk and cream from its own dairy, fresh vegetables and fruit from its own garden and orchard and its fresh meat from its own flocks.”

Pantops Academy

Baseball team, Pantops Academy, 1892. University of Virginia, Holsinger Studio Collection

The Academy provided an indoor gymnasium but insisted that the site itself, with its elevated views, its hills, pastures, gardens, and river would provide for the healthy “physical culture” of the students with the “large grounds and the ample range the country thus affords.” Even though the Academy had closed in 1904, the prominent dorm and classroom building, built in 1884, and the rambling principal’s residence still dominated the site. Mcintire could imagine that they would be easily adapted for a psychiatric treatment hospital. Essentially what Mcintire could see in Pantops was what he had seen in the possibilities of a Rivanna public park–a landscape that would provide comfort and engagement and continue to cultivate the vital historical relationship between people in the region and their river.


Rivanna at Riverview Park. Montalto in the distance.

It was only a matter of months between Mclntire’s Pantops purchase in July 1929 and the crash of the stock market. In the midst of the Depression, the University was not able to expand to Pantops, and in 1937 the University’s Board of Visitors resolved to sell Pantops to James H. Cheek for use as a private country estate and horse farm. The proceeds of the sale were devoted to the development of psychiatry at the University hospital. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, Pantops was divided for private residential and commercial developments. State Farm Insurance opened a regional headquarters on part of the land in 1979. The Pantops Shopping Center opened in 1984. The Westminster Canterbury Retirement Community opened in 1990 and the new Martha Jefferson Hospital moved to Pantops in 2011. By 2010, Free Bridge carried an average of 38,000 cars a day over the Rivanna between Pantops and Charlottesville; however, the automotive landscape that gripped the river and determined adjacent lands uses did little to connect people to this particular and special place or to the Rivanna itself, with its rich historical, cultural, and environmental resources.

Pantops sidewalk

Sidewalk to the summit.

Mclntire’s vision for the Rivanna embodied a complex ideal concerning the proper relationship between the Rivanna, the broader development of the city, and the citizens of Charlottesville. Interestingly, the person who enacted part of this vision in the wake of Mclntire’s failure was John Wesley Bagby (1888-1968), a life-long employee of the Charlottesville Woolen Mill, who labored initially as a mill hand and became the superintendent of the dye works. In 1928, Bagby purchased 23 acres of the Albemarle Golf Club lands along the Rivanna for $3,000. Around 1940, Bagby began using his land as a site for periodic circuses and carnivals. This tradition lasted for half a century. When the three-ring Barnum and Bailey circus visited in 1954, the enormous circus tent pitched on the banks of the Rivanna, just south of Free Bridge, would accommodate 10,000 spectators who came to see elephants, tigers, clowns, and high-wire gymnasts perform. Here was a vision of a city gathering along the river for amusement, entertainment, relaxation, and neighborly socializing. But even these events only took place periodically.

Circus grounds

Bagby’s Circus Grounds 2014

The rising national environmental movement began to frame local connections to the Rivanna from the 1960s onward. The Virginia Assembly passed the Scenic River Act in 1970; the Act required that scenic values be considered in public planning decisions around designated scenic rivers and established regulations to prevent the construction of dams that impeded the flow of water on scenic rivers. The section of the Rivanna River in Fluvanna County was designated in 1974, and the designation was moved upstream to the dam at the Charlottesville Woolen Mills in the late 1980s and to the South Fork Reservoir Dam in 2009; this later designation was granted after the Woolen Mills Dam was removed in 2007 to promote the ecological health of the river and its fish population. The opening of a jointly purchased city-county park in 1986, now named Darden Towe Park, prompted a series of initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s to open trails along the Rivanna with legal easements over privately held property. The trails now amount to ribbon parks and are popular for outdoor exercise, walking, running, and biking.



The environmental focus on the Rivanna River is a much narrower vision than Paul Goodloe Mcintire had tried to effect. When Charles Hurt filed plans for the Pantops Shopping Center in the 1980s, people advocating for the Rivanna’s ecology opposed the plan, worrying about pollution, run-off, and flooding. The Rivanna represented a problem and a threat for the Pantops Shopping Center development. The Center ended up being constructed with its back to the Rivanna, largely disengaged from the river.
Mclntire’s failed 1920s plans for connecting the city and the Rivanna represented a more complex integrated vision that reflected the historical realities of the river’s significant place in the region. The vision saw people living, working, recreating, and being healed in a landscape that intermingled human artifice with a key environmental and cultural system-the Rivanna River. In the early twentieth-first century, the Rivanna is part of many people’s lives in the region. When they turn on the tap in their sinks, water arrives from the South Fork of the Rivanna River. When their streets and houses shed rainwater, or when they flush their toilet, they send away liquid waste that eventually ends up in the Rivanna. And yet relatively few people really experience, know, or understand the Rivanna River. The rise of the single purpose planning, for recreation, water supply, sewage disposal, transportation, and housing has exacerbated this reality. When Mclntire’s vision for the Rivanna failed, many citizens in Charlottesville lost sight of their history and their river.


The Rivanna behind Riverbend Shopping Center

Paul Goodloe McIntire’s Rivanna: The Unexecuted Plans For a River City is by Daniel Bluestone and Steven G. Meeks. This article was published in Volume 70 2012 of the Magazine of Albemarle County History by the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. Copies of the Magazine are available at

Paul Goodloe McIntire’s Rivanna (09)

Paul Goodloe Mclntire’s ambitions for the Rivanna River did not end even after he established the public park north of downtown in 1926. In July 1929, Mcintire purchased a 362-acre tract of Pantops, including an expansive frontage on the Rivanna River. He donated the land to the University of Virginia in the hope that the University would establish a psychiatric hospital on the land. This land at Pantops had a storied history stretching back to the eighteenth century. Thomas Jefferson inherited the land from his father. From the edge of the Southwest Mountains, Pantops offered sweeping views of the Rivanna and the surrounding region. In 1797, Jefferson deeded Pantops to his daughter Maria as a dower gift for her marriage to John Wayles Eppes. Jefferson later leveled a house site at the top of Pantops, expecting Maria and her husband to build a house and settle there, within view of Monticello. Maria died in 1804, however, and the house was never built. Pantops continued in intensive agricultural production. In 1860, Meriwether Lewis Anderson, his family, and his slaves operated a large plantation at Pantops with 14 horses, 11 milk cows, 12 oxen, 10 beef cattle, 53 sheep, and 115 pigs. In 1860, they harvested 15,000 pounds of tobacco, 2,400 bushels of wheat, 3,000 bushels of corn, 1,500 bushels of oats, and 30 tons of hay. They also cultivated potatoes, fruit from an orchard, and produced 850 pounds of butter and 250 pounds of honey.

In 1929, Mcintire envisioned an institutional and healing landscape at Pantops that could accommodate patients suffering from mental illness and promote the “teaching of psychiatry and nervous diseases in general.” There was personal poignancy behind his plan; Mclntire’s daughter, Virginia Charlotte Mcintire, had entered Richmond’s Westbrook Sanatorium in 1921, at the age of twenty, and was still living there eight years later when McIntire purchased Pantops.

Development of Pantops

Not what Jefferson or McIntire intended.

Paul Goodloe McIntire’s Rivanna: The Unexecuted Plans For a River City
is by Daniel Bluestone and Steven G. Meeks. This article was published in Volume 70 2012 of the Magazine of Albemarle County History by the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. Copies of the Magazine are available at

Paul Goodloe McIntire’s Rivanna (08)

McIntire Park
Mclntire’s failure to purchase parkland along the Rivanna delayed the opening of a major landscaped park in Charlottesville for six years. In January 1926, Mcintire purchased a 92-acre section of the Old Mason Farm located north of Charlottesville. The Mason site had the rolling meadowland character the land along the Rivanna; however, it lacked the diversity found along the Rivanna with its old “prime Forest,” steep hillside, riverside pastures, rock outcroppings, and the well-established sod. Schenk’s Branch, a tributary to Meadow Creek (and to the Rivanna beyond) bounded the eastern edge of what became Mcintire Park. It was relatively modest in size and lacked the majestic river bends and cultural significance of the Rivanna. Moreover, the short interval between the establishment of the park and the collapse of local building caused by economic crash of 1929 meant that the city’s development did not really extend out to and around Mcintire Park until after World War II. If the Rivanna park had been established in 1920 it would have provided a magnet for the 1920s residential boom. The east end of Charlottesville would have been organized differently. It would have developed with the park and river as an essential presence, shaping the layout of street, block, and lot development and reaffirming the vital historical connections between the people in Charlottesville and the Rivanna. This possibility was presaged by the Charlottesville Land Company’s 1892 subdivision, The Farm; however, the connections would have been much stronger with Mclntire’s vision of a public park than developer’s plan for the private villas imagined in The Farm subdivision.

road being built through park 2014
Paul Goodloe McIntire’s Rivanna: The Unexecuted Plans For a River City
is by Daniel Bluestone and Steven G. Meeks. This article was published in Volume 70 2012 of the Magazine of Albemarle County History by the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. Copies of the Magazine are available at

Paul Goodloe McIntire’s Rivanna (07)

Lee statue silhouette
In 1920, Paul Goodloe McIntire approached the Albemarle Golf Club with an unusual proposition. He wanted to buy their five-year-old golf course and donate the land to the people of Charlottesville for use as a public park. The site was quite distinct from the two parks that McIntire had already donated to Charlottesville. In 1917, McIntire had purchased the historic Southall-Venable house, which occupied a full block in the grid plan of downtown Charlottesville, at Second and Market streets. Located two blocks east of Court Square, McIntire had the residence demolished and developed the square as a single block park to memorialize both his parents and Robert E. Lee. The Lee equestrian monument was completed in 1924. In 1918, McIntire purchased several houses along McKee Row, facing Court Square. Again, after demolishing the houses, he had the site landscaped as a park and he commissioned an equestrian statue to honor Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, which was dedicated in October 1921. In 1919, McIntire built a public library on a lot facing Lee Park. The library joined churches, the post office, the courthouse, private law and business offices, and several residences that tightly bounded Jackson and Lee parks. These parks stood in the midst of the most densely built up area of Charlottesville.

McIntire envisioned something completely different for the large, landscaped park he hoped to develop along the Rivanna. Undoubtedly, many of the same features that attracted members of the golf club to the site also appealed to McIntire. The land had a highland section, next to the Riverview Cemetery; it had a steep sloped area, vestiges of the “prime Forest” that Thomas Farish had sought to preserve with its mature trees, rolling meadowland, expansive sodded areas, and a long river frontage on the Rivanna. This sort of topographical variety and expansiveness characterized the sites of some of the most celebrated landscaped parks that had constituted the landscape park movement in United States, which had originated in the mid-nineteenth century.
quercus rubra Rivanna's edge

Preserving land for public parks in the face of urbanization in cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, or Richmond certainly had much greater urgency than was apparent in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Charlottesville. The combined Charlottesville and Albemarle County population rose relatively slowly from 32,379 in 1890 to 36,693 in 1920. The city population rose from 5,591 in 1890 to 10,688 in 1920; however, a fair amount of the city’s increase came not through actual growth but through annexing the more densely settled parts of the county located immediately outside of the city’s corporate limits. In every direction, open agricultural land closely surrounded the settled parts of Charlottesville. Outdoor recreation and natural or agricultural scenery was easily accessible on all sides of the city. Indeed, the failure of the Charlottesville Land Company’s 1890s development of The Farm, followed in 1915 by the laying out of the golf course, underscored the distinction between small-town Charlottesville, with open pasture lands immediately adjacent to the downtown, and larger metropolitan centers where the agricultural landscape was entirely filled with building and street development. What is notable about Mclntire’s vision of a large landscaped park on the Rivanna was that it seemingly stemmed from his cosmopolitan sensibility gathered in his life in Chicago and New York and through European travel. It also reflected Mclntire’s deep optimism about the metropolitan future of Charlottesville, his childhood home. Mclntire’s City Beautiful campaign for Charlottesville involved giving the city the trappings of a larger and wealthier city. Thus, the landscaped park was, in large measure, less about pressing current needs than about a cosmopolitan gesture towards future urban attainment. The Daily Progress insisted that Mclntire’s plan would remedy one of the city’s “most serious deficiencies.” The newspaper recognized the park as yet another element in its acquisition of the trappings of cosmopolitan identity: “Although the people of this city have had every reason to be proud and gratified at the many bountiful provisions that have been made for them by the forethought and filial attachment of Mr. Paul Goodloe McIntire, that generous gentleman and citizen bountiful has realized the fact that without a public park the full measure of benefits most needed has not been made up.”

The Daily Progress confidently anticipated that the golf club membership would come to terms with McIntire for the conversion of the golf course into a public park because the club had so many members “noted for public spirit and a willingness to advance the city’s interests.” When negotiations began in April 1920, consensus and public spirit proved rather elusive. Initially, the members wanted McIntire to leave in place a nine-hole golf course­ essentially merging his public park with their golf club. McIntire responded that his park plan would require all of the club’s land and he asked them again to name a price for their land. The club then asked that McIntire buy land for the relocation of the golf course and agreed to exchange the Rivanna property for a new property. McIntire informed the leadership of the club that he considered their property “the most desirable site” for the “laudable purpose” he had in mind but he rejected a property exchange and again asked the club to name their price for their Rivanna land. Members were split on Mclntire’s offer and at first narrowly voted against a sale. Then they settled on an alternative. They would insist on continued free use of the course for the next three years, agreeing to sell the tract to McIntire for $55,000. The asking price was nearly three times the purchase price paid for the land just two years earlier. McIntire rejected the offer. Three months later, in July 1920, McIntire contacted the club’s officers again and suggested that they enter arbitration by neutral parties to arrive at a fair price for the land. The club felt that arbitrators might settle on a fair price but that would not solve the club’s problem of finding, and paying for, an appropriate alternative site. Rather than exercising “public spirit,” the club members rejected Mclntire’s effort to establish a public park on the Rivanna. The club maintained its riverside links, but only for seven more years. In 1927, the club merged with the group that established a new golf club at Farmington, west of Charlottesville. The new course relied on automobiles for access. The earlier idea of walking from downtown businesses to the Rivanna for outdoor leisure ended, disrupting a vibrant relationship between people living and working in central Charlottesville and the river that had helped define the region for centuries.
Rivanna River regatta 2006

Paul Goodloe McIntire’s Rivanna: The Unexecuted Plans For a River City is by Daniel Bluestone and Steven G. Meeks. This article was published in Volume 70 2012 of the Magazine of Albemarle County History by the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. Copies of the Magazine are available at