Group sues to stop Meadowcreek Parkway

Just four days after highly visible earth-moving and tree-felling began on a section of the road once billed as the salvation of downtown, a group has filed two motions in Charlottesville Circuit Court trying to stop the construction of the Meadowcreek Parkway. On February 24, an attorney representing the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park, CPMP, filed a lawsuit and a request for an injunction.

50 comments

VDOT and some on city council have participated in breaking state,federal law. Doing so is inexcusable. The people in this group are correct to cry foul. I hear there are some smart cookies watching the situation. The powers that be better listen too, or more fireworks will fly. The will of too many people is being ignored.

Whiny little group of tree huggers who want to thwart the democratic process. Every new road is evil, every bike rider a karmic diety. Saving a park that almost no one uses instead of letting the majority of local taxpayers have a road that has been needed for 30 years. The road is coming, get out of the way or become part of the asphalt

ha ha fizz fizz, So you think it is alright to break the law? Some of the dummies in the city neglected to do all of their homework, and then they broke the law. Get real, at least the GOLF COURSE has prevented the city from damaging the park in installing more ugly crappola. I'm sure the coalition would be open to promoting more citizen usage of the park. Many believe the golf course should be turned into a natural area to be enjoyed by more people. Who is thwarting the democratic purpose? It seems to be those democrats on city council who have violated the state law! The road isn't needed by the city. The adjacent COUNTY that is out of touch with reality, and has poorly planned, needs the road.

Fizz Fizz, CPMP has the right to have a competent court of jurisdiction determine what's been done, what is currently being done, and what shall be done next. Get out of the way, or get trampled by the CPMP members as they enter the courthouse. :)

poo poo, I think the residents who live on Park Street would disagree whether the city needs the road or not. I don't even know how some of them get in or out of their driveways nowadays.

Hey Whiney the Poo...

The COUNTY is already paying 1/8 of the city's budget, so maybe we should stop that. I'll gladly knock 10 cents off my tax rate and let you keep your "pastoral sand green golf course." This isn't Torrey Pines we're talking about here...

Funny how the county needs the road, but it gets people from the county to jobs in the city and people from the city to jobs out in the county...

Sick, I hear what you say, but in the longterm, I don't think Park St. will garner a positive result in the building of the Parkway. The county needs a route "around" and they are not assuming responsibility in channeling their own traffic. The city needs to call the county on this asap.
The city also needs to SLOW DOWN the traffic on Park St. The silly costly slabs placed all along the street don't work. Vehicles swerve and scare pedestrians everyday. In fact, I'm surprised someone hasn't died, YET.

BS, Yep your county is paying the city because your county signed on the dotted line, so who is whining now!!!!!!

Just build the damn road. What a crock - the plaintiff isn't requesting monetary damages, but IS looking for attorney's fees. Stevie Wonder can see what's behind this.

But I'm confused. What's an "junction?"

County signed on the dotted line to buy the city's annexation rights. Since the city doesn't have any such rights to sell anymore, the city has broken the agreement and the county sure looks stupid to keep buying something that doesn't exist. The politicians don't care because they're spending other people's money. The grass roots have to elect new people to stop paying for nothing so the city can take the county to court and explain how any contract to buy X remains valid when X does not exist. The city is being greedy, no big surprise, but county looks foolish and cowardly.

The county signed and gave up rights when it signed...so they are the dumb ones in doing so. The city is "laughing all the way to to bank". Now the county is coming back begging, and we're all laughing.

I love how parkway opponents always hold out a bikeway as the alternative, yet never mention that some version of Warner's 250-McIntire interchange is required to have a bikeway! Crossing 250 at grade is dangerous, and the traffic light pattern that is there now would never support a crossroad of any type.

If there's a reasonable alternative, I haven't been able to think of it, and all I hear from the people who are trying so hard to stop the parkway and interchange as far as productive alternatives is crickets.

Also, yeah, everyone's in favor of public transit, but none of our local green types are in favor of easing the Emmet St. bottleneck that all rush-hour buses to the north currently have to go through. (Buses could use 250 and Hydraulic, but I'm sure you've seen that at rush hour as well.)

I'm a big fan of bikes and public transit... and I don't see any alternative to serving alternative transporation in the Charlottesville urbanized area other than building the damn parkway. At least none that is politically feasible, with city and county and state getting the funding lined up to make it happen.

For some of us this is about the value of parkland, that once destroyed is gone forever. There will never be agreement and certainly the developers that own land along the parkway want the road built. But I believe the greater good is to preserve McIntire as parkland and the reality is to accomplish that we need to elect people who support that.

"What are the choices that we must make if we are now to succeed, and not to fail ? ...In a democracy, the simplest and cheapest action is to vote. Some elections, contested by candidates .. are settled by ridiculously small numbers of votes." pg 556
"Collapse" by Jared Diamond (How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed)

"The other crucial choice illuminated by the past involves the courage to make painful decisions about values. Which of the values that formerly served a society well can continue to be maintained under new changed circumstances ?" pg 523

Simply put, the Pantops area is a disgrace and rather unappealing to drive through. 29 North is even worse. And now we are poised to turn the bypass into another eye sore, and delete a beautiful park with old growth trees. And BTW Fizz Fizz, many people use the park. Maybe you should step away from your computer and go check it out yourself. Shame on Charlottesville and those who are planning its growth and demise. Doesn't anyone see that there is a history of poor planning overall in this city. For a city that has the best architecture school in the country, it is shameful to see that the city harbors some rather poor conservation efforts from preserving older buildings, to saving green spaces, and solving traffic flow problems. Shame on you Fizz Fizz and your short-sighted ways.

You people who think that this road won't happen are the same ones telling republicans to accept the fact that we now have a socialist president.. and to get over it..

so get over it..

They can play games all day long but at the end of the day, year or decade this raod will go through..

If you tree huggers had not been so shortsided you would have taken all of the money you have spent fighting the inevitable and BOUGHT parkland...

That would have made the worls a better place.

It must suck to be you.

"...those who are planning its growth and demise..."

Growth has occurred and continues to occur. Planning is what has NOT occurred. The people are here and more are coming. Many ideas for solutions are discussed. NOTHING is EVER done except obstruction of one approach by proponents of another.

Gosh people, think about the dogs! I travel Melbourn Road several times a day. I see people parking every day to enter the trial and woods so as to let their dogs use it as a public bathroom! Where will the dogs go now? :)

I could be wrong but I thought whatever park is destroyed by the new parkway will be replaced elsewhere. Is this correct? If so, the new road is definitely worth it as it will ease some congestion around 250, Hydraulic, Emmet, etc. People seem to be trying to plan but all this ridiculous grandstanding keeps slowing things up.

Hawes and other bloggers:

Did anyone notice that the "Coalition" identifies itself in the style of the case on the first page of these motions as "Coalition to Preserve Meadowcreek Park" but the name of the coalition appears as "Coalition to Preserve Meadowcreek ParkWAY" on the last page (just above where their Counsel signed the pleading)? This irony about their identity was not lost on me and probably not on others also.

And yes, out of professional courtesy to a fellow member of the bar, I telephoned my friend Ms. McKeever, Counsel for the Coalition, before making this public entry here. She had not noticed it the discrepancy, even though she signed the Motion as Counsel for the Coalition to Preserve the Parkway within inches of the name. She laughed when I pointed it out and said, "all these things can be fixed, you know."

I'm no tree hugger, but development generally makes quality of life worse. Cville has made some stupid decisions in my opinion, starting with 29N, then the destruction of Pantops (with a shopping center on top of it no less), now a road through McIntire Park.

I used to be a planning commissioner and one thing I learned was that development isn't per se bad or good --it's finding the balance of development to available resources. In general for most planning commissioners that I've known and city planners established parks are sacrosanct when it comes to roads and development

...Ead, If ever a project needed obstruction, this it it!
Don't worry, though. There's is not one parkway opponent
within sight who gives a damn about this corrupt venture.
They'll play nice and conventional, documenting their efforts, civility at all cost. They're out of here.

Betty your statement that land lost in a park is gone forever is false. There will be much more parkland created than lost with the building of the road. That new parkland will not be created if the road isn't built. Plus I believe an attorney general opinion has already been issued that is on point in this case that will allow the road to be built.

The transfer gambit is interesting but there are several options should this legal "hail Mary" delay the project.

It will be fun to watch and the road is probably going to get built regardless.

Countyguy, I am certainly in favor of more park land, but the land in McIntire Park that was established as a park will be lost.

You are illogical on this point. With this road you can more parkland.In this case parkland lost is MORE parkland created. If more parkland is better than this is a fantastic trade off. The only way this is not a good deal for parkland is the new parkland we are getting is worse than what is being lost. Without those facts in hand you're being reactionary and not reasonable.

Isn't many times more parkland better?

Sorry if I wasn't clear. I think we as a community have neglected expanding the amount of parkland we have for our growing population. I see losing McIntire parkland as a loss and the replacement parkland as a needed addition.

Betty, I think you were clear and it still doesn't make any sense. Under used park loses some land and it's replaced with much more new park land more widely spead out. That sounds like a deal any reasonable person would be happy with more parkland they could use then land they almost nobody uses now.

Also any here who doesn't want the Meadowcreek parkway but wants the eastern connector can turn in their enviro cred now.

What's with this terminology of whether parkland is being "used" or not? Green space is not just supposed to be "usable" space, it can also exist for its own sake, for its quiet beauty, and for the wildlife it supports.

So, if you can't smack a ball around on it, it's of no use to you? Wow, what a piggish and greedy attitude. Seriously, how incredibly stupid do you have to be to look at McIntyre Park and wonder what purpose it serves?

This attitude that additional new parkland can't be created unless an established park takes it up the keister, is indicative of how warped we are as municipality, and as a culture.

diagoliv,The front,forward and best part of the park will be trashed with the parkway. My guess, you may live in the county, or maybe not. Those who live in the area near the proposed Eastern connector certainly don't want it! The stinky part: Dumb people in Charlottesville were fooled into believing the Eastern connector also would be built. That was part of the plan. Now don't go using the excuse of no money. We all know PEC and the "wealthy crew" lobbied to keep the Eastern Connector away. The funny thing, even the dummies are now catching on to the manipulative antics of PEC and THE COUNTY in this case.
On another note,stop messing with Betty. She has gained more respect and has more brains than her pathtic critics.

oops-I meant pathetic.

Does anyone know when the last time the city or county added parkland open for public use was ? I am all in favor of conservation easements, but that is private land. Given that we are a growing community and bound to grow even more, especially in the county, shouldn't we be protecting the parkland we have and buying more ? I believe the county, even in these difficult times, has money set aside for conservation easements. Is there also money in the city and county budgets for additional parkland ?

Embarrassed to say I don't know where this replacement parkland is?

Does anyone have a link to an article about it ?

Is it really a park on the caliber with McIntire, which is an urban park, easily accessible for city residents ?

Those who sanction the Parkway have steered public opinion in a negative manner (private owners granting easements). I know several who once thought of putting their land under easement. They have now changed their mind! They certainly don't trust local government to respect their properties. In that city,county governments, and even PEC, are turning a blind eye to destroying Mr. McIntire's "gift", future recruits certainly won't allow PEC an Easement. One guy I know recently told me, it would be a cold day in hell before he would sign an easement for his valuable property. The countys', citys' and PECs' true green image is now tarnished beyond belief.

Betty, good point. As I hear, but I haven't seen the land, the trade off land is dissimilar. In fact it was described as junk land, some close to roads,rutted, etc. Maybe we can ask to take a tour? My guess, "the powers that be" would rather we not see it, especially now!

Let's take a tour ! Any elected officials or staff willing to organize and publicize this ?

There's no 'old growth' trees in McIntire park.

Well if they aren't "old growth", some are at least 200 years old. My guess maybe even 250 years old, or more. I stood under one of those oaks. It was as wide as a big car. Those trees are some of the older remaining in Charlottesville!

billy bob, at the rate trees are coming down in the city and county, there won't be too many old-growth trees in the future. It's not just about what's old-growth now.

"old growth trees"? You people are nuts. trees live, trees die. that is the cycle of life. A maple will get as big as a mature oak in 12 years and no one will ever know the diffeence on a summer day.

Have you all forgotten about all of the land the zoning board has received as "proffers" (read it: BRIBES)?

There is plenty of parkland and like I said.. if you took the money WASTED fighting the inevitable and used it to buy land you would have one hell of a park... (but what your really after is protecting your idealogy and not acreage.)

Keep crying, and keep fighting, all that you will do is waste moeny that you could use to buy land while it is cheap. ...farm land in the county is only about 10 grand an acre... do the math...

Betty,

I guess I'm trying to say that the supporters of the road seem to be willing to overlook all of the legal problems with how the project was designed and approved. Any MCP supporters should at least acknowledge that the project is currently on very shaky legal ground. My point is that all of these "opinions" about the road (whether you love asphalt in a park or not) are really not all that interesting. How about we meet the spirit and intent of the existing laws? There are always going to be winners and losers in any political decision like building a road. I'd just prefer that the projects be conducted in accordance with existing laws and regulations. If you think the super-majority clause is bogus, change the state constitution. If you hate environmental protection elect some neo-con that wants to disband the EPA. But since neither of those things have happened this project is on shaky legal grounds.

Some facts about the "replacement" parkland;
1. It is all further away from downtown and mostly not in the city!

2. It would be two strips along side a road, instead of the relatively quiet, exhaust and danger free park we have now.

3. In order to get to the agreed upon amount, city staff let VDOT count a small amount of land Charlottesville already owns as part of the "replacement" parkland ââ?¬Å?

Peter Kleeman has some interesting and related stuff here;

http://kleemanblog.blogspot.com/2008/05/school-board-fails-leadership-te...

countyguy,

"Isn’t many times more parkland better?"

This is wrong. About 30 acres of park and CHS land would be eased for the construction of the Parkway. There would be a great deal of earth moving. This amount does not include the interchange. The amount of ââ?¬Å?replacement” parkland is near 49.1 acres (as I mentioned above they cheated a bit). So the amount is very close to the same but the quality is not, due to the distance, slopes, and traffic.

diagoliv,

"much more new park land more widely spead out"

What does this mean?

Also, those easements are bought now. If we can kill the road, we will have one hell of an urban Park and the people of the future will think us smart. They wont know it was an accident.

JR I do beg to differ. There is still the political process which is influenced by public opinion. As the City Planning Commission has recommended the City Council could vote to withhold the money for their portion of the road, which I believe would be a vote supported by the vast majority of city residents

Another problem I have is Meadowcreek Parkway was suppose to be one of three roads to ease traffic when it was approved.

Now the county wants the city to give up their parkland but wouldn't agree to any viable places on county land to build either of the other 2 other roads: the Western By-Pass or the Eastern By-Pass. These roads are for growth occurring in the county. When will they do the responsible thing and build the infrastructure necessary for the development they have planned for?

If they want the growth in the urban ring of the county they need to build the Eastern By-Pass or the Western By-Pass and the Southern Connector to accommodate their planned growth. Only then should the City agree to build the Meadowcreek Parkway.

All the back and forth about between the "pro" and "con" factions about why they love or hate this project is really not that relevant. What IS relevant is that the Virginia State Constitution requires a "super-majority" (i.e. 4 out of 5) approval of any permanent easements in public parkland. The 3 out of 5 council-member vote did not legally approve the taking of land in McIntire Park. That's the basis of the law suit. Either you agree with the constitution or you don't but the sniping about whether the parkway should be built is kind of boring.

Second, this project was segmented into three separate projects (county portion, city portion, interchange) and by doing so the project is not subjected to the same level of environmental review as it would be if it were considered one single project. This is an unusual and likely illegal approach as well. If you really want this road built you should

a) get a super majority of votes
b) subject the entire project to appropriate environmental review

Assuming "a" and "b" are satisfied there should be no reasons for complaint... even from the tree huggers.

Ah, a perfect example of the tactic of divide and conquer

If the law truly is clear about the super majority, it's hard to see how the pro-parkway forces will prevail in court.

Maybe a commission should be appointed in order to make a request for a study of the parkway plan? Or perhaps that request should be debated first?

this is just a delay tactic that will NEVER stop the road. The delays do nothing but waste taxpayers money which could be used for better things. You people are so self righteous it will be fun to drive my hummer back and forth on the new road.

"Comically, one speaker extended the metaphor: 'To tell you the truth, I'd be happy with a $500,000 band-aid that lasted 10 years,' as opposed to the estimated $7.5 million to replace the bricks." Actually, the original brick work needed repair after about twenty years, so $500,000 for ten years (that's a rate of $1M every 20 years)or $7500,000 for twenty? The $7.5M wasn't for replacing 375,000 bricks, it was for a complete re-design of the Mall, which city staff thought they could get away with by spinning it as "repairing." "You can fool some of the people..."
"Downtown developer Kuttner has said the City could hire some professional masons to repair the brickwork one tiny section at a time, and for a fraction of the cost of the proposed renovation..." That's what's been going on for a decade on a limited basis (notice the circular areas around the trees and in other spots) and the repairs seem to be lasting if not blending in with the other brick work. After a little weathering, most people won't be able to tell the difference.
"Although in addition to nixing additions that Council didn't like, Tolbert said they were forming an advisory group composed of historians, preservationists, and designers to advise MMM on the design project..." Why wasn't this done before MMM Design has gone laughingly all the way to the bank? Is there anyone at the helm? Is everybody new at this?
"Tolbert replied that to manage the construction project, three weeks ago the City engaged Barton Malow, the company that finished the John Paul Jones Arena on time and under budget." Maybe we can avoid the overrun disasters of the east end of the Mall and the re-bricking of Third ST NE. Since the cost of hiring the new project managers is unspecified, will the project eventually cost more than a 100% overrun? Was the management contract put out to bid?
"That unique design, however, is entirely dependent on the 4" x 12" brick size-- the one that MMM found impossible to spec until concerns were recently raise." Was there an attempt to throw the procurement of the bricks to the company that is owned by somebody local rather than go through the usual procurement process usually followed by the contractor that will be eventually hired?