'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.”