By Alex Bridges
A rural part of Warren County may soon get a place for parents to drop off and pick up school-aged children.
The Board of Supervisors last week voted to accept a deed of a gift from the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries for approximately 3.19 acres of land on Freezeland Road. The county proposes to build a commuter parking lot with a bus loop for students. The facility would serve primarily the Shenandoah Farms and Blue Mountain communities.
County Administrator Douglas Stanley said Thursday that construction of the facility may not happen for another one to three years. The county needs to set aside funds to build the facility that Stanley said would compare to one it operates in Linden Park. Once the transfer of the property goes through, Stanley said the county would move forward on designing the facility. The county would need approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation for the design. The Planning Commission also would need to approve the site as a park.
"We'll probably talk to some of the communities up there about what's needed up, maybe to help fund-raise for playground equipment," Stanley said.
The county has been working for more than a year to obtain two parcels along the road in the Shenandoah District. Last year the Virginia General Assembly approved the transfer of the property from the state agency. It's taken a year for the county to work out the deed that officials approved.
Aaron Mitchell, director of transportation for Warren County schools, says the park-and-ride lot and bus loop should benefit the more than 250 students and their parents who live on or near Freezeland Road.
"The need for this is certainly there and it's going to continue to be there as the developments grow," Mitchell said Friday.
Early designs of the proposed facility show a parking lot connected to a bus loop, all accessed from Freezeland Road. The design includes shelters and playground equipment.
The county may take a phased approach, constructing the loop and some parking space, then further improve on the site, Mitchell explained. Community groups may also have an opportunity to help improve the facility by helping to raise money for other amenities, Stanley said.
"We're certainly looking forward to it being done, but I don't think we have a completion date at this time," Mitchell said.
The site also will allow the school system to let parents in the Freezeland Road area know that they have a place to drop off and pick up their children, clearing up any confusion about stops along the route.
"It's just going to be a huge benefit for the school system," Mitchell said.
The county runs four buses on Freezeland Road, Mitchell said, two of which transport elementary pupils.
Parents currently park along Freezeland Road to drop off and pick up children near the bus stops. But parents and other residents also leave their cars parked along the rural route when inclement weather makes travel on Freezeland Road difficult, Mitchell said.
"The parents can't effectively get their cars down to their homes so they leave their cars up there," Mitchell said. "Subsequently, the parents that try to get their kids to school, they have nowhere to park.
"It becomes kind of a logistical nightmare," Mitchell said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org