'Hidden gem': Could Scottsville be county's new hotspot?

About a year ago, Scottsville Council member Dan Gritsko went for a walk through the woods just outside of town, part of the 63 acres of land that make up the Van Clief Nature Area. Eventually, he encountered another man out on the same walk.

 “Isn’t it so beautiful back here?” the man asked him, “and no one knows about it.”

“Well, I’m trying to change that,” Gritsko replied.

A gift from Daniel and Margaret Van Clief to Scottsville 15 years ago, the nature area encompasses a stretch of woodlands and grassy fields, as well as a five-acre lake.  As of yet, however, the land is just barely accessible. The most recent Scottsville Comprehensive Plan seeks to finally bring this gift to the town.

 “It’s still very under-utilized,” says Gritsko. “We have a $38,000 grant from the Department of Conservation. Now we’re doing the research to make the bridge and the walk that will be part of it.”

He adds, “It’s our little hidden gem of Scottsville. We want to make it accessible.”

That's part of Scottsville’s most recent comprehensive plan, which continues to focus on town expansion after the recent phases 1 and 2 of streetscape and business establishment. 

For example, the development of the nature area could include collaboration with new and developing local businesses, such as connecting the hiking trails to the back patio of the new James River Brewery. 

There have also been talks with planners of the James River HeritageTrail to tie in a number of resources up and down the James River, which runs along just outside of Scottsville.

“There are a number of property developments in the planning stage,” says Scottsville Mayor Jesse Groves. “We’re actively seeking to address that.”

 “There’s a great deal of open space," he says, "and we hope to turn it into something recreational.”

Even with these ideas in mind, however, construction on the bridge or trails has yet to begin, and pedestrian access to the land remains limited to the dirt trails already in place.

“In the grant process, there’s a number of agencies involved,” Gritsko explains. “It just takes time.”

Despite the delays, he remains enthusiastic about the effort.

“Should it be a swimming lake, or a bike trail?" he asks. "These are things we need to talk about through the planning process to determine how best to develop this beautiful land.”

And he wonders, “Is Scottsville the new hotspot in Albemarle? Five or 10 years from now, Scottsville could be known as a really cool place to walk and spend time together. It has that potential.”


Scottsville is a pre-revolutionary city, quaint, picturesque, with pretty hip new businesses right on the James river. Please tell me why the only photo the Hook could render for this article is a photo of the river while it was in a muddy state.
Who would want to visit this?

Guess I should read before I react... I see it's the lake in its' muddy state... apologies!

This occurs like the cicadas...every few years someone tries to hype Scottsville. It's a cute little town, but let's not get carried away with our old selves. BTW, is the again-in-trouble-with-the-law Chris Dumler still on the so-called "board" of the James River Brewery?

So the mystery continues... with no mention of where the Van Clief Nature Area is or how to get there.... real ecotourism boost there for sure!

Cockadoodle Doo x 10! Seek and ye shall go completely insane!

That lake sure looks like a fever swamp to me...
The big problem with Scottsville is the old Chestnut about real estate...location, location,location, and Scottsville doesn't have even one of those!. Ain't that the rub though? You just can't get there from here. You can drive to Lexington easier than navigating 20 S. That's why the demographics for Scottsville remain stuck and always will be. It's like there's a force field between the rest of the world and there. They can make a little nature preserve around that little patch and its mud-puddle, but ain't nobody going there except locals. Well, they could rent it to biker clubs to have weekend hog roasts and bachanalias as long as they can strike a deal with the local Gestapo to stay away..

Doncha just love journalistic hype of this type, where you start off sort of like this:
" ThePyramids: Does new research indicate Martians built them?" or maybe like this: "Obama: Born in Kenya or actually on Easter Island?".....Shheees

It might be easier to find Prince William County's cool spot, Keith.

Look at what happened to Crozet once it became cool! Now it's the largest holder of northern imigrants since Lake Gestapo in Flucoland!

It's a fine line between Crozet and Ivy, and it's usually a bit cooler in Waynesboro.

Pitch a tent and call me in the morning.

I agree with Keith. Where is the Van Clief Nature area and where does one gain access to it? I've looked online to no avail. Since it was a gift to Scottsville, I'm sure new residents would like to know.

"small town"... means... "small towns" can't we leave something's alone?

Just a guess, but maybe this is the place?

Guy with GoogleMaps is dead on correct. It is not a developed property even for use as a Nature Area. There was a plan put forth 15 years ago to develop it with trails and parking and nothing happened then Then I heard about an effort 5 years ago and nothing. The Town will build its bridge to nowhere and nothing more will happen. The same group was building trails at Totier Creek and that effort is fizzling. Nothing ever changes in Scottsville except maybe our BOS representative.

I just realized the article never said what this plot of land actually is. It was gifted to the Town by the Van Clief family to construct a flood control facility, ie the dam, to hold but waters from Mink Creek from flooding as that creek runs behind and under some buildings in the downtown area.
I had to chuckle at the suggestion to connect the trail to the brewery as maybe it will be used as a rear access for Chris Dumler to enter from his home. I think he is still a stockholder of the brewery.

http://www.scottsvilleweekly.com/issue157.html I found this article in the Scottsville Weekly that has a map and a little history on the nature area. Thanks for your help!

http://www.scottsvilleweekly.com/issue118.html This article actually tells you how to access the park including borrowing a key at the Scottsville Town Office. (Hmmmm...)

The cool spot is actually in King William County and the house located at the estate has burned down multiple times! Whole Lotta Love's a crude, moronic lunatic!

You need coolin, woman I ain't foolin!

It's baby I ain't foolin, you crude moronic lunatic.

I was drunk, asswipe. I'm gonna give you my love, I'm gonna give you my love!

Shake for me girl...I wanna be your back door man.

BTW, that brewery has been there over a year and from the sidewalk, it looks like one of the many vacant storefronts in Scottsville. Heck, the town is down to only one dollar store now, folks.

Route 20 to the north, and Buckingham County to the south. Pretty bad.

If Virginia tradition holds true, at some point developers will buy themselves a couple of supervisors, a media friendly spokesmodel, and get a totally unsustainable development approved. Build houses, then the crying will start to stick taxpayers with improvements to Rt. 20. Developers make money by shifting risk and costs onto the public.