By Marilyn Pribus –
When Eric Dahl, his wife, Jill, and their sons moved north from Florida, it’s no coincidence they bought a home at Lake Monticello where his two brothers already lived. Dahl is now Fluvanna’s Deputy County Administrator/Finance Director.
“Jill and I really like the nature aspects of Fluvanna rather than the hustle and bustle of a city,” he says. “That’s why we moved from Tampa—for a little slower pace and more seasons around us.”
He particularly cites the outdoor opportunities. “We like hiking and biking, both locally and in the mountains and also water activities like kayaking on the Rivanna River.” They also appreciate being close to Charlottesville where Jill works.
Vicki Wilson, Principal Broker and co-owner of Monticello Country REALTORS®, isn’t surprised the Dahl family chose Fluvanna.
“People often move here because someone they know already lives here,” she comments. In fact, she says she and her husband settled in Fluvanna after visiting her parents here many times. The school system was also important to them and she points out the nearly new high school is state of the art.
“Affordability is a main attraction in Fluvanna,” she continues. “There are many choices for first-time homebuyers under $200,000. We are also diverse—there are young people through retirees here.”
Another factor, she says, is that Fluvanna is a reasonable commute to both Charlottesville and Richmond. When they first moved here, in fact, Wilson worked locally, while her husband worked in Short Pump.
The Past and the Present
Fluvanna County dates back to 1777 as part of Henrico, then Goochland, then Albemarle Counties. It celebrates its history with nearly 20 National Historical Landmarks from the Courthouse in Palmyra to the slate-roofed Seay’s Chapel Methodist Church built at the turn of the last century.
The 1854 Pleasant Grove House is another National Historical Landmark. Now the centerpiece of Pleasant Grove Park, it was once part of a plantation growing tobacco and other produce that were shipped to Richmond on the Rivanna River.
Today the house is the County Museum and Welcome Center where visitors may tour the historic dwelling and browse exhibit galleries on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from noon to 4 p.m. on weekends. Admission is free.
The park itself is a generous triangle of land adjacent to Fluvanna High School and roughly bounded by Route 53 on the west and the Rivanna River on the east.
About 25 years ago, the county purchased close to 1,000 acres of farm land and eventually the Fluvanna Heritage Trail Foundation was formed. Today the Foundation—along with the Parks and Recreation Department—has created 22 miles of trails starring river habitat, wildflowers, grassy fields and woodlands.
For example, visitors on the Tree Identification Trail can learn the names of many native trees. A Natural Experience is a downloadable guide (from the County website) to various trails in the park.
Park visitors also enjoy the butterfly garden, and picnic shelters may be rented or used on a first-come, first-served basis when not reserved. There is also a community garden at the park with close to 100 individual plots that may be rented by the year and have public access to water.
The Dog Park is also popular, says Dahl who often visits to give the family pooch some off-leash exercise. “There are three different gated areas,” he explains, “so owners can choose for their dog to be with larger or smaller dogs.” Waste disposal bags are provided.
Dogs must be up to date on vaccinations and must be leashed except in the runs. The Dog Park area has the trailheads for a self-guided fitness circuit and the Sandy Beach Trail, an ADA-accessible gravel trail leading to the Rivanna River.
The park’s weekly seasonal Farmer’s Market is always a big bonus.
A number of sports leagues serve Fluvanna youth including softball, baseball, basketball, soccer and aquatic teams. The Carysbrook Sports Complex on Route 15 between Palmyra and Fork Union hosts a variety of recreational venues. There’s a playground plus softball, soccer, and baseball fields for youth activities. An indoor gym hosts basketball, pickleball and volleyball.
When not scheduled for league use, both indoor and outdoor facilities are open to the public. The hours vary by season.
Seniors Love Fluvanna
“There is a huge senior community with lots of support here in Fluvanna,” says Wilson who’s been a Meals on Wheels volunteer since its inception in the county some ten years ago. “We have eight routes,” she says, “and Friday is my day.”
Indeed, folks find this a great place to retire. The county’s Senior Programs have activities—many free—for those 55 and older including charitable projects, exercise programs, guest speakers and community forums. One example is JABA (Jefferson Area Board on Aging) that operates once-weekly programs including lunch and doings at four locations in the county.
In addition, JAUNT serves Fluvanna with a circular route within the County and a commuter route with stops between Fork Union and Charlottesville and urban Albemarle County. Trips are discounted for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Wilson points out that as the county’s population grows modestly, there are an increasing number of restaurants, groceries, and other businesses people want to have handy. Nearby wineries are also popular.
For complete information about historical, social and recreational aspects of the county, including calendars of activities, visit www.FluvannaCounty.org.
Marilyn Pribus and her husband live in Albemarle County near Charlottesville but have considerable kin in Fluvanna County.