Dudley Mountain: Reconsidering the Gift

Nov 5, 2013

Montgomery Woods & Jose Lambert

With land in Central Virginia selling at a premium, you might expect a local government agency to gladly accept donations, but the Albemarle County Board has walked away from a gift of 410 acres – a historic and environmentally significant site called Dudley Mountain, along 29 South, facing the Piedmonts. 

When Montgomery Woods and Jose Lambert, two architects from NY, decided to retire, they took up residence on a mountain once owned by Woods’ grandfather.

“Because, although he was a lawyer, he truly wanted to be a farmer.”

He grew apples and welcomed Woods and his family for weekend visits.  Much has changed since then, but Lambert says the view remains spectacular.

“Now that the trees are losing their leaves, you do see the Blue Ridge on the other side. It is gorgeous.”

When Woods’ aunt died, Lambert says, the property – originally much larger -- was divided among nine cousins.

“Everybody had an idea, and everybody wanted something out of it.  Some preserved it.  Some wanted money. Some wanted to timber it.  We decided we really didn’t want to do that again.”

So they decided to donate this 410-acre tract to Albemarle County.  But the County said no thanks.

“And it was amazing that they turned it down without knowing what they were turning down.  We were sort of dumbfounded really.   Why would they say no?”

We put that question to Albemarle County Supervisor Duane Snow, who said they were already considering another large donation adjacent to an existing park.

“Staff had presented some evidence that if we took both pieces of property, it might be more than we could afford to maintain.”

The news brought a flurry of public complaint, and supervisors like Snow have taken the time to visit.

“After seeing it, then I felt like, boy we cannot let this get away.”

This week, he’ll ask the board to reconsider, and this time Woods and Lambert hope they make a different decision.

“It is the lung of the city.  We’re producing Oxygen.  That’s our main product.  And these huge, huge rock outcroppings that you don’t see anywhere else, and it’s an especially beautiful thing when you climb up that mountain.”