Fond (and not so) farewells, statue drama, and more

“The Dell” public basketball courts will be demolished and replaced with the Contemplative Commons by fall 2023.
Photo: Skyclad Aerial “The Dell” public basketball courts will be demolished and replaced with the Contemplative Commons by fall 2023. Photo: Skyclad Aerial

Priorities

Weeks after self-appointed Confederate monument defenders began monitoring downtown parks, city police arrested two Charlottesville residents for allegedly vandalizing the Stonewall Jackson statue in Court Square in the wee hours of the morning of December 19. Nic McCarthy-Rivera and former C-VILLE writer Jesse Tobias Beard have been charged with misdemeanor trespassing and felony vandalism.

Murky waters

Don’t let go of that balloon! After four years of research and analysis, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center has found that balloons—along with plastic bottle caps—are the most frequently found litter items on four of Virginia’s remote beaches. Cigarettes, food wrappers, bottles, bags, and plastic rope also made the list. All pose an extreme danger to marine life.

Out with the old

The current City Council held its final meeting December 16, with Wes Bellamy, Kathy Galvin, and Mike Signer bowing out. “I just want to tell you, in front of everybody else, that you’re amazing. I am stronger in these rooms because of you. And I’m going to miss you,” Mayor Nikuyah Walker told Bellamy. Not everyone earned such a warm send-off: “Mr. Signer, I’m sorry, you failed us horribly as mayor,” said one local citizen during public comment.

Key market economy

Fans of tacos, donuts, and handmade jewelry rejoice—Charlottesville’s popular City Market will be open for a winter session this year. Organizers say that around 40 vendors will be setting up in the Key Recreation Center downtown each Saturday morning from January 11 to March 21.


“We may not be able to recognize it because we’re living in it, but five, ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, the nation—and the world for that matter—will remember this council, these people, and all of us for the change that we brought forth.”

Wes Bellamy, speaking before his final meeting as a member of City Council

 


Farewell, Dell

“The Dell” public basketball courts will be demolished and replaced with the Contemplative Commons by fall 2023. Photo: Skyclad Aerial

The popular public basketball courts on Emmet Street—known as “the Dell,” for their proximity to the pond—are set for demolition.

Earlier this month, UVA announced plans to build a sleek new academic building called the Contemplative Commons, a multi-use space that will house the Contemplative Sciences Center. The new building will occupy the space where the university-owned courts currently sit.

Jack Morris, a computer science master’s student who attended UVA as an undergraduate, says he’s played at all the basketball courts available to students and that the most skilled people play at the Dell.

The courts also serve as a rare intersection between Charlottesville and UVA. “That’s really the only time in my whole four or five years of living in Charlottesville that I’ve gotten to meet a whole bunch of people that are outside the sphere of UVA,” Morris says.

Charlottesville native Jack Ronayne has been playing at the dell his whole life. Ronayne, who did not attend UVA, says the public courts serve an important function for a school that hasn’t always had a smooth relationship with the city. “It’s a nice common space that people of all different walks of life can use,” Ronayne says. “Sports are a great unifier.”

“I just remember going out on hot, humid summer nights and playing some good basketball games with friends,” Ronayne says. “It’s just a cool facility.”

According to the UVA Office of the Architect, the university will build a new bank of three public, outdoor courts adjacent to Memorial Gymnasium, just across Emmet from the current site.

The Contemplative Commons is supposed to be completed by the beginning of the 2023 fall semester. Construction on the new courts is set to begin in late summer 2020.

“The Dell” public basketball courts will be demolished and replaced with the Contemplative Commons by fall 2023.

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