In the third hour of the morning show, Larry O'Connor and Julie Gunlock talked to legal analyst Joe diGenova about the FBI's handling of the Texas hostage situation, the upcoming Senate fight over the filibuster and Virginia school districts fighting Governor Youngkin's executive orders. They also talked to VDOT's Ellen Kamilakas about the snowy road conditions in Virginia and Montgomery County mom Dr. Jennifer Reesman about the county pushing to make schools hybrid. For more coverage on the issues that matter to you, visit www.WMAL.com, download the WMAL app or tune in live on WMAL-FM 105.9 FM from 5-9 AM ET. To join the conversation, check us out on Twitter: @WMALDC, @LarryOConnor and @Jgunlock Show website: https://www.wmal.com/oconnor-company/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We tackle penises and periods this episode. Razi opens explaining Peacemaker on HBO Max and we chose our Cobra Kai dojos to celebrate season 4. We discuss Buff's celebrity with his mention in the Huffington Post and his cameo on "4 hours at the capital" on HBO. VDOT subtweeted at Byron and didn't @ him because they are scared. We respond to the Ahmaud Arbery killers being sentenced and mourn the loss of Sidney Poitier and The Mack, Max Julien. Ferg wants to know is there any shows out there with positive black male ensembles. Byron asks has the kids ever walked in on us doing the nasty. Ferg wants to know if would we jump on the emergency rocket ship off the planet during the end of the earth. Razi wants to discuss HBCUs and the trend of high ranked players choosing them over power 5 schools. Razi is supporting Spiderman No Way Home for their Oscar run. Buff reminds everyone to keep pushing with their New Year resolutions. Shout out to Johnny Wilson for his spot on Sell this House. Enjoy! --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/threebrothersnosense/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/threebrothersnosense/support
In the second hour of the morning show, Larry O'Connor and Amber Athey discussed AOC and new laws in the D.C. area including a plastic bag tax and leaf blower ban They talked to WMAL's Washington Football analyst Trevor Matich, and VDOT's Ellen Kamilakis on the condition of snowy VA roads. For more coverage on the issues that matter to you, visit www.WMAL.com, download the WMAL app or tune in live on WMAL-FM 105.9 FM from 5-9 AM ET. To join the conversation, check us out on Twitter: @WMALDC, @LarryOConnor and @JGunlock. Show website: https://www.wmal.com/oconnor-company/ See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
There are days in the past and days in the future, but there’s only one day at a time. This edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement is specifically tied to December 22, 2021, a particular 24-hour period filled with equal parts anticipation, dread, potential, and other pensive emotions as the holiday of Christmas approaches. Stay safe! Charlottesville Community Engagement is free to read or listen to and it’s my hope that you’ll sign-up. In today’s edition:Governor-elect Youngkin appoints a veteran banker to serve as his finance secretaryA trade publication names Virginia as having the best business climate in the nationA bridge in western Albemarle is shut down before repairs begin A study is underway on where to locate a train station in the New River ValleyCharlottesville City Council holds first reading on the use of a $5.5 million surplus, defers action on Lewis, Clark and Sacagewea statue and a rezoning on Nassau Street Today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out: Code for Charlottesville is seeking volunteers with tech, data, design, and research skills to work on community service projects. Founded in September 2019, Code for Charlottesville has worked on projects with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Charlottesville Fire Department, and the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights. Visit codeforcville.org to learn about those projects. COVID updateThe Virginia Department of Health reports another 5,972 new cases of COVID-19 today, and the percent positivity for PCR has risen to ten percent. Today’s case number is the highest it’s been since the last week of January. The highest one day total of the pandemic to date is 9,914 recorded on January 17. On this day a year ago, there were 3,591 cases reported. A hundred and nine of today’s cases are in the Blue Ridge Health District. Virginia reports another 50 COVID deaths today, with one of those in the Blue Ridge Health District. The University of Virginia will require students, faculty, and staff to receive booster shots in order to be on Grounds next semester. According to a page on the Human Resources website, faculty and staff must get the shot by February 1 if they are eligible. If not, they must demonstrate proof of a shot 30 days after eligibility. Students must upload their proof by February 1. Visit that website for more information. Bridge closureA small bridge in western Albemarle County that carries about 560 vehicles a day has been closed due to significant deterioration. Engineers with the Virginia Department of Transportation have been inspecting the bridge on Burch’s Creek Road across Stockton Creek due to known concerns and have decided to close the road until repairs are made. “VDOT bridge inspectors determined today that its condition was not safe for continued use,” reads the statement. “During the closure, traffic should detour around the bridge from U.S. 250 to Route 824 (Patterson Mill Lane) to Route 688 (Midway Road) and back to Route 689.” Repairs will take place between now and January 7 when the bridge is expected to reopen. Virginia business awardA trade publication that writes about economic development and site selection has named Virginia one of its states of the year. Business Facilities named Virginia, Tennessee, and Massachusetts in their annual contest. Specifically, Virginia was named the Overall Business Climate. Massachusetts was honored with Best Workforce / Educational System. Tennessee was given the Best Dealmaking award. A press release in advance of their next publication states that Virginia was selected “because of the steps many economic development councils in the commonwealth, both local and statewide, are taking to make the area more attractive.” The release cites the state’s low unemployment rate, successful workforce development programs such as the Virginia Talent Acquisition Program and Fast Forward Virginia. According to an article on Virginia Business, Virginia last won this award in 2018. New Finance SecretaryFor the third day in a row, Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has named a member of his cabinet. Stephen Emery Cummings will be the next Secretary of Finance. Cummings is a veteran of several financial institutions, including a tenure as global head of corporate and investment banking at Wachovia. According to a release, he has recently served as the President and CEO of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. “Steve shares my vision of respecting Virginians’ hard-earned tax dollars and ensuring the Commonwealth’s budget is managed effectively and efficiently, and he has the skill set and leadership qualities that our team needs to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Youngkin said in a statement. Yesterday Youngkin announced Caren Merrick will serve as Secretary of Commerce and Trade. Several outlets report that Youngkin founded the nonprofit Virginia Ready Initiative that Merrick has run since it was formed last summer during the pandemic. On Monday, data consultant Aimee Rogstad Guidera was named Education Secretary. Inauguration Day is January 15.NRV Train StationThe Virginia Passenger Rail Authority has launched a website for a feasibility study for where to locate a train station to serve the New River Valley. Earlier this year, outgoing Governor Ralph Northam announced an agreement with Norfolk Southern to extend passenger service from Roanoke to the valley for the first time since 1979. The state of Virginia will purchase 28.5 miles of track from Norfolk Southern. The feasibility study is examining four locations. A community meeting will be held sometime this winter and an initial survey is available. Go back and listen to the May 6, 2021 installment of this newsletter and podcast to hear a segment from when Northam signed legislation authorizing an authority to raise funds for the future station. (May 6, 2021: Green Business Alliance forms to advance emissions reductions; Northam signs legislation for New River Valley train station)There’s also another study underway to determine if Amtrak service should stop in Bedford. That town is between Roanoke and Lynchburg and on the route of the Northeast Regional service that will eventually be expanded to the New River Valley. You can go back and listen to that, too. (October 30, 2021: DRPT report states Bedford train stop won’t delay freight; a briefing on the hotel industry in Albemarle/Charlottesville)In today’s second Patreon-fueled shout-out: The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. Winter is here, but spring isn’t too far away. This is a great time to begin planning for the spring. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water. Start at the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you!Public hearing held for FY21 surplus, transfers Council has held the first of two readings and a public hearing on a mandated review of the city’s budget for fiscal year for 2021, which ended on June 30 of this year. There’s a $5.5 million surplus as well as a $6.7 million reserve fund of cash set aside for COVID. The latter was not tapped. Christopher Cullinan is the city’s Finance Director. “The audit has been completed and to close out the city’s financial records for fiscal year 2021, several year-end adjustments require City Council action,” Cullinan said. “These adjustments are to carry over unspent funds from the last fiscal year to the current fiscal year.” Cullinan said one the two main recommendations are to put the COVID reserve into the city’s Capital Improvement Program contingency fund. The other is to put the $5.5 million toward employee compensation. That includes both a bonus and an across-the-board salary increase of six percent for all employees with benefits. “This is a market adjustment that recognizes the need for the city to retain and recruit qualified employees,” Cullinan said. This would happen before the results of a study on compensation is completed. Ashley Marshall is one of two deputy city managers currently running the city. “But what we do know is that the six percent is inadequate to raise us up to where we should be for equitable and appropriate pay,” Marshall said. “So we know that we’re not going to find out later on nine months from now that six percent was too much. That’s not going to be the answer.” Five people spoke at the public hearing.“I just want to say that I would like to see a lot of this money, a good portion of it, be used toward the affordable housing fund to shore that up and get that going toward the goal you indicated previously that you’d like to have ten million dollars [a year],” said Mark Kavit. Both Kimber Hawkey, Martha Smytha and Tanesha Hudson agreed with that position, and said the city should spend money for housing on more than just Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. “I think that there’s things the city could also do with purchasing land space and building things themselves as well,” Hudson said. “That’s something that they need to work towards.” Hudson said the cost of living adjustment should also extend to hourly employees as well. Rosia Parker, a newly appointed member of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, said more of the funding should go to affordable housing, especially for programs to address homeless. “There are a lot of homeless people that are out here,” Parker said. “You see them when you sit in front of City Hall. You see them as you walk up and down the mall. You see them as you drive up and down the different corridors of Charlottesville. Homelessness is a very threatening danger to people’s lives. Mentally, physically and emotionally.” Capital discussionAfter the hearing was closed, outgoing Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker said she wanted the $6.7 million to be used for a different purpose than putting it in the CIP contingency fund. The next Council will decide how that funding would be used, but Walker will not get a vote. “If we just simply transfer it to the CIP and then we have those asks that are just presented to Council randomly based on whatever’s on the funded or what makes it from the unfunded to the funded list, I don’t think that serves us,” Walker said. Vice Mayor Sena Magill supported the transfer to the CIP due to a long list of capital needs. “Because if we don’t work on some of the basic infrastructure needs of our city as well,” Magill said “That’s where we pay for a lot of the affordable grants is through the CIP and we’re looking at $75 million for just one school.” Cullinan said the idea of a contingency fund is to be ready for unforeseen events or cost over-runs.“I think the the critical thing is that it gives you choices and its cash which is easily accessible and you can make fairly quick decisions as opposed to a bond issue which takes time and effort,” Cullinan said. Council would have to approve any use funds from the CIP contingency. The second reading will be held at the next City Council meeting on January 3. Nassau Street rezoningA proposal to rezone land on the eastern half of Nassau Street in the Belmont neighborhood did not move forward on Monday. Developer Nicole Scro and engineer Justin Shimp are seeking a rezoning from R-2 to R-3 on about a half acre of land. Several members of the public asked Council to deny the request due to the property being located within a floodplain as governed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Magill said she wanted more information from staff about the issue. “I am concerned about the floodplain issue and I am concerned about the design that is being submitted in a flood plain,” Magill said Several other buildings have been constructed on that side of the street in recent years including structures built by the Piedmont Community Land Trust. That project received $240,000 in funding from the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. City Councilor Lloyd Snook also said he wanted more information about the floodplain. “We’re not required to act on this tonight,” Snook said. “I would like to defer it and ask the staff to give us real feedback on what the flood danger is. The one thing I don’t want to do is end up saying we’re going to put in affordable housing but we’re going to put it in the floodplain.”In recent years, Shimp successfully petitioned FEMA to lower the elevations shown in the floodplain map by four feet. Tony Edwards is a development services manager in the city’s public works department. The foundation must be above the where FEMA establishes the 100-year floodplain. “This is the basis that we need to use because we follow the same methodology that FEMA provides and this is what’s been approved through FEMA,” Edwards said. James Freas, the city’s director of neighborhood development services, also weighed in.“We know the flood plain legally has been defined where it is now based on the amended flood maps in the process that Mr. Edwards described,” Freas said. “So that’s legally the location of the floodplain and defines the elevation at which the building has to be built. In terms of what can happen in an actual flood? We can be less clear about that. That’s less predictable.” Freas said the question before Council was the appropriate density at the location. By-right structures could be built. One in the 900 block constructed in 2018 is built on stilts to raise it out of the floodplain. Snook wanted more information.“I’d like to have more expertise than I can bring to bear and take a look at it and tell me whether I’m all wet,” Snook said. “Pardon the expression.” Shimp said any further review would prove his assertion that building in the location would be safe. The item will be deferred until the second council meeting in January. Outgoing Mayor Nikuyah Walker said she would have voted against the request. Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea statue decision deferredCouncil spent nearly an hour and a half discussing the terms on how a statue removed from West Main Street will be treated in the future. Several parties agree that the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center should receive the statue for its continued display at their location in Darden Towe Park. However, details about how the story of Sacagawea’s involvement were not resolved during the conversation. Center officials and descendants of Sacagawea will continue negotiations. “We are definitely willing to do that,” said Alexandria Searls, the center’s director. “We are invested and no matter what, even without the statue, we want relationships with them. The relationships are more important than the statue. We’re willing to walk from the statue if we have to.” The hiring of the Robert Bobb Group to run the cityAs mentioned at the top of yesterday’s newsletter, Council has hired the Robert Bobb Group to perform the functions of the city manager. Council spent their closed session negotiating with the two firms that responded. Lisa Robertson is the city attorney. “The fact that using an outside firm on a contract basis to provide these types of services, while it’s not the normal manner in which the services are delivered, it’s not unheard of,” Robertson said. “This type of contract has been used on occasion in other places including other places in Virginia.” The contract still has to be finalized after being written up. There was no little discussion of the merits of either proposal. In the resolution, Councilor Hill said “the firm made the best proposal and offer” with regards to price and quality. Walker abstained based on a sense that Council should not vote to award the contract until it is written. Update!According to City Council Clerk Kyna Thomas, Council will not need to vote on the contract as it can be signed by the Mayor. However, Council will interview specific individuals that will be suggested by the firm. There is no public knowledge yet about how much the Robert Bobb Group will be paid. Here are some other news articles about other work the firm has done:Robert Bobb back in business with new venture, Washington Business Journal, December 9, 2011Robert Bobb Group outlines goals for Petersburg, WRIC, October 26, 2016Cash-strapped Petersburg spent about $1 million on turnaround services from Bobb Group, forensic audit, Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 4, 2017 Durham leader calls criticism of consultant a lynching, a charge with political history, Raleigh News and Observer, North Carolina, March 10, 2021Black community questions motives behind some Durham commissioners rejection of minority-owned firm proposal, ABC 11, March 25, 2021Firm being paid $16K a month to provide city with financial services, Rocky Mount Telegram, North Carolina, August 13, 2021Charlottesville hires firm to perform interim city manager duties, Walker and Hill bid farewell, Daily Progress, December 21, 2021Support the program!Special announcement of a continuing promo with Ting! Are you interested in fast internet? Visit this site and enter your address to see if you can get service through Ting. If you decide to proceed to make the switch, you’ll get:Free installationSecond month of Ting service for freeA $75 gift card to the Downtown MallAdditionally, Ting will match your Substack subscription to support Town Crier Productions, the company that produces this newsletter and other community offerings. So, your $5 a month subscription yields $5 for TCP. Your $50 a year subscription yields $50 for TCP! The same goes for a $200 a year subscription! All goes to cover the costs of getting this newsletter out as often as possible. Learn more here! This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
Caitlin Kowalke (Comfort) won the Illinois state title in cross-country her junior year of high school. She went on to run cross country at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Where she became a two-time second-team All-American and a two-time Big Ten Champion in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter events. Upon graduating Caitlin began a professional running career and took on a volunteer coaching position for the UW women's cross country and track team. Caitlin then went on to a professional runner, then transitioned to the half and full marathon distances. She attributes many of her successes as an athlete to the support of my family, my collegiate coach Jim Stintzi, and former coach but forever friend, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce (a sub 2:30 marathoner). Today, Caitlin continues to run. Caitlin lives just outside of Madison, Wisconsin with her husband Tom, and her two daughters, Rose and Joanna, and her step-daughter, Stella. At the 2018 Madison Marathon, she qualified for her second Olympic Trials Marathon. On February 29th, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia she toed the line with two of her Wisconsin-based athletes who she also coached to Olympic Trials qualifying performances. In this episode we cover: Where did your passion for running come from and how did you start? 6:00 At what point did Caitlin realize you were good at running? 10:00 What's it like being a mother and training for the Olympic trials? What it was like to train for Olympic trials just six months after giving birth? 14:30 How Caitlin started coaching runners after being a runner in college. What services Caitlin offers to runners with to runners of different experiences. 21:20 How Caitlin helps runners who want to run as a lifestyle change rather than for a race? 24:00 Caitlin's training philosophies and personalized approaches. 27:00 Caitlin's Rules of thumb for early marathon runners I believe in creating programs that challenge the athlete while building confidence and keeping the risk of injury low. 30:00 What Caitlin's Marathon training cycles typically look like for 16 to 20 weeks. 34:00 How to change your running plan to increase speed and lower marathon time 38:00 How the app VDOT 02 helps Caitlin's coaching 41:00 Running Rewired 46:00 What kind of cross-training should long-distance runners be participating in? 53:00 How Caitlin manages injuries during a client's training. 54:00 Don't push through the pain 57:00 Quick 5 What is your 5k pr? Marathon PR? In programming, what is one thing you do differently now vs 5 years ago? Name one attribute every successful runner has? The most significant lesson learned from coaching? One book you recommend on running? Running Rewired and Science of Running firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2021 farewell tour continues with the final Monday installment of the year for the newsletter and podcast you’re about to read or listen to. This is likely also the last one that will be posted before the winter solstice. Will you be able to feel the shift, or are maneuvers of solar systems mechanics something that only shows up as a trick of the light? That’s not the concern of this edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement, but it certainly is something to note.On today’s program: The Ivy Square Shopping Center is purchased by an entity associated with the University of Virginia FoundationPiedmont Housing Alliance sets a date for the groundbreaking for the redevelopment of Friendship Court Charlottesville is considering a historic district to honor the architectural legacy of prominent builder C.H. Brown Transportation updates from the Metropolitan Planning Organization Governor-elect Youngkin names a data policy specialist to serve as Secretary of EducationIn today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out: The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. Winter is here, but spring isn’t too far away. This is a great time to begin planning for the spring. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water. Start at the Plant Northern Piedm+ont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you!Covid updateAs the week begins, the Virginia Department of Health reports another 2,991 new cases of COVID-19, and the seven-day average for positivity PCR tests has increased to 9.3 percent. The seven-day average for new cases has risen to 3,286 a day. The Blue Ridge Health District reports another 67 new cases today and the percent positivity is at 6.7 percent.UVA Foundation purchases Ivy Square Shopping CenterA company associated with the University of Virginia Foundation has paid $20 million for the 2.77 acre shopping center where Food of All Nations is located. Ivy Square of Charlottesville LLC paid nearly 126 percent over the assessment for the two properties and three buildings. A second shopping center to the west is broken up among several owners. The UVA Foundation has been steadily purchasing properties along Ivy Road for many years. The UVA Office of the Architect began planning a master plan for the area east of Copeley Road in the fall of 2016. Work is underway for a precinct that will include the School of Data Science, the Karsh Institute for Democracy, a hotel and convention center, as well as other uses that have yet to be announced. This summer, the Office of the Architect presented a plan for the redevelopment of Ivy Gardens off of Old Ivy Road to the UVA Buildings and Grounds Committee. The Foundation purchased that property in Albemarle back in the summer of 2016 according to Albemarle County property records. (UVA making plans for Ivy Garden redevelopment, June 9, 2021)Date announced for Friendship Court groundbreakingThe Piedmont Housing Alliance has set a date for the groundbreaking for the first phase of redevelopment of Friendship Court. The nonprofit has spent several years planning to upgrade the 150-unit complex and a ceremony will be held on January 15 to mark the beginning of construction. “The last five years of dedication and hard work by the residents of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee are finally about to blossom,” said PHA executive director Sunshine Mathon in an email to Charlottesville Community Engagement this morning. “The beginning of Phase 1 of redevelopment marks the beginning of a transformed neighborhood as envisioned by the residents themselves. I am deeply honored by the opportunity to bring their vision to creation.”According to the PHA website, the existing buildings were constructed in 1978 on what had been a neighborhood that was razed in the name of urban renewal. Piedmont Housing Alliance and the National Housing Trust acquired the property in 2002 and PHA began managing it in 2019. “We are committed to zero displacement,” reads the website. “The first phase of housing will be built on existing open land.”The city of Charlottesville has committed to a multimillion dollar investment across four phases of development. The adopted capital budget for the current fiscal year sets aside $2 million in cash for infrastructure improvements, nearly $400,000 for the first phase, and $750,000 for the second phase. Future years carry on that investment. (Council approves agreement for Friendship Court funding, October 30, 2020) New historic district?The city of Charlottesville will study whether to create a new historic district to commemorate a man who built many structures for Black families and businesses in the mid 20th century. Planning Commissioner Jody Lahendro is also a member of the Board of Architectural Review and he briefed his PC colleagues last week (staff report)“This is actually a tremendous story that I wish more of us knew about,” Lahendro said. “This designation would honor and recognize the importance of the Reverend Charles H. Brown. From his experience in the building trades in the early 30’s and 40’,s Reverend Brown personally managed, financed, and participated in the construction of about 70 houses from the 1940’s to the 1980’s.”Lahendro said Brown built in Black neighborhoods and used materials that allowed for houses to be affordable. “He often provided the co-sign and promissory notes and provided financing to get people into these houses,” Lahendro said. Lahendro said the district will cover the Holy Temple of God In Christ as well as five other homes in the Venable neighborhood built by Brown. The matter will go through the usual rezoning process including public hearings with the Planning Commission and the City Council. You’re reading to Charlottesville. Community Engagement. Let’s continue today with two more Patreon-fueled shout-outs. The first comes a long-time supporter who wants you to know:"Today is a great day to spread good cheer: reach out to an old friend, compliment a stranger, or pause for a moment of gratitude to savor a delight."The second comes from a more recent supporter who wants you to go out and read a local news story written by a local journalist. Whether it be the Daily Progress, Charlottesville Tomorrow, C-Ville Weekly, NBC29, CBS19, WINA, or some other place I’ve not mentioned - the community depends on a network of people writing about the community. Go learn about this place today!Youngkin chooses Education SecretaryGovernor-Elect Glenn Youngkin has selected the founder of a national education nonprofit to serve as his Secretary of Education. Aimee Rogstad Guidera formerly created the Data Quality Campaign in 2005 to advocate for the usage of metrics to guide education policy. In a statement released this morning, Youngkin said Guidera will help him implement his vision for public education. “Aimee is deeply respected for her distinguished career advocating for innovation and choice, data-driven reform, and high standards, and will apply these principles in order to implement the Day One Game Plan,” he wrote. “Most importantly, she understands that parents matter, and the best interests of students must come first.” Guidera stepped down from the Data Quality Campaign in 2017 and now runs her own consulting firm called Guidera Strategy. Her time at the campaign provides some insight into her philosophy on education. Here are a few examples. Time to Ditch the Data Boogeyman, June 6, 2016Data Quality Campaign Releases Statement on Trump’s Education Priorities, November 14, 2016Statement on the Recommendations from the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, September 7, 2017Transportation updatesTo conclude today, let’s go back to the December 7, 2021 meeting of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Board to get some updates. The Virginia Department of Transportation is working on a new way of planning for the state’s future connectivity needs. Project Pipeline builds off of the Smart Scale funding process which seeks to pay for projects that will accomplish specific goals. Several preliminary corridor studies are underway across Virginia, including two in Albemarle. Chuck Proctor is a transportation planner in VDOT’s Culpeper District.“One of them is for Pantops and it goes from Hansen Road to the interchange at I-64, and the other is the Shadwell intersection at Route 22 and Route 250 and also North Milton Road and 250,” Proctor said. Community engagement for both studies is expected to take place around this time with a public meeting sometime in January. Both are areas identified to have a Potential for Safety Improvement. The website for the Pantop study notes a lack of pedestrian connectivity in the area, and the website for the Shadwell study notes a prevalence for rear end collisions due to long back-ups. Those studies would yield projects for a future beyond the current looming deadline for the fifth round of Smart Scale funding. Albemarle and Charlottesville will have the chance to submit four projects. The MPO Policy Board will select four, and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will select another four. One potential application for the MPO is a pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the Rivanna River to connect Charlottesville and the Pantops section of Albemarle County. A stakeholder group has met twice in the past month to discuss that application. Sandy Shackleford is the director of transportation and planning at the TJPDC. “We’ll plan to again in the spring or maybe February or March plan to do a full meeting where we go through all of the projects for the MPO area as well as the PDC,” Shackleford said. The other three applications for the MPO under consideration are bike and pedestrian improvements on Avon Street Extended, multimodal improvements 5th Street, and a roundabout at the intersection of District Avenue and Hydraulic Road at Stonefield. Supervisor Ann Mallek said there may be support for the latter project.“I just learned this week that UVA has moved a lot of their IT department out to Hydraulic Road and they were very interested in safe crossings to Stonefield at lunch,” Mallek said. Staunton-Cville bus ridershipThe Afton Express commuter route between Staunton and Charlottesville is now in its third month of operations, according to Sara Pennington, the TJPDC program manager for Rideshare. “In those three months there have been more than 1,500 passenger trips taken and that is across the four morning and the four evening runs and the service does run Monday through Friday,” Pennington said, adding that ridership has grown steadily since launching with November outperforming September despite the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s still about 40 rides a day, and the goal from the planning study is to get to 80 riders a day. Speaking of Smart Scale, a new park-and-ride lot in Waynesboro funded through the process has just been completed. (VDOT information)“But they also put in a shelter for the Afton Express so those kinds of things went hand in hand,” Pennington said. Pennington said Afton Express will soon launch a new text-alert system for its service that would let riders know about potential delays and other service changes. Charlottesville Area Transit is working on a pilot project to improve bus stops. Garland Williams is the agency’s director. “We’re going to use Belmont Park as kind of that test,” Williams said. “There is a shelter there but it isn’t [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliant. It basically sits on the street. We’re going to remove that and put in a shelter so that everyone can see when we’re starting to do capital projects along transit, what it looks like and what we have to do to make it compliant.” Sean Nelson, the district engineer for VDOT’s Culpeper District, updated the MPO on the status of a project awarded Smart Scale funds in Round 4. “The only thing I can give an update on is the U.S. 29 and Hydraulic design-build package that we’re putting together,” Nelson said. “That is slated for a public hearing in March or April of 2022 with a [request for proposal] to be released at the end July 2022, anticipated award in December 2022, with a project completion in the winter of 2024.” This project will include a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 29 as well as a roundabout at the intersection of Hydraulic Road and Hillsdale Drive Extended. Learn more in the Smart Scale application. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
We’re now less than a week away from the solstice, which takes place at precisely 10:59 a.m. on December 21 on the eastern coast of the United States. Until then we’ve got a few more days of lengthening night before the pendulum shifts back to light and the march to 2022 continues with new energy. Between now and then there will be a few installments of Charlottesville Community Engagement and this is the one for December 16, 2021. I’m your host, Sean Tubbs.Charlottesville Community Engagement is a great way to find out about what’s happening and how you can get involved It’s free to sign-up, but there are many opportunities to support the work!On today’s show:Brian Pinkston and Juandiego Wade are officially sworn in as City Councilors, as well as members of the Charlottesville School BoardVirginia Tech and a Richmond consortium have both been awarded half-million grants for economic development A pair of transit updates, including the fact that Charlottesville Area Transit will remain fare-free for four years The Charlottesville Planning Commission provides direction on Charlottesville’s next capital budget In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out, Code for Charlottesville is seeking volunteers with tech, data, design, and research skills to work on community service projects. Founded in September 2019, Code for Charlottesville has worked on projects with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Charlottesville Fire Department, and the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights. Visit codeforcville.org to learn about those projects. COVID UpdateThe number of new COVID cases in Virginia continues to climb, but the percent positivity has dipped slightly. This morning the Virginia Department of Health reported another 3,688 new cases and 102 of those are in the Blue Ridge Health District. Statewide the seven-day percent positivity is 8.5 percent and in the BRHD it’s at 7.2 percent. New elected officials sworn-inThere are still 15 days left in 2021, and City Councilors Heather Hill and Nikuyah Walker have one more meeting on Monday. The near future became a little closer on Wednesday as two incoming City Councilors and three members of the Charlottesville School Board took the oath of office on the steps of Charlottesville Circuit Court. The School Board went first with newcomers Emily Dooley and Dom Morse sworn in individually with family members at their side. Second-termer Lisa Larson-Torres went next. Then it was time for City Councilor-elect Brian Pinkston followed by Juandiego Wade. I asked both if they are ready to take on the task. “You know, I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” Pinkston said. “I joke that it’s a little like getting married or having a kid. You think what you’re getting into but it’s not what you expected. There’s good part and bad parts to that and so the short answer is yes. I’m ready. I’m excited about it. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and try to make a difference.” “I’m ready, I am prepared,” Wade said. “I feel like I’ve been preparing for this for the last years being connected and involved in the community. I feel like now is an opportunity for me to take my service and my commitment to the city to a different level.” In a separate ceremony that also took place yesterday morning, the members of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors were also sworn in, including newcomer Jim Andrews, who will represent the Samuel Miller District. Andrews joined third-term Supervisor Diantha McKeel (Jack Jouett) and two-term Supervisor Ned Gallaway (Rio). Transit updatesIn yesterday’s newsletter, there’s a lot of information about planning for a Regional Transit Vision that may include formation of an authority that could raise funds for expanded service. There’s also a second study underway to determine the feasibility of additional routes to serve urbanized portions of Albemarle County as well as Monticello. The results are in from a survey conducted on two potential scenarios according to Lucinda Shannon, a transportation planner with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. (project website)“They found that most of the services that people selected in that public outreach was scenario 2 for all three of the areas which is a lot of microtransit connecting with some fixed routes,” Shannon said. The study also found that 98 percent of people who travel to Monticello do so in a car that they either own or rent. That’s based on 51 respondents. The U.S. 29 North survey got 104 responses and the Pantops survey got 54 respondents. The consultants hired for this project are Michael Baker International and Foursquare ITP. The next step is a Board of Supervisors meeting on January 19, according to Shannon. Charlottesville Area Transit will remain fare-free for the next four years. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation awarded a $1.07 million grant through the Transit Ridership Incentive Program. CAT had already put some of the American Rescue Plan Act funding for this purpose, and the new grant covers fares for an additional year. CAT Director Garland Williams said he anticipates planned route changes will soon be implemented. The adjustments have been through the public process. Williams briefed the Regional Transit Partnership at their meeting on December 2. “We’re still moving forward and hoping to be able to implement in January unless something changes,” Williams said. Learn more about those route changes on the Charlottesville Area Transit website at catchthecat.org. In other news, Jaunt’s new chief executive officer has named Karen Davis the transit agency’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer. Davis served as interim CEO for exactly a year after the Board asked former CEO Brad Sheffield to resign. Ted Rieck started work as CEO earlier this month after heading a similar transit agency in Tulsa, Oklahoma. *Infrastructure grantsTwo entities in Virginia have been awarded $500,000 planning grants from the federal government to increase infrastructure necessary to increase commerce and trade. The U.S. Economic Development Authority awarded Build Back Better Regional Challenge awards to Virginia Tech and the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority for initiatives that seek to create “regional industry clusters.” Virginia Tech’s application is called The Future of Transportation Logistics and covers a wide section of southwest and southern Virginia. The idea is to accelerate the adoption of electric and automated vehicles. “Projections by the World Economic Forum expect freight demand to triple by 2050,” reads their application. “This growing demand poses challenges from environmental degradation to a strained transportation workforce.”The New River Valley region includes three truck manufacturers, including the national headquarters for Volvo. The work will involve building a coalition to share information as well as demonstration projects such as upgrading a section of Interstate 81 between Salem to Dublin to accommodate automated vehicles. The Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority covers the Richmond and Petersburg area and is intended to create an Advanced Pharmaceutical and Research and Development cluster. “A staggering 73% of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-registered active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) manufacturing facilities are located outside the United States,” reads that application. ”Overseas pharmaceutical manufacturing not only poses a security risk but also takes essential jobs away from the U.S.”Both entities will now be eligible to apply for additional funding from the U.S. Economic Development Authority to implement the projects. Thanks to Route 50 for the information on this grant program. (read their article)In today’s second subscriber-supported public service announcement: The Charlottesville Jazz Society at cvillejazz.org is dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and perpetuation of all that jazz, and there’s no time like now to find a time to get out and watch people love to play. The Charlottesville Jazz Society keeps a running list of what’s coming up at cvillejazz.org. Sign up for their newsletter today. Tree canopy declineAt their meeting on Tuesday, the Charlottesville Planning Commission held three public hearings on three big topics. But first, they got updates from various committees. Commissioner Jody Lahendro and he relayed news from the Tree Commission about the forthcoming tree canopy study. A preliminary report states that the percentage of the city covered by trees has shrunk by at least four percent since 2015. “Because of COVID, the flyover for this tree canopy study was done in 2018 so it’s dated now,” Lahendro said. “The news is not great as you might imagine.” Lahendro said the city had a tree canopy of 50 percent in 2004 and that declined to 47 percent in 2009. “In 2014 it went down to 45 percent and in 2018, this latest, it’s to 40 percent,” Lahendro said. When you break the city down by neighborhood, nine out of 19 recognized areas are below 40 percent. Lahendro said that is the point where both health and economic development is affected.“And then two of our districts — Starr Hill and 10th and Page — are below twenty percent,” Lahendro said. “Those are where significant detrimental effects are happening.” Lahendro said the city is projected to lose 360 ash trees to emerald ash borers over the next five years. The city can only afford to treat 30 trees. Charlottesville’s FY23-27 CIP discussionThe Charlottesville City Planning Commission has made its recommendations for how to amend the draft capital budget for the next five years. That came at the end of a public hearing Tuesday that featured a discussion with City Council. Elected officials will make the final decision next spring as they adopt a budget that will be prepared under the supervision of a yet-to-be-named interim city manager. (draft FY23-FY27 CIP presentation to Planning Commission) (adopted FY22 budget)The Commission got a look at the information at a work session on November 23, and heard it a second time from Senior Budget Analyst Krissy Hammill in advance of the public hearing. To recap, the capital budget is close to capacity due to the increase of spending in recent years, including a $75 million placeholder for the reconfiguration of middle schools. Council has also authorized a reorientation of priorities to find more money for the schools project. (previous story)“There were some large projects that were previously authorized to use bonds for that we unfunded essentially to be able to move them to get us to a place where we could increase the $25 million for the school project,” Hammill said. “That was the West Main Street project which was originally in the CIP at $18.25 million and the 7th Street Parking Garage which we unfunded about $5 million of that project.”Hammill said to pay for the projects, the city will need additional revenue and will not be able to add any more capital projects for many years unless they are paid for in cash. The city has had a AAA bond rating from Standards and Poor since 1964 and from Moody’s since 1973. “Essentially the AAA bond rating gives the city the opportunity to borrow money at the lowest cost available so that means that more dollars are going to the projects and less dollars are going towards interest,” Hammill said. Hammill said the city is in good financial shape, but funding future investments will be a struggle. At the work session, Hammill invited ideas for further reallocations from other projects. She also said that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will likely not be a salvation for the city. “Many of us in finance have sort of been waiting in the wings to find out what would be available and it’s actually not a one size fits all and it doesn’t deliver on a lot of what we already have in our CIP,” Hammill said. “So it not going to help us address our financing problems largely.”Another issue is that many of the funding sources will require local matches. She pointed out one opportunity for Charlottesville Area Transit to raise up to $37 million, but the city would have to provide a $2 million match.“That’s not in our curent CIP,” Hammill said. Revisising the Strategic Investment AreaThe two bodies discussed many aspects of the capital budget, including whether or not several general interest line items should be given additional funds in the next year’s budget. Councilor Lloyd Snook questioned one of them related to a 2013 small area plan known as the Strategic Investment Area. “One example would be that we’re suggesting another $200,000 for this coming year and three years beyond that for the [Strategic Investment Area] immediate area implementation,” Snook said. “And that balance in that account is over a million and has been as far as I can tell over a million dollars for quite a while.”Alex Ikefuna, the interim director of the Office of Community Solutions and former director of Neighborhood Development Services, said that balance has been used to pay for a $228,000 study of a form-based code for the area. Nolan Stout reported in the February 4, 2020 Daily Progress on the current Council’s decision to put that plan on hold indefinitely. Ikefuna pointed to one example of how the funding in the account will be used.“We have a Pollocks Branch pedestrian bridge which is currently being finalized for construction,” Ikefuna said. “There are several other project within the SIA that consume that balance.”One of them is a project to upgrade the streetscape on Elliot Avenue in an area where dozens of new homes have been built in the Burnet Commons area. The public housing site at South First Street is also expanding in residential density. Ikefuna also said the SIA fund could also be used for additional costs that may be incurred at Piedmont Housing Alliance’s redevelopment of Friendship Court. “Part of the Friendship Court project includes infrastructure improvement because they have to break up that neighborhood and then integrate that into the city’s grid,” Ikefuna said. “And they may have a cost overrun.”Council approved $5.5 million for the project in October 2020. (read my story)The current year’s capital budget allocated $2 million in cash for the line item of “Friendship Court Infrastructure Improvements” as well as $394,841 for Phase 1 and $750,000 for Phase 2. The draft five-year capital plan anticipates spending $2.5 million on Phase 2 in FY23, and a total of $3.25 million for phase 3 and $4.5 million for Phase 4. Ikefuna also said there’s a project called the Elliott Avenue Streetscape for which a design is almost complete. Snook said Council is not given information about what any of these plans are. “I assume somebody has a plan but it’s not been revealed to us,” Snook said. “I look at the next item. Small area plans. We’re putting in another $100,000 in and the balance of the project is $496,000.” Outgoing City Councilor Heather Hill had one suggestion for where that funding could go. In July 2020, Council chose to proceed with a Smart Scale project over the opposition of some nearby residents and businesses. (July 22, 2020 story on Information Charlottesville)“The Grady / Preston / 10th intersection area related to one of the VDOT projects for Smart Scale funding was identified at that time as something we would want to have more planning around because there was a lot of resistance that there wasn’t a lot of community engagement when that proposed plan was coming to fruition,” Hill said. According to the application for that project, the preliminary engineering phase will not begin until December 2025. There is no design for the Smart Scale project, which was funded on a set of parameters. “Preston Avenue will be realigned to create a consolidated intersection at Preston Avenue / Grady Avenue / 10th Street,” reads the application. “New sidewalks will be constructed throughout the project limits.”Hoping for a sales tax referendumSeveral commissioners expressed concern about the enormity of the school reconfiguration project. The draft plan shows $2.5 million in FY23 and $72.5 million in FY24. Hammill has previously said the money needs to be in place when a contractor is hired for new construction and renovation of Buford Middle School. The school project has not yet come directly before the Planning Commission. “The amount of that project is the entirety of the five-year [capital] FY2017 budget,” Stolzenberg said. “It’s this elephant in the room but it does seem like Council and the School Board have approved the project.” The idea of a dedicated one-cent sales tax increase has been floated to be dedicated funding for the project, but the General Assembly will have to approve a bill allowing Charlottesville voters decide on whether to impose it.“I really, really hope that if we go through with it that the sales tax comes through and frees us from this burden,” Stolzenberg said. Later in the meeting, Commissioners discussed several potential recommendations. One was whether to recommend increasing the amount for affordable housing. Here’s what’s in the proposed CIP. $3 million for the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority in FY23, and $9 million in the out yearsA base of $925,000 a year into the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund $900,000 a year to the CRHA to administer additional housing vouchers $2.5 million for the second phase of Friendship Court In March, Council adopted an affordable housing plan that set an ambitious spending target for each year, as noted by Stolzenberg. “It’s recommendations are pretty clear,” Stolzenberg said. “Ten million a year. $2 million are tax relief. A million to administration. So it’s really $7 million in direct subsidy and that’s all on page 49 of the plan for reference.” Here’s what the PC’s recommendations are:Reduce funding for the 7th Street parking structure funding to the minimum amount necessary to satisfy Charlottesville’s commitment to provide parking for Albemarle County per a 2018 agreement related to the joint General District Court that will be under construction.Find more more funds for the line items of tree planting, new sidewalks, and bicycle infrastructure, and hazardous tree removal. Reduce funds going to the line item for economic development strategic initiatives, small area plans, and Strategic Investment Area implementationFully fund the Stribling Avenue sidewalk project that Southern Development has agreed to pay upfront for as part of a rezoning that Council will consider in early 2022.Explore ways to add enhancements to the Drewary Brown Bridge to honor the Bridge Builders, potentially using a portion of funds for the West Main Streetscape. Increase budget for Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund and find ways to fund housing requests that were requested but not included in the draft budget, possibly directing any budget surpluses for this purpose. On Monday, City Council will hold first of two readings on a proposal to reallocate the $5.5 million surplus from FY21 to employee compensation and bonuses. They’ll also consider the transfer of $6.7 million in cash from a COVID reserve fund into the Capital Improvement Plan Contingency Fund. (staff report) This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
The word penultimate means “the one before the last.” But what about the one before that one? For this is the third to last Monday of 2021, and it feels there should be a better way of saying that. In any case, this is the first edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement for the third to last week of the year. That’s twice we’ve needed that word in this newsletter so far. I’m your host, Sean Tubbs, here again to bring you information about the area even if not every word is precise.Charlottesville Community Engagement is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.On today’s show:An update on the Emmet-Ivy corridor and sustainability efforts from the University of VirginiaThe new Dean of the School of Architecture and the director of the Karsh Institute of Democracy introduce themselves to a Board of Visitors panel More on the search for a corporate-appointed City Manager for CharlottesvilleA COVID update and a few more bills are before the General AssemblyIn today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out: Colder temperatures are creeping in, and now is the perfect time to think about keeping your family warm through the holidays. Make sure you are getting the most out of your home with help from your local energy nonprofit, LEAP. LEAP wants you and yours to keep comfortable all year round, and offers FREE home weatherization to income- and age-qualifying residents. If you’re age 60 or older, or have an annual household income of less than $74,950, you may qualify for a free energy assessment and home energy improvements such as insulation and air sealing. Sign up today to lower your energy bills, increase comfort, and reduce energy waste at home!COVID updateThere have now been over a million reported cases of COVID-19 in Virginia since the beginning of the pandemic, and a total of 14,957 deaths. The seven-day average for positive cases is now at 8.7 percent. That number is a little higher in the Blue Ridge Health District at 8.9 percent. For most of the pandemic, the Charlottesville area has lagged behind the statewide number. There are 58 new cases reported in the Blue Ridge Health District today, but no new fatalities. The seven-day average for new cases in the state is 2,520 a day. RFP closingThe window closes tomorrow at 4 p.m. for firms who are interested in assisting the city of Charlottesville with interim management services until a new top official is appointed. The RFP issued on December 3 requires a firm to provide someone with at least ten years of municipal management experience to run the city on an interim basis. Two addendums to the proposal were made Friday. (read the proposal)This process is not without precedent in Virginia. The Town of Amherst hired the Berkley Group in 2017 to hire a former Pulaski County administrator to serve as interim manager. Peter Huber served for five months as part of the Berkley Group’s Executive Transition Assistance program. Huber is now serving in a similar position in Alleghany County according to his LinkedIn profile. According to Berkley’s website, they’ve provided this service in dozens of Virginia localities, from the town of Abingdon to the town of Windsor. General Assembly 2022There is less than a month until the Virginia General Assembly convenes for the 2022 session. Several bills have already been filed, and the number coming in right now is low enough to report some of what’s currently in the legislative information system.Senator Mamie J. Locke (D-Hampton) has filed a bill calling for a Constitutional amendment granting the right for people convicted of felons to be able to vote upon release. (SJ1)Delegate James Morefield (R-North Tazewell) has filed a bill establishing a Flood Relief Fund using a portion of the state’s proceeds from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auctions. (HB5) Senator Travis Hackworth (R-Richlands) filed a bill that would terminate power of attorney for anyone convicted of acting against their client. (SB10)Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) filed a bill increasing the standard deductions for Virginia income tax for both single and married people. (SB11)Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) has another that would allow localities to issue refunds on excess personal property taxes. (SB12)Delegate Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) has filed legislation that would compel “accomodations providers” to provide more information to localities upon request in the collection of transient lodging taxes. (HB7)Sustainability and Emmet-Ivy updatesLast week, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors met, and the December 10 edition of this show featured some information. On Friday, Bryan McKenzie reported in the Daily Progress that the Board voted to increase tuition by 4.7 percent in the 2022-23 school year and 3.7 percent for the following year. Read his story for more details. On Thursday, the Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting was a shorter one than usual, but members were briefed on several items of note. One related to UVA’s sustainability efforts. Colette Sheehy is the Senior Vice President for Operations and State Government at UVA.“You’ll recall that the big audacious goal for sustainability is to be carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil-fuel free by 2050,” Sheehy said. “Overall our emissions are down by 44 percent over the last decade which is equivalent to about 160,000 tons of carbon.” However, that doesn’t include the carbon footprint of new buildings built at UVA during the period, though they are built to LEED certification according to Green Building Standards. Sheehy said UVA has to do more to meet its goals.“In order to reach our carbon neutrality goal by 2030, we need to reduce our current emissions by another 160,000 tons and probably another 36,000 related to new construction,” Sheehy said. Sheehy also briefed the Buildings and Grounds Committee on efforts to reduce single-use plastics in order to comply with an executive order from Governor Ralph Northam. She said it’s a University-wide effort. “The biggest challenge is actual single-use plastic water bottles which is why you now see aluminum water bottles used to the extent that we can get them,” Sheehy said. “One of the issues is supply-chain and quantity, particularly if you are at a football and tens of thousands of water bottles that are sold.” Sheehy concluded her presentation with an update on construction of the new Emmet-Ivy precinct, which will house the School of Data Science, the Karsh Democracy Institute, and a hotel and convention center. Utility work has been underway on the site of the former Cavalier Inn, which was demolished to make way for the future. “We expect to be complete with all the utility and road work that sits outside the construction fencing by the end of the first quarter of 2022,” Sheehy said. The south side of Ivy Road will also be altered with new retaining walls and a monumental staircase leading up to the International Residential College. “The foundation work for Data Science should start in early January with completion of that building in the fall of 2023,” Sheehy said. “The plan is the hotel should begin construction in the spring with completion in the fall of 2024.” Design work has begun for the Karsh Institute of Democracy. Höweler+Yoon is the architect. Emmett Streetscape newsThere was also news about the Emmet Street Streetscape, one of the first projects funded through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process. A design public hearing of the $12 million project was held in December 2019 and is being overseen by the City of Charlottesville. Alice Raucher is the UVa Architect. “They submitted their complete documents to VDOT which is one of the required steps in order to begin the negotiations for the right of way,” Raucher said. Appraisals are underway for the easements or property acquisitions needed for the project. Raucher had no timetable for when that might happen. The Emmet Streetscape runs from Ivy Road to Arlington Boulevard and includes a 10-foot wide multiuse path on the western side of the road. (read the brochure)In today’s second Patreon-fueled shout-out: The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. Winter is here, but spring isn’t too far away. This is a great time to begin planning for the spring. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water. Start at the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you!*Architecture and Democracy at UVAAfter the Buildings and Grounds Committee concluded on Thursday, the Academic and Student Life Committee met and heard from the new dean of the School of Architecture and the director of the Karsh Institute for Democracy. First up: Malo Hutson took over as Dean of the School of Architecture at the beginning of the academic year. He previously was at Columbia University where he directed the Urban Communities and Health Equity Lab. Hutson said the study of architecture is focused on the public realm. “We’re focused on addressing some of the biggest issues of the world, ranging from climate change all the way to the importance of cultural landscape and heritage, to thinking about do you build with healthy materials and so forth and transportation,” Hutson said. Hutson said the School of Architecture has several priorities and values shared with the rest of the UVA Community. He said the four departments in the school are all focused on climate resilience and climate justice, as well as equity and inclusion. Hutson said faculty and staff have an eye on Virginia’s needs as they craft the Climate Justice Initiative. “We know that we are susceptible to storms and flooding all kinds of things that are going on and so how do we engage in a way from whether we’re talking about Northern Virginia to Hampton Roads to all the way in Southwest Virginia?”The Karsh Institute of Democracy exists to reflect on the same basic question. Melody Barnes is the first executive director of the new entity which was founded in 2018. She said democracy is in trouble in the United States and around the world, citing a CBS News poll from January.“Seventy-one percent of Americans believe that democracy in the United States is threatened,” Barnes said. “A more recent poll from just about a month ago, the Pew Research Center indicates that there are about 19 percent of Americans who believe that American democracy is still a role model for democracy in the world.”Barnes said the University of Virginia is well-positioned to take up the cause and the Democracy Initiative has built on the work. “We also believe that this is a moment that we have to do more and that we are well-situated to do more,” Barnes said. Barnes said the Institute will be public-facing and will seek to engage with the community around UVA. “We want to use this moment, we want to leverage the assets and resources that we have to develop solutions, best practices, and new ideas to address the very challenges I just mentioned,” Barnes said. This Institute’s mission is to “generate new ideas and share them with policymakers and citizens” but Barnes said the work doesn’t stop there.“But then we translate them and use diverse communications channels to push them into the public bloodstream,” Barnes said. “To engage policymakers, journalists, the private sector, the public and beyond so people can take those ideas up, they can be debated. They can become policy. They can become practice. They can start to shape the way that we think, talk about, and do democracy. Hopefully the best ideas get taken to scale.” Barnes said one idea may be to offer a prize related to a specific solution. For instance, the Aspen Institute offers $1 million for community college excellence. “We are thinking that a X Prize for Democracy in partnership with others and leveraging the assets of the University and all the knowledge that’s here could be a wonderful way to bringing greater attention to some specific challenges that are facing democracy,” Barnes said. Barnes said a democratic society will always face existential challenges. She said the Institute will be set up to take a long-term view towards curating conversations.“This will be the journey and an issue for the country I think for the life of the country,” Barnes said. “We will always be engaged in these battles and these debates.” Stay tuned. Special announcement of a continuing promo with Ting! Are you interested in fast internet? Visit this site and enter your address to see if you can get service through Ting. If you decide to proceed to make the switch, you’ll get:Free installationSecond month of Ting service for freeA $75 gift card to the Downtown MallAdditionally, Ting will match your Substack subscription to support Town Crier Productions, the company that produces this newsletter and other community offerings. So, your $5 a month subscription yields $5 for TCP. Your $50 a year subscription yields $50 for TCP! The same goes for a $200 a year subscription! All goes to cover the costs of getting this newsletter out as often as possible. Learn more here! This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out, WTJU 91.1 FM invites you to tune in next week for the annual Classical Marathon. It’s a round-the-clock celebration of classical music, specially programmed for your listening pleasure. Throughout the week there will be special guests, including Oratorio Society director Michael Slon; UVA professor I-Jen Fang; Charlottesville Symphony conductor Ben Rous; early music scholar David McCormick; and more. Visit wtju.net to learn more and to make a contribution. On today’s program: Virginia receives over $85 million in the latest carbon credit auction A community group gets a look at the next phase of Habitat for Humanity’s development at Southwood Council gets a budget update and decides to donate the Lee Statue for future artistic purposesCharlottesville Community Engagement is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.Lee statue voteCharlottesville City Council had a full meeting last night that will take a few newsletters to get through. We begin at the end with a vote to remove one of three statues removed in July. Here’s City Councilor Heather Hill reading the motion. “Be it resolved by the Council of the City of Charlottesville that the statue of Robert E. Lee is hereby donated and ownership transferred to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, a charitable institution organization in accordance with the provisions of Virginia Code 15.2-953,” Hill said. “This disposition is final.” Vice Mayor Sena Magill was not present at the virtual meeting, citing a family emergency. To read more on the statue and the Center’s desire to melt it down to create new public works of art, check out Ginny Bixby’s article in today’s Daily Progress. The further disposition of the Stonewall Jackson and Lewis, Clark, and Sacagewea statues will wait for another day. Possibly on December 20. The vote took place after midnight. Council had begun their day at a work session that began at 4 p.m. at which they discussed reform of the Housing Advisory Committee and the way projects are selected for to be funded through the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund. I’ll get to that in a future installment of the show. FY21 year-end balanceAlso in the work session, Council learned how the city fared as the books for fiscal year 2021 closed. Readers and listeners may recall there had been a concern the city would have a shortfall. Chris Cullinan is the city’s director of finance. “I’m pleased to report that we finished fiscal year 2021 in the general fund at surplus revenues of $5.5 million,” Cullinan said. Cullinan reminded Council that the pandemic hit just as the budget for fiscal year 2021 was being finalized. At the time, there was uncertainty about the long-term financial impact but the shutdowns immediately affected the city’s meals and lodging tax collection. Property and sales tax collection performed a bit better than expected. The city also didn’t spend as much as expected.“Several of our larger departments had vacancy savings over the course of the year as well as reduced levels of service or closed facilities during COVID and that resulted in expenditures being less than expected,” Cullinan said. Cullinan said the $5.5 million does not include any federal funding through the CARES Act or the American Rescue Plan. Those funds are accounted for separately. “But what it did allow us to do was instead of utilizing our general fund projects or eligible activities, we were able to use the CARES money instead so that CARES money stepped in the place of the city’s own revenues,” Cullinan said. Staff will return to Council on December 20 with a suggested year-end appropriation. Cullinan said they will make two recommendations that will affect the next year’s budget preparation. One involves a $6.7 million economic downturn fund that was set aside for a reserve fund at the beginning of the pandemic. “We didn’t have to tap into that money through the course of the fiscal year, and so that $6.7 million is outside of the $5.5 million,” Cullinan said. Cullinan said the $6.7 million had been taken by withholding cash funds to the capital improvement program. Now staff is recommending returning that money back to the capital budget. “Obviously as we all know there are several large capital needs both in the upcoming year but also in the five-year plan,” Cullinan said. Outgoing Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker said she wanted would prefer the money be used in some other way, especially if there is the possibility of funding coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as well as future federal legislation. “And I don’t know if CIP is where we should be considering allocating that with the fact that there may be funding coming in the future,” Walker said. Outgoing City Council Heather Hill said Council has agreed to proceed with a $75 million investment in upgrading Buford Middle School and would support Cullinan’s recommendation. “I think that any contributions we can put into the CIP right now are going to be needed if we’re going to do any of our other priorities,” Hill said. “And again, this is where those funds were intended to be when this fiscal year began.”For the second recommendation, said staff proposes that the $5.5 million be used for employee compensation adjustments including a one-time bonus related to the pandemic, as well as a six-percent mid-year salary increase to try to retain employees in a tight job market. Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders said the bonuses will cost $3 million and the salary increase will cost $2.5 million. “The plan is to make it effective in January so this would be immediate relief to folks seeing an increase in pay beginning January of 22 and we are already looking forward to how we sustain this going forward and feel comfortable that the projections for revenues are such that we can sustain this as a permanent increase,” Sanders said. Before the meeting, Walker had directed staff to see if they could find a way to vote to approve this before January 6, 2022 when a potential second reading would be held. Walker will not be on Council at that time. Sanders said did not know yet but staff would be looking on whether they could do so under Virginia law. “It’s based on the size of the appropriation that dictates how many days we’re required so we’ll be able to take a look at that in the morning as I did get that later today and we need to dig into that to figure out if we can move faster,” Sanders said. Under state code, localities that make a budget amendment in excess of one percent of the total budget must hold a public hearing, which must be advertised seven days in advance. Take a look at § 15.2-2507 yourself and let me know your interpretation. The FY21 budget was $192.2 million. RGGI auctionThe latest auction of carbon emission credits held by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will result in Virginia receiving another $85.6 million to help fund programs to mitigate the impact of climate change. Virginia joined the program in the summer of 2020 and became the first state in the southeast to join the compact. Through 54 auctions, RGGI has brought in $4.7 billion from power companies.“RGGI is the first market-based, cap-and-invest regional initiative in the United States,” reads the website. “Within the RGGI states, fossil-fuel-fired electric power generators with a capacity of 25 megawatts or greater (‘regulated sources’) are required to hold allowances equal to their CO2 emissions over a three-year control period.”Virginia has now brought in $227.6 million from the program across four auctions. Around half of the funding goes to pay for flood control and mitigation. In October, Governor Ralph Northam announced Charlottesville would receive $153,000 in RGGI-funded grants to create a model of the city’s portion of the Moores Creek watershed to assist with flood prevention. (October 6, 2021 story) You’re listening to Charlottesville Community Engagement and it is time now for another subscriber-supported shout-out. Filmmaker Lorenzo Dickerson has traced the 100 year history of the libraries in the Charlottesville area, including a time when Black patrons were restricted from full privileges. The film Free and Open to the Public explores the history of library service from the Jim Crow-era until now. If you missed the premiere in November, there’s an online screening followed by a Q&A with Dickerson this Thursday at 7 p.m. Register at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library site to participate in this free event that’s being run with coordination from the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. Visit jmrl.org now to sign up! Southwood updateHabitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville has filed an application to extend an existing rezoning application to cover all of the Southwood Mobile Home Park. The 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee got a look at the details in a community meeting on November 18. (watch the meeting)Rebecca Ragsdale is now the county planner overseeing the implementation of the initial rezoning and the preparation for the next one, taking over from Megan Nedostup who now works as a planner for the firm Williams Mullen. “It does include 93.32 acres and is the remainder and is the existing mobile home community along with a couple of smaller parcels,” Ragsdale said. “There’s three parcels in total. And the code of development proposes a minimum of 531 units or up to a maximum of 1,000 units.” There’s also a request to allow up to 60,000 square feet of non-residential uses in this second phase. Speaking nearly three weeks ago, Ragsdale said the review was just getting underway. Lori Schweller is an attorney with Williams Mullen and she provided additional details. Technically, this application is to amend the existing zoning approval granted by the Board of Supervisors in August 2019. “The current trailer park is located in the largest parcel right in the center and the first development is happening outside that area to minimize disruption from development and construction in phase 1 as much as possible,” Schweller said. Habitat purchased the 341-trailer Southwood Mobile Home Park in 2007 with the intent toward preserving affordable living spaces. The rezoning approved in phase 1 is to the county’s Neighborhood Model District, intended to create walkable communities. “As a neighborhood model development, the plan for phase 1 incorporated included a block plan logically organizing the areas of the development in accordance with the uses, forms, and density set out in the code of development. Density will range from green space at the lowest level of density upward through neighborhood, urban residential, neighborhood mixed-use, urban density mixed-use, to neighborhood center special area in that area designated for a center by the Comprehensive Plan.” Phase two extends the code of development across the whole property. Dan Rosensweig, Habitat’s CEO, said the plan has crafted with input from residents of Southwood. “Not trying to get buy-in but to elevate them to be the engineers and architects of their future,” Rosensweig said. “As such, they created a form-based code that regulated the basic formal characteristics of particular blocks in synch with the land itself, with the contours of the land and with a general pattern of development for the neighborhood.” Rosenseig said Habitat hopes to exceed the county’s affordable housing requirements as it seeks to not displace existing residents.“They all live in dramatically substandard housing on infrastructure that has failed,” Rosensweig said. “And so, to non-displace we have to at least replace the amount of housing that’s there but that’s not enough. We want to overperform that because there’s such an acute shortage in the region.” Rosenweig said 50 units were proffered to be affordable in phase one, but that phase will now include 207 affordable units. That’s in part because the Piedmont Housing Alliance is using low-income housing tax credits to subsidize rents in an apartment complex for households witj between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income. There are 128 market rate units in the first phase. “So 62 percent of the units in phase one are affordable,” Rosenweig said. Rosensweig said residents have led the charge to make sure the neighborhood is mixed-income. “They really wanted to make sure that every block had a mixture of Habitat homes and market rate homes so you can’t tell the difference between the two,” Rosensweig said. The number of units that will be built in the second phase is not yet know. Melissa Symmes is the residential planning and design manager with Habitat.“Based on the concept plan, we can build a minimum of 531 units as Rebecca mentioned, but we hope to build closer to a thousand units,” Symmes said. “If we were able to build a thousand units in phase two, this would result in a gross density of 10.71 dwelling units per acre and then a net density of 13.5 dwelling units per acre.”Symmes said the total for the entire Southwood redevelopment would be a range of between a minimum of 681 units and a maximum of 1,450 units. “One thing to note is that we are not building the maximum permitted units allowed in phase one,” Symmes said. “We’re building about 100 units less than what the phase one code of development would actually permit.” The first phase allowed up to 50,000 square feet of non-residential space, but Symmes said only up to 10,000 square feet will be built. “So with that in mind there will likely be about 70,000 square feet of non-residential space in Southwood phases one and two total,” Symmes said. Symmes said Habitat will guarantee that 231 of the housing units in the second phase will be affordable and that will be enough to replace the existing trailers. Rosensweig said it may take up to a decade to fully develop the park. Guaranteeing affordability?After the discussion, CAC Chair James Cathro asked several questions including this one.Cathro: “What happens after a family is sold an affordable rate home and they pay it off, can they immediately sell it at market value? Is it their asset to use as they like or are there conditions or restrictions?”Rosensweig:“Great question. The latter. There are 30 to 40 years of deed restrictions on all Habitat homes. In the affordable housing space, there are programs where all of the equity is invested in, it’s really about the unit. On the other side of the spectrum, it’s all about the family. Habitat kind of splits the difference.”That means Habitat has the right of first refusal on purchasing units for a period of 40 years. “They put it on the market, they get a bona fide offer, we have a week to match that offer,” Rosensweig said. “Additionally there are significant incentives in the deed restrictions that incentivize families for staying for an extended period of time.” Rosensweig said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville has sold about 300 homes and all but a handful have remained either under original ownership, were passed on to other family members, or were repurchased by Habitat. In the first village under construction, Rosenseigh said Habitat is building 49 units and 40 families are in line to purchase them. The rest are being reserved for Southwood families who want to rent rather than purchase. “Village 2 immediately adjacent to that will have another 25 Habitat homes and then Block 10 will have another 16 so there will be another 41 Habitat homes,” Rosensweig said.Impact on traffic and schools5th and Avon CAC members had questions about what Habitat might contribute to address potential traffic congestion. Steve Schmidt is a traffic engineer with the Timmons Group who is working with Habitat on the project. “You’re absolutely right, there’s a significant amount of traffic out there today, and there’s more coming,” Schmidt said. “There was a reason study done by VDOT to look at the whole corridor to kind of identify improvements that are coming. One of the improvements that we know is coming online is the roundabout at Old Lynchburg and the county complex there. That’s a funded improvement that will be in place in the coming years.” Schmidt was referring to a funded $7.26 million Smart Scale project in which Albemarle put up $2 million from the capital improvement program to help make this submission more attractive under the funding criteria. The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the project in June. Construction is not anticipated to begin until at least October 2025, according to the application. Schmidt said VDOT and the county are both reviewing the traffic study. Another issue is the amount of additional children that will need spaces in the county school system. Schweller addressed those concerns and said the county is working to identify capital solutions in addition to the $6.25 million expansion of Mountain View elementary that was added to the current capital budget earlier this year. “What the schools are doing now is doing a new master plan analysis and we’ll have more recommendations coming up,” Schweller said. “Those capacity solutions could include a new school, redistricting, grade level reconfigurations. So we’ll wait and see what study reveals.”Schweller also said it is difficult to come up with an estimate of how many students would be generated by a mixed-use development with many types of housing.“It’s very difficult to estimate the number of students,” Schweller said. “If you have a thousand units, for example, in phase 2 that could yield from 40 and 470 students given the wide range of multipliers.” Schweller said there had been initial talk about providing land at Southwood for a new school, but that didn’t pan out. “Dan had discussions with the schools early on to offer a location for an elementary school and the schools at that time decided that was not what they wanted,” Schweller said. “At this point design and planning have moved on so there simply isn’t room in phase two for a school site and still accommodate all the homes that need to be built there.” Another attendee asked if Habitat would sell some of the land for the school, especially if the development does generate more need for elementary school seats. Rosensweig explained further why he would not proffer giving land over for a school. “You have to think about the purpose of a mixed-income community,” Rosensweig said. “There are really two purposes of a mixed-income community. One is to deconcentrate both wealth and poverty and create a neighborhood where people of all walks of life can live together. That’s very different from the last 150 years in our country which has become more segregated and intentionally so. So that’s one purpose. So if we take lots off line for market rate sales then we don’t concentrate wealth or poverty quite as much.”Rosensweig said the sale of market rate units subsidized the affordable units, and a balance has been worked out. He also said the architecture used for schools currently might not be compatible with the urban form of Southwood.“It would take a little bit of a frame shift in the way schools are planned to create the form of a school that would fit the context and character of this neighborhood,” Rosensweig said. “Something like a traditional Albemarle County ten-acre that has ballfields next to it that’s sprawling and on one level, I can’t in any shape or way or form seeing that fit this neighborhood but if the county were looking at something creative like a three-level school with minimal parking.”As an example, Rosenweig pointed to Rosa Parks Elementary School in Portland Oregon, which was built in the mid-2000’s as part of a public housing redevelopment project. The building is shared with the Boys and Girls Club and also functions as a community center.“So something like that if people were interested in thinking outside the box and you could pull some partners together, I think it would be a huge addition,” Rosensweig said. One community member who served on the Planning Commission from 2016 to 2019 noted that there appeared to be a lot of loose ends in the process about what would actually be built in the second phase.“I’m trying to figure out what level of certainty that the community, not just the legacy residents but the overall community, what level of certainty can be provided that the descriptions in the code of development by block are going to be built out in a way that those permitted uses and locations and appearance and everything, that there is some certainty about what’s going to be built,” Riley said. Symmes listed in the Code of Development said the blocks will clearly lay out what can be built where, but said she would follow up with Riley to get on the same page. There’s nothing new to report since November 18, but this item will eventually go to the Planning Commission for a public hearing. I’ll be there when it happens. Eventually! Special announcement of a continuing promo with Ting! Are you interested in fast internet? Visit this site and enter your address to see if you can get service through Ting. If you decide to proceed to make the switch, you’ll get:Free installationSecond month of Ting service for freeA $75 gift card to the Downtown MallAdditionally, Ting will match your Substack subscription to support Town Crier Productions, the company that produces this newsletter and other community offerings. So, your $5 a month subscription yields $5 for TCP. Your $50 a year subscription yields $50 for TCP! The same goes for a $200 a year subscription! 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EP158 หลังจากหยุดบันทึกพอดคาสกันไปนานกว่าครึ่งปี กลับมาบันทึก แล้วครับ วันนี้ คุยกันเนื้อหา แผนการซ้อมมาราธอน VDOT ตอบคำถามจากเพจ Citytrailrunners การสร้าง Garmin Workout ที่แอพและส่งไป นาฬิกา เสริมการแนะนำสร้างโปรแกรมซ้อมในยิมเสริมกล้ามเนื้อให้นักวิ่ง และ รีวิว Wind Training แผนการฝึกสร้อมที่ใช้ AI ช่วยปรับแผนการฝึกตาม performance. ของนักวิ่ง
In Run Is It® 14 vi parlo delle ultime settimane di allenamento: fartlek, ripetute in pista, salite, lunghi medi e lunghi lenti, a volte corsi beni e a volte così così, con delle considerazioni sulla differenza che passa tra i dati registrati dagli orologi e la sensazione provata durante la corsa. Il tutto in preparazione di una gara da 10km che... non correrò: solo oggi mi sono accorto di non essermi iscritto per tempo (dannazione!). Note della puntata: https://riccardo.im/podcast/run-is-it-14/ Running Club su Strava: https://www.strava.com/clubs/runisit Nella seconda parte del podcast vi svelo come ho comprato a ridosso del Black Friday (un Theragun Mini, magnifica pistola massaggiante) e rispondo alle domande di Strava: come capire se è il caso di comprare un nuovo sportwatch? E come valutare i modelli in offerta? Ancora: come calcolare i ritmi da tenere in allenamento e come renderli utili alla conoscenza del nostro corpo?Infine, qualche consiglio sul correre sotto la pioggia, sempre e comunque.
Let’s begin with a Patreon-fueled shout-out. Colder temperatures are creeping in, and now is the perfect time to think about keeping your family warm through the holidays. Make sure you are getting the most out of your home with help from your local energy nonprofit, LEAP. LEAP wants you and yours to keep comfortable all year round, and offers FREE home weatherization to income- and age-qualifying residents. If you’re age 60 or older, or have an annual household income of less than $74,950, you may qualify for a free energy assessment and home energy improvements such as insulation and air sealing. Sign up today to lower your energy bills, increase comfort, and reduce energy waste at home!On today’s program: The overall health of the James River has dropped slightly The Food and Drug Administration approves focused ultrasound to treat some symptoms of Parkinson’s diseaseArea transportation officials want your input tonight on the region’s transit futureAn update on planning for Smart Scale’s fifth round The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority prepares its annual plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentWhile the number of vaccinated Virginians has increased due to the extension of shots into people between the ages of 5 and 11, the number of cases has been up slightly over the past two days. However the Virginia Department of Health reports Wednesday figure of 2,592 new cases as a technical error that includes counts from previous days. The seven day average is now at 1,475 a day and the percent positivity is at 5.5 percent today. The Blue Ridge Health District reports another 49 new cases today and the fatality count is at 309. Do you have something to say about how our area bus systems should work? Tonight you’ll have your chance to weigh in on a Regional Transit Vision that could guide the future. Lucinda Shannon is a transportation planner with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District who briefed a technical committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization on Tuesday.“I’m really hoping you guys will all sign up for the public meeting which is Thursday night at 6:30 p.m.,” Shannon said. “There’s also surveys on both of the TJPDC transit projects.”The TJPDC is also conducting a separate study of the expansion of transit in Albemarle County.Changes to the Charlottesville Area Transit system have been studied and presented to the public this year, but there is no schedule for when they may go into effect as there are more procedural steps to go through. (story map) (presentation)This week, the Norfolk City Council adopted a resolution approving a plan called Multimodal Norfolk that seeks to increase frequency of some buses. “The Recommended Network focuses 70 percent of resources on service that will maximize access to opportunity for most residents and are likely to get high ridership relative to cost,” reads the resolution adopted Tuesday night. “The other 30 percent of resources are focused on service that is not likely to get high ridership but will provide service in areas where there is relatively high need.”Service in Norfolk is provided by Hampton Roads Transit, which that city pays about $20 million a year to operate service. That includes the Tide light rail system. Meanwhile, work continues to prepare the next round of applications for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale funding process. Chuck Proctor is a planner with VDOT’s Culpeper District and he’s assisting Albemarle and the MPO come up with potential submissions.“Most of them are bike-ped related, a lot of them are multimodal projects like Avon Street, 5th Street, the 29-250 bypass,” Proctor said. Other projects that could be submitted include the intersection of Old Trail and Crozet Avenue, a recommendation from the ongoing North 29 corridor study, projects on Pantops, as well as various intersections of U.S. 250 east of Pantops. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District can submit up to four applications on behalf of localities. Proctor said he was not aware of what applications the city of Charlottesville might advance. Jeannete Janiczek, the city’s urban construction initiative. In most cases, Charlottesville administers its own projects without involvement from VDOT. “I just want to remind everyone this is still early in the process,” Janiczek said. “We have a new City Council coming online. The city does plan to apply for Smart Scale but we haven’t yet decided which projects.” In four rounds, Charlottesville has been awarded millions for various streetscape projects, none of which has yet gone to construction. In September, Council indicated they would no longer support contributing a local match for funds received for the first two phases of West Main Streetscape. VDOT has not yet been formally informed of any decision, according to spokesman Lou Hatter. Janiczek said potential Charlottesville projects for Round 5 a fourth phase of West Main Streetscape, or in the East High Street, Rose Hill, and the Preston Avenue corridors. There is no information about any of these potential projects available on the city website. In contrast, Albemarle and the TJPDC have been discussing potential projects since the spring. In recent years, Albemarle County has increased its capacity to design and build non-vehicular transportation projects. Kevin McDermott is a chief of planning.“We are now finally after many years in the construction phase for a lot of sidewalk improvements including new sidewalks out on Avon Street Extended, both north and south of the Mill Creek intersection,” McDemott said. The others are:New sidewalk along U.S. 250 near the Harris Teeter including a pedestrian crossing New sidewalk along Rio Road East from John Warner Parkway heading east and south toward CharlottesvilleNew crosswalk at Mountain View Elementary School on Avon Street ExtendedNew sidewalk and shared-use path on Lambs Road to the Lambs Land CampusNew sidewalk on Ivy Road between city limits and the UVA Musculoskeletal CenterThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of focused ultrasound to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease, according to a release from the University of Virginia Health System. Specifically, medical device regulators have authorized medical centers to use something called Exablate Neuro by the company Insightec to treat mobility problems associated with tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. “Prior to the approval, available treatments for the Parkinson’s symptoms included drugs, which not all patients respond to, and invasive deep-brain surgeries,” reads the release.” Focused ultrasound, in comparison, does not require incisions or cutting into the skull.” During the procedure, highly focused sound waves are used to target faulty brain cells and used together with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), treatment can help ease symptoms. The releases stresses that this is not a cure. The medical technology has been pioneered at UVA and shepherded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. Other potential uses include treatment for essential tremors, uterine fibroids and some forms of cancer.. Research is ongoing. For more information visit the UVA Health website or watch videos on the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s YouTube page. Water quality in the James River has declined slightly over the past two years, according to a report card issued this week by an advocacy group that seeks to promote practices to reduce pollution. Since 2007, the James River Association has issued the State of the James and this year’s B- is based on a score of 61 percent. Every two years that score is factored by looking at 18 indicators split into the two categories of River Health and River Restoration Progress. In 2017 the grade was 63 percent. “The decline that has occurred since 2017 reflects the impact of abnormally high rainfall experienced across the watershed in recent years causing increased polluted runoff throughout the James,” reads the press release. “While oysters and tidal water quality showed promising resilience over the past year by bouncing back from the surge of rainwater and pollution, the river also revealed stalled progress in phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment pollution reductions, as well as stream health.” Among the indicators are gauges of how healthy various wildlife populations are. The good news is that the bald eagle scores at 100 percent due to an increase in breeding pairs to 352, indicating the ban on DDT as well as passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973 has led to the resurgence. The bad news is that American shad are rated at zero and efforts to stock the James River watershed with hatchery shad have not worked because of the presence of dams, water intakes for water supply, invasive catfish, and fishing nets intended for other species. “Given the dire situation, Virginia must develop an emergency recovery plan that clearly identifies restoration actions,” reads the report card. “But it will take a long-term and sustained effort to bring American shad back from the brink of collapse in the James.” To look through all of the indicators, visit the State of the James website and explore their story map. What are you most interested in? Let me know in the comments. You’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement and it’s now time for a second Patreon-fueled shout-out. The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign, an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. The leaves have started to fall as autumn set in, and as they do, this is a good time to begin planning for the spring. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water. Start at the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you!The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners will hold a closed meeting today to discuss a personnel matter. Last week, the appointed body held a work session on a report the CRHA must turn in to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Kathleen Glenn-Matthews is the deputy director of the CRHA. (FY20-FY21 adopted plan) (FY21-22 draft plan) (FY22-23 draft plan)“The public housing authority PHA plan is a pretty comprehensive guide to all of our agency’s policies and programs,” said Glenn-Matthews. “We spent a lot of time on our goals.”There are two parts to the plan, one of which is a five-year review that won’t be due until 2023. The second part is an annual plan with details about what will happen in the next fiscal year. The fiscal year for the CRHA runs from April 1 to March 30, a different calendar than the city, state, and federal government. HUD classifies CRHA as a “troubled agency” based on the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) and the Section Eight Management Assessment Program (SEMAP). Glenn-Matthews said that means CRHA has to give more information in its annual plan. One of the first items in the draft plan is a listing of the number of public housing units and the number of housing choice vouchers. The number of units has dropped from 376 to 324 due in part to the temporary closure of Crescent Halls due to renovations. The number of housing vouchers has increased due to their use to provide temporary places for temporarily displaced residents. Those vouchers are separate from a program funded directly by the City of Charlottesville but administered by CRHA to increase their number. The city has had a line item of $900,000 a year in the capital budget for this supplemental program. Highlights from the past year include the adoption of policies on security cameras as well de-concentration of poverty.“The PHA’s admission policy is designed to provide for de-concentration of poverty and income mixing by bringing higher income tenants into lower income communities and lower income tenants into higher income communities,” reads a statement in the plan.Glenn-Matthews said the CRHA wants to build a homeownership program as well as augment the family self-sufficiency program.“We don’t have funding for it and we’re penalized by being troubled but we are looking at alternate sources for that and it’s definitely a big priority for us,” Glenn-Matthews said. The draft plan indicates that the CRHA will continue to engage in “mixed finance modernization or development” as well as “demolition and/or disposition” in the coming year. One project is development of between 39 and 50 units at Sixth Street SE. There is also a pending demolition and disposition application for the second phase of South First Street, which would replace 58 existing units with a larger project. Planning for redevelopment of Westhaven is expected to begin in the next fiscal year. “We want to make sure everything in this plan is there that we want to do this year because if not we’ll have to do an amendment, and nobody wants to go through the process,” Glenn-Matthews said. The plan also explains how nonprofit companies have been formed to serve to secure funding for redevelopment. There’s also data on who lives in the units. As of August 31, 76 percent of households had incomes below 30 percent of the area median income, 14 percent are between 30 and 50 percent, and three percent are between 50 and 80 percent. Six percent of households do not have their income data available. Only one percent of residents are classified as Hispanic or Latino, three percent are classified as Asian, 21 percent are white, and 75 percent are Black.There are a total of 736 people living in Charlottesville public housing and the average household size is 2.6 percent. The public hearing on the annual plan will be held on Monday, December 20. Thanks to Ting for their support in helping this program be produced each day. Today the newsletter ends with a limerick from show supporter Harry Landers honoring Ting for their commitment to match your initial payment to a paid Substack subscription!There once was a writer from C-ville,Who sought to shine light upon evil.He did his own thing,With some help from Ting.If there's news to report, we know he will.Special announcement of a continuing promo with Ting! Are you interested in fast internet? Visit this site and enter your address to see if you can get service through Ting. If you decide to proceed to make the switch, you’ll get:Free installationSecond month of Ting service for freeA $75 gift card to the Downtown Mall This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
FREE 7 DAY COACHING TRIAL: www.run4prs.com We are doing a different format of podcast today. You may be used to the standard 1 topic podcast where Jason and I chat in depth about 1 topic but today we are asking YOU to bring your questions & we answer them. We talk about a variety of topics. We ask the audience on IG what questions they have and we answer in a podcast forum allowing for a greater discussion of the question than on an IG story. We love to help runners achieve their goals and grow a better understanding of the sport. 1- HOW WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO RUN MY HM PACE ON RACE DAY? She is running her first half marathon & worried that she will not be able to hold the pace. Doing a race in training to see where you are at Learning experience Setting a speed limit Remembering that it will feel easier on race day 2-AFTER 2 YEARS OF DOING ALL MY LONG RUNS EVERY WEEKEND, I HAVE GOTTEN SLOWER. TIPS FOR IMPROVING SPEED ON LONG RUNS Do not judge your fitness based on your long run pace Doing a VDOT time trial to get an accurate read on your fitness Allow time for training between fitness tests 80% easy running + 20% workouts In a 40 mile week this is 10 miles of workout pace work Retest in 6-12 weeks and set goals 3- DO YOU THINK ATTEMPTING A BQ AT FIRST MARATHON IS UNREALISTIC? It may be a really realistic goal for someone who has been running for years and has a VDOT time equivalent of running a BQ time or faster. Coach Ben ran 2:40 in his first marathon which was a 25+ min BQ. However, this was done after 10+ years of competitive running. 4- CAPPED LONG RUN AT 3 HOURS.. RAN 5.5 HOUR TIME.. STOMACH WENT HAYWIRE. We recommend capping the long run at 3 hours to allow for a reduction of injury. When we run over 3 hours the risk for injury increases. However, as the races get longer, there can be issues that creep up such as fueling! The longer the race, the more room for things to go wrong.
Tempo running, or the threshold pace runs are an important component in any runner's training plan, but what is it actually? Kristin Schulz will explain what a tempo or threshold pace run is, and how you can use it in your weekly running to run faster on your journey of becoming a lifelong injury free runner! Kristen Schulz is a runner, running coach, and physical therapist. She is the owner of Run Your Life LLC and the host of Breaking 5 - A Running Podcast. She helps runners reach their next PR without nagging injuries through online run coaching and strength coaching programs. She also helps running clinicians learn how to write running plans and get their first 2-5 online clients. In this episode, Kristin and I have a great conversation on everything you need to know about the tempo run and how to incorporate it into your training. These are just some of the questions you will get answered during this episode: What is a tempo run? How long is a tempo run? How do you run a tempo run? How fast should a tempo run be? Is a tempo run the same as a threshold run? How often should you do a tempo run? How do you progress a tempo run? Mentioned in this episode: Episode 25 How Fast Should I Run: 3 Types of Runs https://sparkyourtraining.com/types-of-runs/ Here is the pace calculator we mentioned in this episode: The VDOT calculator https://runsmartproject.com/calculator/ This Episode is brought to you by: Perform from the Amino Company. Perform is an essential amino acid-based formulation that I simply add to water in my shaker bottle and have 30 minutes before my run or gym workout. It tastes great and is easy on my stomach. Clinical studies have shown that Perform helps improve mental focus, peak strength, endurance, reduces fatigue, and increases muscle protein synthesis so you can recover faster from your runs or your strength workouts. Check out the research here: https://aminoco.com/healthyrunner If you're looking for a nutritional advantage to increase focus and concentration, strength, and endurance during your runs and decrease recovery times by quickly rebuilding muscle tissue of your daily training, I highly recommend you give Perform a try. I know it has helped me and I am confident you will love it just as much as I do! If you're interested in learning more about my 100% Science-Backed Amino Acids Supplements and you would like to give perform a try, we've got a special offer for you where you can save 30% by using the code HEALTHYRUNNER. Just head to: https://aminoco.com/healthyrunner and use the code HEALTHYRUNNER at checkout to save 30% + FREE Amino eBook! Click HERE to be directed to the discount page! Connect with Kristin: Instagram: @Kristen_runyourlife https://www.instagram.com/kristen_runyourlife/?hl=en Facebook: Kristen Schulz Breaking 5- A Running Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/breaking-5-a-running-podcast/id1513230698 https://open.spotify.com/show/20a245kTO62qPi03012kH9 Facebook Group: Run Coaches and Clinicians Community https://www.facebook.com/groups/1204899866640629 Website: https://therunyourlifemethod.mykajabi.com/beyond-rehab-for-running-clinicians
Let’s start today with two more Patreon-fueled shout-outs. The first comes a long-time supporter who wants you to know:"Today is a great day to spread good cheer: reach out to an old friend, compliment a stranger, or pause for a moment of gratitude to savor a delight."The second comes from a more recent supporter who wants you to go out and read a local news story written by a local journalist. Whether it be the Daily Progress, Charlottesville Tomorrow, C-Ville Weekly, NBC29, CBS19, WINA, or some other place I’ve not mentioned - the community depends on a network of people writing about the community. Go learn about this place today!On today’s show:Charlottesville City Council adopts a Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map after a long public process and long public hearing President Biden signs an infrastructure bill Two area breweries have announced a merger The Places29-Hydraulic group gets the latest on 490 units planned for Old Ivy Road After nearly five years of review, Charlottesville City Council has adopted a Comprehensive Plan and a Future Land Use Map intended to increase the number of housing units within city limits. Council’s vote came after a long public hearing that came after a work session held in the early afternoon where Council also discussed economic development and population trends. The public hearing ended at 10:44 p.m. and Council then discussed the matter for another hour before voting to adopt. Up next will be the rewrite of the zoning code to eliminate legislative barriers to new residential density. I’ll have more on the adoption of the plan and what is in it in an upcoming edition of the newsletter. Take a look at the adopted Comprehensive Plan and the Future Land Use Map here. Two breweries in the area have announced a merger via Facebook post. Champion Brewing Company and Reason Beer will join operations in a partnership that will see Hunter Smith remain as the company’s CEO. One of Reason’s founders, Jeff Railenau, will become the Chief Financial Officer. Josh Skinner of Champion will become the Head Brewer and Reason’s Mark Fulton will become Director of Brewing Operations. Champion will relocate its production operations from a facility in the Woolen Mills on Broadway Street to Reason’s headquarters at Seminole Place on U.S. 29. “We’re excited to announce this partnership with our good friends and esteemed beer minds across town that will bring together two skilled and like-minded teams to streamline operations under one roof,” reads a statement on Champion’s Facebook page.President Joe Biden has signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will likely change the landscape for the way all kinds of projects in Virginia and the Charlottesville area are funded. “This law makes the most significant investment in roads and bridges in the past 70 years,” Biden said. “It makes the most significant investment in passenger rail in the past 50 years. And in public transit ever.” The bill provides direct funding to specific areas across the entire country. (details from the White House)$55 billion to expand access to clean drinking water, eliminating lead pipes and cleaning up PFAS chemicals $21 billion in funding to remediate Superfund sites in rural and urban communities$66 billion for public transit, including vehicle replacement from fossil-fuel burning to zero emissions vehicles$5 billion specifically to purchase clean school buses$17 billion to modernize ports and update machinery to reduce congestion and emissions$25 billion for airports including efforts to drive electrification and a transition to other low-carbon technologiesOver $50 billion in investments to protect against drought, heat waves, wildfires and floodsThe legislation passed the U.S. Senate on a 69-30 vote and the U.S. House on a 221 to 201 vote. Take a look at the full bill here. “The bill I’m about to sign into law is proof that despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together to deliver results,” Biden said. There’s also funding to increase internet access.“This law is going to make high-speed Internet affordable and everywhere, everywhere in America,” Biden said “Urban, suburban, rural, and great jobs laying down those broadband lines.” Environmental groups in Virginia are celebrating the signing of the infrastructure bill, which will provide an additional $238 million for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Chesapeake Bay Program according to a statement from the Choose Clean Water Coalition.“These additional funds will help reduce pollution in the Bay and its waterways, especially as we approach the 2025 deadline to have all pollution reduction practices in place as part of the Bay's restoration effort,” said Coalition Director Kristin Reilly. Reilly refers to something called the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, a framework to reduce pollution across all of the watersheds that feed into the Bay, including the Rapidan, Rivanna, and James Rivers. Investments have been made over the years, including millions to upgrade the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that makes it to the Bay, creating dead zones with no oxygen. The bill has also been celebrated by the Virginia Transit Association, who sent out a release pointing out that the bill contains $102 billion nationwide in funding for passenger and freight rail, or a 592 percent increase over usual funding levels. That could include $1.4 billion for Virginia. “Transit will receive about $1.3 billion in formula funding over the next five years, a 34 percent increase over normal funding levels,” said Danny Plaugher, the Deputy Director of the Virginia Transit Association and the Executive Director of Virginians for HighSpeed Rail. “The Charlottesville area will receive about an extra million a year over that period. Virginia will also be competitive on several expanded transit and rail grant programs which could invest billions into our transportation network."All of Virginia’s Democratic Representatives in Congress voted for the bill, whereas all of Virginia’s Republican Representatives voted against it. But Biden said there was support from industry. “This law was supported by business groups — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the National Association of Manufacturers; the Business Roundtable, representing 200 of the largest corporations in America and other top businesses,” Biden said.Local governments are watching closely to see what the bill may mean for their bottom line. “Albemarle County will closely monitor avenues for local governments to apply for funding to advance our strategic infrastructure needs as guidance becomes available from the federal and state governments,” said Emily Kilroy, director of Communications and Public Engagement for Albemarle. You’re listening to Charlottesville Community Engagement. Time for another Patreon-fueled shout-out! Charlottesville 350 is the local chapter of a national organization that seeks to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Charlottesville 350 uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, and build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all. To learn more about their most active campaigns, including a petition drive to the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/cville350A proposed rezoning requested by Greystar Development for about 36 acres of land off of Old Ivy Road will be slightly smaller than the 525 units requested in the first application, but it will still be fairly substantial. “Our current plan is to have about 490 units,” said Valerie Long, an attorney with Williams Mullen. “We’re still under 20 dwelling units per acre so well within the range that’s permitted. The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee got a first look at the Old Ivy Residences project, which is currently not scheduled for a public hearing before the Planning Commission. (watch the meeting)The land is split between five parcels, with three of them already zoned for 15 units per acre. “R-15 residential zoning allows for basically any type of residential development whether its single family detached, single-family attached, or multifamily apartments,” said county planner Cameron Langille. One parcel allows for ten units per acre, and the other is currently zoned for one unit per acre. The application is to make them all R-15. A previous rezoning approved by the Board of Supervisors in 1985 has a condition that states that the Old Ivy Road corridor needs to have been upgraded to a certain performance level before development can begin. “The applicant is asking for us to evaluate that and make a recommendation as to whether corridor has been improved to that extent,” Langille said. The board also approved a rezoning in 1996 for one of the parcels that restricts certain uses. Langille said the applicant wants the Board to drop that condition. There’s also a request to disturb slopes which involves changing their classification from preserved to managed. The county’s Comprehensive Plan designated three of the parcels as urban density residential, which allows anywhere between 6 units and 36 units per acre. Land along the U.S. 250 Bypass is designated as parks space and currently is the home of a section of the Rivanna Trail. Greystar officials said that would continue. Staff has conducted one review and the developer is working through the various questions from staff. John Clarkson is a managing director with Greystar Development, a national developer with projects all across the United States of America. “There are opportunities in University towns that lack housing opportunities, very important housing opportunities to provide that level of affordability to make those communities sustainable over the long term,” Clarkson said. Dan Nickerson, a development senior associate with Greystar, is a graduate of the nearby Darden School.“The number one thing we love about this site is the natural landscape and we’ve done the best job we could and we think we’ve done a really good job preserving the landscape while enabling the density that the Comp Plan allows,” Nickerson said. Old Ivy Road is a two-lane road that has a one-way underpass near its eastern intersection with Ivy Road without a sidewalk or bike lane. The western intersection as well as a two-lane bridge over the bypass are also constraints. Long acknowledged that traffic congestion is an issue.“Obviously those issues are existing, have been growing and increasing over the past few decades, but Greystar is committed to continue looking at those challenges and collaborating with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and the county planning staff as appropriate to work toward identifying solutions,” Long said. Long said Greystar would be willing to pay a “proportional amount” for some of those solutions. VDOT’s Six-Year Improvement program includes funds for a $3 million replacement of the bridge over U.S. 250, but the description currently states it will be built with no additional capacity. Preliminary engineering is underway now with construction scheduled for Fiscal Year 2024. Long said county officials have been able to at least carve out some improvements for the project.“They were able to include in that project design that there will be a pedestrian lane on the new bridge,” Long said. Members of the CAC and the public had the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Sally Thomas served four terms on the Board of Supervisors and lives next door in the University Village apartment building. “We don’t oppose having neighbors and we are delighted that they are neighbors that care about the environment,” Thomas said. “We also do have a lovely old stand of trees, some over 100 years old, and we want to try to preserve and protect those.” Thomas said University Village wants to make sure there are pathways that safe and attractive and avoid the trees. Kathleen Jump of Huntington Village complex said she likes to walk, but said this section of Albemarle is landlocked with many obstacles for pedestrians. “The eastern bridge is a concern and the pedestrians at that end of Old Ivy Road put their lives in their hands when they cross under that bridge,” Jump said.Kevin McDermott is a chief of planning in Albemarle who specializes in transportation. “We have been evaluating both ends of Old Ivy Road as Valerie mentioned also, very recently, to try to see if there are options for improving them,” McDermott said. “Nothing has jumped out as an easy solution right now. Trying to expand that underpass is going to be extremely expensive.” McDermott said VDOT is working with a consultant to look at both ends of the road to come up with solutions, possibly to inform a Smart Scale application for next year. Taylor Ahlgren just moved into Huntington Village. He wants the development to do as much as it can to discourage vehicular travel. Here’s what he would like to see.“Supporting future residents to stay away from using a car and using alternative means of transportation,” Ahlgren said. The project currently does not have a public meeting scheduled with the Planning Commission. Stay tuned. Also nearby is the Ivy Garden complex, which the University of Virginia will be redeveloped as a mixed-use community. The UVA Buildings and Grounds Committee got a briefing on that project in June. Special announcement of a continuing promo with Ting! Are you interested in fast internet? Visit this site and enter your address to see if you can get service through Ting. If you decide to proceed to make the switch, you’ll get:Free installationSecond month of Ting service for freeA $75 gift card to the Downtown MallAdditionally, Ting will match your Substack subscription to support Town Crier Productions, the company that produces this newsletter and other community offerings. So, your $5 a month subscription yields $5 for TCP. Your $50 a year subscription yields $50 for TCP? The same goes for a $200 a year subscription! All goes to cover the costs of getting this newsletter out as often as possible. Learn more here! This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
In this episode we sat down with famed NY marathon coach Glen Wiener, who has been with Team for Kids and New York Road Runners since 2008, coaching thousands of runners training for their first NYC Marathon. In this episode, he shares with us about what the NYC marathon experience is like, what makes it unique: from the early morning Staten Island Ferry to cheers along mile 18-25. Some nuggets of simple wisdom from empowering so many to finish their first marathon, and specifically on a difficult parts of the course in New York, are the highlight of the podcast! As a Team for Kids Coach, he also gets to see the life-changing work T4K does on the ground every day in the New York City area and across the country, and for this reason has remained with T4K so long. Glen is a lifelong runner with an undeniable passion for the sport and coaching others, and has ran over 25 marathons, including Boston five times, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. While he found running early and was a collegiate runner, he took up marathons later in life (25 years after college). Glen is a Road Runner's Club of America and Jack Daniel's VDOT certified coach, part of the USA Track & Field coaching program as a Level 2 Endurance Coach. In 2009 Glen's training program was featured in the New York Times alongside the programs of luminaries Grete Waitz, Jeff Galloway, and Greg McMillan. He believes that “coaching is an art based on science and works closely with runners of all abilities to help them achieve goals they never thought possible”(1). *If you'd like to contribute to Team for Kids this year or consider running/fundraising for them in a future major marathon (New York, London, Boston, etc.), check out my fundraiser page to contribute, learn more, or just see what the platform is like: https://runwithtfk.org/Profile/PublicPage/92722 As always, we'd love if you would reach out to us and let us know more about your corner of running culture, share inspiration and learning! Leave a comment here below or DM on Instagram or Facebook @RunningAnthropologist --Happy Running-- Mark Lane-Holbert *Team for Kids Coaches Profiles (October, 2021). https://www.runwithtfk.org/Profile/OurCoaches
In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out:Fall is here, and with it, more moderate temperatures. While your HVAC takes a break, now is the perfect time to prepare for the cooler months. Your local energy nonprofit, LEAP, wants you and yours to keep comfortable all year round! LEAP offers FREE home weatherization to income- and age-qualifying residents, so, if you’re age 60 or older, or have an annual household income of less than $74,950, you may qualify for a free energy assessment and home energy improvements such as insulation and air sealing. Sign up today to lower your energy bills, increase comfort, and reduce energy waste at home!On today’s show:A private vendor will be setting up a community vaccination center at the Big Lots in Seminole SquareVDOT’s hired a new engineer to run the Culpeper District that includes our communityPlanning is underway to replace a machine that helps with paper and cardboard recycling in Albemarle and CharlottesvilleCity Council votes to join a regional tax board and to give $50,000 to a community policing effortPandemic updateThe Virginia Department of Health reports 1,428 new cases of COVID-19 this morning. Last night, the head of the Blue Ridge Health District had the beginnings of good news to report to City Council. “We’re beginning to see a slight downturn in our current infection rate,” said Dr. Denise Bonds. “For the first time last week we did not have any triple-digit days with regards to cases. They were all below 100.”Dr. Bonds said most of the cases are the delta variant and there are currently no signs of any other new strain. There is currently no universal recommendation that vaccinated individuals get booster shots, but they are available for people who had the Pfizer vaccine and who are older than 65 or people with underlying medical conditions. “We do ask that you schedule an appointment so we have enough Pfizer on board but they are available everywhere that we are vaccinating,” Bonds said. Beginning next week, a new site at Big Lots location in Seminole Square in the location where the University of Virginia was providing vaccines. “This is actually a vendor-run vaccination clinic,” Bonds said. “It’s a contract that our central office at [the Virginia Department of Health] has with an emergency response organization called Ashbritt.” An official announcement will be forthcoming regarding the new community vaccination center. Later this month on October 14 and October 15, a Food and Drug Administration panel will review data regarding the possibility of boosters for Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. (meeting announcement)“This will be emergency use authorization again and it will still even if its approved on that date will have to go to the CDC advisory committee,” Dr Bonds said.Dr. Bonds said the FDA has tentatively scheduled a meeting for October 26 to consider use of the Pfizer vaccine in children under the age of 12. New VDOT leader for Charlottesville areaWhen the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Board next meets, there will be a new person representing the Virginia Department of Transportation. Sean Nelson will become the new district engineer for VDOT’s Culpeper District, which spans nine counties.“I am honored to return to Culpeper District as the district engineer and look forward to working with our talented teams and valued community partners,” Nelson is quoted in a September 30 press release. “I was born and raised in Louisa and am now raising my family there. I am proud to come home and am committed to making a difference in this region.”Nelson’s last post was as the maintenance engineer for VDOT’s Richmond District. In the new job, he will be in charge of “construction, maintenance and operations maintenance, project development and business functions of nearly 10,500 lane miles.” VDOT manages road construction projects in all of those counties, including six projects being designed and built under one contract in Albemarle County. However, Charlottesville manages its own construction projects and has been the recipient of multiple projects under Smart Scale. Last month, Council signaled it would likely forgo $3.25 million in VDOT funds for the first phase of the West Main Streetscape and $4 million for the second phase. Both required a match of local funding, funding which will now be transferred to a $75 million project to renovate Buford Middle School. This summer, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $10.8 million for the third phase of West Main Street, which requires no match. It is unclear if that phase will move ahead. All of the phases were designed as part of a $2.85 million planning study overseen by Rhodeside & Harwell. Construction on the Belmont Bridge finally got underway this summer after many years of planning. There are many other open VDOT projects in Charlottesville that have not gone to construction. Council round-upLast night, Charlottesville City Council voted 4-1 to join a regional board that would administer cigarette taxes generated in outlying counties. Until this year, only cities have been able to levy such a tax, which generated $641,494 for Charlottesville in fiscal year 2020. The city gets $0.55 a pack. Mayor Nikuyah Walker voted against the item partially out of a concern it would penalize people who are low-income. “I know we discuss it from a public health platform but most people are not going to stop smoking because there’s an increased tax on it,” Walker said. The tax board would be administered by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. David Blount is deputy director.“And right now we have six counties that have so far agreed to establish this board,” Blount said. “We know of one additional county in our region and even one in our town that is showing some interest in participating.” Counties can not charge more than 40 cents a pack. Council also agreed to donate $50,000 to the B.U.C.K. Squad for their community policing efforts on a 3 to 2 vote. Councilor Michael Payne joined Mayor Walker in voting against the measure out of concerns raised by the Public Housing Association of Residents and the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. “The B.U.C.K. Squad program is something really important, that model,” Payne said. “But I would just want to have very clear lockstep assurance that CRHA and PHAR are all on the same page regarding in terms of what they’re doing and not being 100 percent assured of that I’m going to vote no for that reason hoping that partnership can evolve and become successful.”Council also voted to establish a ground lease for the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont to operate in a section of McIntire Park. The group will be responsible for raising the funds to construct improvements called for in their schematic plan. “It’s very important for the nonprofit to obtain a lease so that they can complete their fundraising efforts,” said City Manager Chip Boyles. “The city does not have any funds in the [capital improvement program] for this project and therefore this would not be a project that would go under construction under city management.” The vote was 5-0. Time for another shout-out from a Patreon supporter!WTJU 91.1 FM is a different sort of radio station. It's dedicated to sharing the transcendent experience of music while raising funds from listeners across the world. From October 4th through 10th, WTJU airs its annual Jazz Marathon. Tune in for a deep dive into everything from bebop to blues. WTJU's Volunteer DJs will play the spectrum jazz – from Billie Holiday to Canonball Adderly to Pharoah Sanders. Plus live, local jazz performances throughout the week. Visit wtju.org to learn more!At the end of their meeting last night, Charlottesville City Council held another lengthy discussion about the termination of Police Chief RaShall Brackney. I may or may not make it back to that item in a future installment of the newsletter. In addition to the police chief, Charlottesville continues to have many high-profile vacancies. The position for Director of Elections is being advertised through October 15, 2021. Other openings include the director of Parks and Recreation as well as the Director of Public Works. The person who most recently held the latter position is David Brown, who only worked for Charlottesville for a year. Brown was honored by the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority at their meeting on September 28. Here’s the chair, Mike Gaffney.“And what is that old saying? David, we hardly knew ye,” Gaffney said. RSWA seeks tonnage increaseLet’s stick with the Rivanna Authorities for a moment. The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority has been experiencing higher volumes of tonnage received at the Ivy Materials Utilization Center. Material is sorted before sent out to other landfills. As a result, the RSWA is asking the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to increase the amount it can transfer each day to 450 tons, up from 300 tons. “We believe that by increasing our facility limit to 450 tons per day will not result in a great deal more traffic, but rather allow us to accept the few, large load, customers that are bringing us material from infrequent large projects (like the field turf replacement project or a UVA building demolition project that we’ve seen in the past couple of years,” reads the executive director’s report for the September meeting. RSWA Solid Waste Director Phil McKalips said that many times his agency does not know material is coming until it shows up. “We tend to find out about these projects when they come across the scale, so our ability to impact the planning of a project is usually far down the pipeline by the time we see it,” McKalips said. McKalips said the RSWA has received a lot of waste material from the Southwood project in recent weeks. Recently an area where household waste had been discarded over the years was cleared and sent to the Ivy Materials Utilization Center. The increase would help on days when they exceed the 300 ton a day limit. “Whoever cleared the site mixed a lot of debris in with the soil so they had to bring it all out to us for disposal,” McKalips said. “We didn’t know that was coming ahead of time and all of a sudden we have 140 tons in a day to deal with.” McKalips said this material is not to be confused with areas that may have been contaminated with oil that leaked from storage tanks under trailers. That will be going through a separate process monitored by the DEQ.RSWA to conduct engineering study on new paper-sort facilityPlanning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions takes many forms. Albemarle County’s Climate Action Plan has a whole chapter on “sustainable materials management” which has multiple strategies to divert items from landfills. Strategy 5.1.3 is to “identify if there is a need to local additional paper/cardboard balers in Albemarle County.” That item is under review by the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority and McKalips gave a briefing.The RSWA operates a facility on Meade Avenue that sorts paper material brought to the Ivy Materials Utilization Center and the McIntire Recycling Center. “People put their recyclable materials in there and we take those back to the paper sort facility and we by and large bale all of those products,” McKalips said. “That allows us to save a lot of shipping costs in getting them to our vendors.”However, there are access issues with the site that have to be addressed. The property on which the facility is located on Meade Avenue is leased from Woolen Mills Self Storage but RSWA can only access it on property leased by Gerdau Metals Recycling. An access agreement has a 90-day termination clause and the bailing equipment is over 20 years old. “The thing has been well used and it’s getting near the end of its service life,” McKalips said. That’s prompted McKalips to see if there’s another option for the future. For instance, there’s not enough covered storage space to keep the material protected from rain and moisture that would make it unusable for recycling. The RSWA also collects paper material from other private collection sites such as at Kohl’s and Wal-Mart. That creates logistical issues with what to bale and when. “So this facility gets a lot of cardboard,” McKalips said. “That cardboard isn’t conducive to pushing that back into a trailer and pulling it out later so we leave it out front and then that’s one of the earliest products to get bailed. Having said that though, we have all [these] materials that need to be pulled back out, driven around the cardboard, and baled.”So with a future need, McKalips presented three options for the future. The first would renovate and expand on site and would have have a $2 million capital cost. The second would be to skip the local baling facility entirely and ship out to other entities. That would include no capital costs, but increase operating costs of $550,000 in the first year and $300,000 each year after. The third would be to build a new paper sort facility with two bailers. “Obviously this is going to be the most expensive option,” McKalips said. “It was looking to be about $4.3 million in the feasibility study.” If the third option is pursued, McKalips said the next step is to work with Albemarle and Charlottesville to identify a potential site for the new location. They’ll need about three acres of land. Lance Stewart, Albemarle’s Director of Facilities and Environmental Services, said that he is hopeful to be able to work with city government to develop an approach to move forward with a new facility. “I think it’s a complex set of issues that hopefully we can come together on,” Stewart said. The presentation comes just as Albemarle and Charlottesville are about to start their budget cycle. The RSWA Board reached consensus to direct staff to move forward with the engineering study for a new facility. Thank you for reading! Please send on to someone else you think might be interested, and please let me know if you have any questions! This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
Links and resources mentioned: Current Scientific Evidence for a Polarized Cardiovascular Endurance Training Model Fast Talk Labs podcast VDOT calculator Book – “Saddle, Sore: Ride Comfortably, Ride Happy” by Molly Huddle Trace Minerals on Amazon Women’s bike seats: a pressing matter for competitive female cyclists Hand Numbness While Biking: What to Do Fullscript – […] The post ATC 332: Those Final Weeks To Nail A Marathon PR, Numbness on the Bike, What Polarized Training Can Offer, and More first appeared on Endurance Planet.
FREE 7 day individualized custom training--> www.run4prs.com fill out the form to begin! We ask the audience on IG what questions they have and we answer in a podcast forum allowing for a greater discussion of the question than on an IG story. We love to help runners achieve their goals and grow a better understanding of the sport. 1- WHY IS SLOWING DOWN SO HARD? I FEEL LIKE I AM ALWAYS IN THE GRAY ZONE Running easy feels different. Your form changes. It feels very slow to slow down 2-3 min per mile slower than 5k pace. Many people do not find it comfortable because they are not working as hard. It doesn't feel they are doing as much. Our mind doesn't have to focus on running so much so it can wonder. 1- make sure you actually have hard running days too 2- make sure you are running enough mileage 3- don't listen to music 4- run with slower people 5- don't have caffeine before your run 6-opt for no watch and run in trails 2-HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO SPEED WORKOUTS FOR HALF MARATHON TRAINING? There are many different types of workouts runners can do. Speed workouts are usually intervals that work on 5k pace or faster. During half marathon training, we want to build your aerobic system as much as possible because the half is 99% aerobic. We would do workouts like threshold runs often. Within a month, we may do 5 tempo workouts and 2 speed workouts. There are benefits to doing some speed workouts but it should not be the only time or the primary focus during half or full marathon training. 3- FOR FIRST MARATHON HOW MANY RUNS & STRENGTH SESSIONS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND? We would want to start at the level you are currently at for running and slowly build. 4-5 days of running per week is a common starting point for marathoners. We would do 1-2 ‘hard running days' per week. We recommend strength training 2x a week on your harder running days. 4- DO PEOPLE END UP RACING IN THE GRAY ZONE? IS THAT BAD? The gray zone is roughly 1-2 min per mile slower than 5k pace. It is the pace we want to avoid during your easy run days. Easy run pace is 2-3 min per mile slower than 5k pace. When we run too fast on easy days, it prohibits us from running to our potential in workouts/during race day. Marathon pace is usually the upper end of your gray zone. Many people set less aggressive goals for their marathon times than VDOT marathon pace, so their ‘goal marathon pace' may actually be in the gray zone. This is okay. It is good. We only want to really avoid this gray zone on easy days.
In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out: If you're curious and want to dig deeper, there's another podcast you might want to try. Especially if you ask why, and not just what. And if you belive that politics should be about making communities better.If so, check out Bold Dominion, a biweekly podcast from WTJU 91.1 FM. Bold Dominion is a state politics explainer for a changing Virginia. Their latest episode asks: Where does Virginia’s trash come from and who does it get dumped on? Check it out at BoldDominion.org.In today’s program:Charlottesville wants offers from groups that want the Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea statueA brief update on recycling efforts from the Rivanna Solid Waste AuthorityFriends of Esmont secure an important resource for the revitalization of the villageCharlottesville-Albemarle MPO advances next round of transportation projectsCharlottesville has opened the process for organizations and other interested parties who are willing to purchase the relocated statue of Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea that stood for over a hundred years on West Main Street. The bronze sculpture by Charles Keck carries the official name “Their First View of the Pacific” and is currently located at the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center in Darden-Towe Park. “Offers are due August 27 with a plan to have recommendations to Council to begin considering which of the offers you may be interested in during the month of September,” said City Manager Chip Boyles. There is a four-page solicitation of offers for the statue that requires applicants to demonstrate recontextualization. “The Recontextualization Plan must include an accurate historical narrative of the positive role Sacajawea provided in the exploration efforts of the Lewis & Clark Expedition and include the concerns that the statue may be interpreted to depict a lesser more subservient role provided by Sacajawea,” reads section 2.5 of the solicitation. The executive director of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center said she would be responding. The Daily Progress caught up with her recently, and I spoke with her two days after the statue was brought to the center on July 10. Boyles made his comments at last night’s City Council meeting. He also encouraged people to spread the word that the city is looking for bus drivers.“Starting pay begins now at $16.97 an hour and up according to qualifications, and includes a city full-time employee health care benefits and most importantly with your approval at the last meeting provides a $2,400 sign-on bonus for both transit drivers and school bus drivers,” Boyles said. I’ll have more from the City Council meeting in an upcoming version of the newsletter. “Their First View of the Pacific” is currently being stored at the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. This photo is from December 2014 as the hotel at the intersection was still under construction. A nonprofit group that seeks to revisit and restore the history of a small village in southern Albemarle County has purchased a commercial building for a future grocery store, museum, and visitor center. Friends of Esmont bought the Purvis Country Store property and have plans to convert it into the Purvis Store Market. An adjacent shed will become a shelter to serve as a trailhead for a future Esmont Trail. Friends of Esmont was founded in 2018 to revitalize Esmont through several projects including the trail, restoration of historic structures, and memorializing the Esmont Depot. According to a history provided by Friends of Esmont, the store dates back to 1900 and was owned by the Purvis family from 1937 to 1989. The structure is a contributing resource in the Southern Albemarle Rural Historic District. Two images of the Purvis Country Store (Credit: Friends of Esmont)Work is set to begin today on replacement of a waterline on Keith Valley Road in the Greenbrier neighborhood. The project will replace a two inch pipe that is over 40 years old. The work will be conducted by Linco, will take about ten weeks, and may result in road closures at times. According to city Communications Director Brian Wheeler, the work will move the line from private property to public right of way at a cost of $74,430. You’re reading and listening to Charlottesville Community Engagement and time for another subscriber-supported public service announcement. THe Charlottesville Jazz Society at cvillejazz.org is dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and preservation of jazz, and there’s no time like now to find a time to get out and watch people love to play. The Charlottesville Jazz Society keeps a running list of what’s coming up at cvillejazz.org. This week, find out that the Charles Owen Trio plays at Potter’s Craft Cider on Thursday, Angelica X and friends play at the Front Porch on Friday, and so much more. Take a look at cvillejazz.org. Reviewing more meetings from late July, both Rivanna authorities met on July 27 for regular meetings. We learned that the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority is receiving more materials at the Ivy Materials Utilization Center (MUC) than in previous years. In June, there were 154.96 tons of construction and domestic waste received at the facility, compared to 101.17 tons in June 2020 and 94.12 tons in June 2019. Executive Director Bill Mawyer said county investment in the MUC and longer hours of operation has made operations more efficient. (RSWA agenda packet)“The net operating cost from the transfer station has declined from in 2018 for about $33 per ton to currently just under $9 per ton,” Mawyer said. The RSWA is seeking permission from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to increase the amount of waste it can process in a day from 300 tons to 450 tons a day. “That would deal with a few of the spike days where we have an extra heavy load,” Mawyer said. The RSWA Board got an annual update on the state of recycling from the solid waste director, Phil McKalips. “There haven’t been a lot of changes with our material pricing,” McKalips said. “It’s been pretty stable surprisingly. Cardboard went up with COVID probably related to a lot of shipping.”Many of the recyclable materials collected either at the McIntire Road drop-off point or the Ivy Convenience Center are sent to a paper sort facility on Meade Avenue. “The cardboard, mixed-paper, and at least currently newsprint is all going to a Sonoco Mill south of Richmond,” McKalips said. “Our plastic films are going to Trex, plastic containers go to Sonoco, office paper goes to Sonoco. Glass is being picked up by Strategic Materials down in Wilson, North Carolina, and our metals go to Gerdau.” McKalips said revenues from glass recycling have dropped from $25 a ton to zero, a situation he continues to monitor. “We continuously get requests to look into doing additional types of recycling, recycling new materials,” McKalips said. “One that’s come in recently is styrofoam and I’m kind of exploring that. We try and generate and flesh out whether that seems plausible we’ll bring that to the board.”The RSWA is currently working to build a third place to bring recycling at the Keene Convenience Center. Credit: Rivanna Solid Waste AuthorityAnother regional body that met last week was the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Policy Organization’s Policy Board, which consists of two city Councilors, two Albemarle Supervisors, and the administrator of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District. One of the items on their agenda was update of their public participation plan, a document required by federal law. Lucinda Shannon is a planner with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. (read the plan)“We changed the name to the Charlottesville Albemarle MPO Engagement Plan,” Shannon said. “I think with the last plan from the public comments that we received there was some confusion about what this plan was for and the engagement plan outlines the process and activities that the MPO uses to create opportunities for effective participation, communication, and consultation with all parties interested in the development, adoption, and amendment of its transportation plans and projects.”No one spoke at the public hearing and the plan was adopted. A map of the MPO service area included in the planThe main event at the MPO meeting on July 28 was approval of several projects that the MPO will continue to take through the next round of the Smart Scale funding process. Applications are not due until next year but concern over a project in the last cycle led to a reform of the public engagement process. (view the presentation)District Avenue Roundabout Hillsdale Avenue Extension Rivanna River Bike & Pedestrian Crossing Avon Street Corridor 5th Street CorridorThe MPO can submit four applications, as can the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission itself. To review this presentation and learn more about the projects, click this link and you’ll go right to that point in the YouTube video. (read the staff report)Concepts for the Avon and 5th Street corridors will be further refined (Source: Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission)A member of the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee had been lobbying for a flyover road to be constructed to relieve traffic congestion in the area around Hydraulic Road, U.S. 29 and the U.S. 250 bypass. The idea will not proceed at this time out of concerns the Smart Scale process would not fund such a project. Chuck Proctor, an engineer in VDOT’s Culpeper District, said people interested in the overall transportation system will have the chance in the near future to influence its future as the MPO begins review of the Long Range Transportation Plan next spring. “The long range planning process is what we’re going to be basically be kicking off in the spring at the MPO and in that process we’re going to be identifying and looking at the needs in the region and identifying solutions to those needs and that’s going to be the place where we need to look at this as possibly an option to address a concern of traffic flowing through the area,” Proctor said. The current long range transportation plan was adopted in May 2019. (plan’s website)At the end of the MPO meeting, the public got an update on the Afton Express, a commuter bus route that will begin service between Staunton and Charlottesville in September. Sara Pennington is the program manager for RideShare, a service of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. “The service is going to be administered by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, our counterparts across the mountain,” Pennington said. “They are on a demonstration grant from the [Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation] to offer this service starting September 1.” On the eastern side of the Blue Ridge, the service will stop twice at the University of Virginia, the Amtrak station, the Downtown Transit Station, and twice at Fifth Street Station. Fares are $3 each way, though the first month will be free. Visit britebus.org for the schedule. “This program is really designed for the commuter,” Pennington said. “They specifically scheduled most of this to revolve around working hours.” Albemarle County recently received funding through Smart Scale for a park and ride lot at Exit 107 on Interstate-64. The idea is for Afton Express to stop there once it’s been built.What about you? If you live in the Shenandoah Valley and work in Charlottesville, would you ride it? What about transit in general? I’m interested in the topic, which is why I cover the topic so much. I’ll have more about efforts in Albemarle County to expand service in a future edition of the newsletter. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
In today’s first Patreon-fueled shout-out is for the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign, an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water. Start at the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you! On today’s program: An update on COVID numbers in Virginia and masking policies in area schoolsCharlottesville Area Association of Realtors takes a look at the housing marketCity Council considers next year’s budget, approves additional funding for additional study on affordable housing Over the weekend, Virginia added another 3,555 cases and the seven-day daily average is now 1,108 cases a day and the percent positivity is six percent. The average number of vaccinations a day has increased to an average of 12,414 a day from 11,438 a week ago. The percentage of Virginians totally vaccinated has increased to 54.1 percent. If you have questions about what’s happening, you’ll have the chance to ask health officials questions at a town hall that the Blue Ridge Health District will hold on Thursday, August 5, at 1 p.m. You can ask in advance by sending them a message by Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. Panelists will include Dr. Denise Bonds of the health district and pediatricians Dr. Paige Perriello and Dr. Jeffrey Vergales. Register on Zoom.When Nelson County opens its public schools later this summer, masks will be required for all students, staff, and visitors. That message was included in a letter the school system sent to parents that included a survey about preferences going forward. That also includes students on school buses. (letter)Albemarle County will also require masks indoors when school begins on August 23. “Our mitigation strategies throughout this pandemic have served the health interests of our students, families and staff very well,” said Rosalyn Schmitt, the division’s Chief Operating Officer. “Since March 2020, we have had nearly 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students, staff, and on-site contractors. Yet, there are very few instances in which it is suspected that transmission of the virus occurred on school property,” she said. Families in Albemarle can still continue to request a virtual option, and the school division even now has a principal devoted to that option. Some changes have been made. Temperature checks will not be required to enter buildings and school buses will operate at full capacity due to the installation of air purifying HEPA filters. Meanwhile, the Amherst County School Board voted Thursday to make mask-wearing optional. Today’s dashboard from the Blue Ridge Health DistrictThe town administrator of Scottsville declared a state of emergency on Friday retroactive to late Wednesday night, when a powerful thunderstorm raged through the town. “There was significant heavy rain which flooded several buildings,” reads the declaration from Matt Lawless. “Large hail damaged vehicles, buildings, and crops. High winds damaged buildings and were especially damaging to trees and utility poles.”The declaration was made after the fact because Scottsville was without power for most of the day Thursday and parts of Friday. (Virginia code on local emergencies)“In accordance with this Declaration, the Town will participate in the Regional Emergency Operations Plan,” the document continues. “The Town will furnish aid and assistance under the regional plan.”Lawless said the damage to town government is about $5,000, and details on other damages are still coming in. The Scottsville library remains closed today due to damage, though curbside service is available. Scottsville Town Council will need to ratify the Declaration at their meeting on August 16. (Declaration)An Albemarle County company is among eight Virginia firms that have recently graduated from a statewide economic development program intended to boost their international exports. Greenberry’s Franchising Corporation is a growing suite of coffee retailers that went through the Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program put on by the Virginia Economic Development partnership. “The success of Virginia businesses both at home and abroad is key to maintaining strong, resilient state and local economies,” said Governor Northam in a release. “The VALET program equips growth-minded companies with the resources they need to stay competitive in today’s global marketplace and expand trade opportunities in a post-pandemic world. I congratulate these eight graduates on their impressive export sales and remain confident that they will continue to contribute to the economic vitality of our Commonwealth in the years to come.”Two other companies that completed the program are AccuTec Blades of Augusta County and Paul’s Fan Company of Buchanan County. The Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors has reviewed sales from the second quarter this year and found that home prices are up, as is volume of transactions. According to the report, there were 1,533 homes sold in their coverage area April through June, a thirty percent increase over the same period in 2020. Median sales prices were 13 percent over last year to $376,000, up from $295,500 in the same period four years ago. CAAR also reports the number of listings were down by 48 percent. In addition to Charlottesville, CAAR covers Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson counties. Sales in Nelson County were up 85 percent over 2020. You can get the report from the CAAR website at caar.com.Download the whole report at caar.com--You’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement and it’s time now for another reader-supported announcement. The nonprofit group Resilient Virginia works to inform decision makers and officials about how to prepare for a changing world. They’re holding their annual event virtually this year, and registration prices go up at the end of this week. The Resilient Recovery Conference will take place the mornings of August 25, August 26, and August 27. Take a look at the details of the event as well as pricing at resilientvirginia.org. Tonight, Charlottesville City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. and the rest of today’s show looks back at recent conversation from a work session last week. Council held the second reading of an appropriation of $165,000 to conduct a review of the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund and to further define how the upcoming rewrite of the city’s zoning ordinance will be “inclusionary” in order to carry out the goals of the affordable housing plan adobe by Council in March. The additional funding will go to broaden the scope of the overall Cville Plans Together initiative. (read the Affordable Housing Plan)Councilor Lloyd Snook said he supported the effort, but sought clarity about what the deliverable product would be for the additional review. “I would hope that before things get too far along, somebody in the city government whether its someone in the city government whether it’s the City Manager’s office, whether it’s in [the Department of Neighborhood Development Services], I’m not sure who, would sit down with Rhodeside & Harwell and figure out what specifically we’re going to get in the way of an evaluation of these incentives,” Snook said. To continue the story, let’s go back to the July 21st meeting of the city’s Housing Advisory Committee, an appointed group that consists of representatives from a wide spectrum of stakeholders. A new member who joined the group at that meeting is also running for City Council. (watch the HAC video)“Thank you, Juandiego Wade with the city of Charlottesville School Board,” Wade said. Two other people new to the HAC and new to Charlottesville city government are two new top deputies to City Manager Chip Boyles. Ashley Marshall has been Deputy City Manager for Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion since May, and Sam Sanders has been Deputy City Manager for Operations for a little over two weeks. Sanders will oversee the Department of Neighborhood Development Services, and will play a lead role in overseeing the rest of the Cville Plans Together initiative. More specifically, Sanders will help implement the affordable housing plan adopted by Council. One of the three main points of the plan is to “adopt progressive and inclusionary zoning reforms.” The HAC’s discussion at their July 21 meeting covered how to implement that affordable housing plan. Phil d’Oronzio is the body’s chair.“Now that we have an agreed-upon in principle affordable housing plan, now what do we do?” d’Oronzio said.Deputy City Manager Sanders had the opportunity to go first. “The number one priority that I was given the day I walked in and honestly I’ll tell you 45 days before I arrived, number one priority is filling the [Director of Neighborhood Development Services] position,” Sanders said. Sanders said a candidate had been selected, so we could hear soon who that might be. The theme this new person will be charged with implementing is Reimagining NDS. Another key vacancy is the housing coordinator position, who will be charged with tracking the metrics by which the affordable housing plan will be measured. “But I guess the key thing we have to point out as it related to the affordable housing plan is that we don’t have the money yet,” Sanders said. “There’s a $10 million allocation that we’re all excited about being able to say that we’re going to receive it every year, but it has not yet been realized yet but it’s going to take that happening before the real implementation can begin.”The housing coordinator position has been vacant for a year, since John Sales left to become executive director of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Sanders said the city needs staff in the housing office to do the work. The plan itself calls for a culture change.“There is a culture in which City staff can be at odds with the development community and the advocacy community, which limits the effectiveness of housing and development policies,” reads page 70 of the plan. Details from the affordable housing plan about how the city should hire more housing staffSanders said the reason for the $165,000 is to pay consultant HR&A Advisors to go back to work on Charlottesville affordable housing policy. The scope for the adopted plan did not include a review of how the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund has worked to date. That review has not been done in recent years.“It needed to be done because it was one of my questions.” Sanders said. “I said, hey, give me a summary of what we’ve done. And the response was: we can’t.”So now, back to City Council’s meeting from July 28 and a reminder they were talking about whether to approve the $165,000. Here’s Councilor Lloyd Snook again.“I just want to make sure that it gets guided before we get a final product,” Snook said. Sanders explained to Council the two areas of work that the additional scope will cover. Here’s the bit about the Charlottesville Affordable Housing Fund and the review of the past ten years.“Basically looking at who we gave money to, how much did we give to them, when did we give it to them, and what were the expectations,” Sanders said. “And then there will be the analysis of what were the deliverables that we were able to track through whatever reporting whether they did or not. In addition to looking through what our internal records are, they will be doing site visits.” The second task is to flesh out the inclusionary zoning aspects of the upcoming rewrite of the zoning ordinance. The topic is currently covered on pages 94 through 96 in the housing plan adopted by Council in March. Now the consultants will turn the ideas into specific code. “The goal of it was to have the consultants help us design what an inclusionary zoning program could look like,” Sanders said. Sanders said the program would be customized for Charlottesville to fit the city’s needs and that Council would have the final say. Council approved the resolution to move forward with that work and then moved on to a conversation about the strategic plan as well as introductory work into the Fiscal Year 2023 budget development process. As of today, there are 333 days until July 1, 2022, when that budget will begin. It may seem a long way off, but there are some big ticket items that the city is planning on financing in upcoming years. Here’s City Manager Chip Boyles. “The financial items are so large and with that we’ll be talking about the reconfiguration of the school and a couple of capital improvement plan projects that decisions do have to be made on in the very near future,” Boyles said. Council put their strategic planning process on hold at the end of last year shortly before Boyles was hired as City Manager. Boyles said he needs some input about how to prepare the budget for next year, but there is not time this year for a full update of the plan so he asked for an extension of the existing plan in the short-term, while allowing for some amendments such as elevating the role equity will play in the fiscal year 23 budget. There’s strategic planning, and then there’s logistical planning. In the current five-year capital improvement program budget, Council included a placeholder of $50 million to cover the cost of the first step of a reconfiguration of Charlottesville schools. Krissy Hammil is a senior budget management analyst for the city of Charlottesville. Earlier this year, she told Council repeatedly that doing so would be based on an assumption of increases in the city’s property tax rate. (read my November 2020 story)“One of the things that is kind of a continuing conversation that we started last year is the school reconfiguration project and the need for the tax increase for the debt service that will be associated with that,” Hammil said. Hammil said that level of funding anticipates an eventual ten cent increase in the tax rate to cover the additional debt service. The capital improvement program is at its limit, and the school system now wants $60 million for the first phase of reconfiguration.Hammil said the current capital program also assumes the city will proceed with the West Main Streetscape, a multi-phased project that requires city funds to match state and federal money that’s already been awarded. “West Main is still a decision point that will need to be discussed,” Hammil said. “Currently there is $18 and a quarter million dollars that are programmed in for bonds that have been authorized for that project. If we are now moving the school reconfiguration to $60 million then $10 million of that will need to be reprogrammed from the West Main project and moved to the school project.” Hammil also said that if the school reconfiguration project is moved up to FY2024, the ten cent tax increase will have to happen all at once rather than be phased in over multiple years. Another source of funding for the future is a potential sales tax increase with proceeds dedicated to school improvements. Such a rise would require a referendum, something that not yet been scheduled. There’s a second phase planned in the future to upgrade Walker. In the meantime, Councilor Payne said he would support reducing funds for the West Main Streetscape. “I just don’t see any realistic way to be able to afford school reconfiguration and our other priorities unless we’re cutting that,” Payne said. “The only way I could maybe see it being possible as if there is some sort of an infrastructure bill passed by Congress and there’s some way we’re able to take advantage of that.”Boyles said staff will be meeting with VDOT to determine the last possible time when the city can indicate whether the first phase of West Main will be conducted. To recap, study for the streetscape got underway in September 2013 with work overseen by the firm Rhodeside & Harwell. The project is divided into four geographical phases, three of which have received different levels of funding from VDOT. In June, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $10.8 million for the third phase of the project and no local match is required. “The time is clicking on the very first funding that we received from Smart Scale and while they initially have agreed to us being able to delay that so we could combine the three phases all together into one contract, they are still limited in to how far they could push that out,” Boyles said. That meeting with VDOT is scheduled for this Friday. Council ended up making no firm decision on West Main, similar to their conversation in February. Read my story from then to learn more. By the end of this meeting, Council asked for more information about how the sales tax referendum might be implemented. Here’s City Councillor Heather Hill.“Part of the beauty of this sales tax is that it is actually is very deliberate and its for capital improvements for schools up to a certain number of years,” Hill said. Stay tuned. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:22). Sections below are the following: Transcript of Audio Audio Notes and Acknowledgments ImagesExtra Information Sources Related Water Radio Episodes For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.). Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 7-29-21. TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of August 2, 2021. This revised episode from September 2018 is part of a series this year of episodes related to watersheds and river basins. MUSIC – ~10 sec – instrumental This week, we feature a Virginia singer/songwriter's music about time and changes along one of the Commonwealth's major rivers. Have a listen for about 30 more seconds. MUSIC – ~ 30 sec – Lyrics: “Roads and boards, mills and mines used to line this stream--all reclaimed by floods and vines, foundations sprouting gums and pines. River flows on, so does time. Canoe splits Rappahannock water; dip my paddle, let it glide.” You've been listening to part of “Solitude,” by Bob Gramann of Fredericksburg, on the 2000 album, “That Squirrel Song.” This and other river-themed songs by Mr. Gramann come in large part from his years of paddling the upper Rappahannock River and its tributaries, in the area between the Blue Ridge and the Fall Line at Fredericksburg. The part of “Solitude” you heard describes some of the changes along the Rappahannock wrought by time and the effects of water, weather, humans, and other organisms. Observers of other Virginia rivers and their watersheds might tell similar stories of change. Some riverside changes—such as flood impacts—happen relatively quickly. Others move at a slower pace, as with trees growing in an abandoned building foundation. Whatever the pace, changes seen in and along a river reflect events happening not only in the river channel but also upstream in the river's watershed. Flooding, for example, is affected by upstream land uses and tributary patterns. In turn, water flows affect stream and river shapes and materials, determining what habitats are available for living things. And throughout a watershed, humans have land and water uses that affect downstream water quantity and quality.Virginia's rivers are continually being changed by unrelenting time and unceasing forces, and those rivers continue to provide services like water supply, irrigation, power generation, and others. With all that going on, it's challenging and worthwhile to ensure that the Commonwealth's rivers retain places offering solitude and fostering creativity, such as in this week's music. Thanks to Bob Gramann for permission to use the music, and we close with about 35 more seconds of “Solitude.” MUSIC – ~ 33 sec – Lyrics: “Rain and sleet, wind or heat, it's all the same to me. Weather—you can never choose; each day that's mine, that day I'll use, to flee from time in my canoe, its bow splits Rappahannock water. Dip my paddle, let it fly.” SHIP'S BELL Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment. For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624. Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show. In Blacksburg, I'm Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water. AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This Virginia Water Radio episode revises and replaces Episode 437, 9-10-18. “Solitude,” from the 2000 album “That Squirrel Song,” is copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission. More information about Bob Gramann is available online at https://www.bobgramann.com/folksinger.html. Click here if you'd like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode. More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com. IMAGES The following photos along the Rappahannock River in Virginia were taken by Bob Gramann (except as noted) and used with his permission. Rappahannock River at the confluence with the Rapidan River (at the juncture of the Virginia counties of Culpeper, Spotsylvania, and Stafford), April 2004.Rappahannock River at low water (view toward Stafford County, Va.), August 2011.Rappahannock River in winter (view toward Stafford County, Va.), February 2006.Bob Gramann, composer of the music heard in the Virginia Water Radio episode, canoeing in the Rappahannock River's “First Drop” at Fredericksburg, Va., April 1, 2018. Photo by Lou Gramann.EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT THE UPPER RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER AND ITS WATERSHED The following information is quoted from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “Rappahannock River-Upper," online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/waterbody/rappahannock-river-upper/. “The Rappahannock River flows from its origin at Chester Gap in Rappahannock County approximately 184 miles to the Chesapeake Bay. The first 62 miles, from the headwaters to Mayfield Bridge (Fredericksburg), are designated State Scenic River. The river has a watershed of approximately 2,715 mi2, and average annual discharge near Fredericksburg is typically about 1,639 cubic feet per second (cfs). “During Colonial days, the Rappahannock River was a major shipping artery for transporting tobacco, salted fish, iron ore, and grains. The watershed supports a variety of land uses; largely agricultural in the upper watershed, with manufacturing, light industrial, and retail applications throughout. Soil erosion is a problem in the upper watershed. Runoff from the major tributaries (Rapidan and Hazel Rivers) leaves the Rappahannock muddy after even minor storm events. “Access to the Rappahannock system (defined here as the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers) is fairly limited and primitive. Established access points on the Rappahannock (traveling downstream) are at Kelly's Ford (Route 672 off Route 651) in Culpeper County and Motts Landing (Route 618) in Spotsylvania County. About 25 miles separates these canoe/Jon boat slides, and an overnight camp stop is nearly mandatory for those that float fish this reach. Another access point is located on the Rapidan River at Elys Ford (Route 610) in Spotsylvania County about 14 miles upstream of Motts Landing. Access may also be gained via several non-established points. These consist of VDOT right-of-ways along bridges (e.g., Route 522 on the Rapidan). … “The Rappahannock River's character changes abruptly in Fredericksburg at the fall line (the limit of tidal influence). Above the fall line, the river is usually clear, swift, and dominant substrates are bedrock, boulder and cobble providing perfect habitat for smallmouth bass and related species. However, below Route 1 the river is tidal, and the substrate is finer, dominated by sand; and the water is frequently murky. Species composition shifts with habitat, and largemouth bass, catfish and anadromous species are more common in and below Fredericksburg. Boaters and anglers can now navigate from upstream access points such as Motts Landing across the old Embrey Dam site and into the tidal waters adjacent to Fredericksburg.” SOURCES Used for Audio U.S. Geological Survey, “Water Use in the United States,” online at https://www.usgs.gov/mission-areas/water-resources/science/water-use-united-states?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects. Virginia Department of Environmental Quality:“Commonwealth of Virginia State Water Resources Plan,” April 2015, available online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/water-supply-planning/virginia-water-resources-plan;“Final 2020 305(b)/303(d) Water Quality Assessment Integrated Report,” online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quality/assessments/integrated-report;“Status of Virginia's Water Resources,” October 2020, online (as a PDF) at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/2119/637432838113030000;“Water Quantity,” online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity. Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources:“Rappahannock River-Upper," online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/waterbody/rappahannock-river-upper/; “Rappahannock River-Tidal,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/waterbody/rappahannock-river-tidal/.For More Information about the Rappahannock River City of Fredericksburg, Va., “Rappahannock River,” online at https://www.fredericksburgva.gov/210/Rappahannock-River. Friends of the Rappahannock (non-profit organization), online at http://www.riverfriends.org/. Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission, “Local TMDLs,” online at https://www.rrregion.org/program_areas/environmental/local_tmdls.php. Located at this site are Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) reports on the Upper Rappahannock River, the Hazel River, and other Rappahannock River basin waterways. RappFLOW (Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watersheds; non-profit organization), online at https://rappflow.org/.For More Information about Watersheds and River Basins Richard B. Alexander et al., “The Role of Headwater Streams in Downstream Water Quality,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Vol. 43, No. 1, February 2007, pages 41-59; available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3307624/(subscription may be required). Radford University, “Virginia's Rivers, online at http://www.radford.edu/jtso/GeologyofVirginia/VirginiasRivers/Drainage-1.html. Craig Snyder, et al., “Significance of Headwater Streams and Perennial Springs in Ecological Monitoring in Shenandoah National Park,” 2013, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1178; available online (as a PDF) at https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2013/1178/pdf/ofr2013-1178.pdf. U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service/Virginia, “2020 Virginia Water Resources Progress Report,” online at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/va/programs/planning/. This report has descriptions of projects in many Virginia watersheds. The 2017 report is online at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/va/programs/planning/wo/. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “How's My Waterway,” online at https://www.epa.gov/waterdata/hows-my-waterway. U.S. Geological Survey, “Water Science School/Watersheds and Drainage Basins,” online at https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/watersheds-and-drainage-basins?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, “Hydrologic Unit Geography,” online at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil-and-water/hu; and “Virginia's Major Watersheds,” online at http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil-and-water/wsheds. Virginia Places, “The Continental (and Other) Divides,” online at http://www.virginiaplaces.org/watersheds/divides.html. Virginia Places, “Rivers and Watersheds of Virginia,” online at http://www.virginiaplaces.org/watersheds/index.html. Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Virginia Water Central Newsletter, February 2000, “Divide and Confluence,” by Alan Raflo (pages 8-11); available online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/49316. RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html). See particularly the Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” subject category. Following are links to some previous episodes on the Rappahannock River or its watershed.Hazel River introduction (Rappahannock River watershed) – Episode 339, 10-24-16.Madison County flooding in 1995 (on Rapidan River, in Rappahannock River watershed) – Episode 272, 6-29-15.Rappahannock River introduction – Episode 89, 11-21-11.Following are links to some other episodes on watersheds and Virginia rivers. Big Otter River introduction (Roanoke River watershed) – Episode 419, 5-7-18.Big Sandy River watershed introduction – Episode 419, 5-7-18.Blue Ridge origin of river watersheds – Episode 583, 6-28-21.Bluffs on rivers and other waters – Episode 587, 7-26-21.Bullpasture and Cowpasture rivers introduction (James River watershed) – Episode 469, 4-22-19.Headwater streams – Episode 582, 6-21-21.Jackson River introduction (James River watershed) – Episode 428, 7-9-19.Musical tour of rivers and watersheds - Episode 251, 2-2-15.New River introduction – Episode 109, 5-7-12.Ohio River basin introduction – Episode 421, 5-21-18.Ohio River basin connections through watersheds and history – Episode 422, 5-28-18.Passage Creek and Fort Valley introduction (Shenandoah River watershed) – Episode 331 – 8/29/16.Shenandoah River introduction –
With the summer heat in full swing, your local energy nonprofit, LEAP, wants you and yours to keep cool. LEAP offers FREE home weatherization to income- and age-qualifying residents. If you’re age 60 or older, or have an annual household income of less than $74,950, you may qualify for a free energy assessment and home energy improvements such as insulation and air sealing. Sign up today to lower your energy bills, increase comfort, and reduce energy waste at home!On today’s show:An uptick in COVID cases continues throughout VirginiaCouncil approves Fontaine Avenue streetscape design and extra funding for Meadow Creek Valley trail Charlottesville Area Transit continues route change public input session while Albemarle gets ready for theirs Today the seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in Virginia is 671 and the seven-day percent positivity has increased to 4.3 percent. As of today, 53.6 percent of Virginians are fully vaccinated, and do keep in mind that this number includes people under the age of 12 who cannot yet receive a shot. From June 19 to July 18 this year, there have been 8,012 new cases of COVID in Virginia and 97.09 percent cases are in people not fully vaccinated. There have been 25 deaths, and all but two were in people not fully vaccinated.Dr. Costi Sifri is the director of hospital epidemiology at the University of Virginia. “I think we’re fortunate in Charlottesville and Albemarle and our surrounding communities because we have a relatively high vaccination rate and we are also in a state that is one of those minority of states that vaccine rates that are above 50 percent and that’s provided some barriers to widespread transmission of Delta,” Dr. Sifri said. Dr. Sifri acknowledged the uptick in cases, but said other parts of the country are experiencing much steeper climbs. Source: Virginia Department of HealthThe Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission has been granted $2 million to spend on affordable housing projects. The funding comes from a statewide initiative from Virginia Housing called Resources Enabling Affordable Community Housing in Virginia, or REACH. Earlier this month, the agency announced it would spread $40 million around the state. Nonprofit groups, developers and others will be able to apply for the funding to help finance new construction. “This funding puts the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership (CVRHP) and the TJPDC in a strong position to be able to contribute to affordable housing solutions through the development of new rental, homeowner, and/or mixed-use housing opportunities,” said Christine Jacobs, the interim director of the TJPDC. The TJPDC has received funding for planning projects related to housing, but this is the first time the regional agency will play a role in the financing. Details to follow, and we’ll learn more at the TJPDC’s meeting on August 5. Work on the replacement of the Belmont Bridge is picking up. Beginning today, flagging crews will periodically halt the flow of traffic while work is conducted to relocate utility lines. “The contractor is undergrounding electrical as well as telecommunication lines to accommodate the future pedestrian underpass under 9th/Avon Street between South Street and Monticello Road,” reads a release sent out Friday afternoon.More information about how construction will be conducted will be given out at an information meeting on August 11. Materials for an appearance before the Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review in August 2019*Today’s main segment consists on a lot of catch-up items from last week. Charlottesville will seek additional funding to implement a plan to build a trail along Meadow Creek through the City of Charlottesville. Trails planner Chris Gensic told Council the details last week on a Transportation Alternatives grant opportunity offered by the Virginia Department of Transportation. “The grant the parks department is pursuing is to construct a long awaited portion of an [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessible the Meadow Creek valley from the Michie Drive area up to the Virginia Institute of Autism at Greenbrier Drive and also around the corner to Greenbrier Park,” Gensic said. The city will use $135,000 from an already-funded capital account for trails to match federal dollars that come through VDOT for a total of $675,000.“That’s on top of about $375,000 we already have for this particular project,” Gensic said. “Costs have gone up over the years so we’ve determined we’re going to need this extra money for this particular project in Meadow Creek.” Council approves Fontaine Avenue streetscape designCouncil also approved the design for the $11.7 million Fontaine Avenue Streetscape, a project funded by VDOT’s Smart Scale in 2017 that is working through the long process from idea to construction. Kyle Kling is a transportation planning manager for the City of Charlottesville.“In January of 2020, Council accepted the Planning Commission’s recommendation that this project’s conceptual design was found to be in accordance with the city’s Comprehensive Plan,” Kling said. But what is the project, and what will it do for the half-mile stretch of Fontaine Avenue from city limits to where the roadway becomes Jefferson Park Avenue? Owen Peery is an engineer with design firm RK&K. “In line with the City of Charlottesville’s overall transportation goals, the project seeks to make Fontaine Avenue a complete street which should produce accommodations for all users,” Peery said. “Ensuring safe passage for pedestrians and bicyclists, understanding that this serves as a gateway corridor into the city and ensuring the impression is attractive and improving access to local facilities and ensuring these facilities are easily accessed by pedestrians, bicyclist, and transit users.” Final design will continue while property is acquired for public right of way, and construction would begin sometime in 2023. Councilor Michael Payne had a question about something not in the plan. “I’ve been reading through some of the community feedback and there are a couple of people who have raised the question of why these aren’t protected bike lanes with bollards or some kind of physical separation between the bike lane and the road where cars are,” Payne said. Kling said the main reason is the need to keep the travel lanes accessible to emergency vehicles given the presence of the Fontaine fire station. “We felt that if we were to put 11-foot travel lanes out there with some type of separated facility restricting access, it would make it more challenging for those vehicles to travel the corridor when needed,” Kling said.The other reason is the presence of lots of driveways along the roadway, which would need to be closed. Mayor Nikuyah Walker asked City Manager Chip Boyles to ask the University of Virginia to contribute financially if there are any cost overruns. Specifically, she suggested the city could ask to transfer some of UVA’s $5 million commitment for the fourth phase of West Main Street. “There’s a lot of traffic in that area due to their work too that maybe that could be transferred,” Walker said. “I think its a conversation that is worth having,” Walker said. Materials for the May Design Public Hearing included a video drive-through of the road post construction. Visit the project website to review the info.Limited options to assist GreyhoundAt the very end of the meeting, City Councilor Heather Hill asked if the city would be playing any role in the plight of Greyhound, which has closed its station on West Main Street but still picks up passengers on the street. “I just want to acknowledge to the public that we’re hearing the frustrations,” Hill said. “The most recent comment that came today was around the role our own bus station could play as a housing location for those stops.”City Manager Chip Boyles said he is concerned about the situation.“A lot of our citizens utilize Greyhound to travel,” Boyles said. “We are very limited in what we can do because it is a private carrier and a private service.”Boyles said the city has been asked to provide a shelter, but they can’t do so on private property without a landowners’ permission. Still, he is trying to work out a solution.“We would love to talk with Greyhound,” Boyles said. “I know that they have inquired. The last that we heard was that they were just looking for someone to take over the service.” For many years, the city helped subsidize Greyhound but stopped the practice beginning with the FY2014 budget. Two other intercity bus services travel through Charlottesville, though both go north to rather than southeast to Richmond. These are the Piedmont Express run by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and Megabus. Both of those services utilize a stop at Arlington Boulevard and Barracks Road. Charlottesville completes transit public input sessionsKeeping on the transit theme, last week Charlottesville Area Transit held the second of two public input sessions on upcoming route changes. The presentation on July 21 was the same as five days earlier. This time the first question came from Jane Colony Mills, the executive of the food pantry Loaves and Fishes.“We are located down Lambs Road at the intersection of Hydraulic and Lambs,” said Mills. “We serve probably 25 to 30 percent of Charlottesville’s population but if you don’t have a vehicle they can’t get to us.” The nearest bus line is Route 5, and it’s about three quarters of a mile away from the nearest stop on Commonwealth Drive. “I was out doing registration today and there are just numerous people who have to catch rides or figure out other ways of accessing our services because they can’t get here on public transport,” Colony Mills said. Another person on the call wanted to know if service could be restored to Albemarle Square, which has a new tenant in a new grocery store. CAT Deputy Director Juwhan Lee explained why there are no bus routes there anymore.“The property owner actually asked us to leave the property and so until they invite us back in, we will not able to serve the property directly,” Lee said. The route changes will have to be approved by Council before going into effect.At the same time, Albemarle County and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission begin the public input component of the a study about ways to expand transit in urban Albemarle, with the goal of increasing service to Route 29 north of the Rivanna River, to Pantops, and to Monticello. Tonight’s meeting deals with service in the north and begins at 6 p.m. (meeting info)For more information on the proposed route changes, visit the CAT site This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
Karen Dunn walked off the court at basketball practice with her good friend and teammate in 7th grade, walked directly onto the track team, and never looked back. She loved her coach, the camaraderie and routines with teammates, and discovered she had a talent for running; winning races, setting XC course records, and earning a college scholarship. But it's as a Masters runner, at age 43, where Karen has truly hit her stride and personifies #fasterasamaster. Progressing to the tune of 3:16–3:10–3:08–3:00–2:57–2:43 at the Chicago Marathon to earn her OTQ, digging deep, mining all she can on coaching methodology (Vdot and RRCA certified) and on mindset and visualization We discuss: Mindset books (Elite Minds by Dr. Stan Beecham & Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor), her high school coach/mentor, why the fire burns brighter as a master, the 2 year buildup/grind/journey for an OTQ, her Chicago PR breakthrough & OTQ, what it meant to have her family and run club friends in Atlanta and on the course, what's next, her coaching platform & athletes. On qualifying for and running in the Olympic Trials Marathon: "For me it's a once in a lifetime experience and the epitome of my running career. I want my kids to walk away from it and see me as good role model and hopefully an inspiration to them, as well. Seeing how hard work pays off and if it's something you want and is worth fighting for, you go after it and go all in!" There is SO much inspiration in this one and I hope you all enjoy this conversation as much as we did! If you enjoy the episode, it would mean the world to me if you would rate the podcast or write a review and share feedback wherever you get your podcast groove on. Connect With Karen: Instagram: @strengthenyourstride Website & Coaching: https://www.strengthenyourstride.coach Connect With Ron: Personal Instagram: @ronrunsnyc Podcast Instagram: @runchats_with_ronrunsnyc Facebook: https://fb.me/runchats Website: https://ronrunsnyc.com ---- Produced by: David Margittai | In Post Media Website: https://www.inpostmedia.com Email: email@example.com Social: @_margittai © 2021 Ron Romano
In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out: Help support black-owned business in the Charlottesville area. Check out the Charlottesville Black Business Directory at cvilleblackbiz.com and choose between a variety of goods and services, ranging from beauty supplies, professional services, and e-commerce. Visit cvilleblackbiz.com as soon as you can to get started.On today’s show:Work to begin on roundabout at intersection of Stony Point and Proffit roads in northern AlbemarleThe latest campaign finance is in for candidates in Albemarle and CharlottesvilleThe Charlottesville Planning Commission recommends approval of a rezoning in Belmont that was previously denied in November 2018And discussion of a street closure in the Little High neighborhood could pave the way for a new trail connection We’re in the middle of summer, and it’s been quiet on the local elections front. Not only has there been a lull in campaign events, there was not much campaign finance activity in Albemarle or Charlottesville. Reports for activity between May 28 and June 30 were due yesterday to the Virginia Department of Elections. They have been made available through the Virginia Public Access Project. Democrat Juandiego Wade began the period with a balance of $32,626 and raised an additional $1,015 in cash over that time. He spent $28,381 during the reporting period with $18,000 spent on Liveview Marketing and $2,350 in advertising with the Daily Progress. Wade finished the money with a balance of $5,259. Democrat Brian Pinkston began the month with a balance of $14,152 on hand, and raised an additional $850 in additional funds including $500 in a loan from himself. He spent $12,701 during the period, including the repayment of $9,922 in loans to himself. Pinkston concluded the period with a balance of $2,301. The two independents in the race did not report any fundraising. Incumbent Nikuyah Walker filed a report that stated a campaign balance of $90 with no expenditures or receipts. There is no report yet in the Virginia Department of Elections database from challenger . None of the races for Albemarle County Supervisor are contested this year, but new reports are available all the same from the three candidate. Incumbent Jack Jouett District Supervisor Diantha McKeel raised an additional $500 and reported no spending, bringing her balance to $32,556. Incumbent Rio District Supervisor Ned Gallaway reported no fundraising or spending, and has a balance of $15,809. In the open Samuel Miller seat, Newcomer Jim Andrews raised $2,001 in cash and spent $3,190 in the period, leaving a balance of $29,317. No write-in candidates filed a report. There are four General Assembly races of note in the area. The 25th House District includes part of western Albemarle County. Incumbent Republican Chris Runion began the period with $44,960, raised $13,235, and spent $2,566, leaving a balance of $55,628. Democratic challenger Jennifer Kitchen began the period with $78,249. She raised $29,834, with cash contributions from nearly 600 individuals or entities. Kitchen spent $24,524 and had a end-of-period balance of $83,558.The 57th House District case is contested. Incumbent Democrat Sally Hudson began the period with a balance of $52,254, raised $1,348, and spent $10,742. Her opponent is Republican Philip Hamilton, who began the period with a balance of $1,179 on May 28. Hamilton raised $150 in cash, spent $990, and had a balance of $338 on June 30.In the 58th House District, Incumbent Republican Rob Bell began the period with $264,965 and raised an additional $20,565, spent $3,935, and had a balance of $281,594 on June 30. Challenger Sara Ratcliffe began the period with $2,804, raised $5,532 including $3,002 in loans, and and spent $1,108. The 59th House District includes a portion of southwestern Albemarle and the Republican incumbent is Matt Fariss. Fariss began this reporting period with $12,846 on May 28 and raised $24,120 from 60 individuals or entities. He spent $5,628 in the period and had a balance of $31,338. His Democratic challenger, Ben Moses, began the period with a balance of $130,216 and raised $56,985 in the period with cash coming from 141 individuals or entities. He spent $29,627 and ended the period with a balance of $157,248. Independent Louis Scicli reported no money during the period. Races in the Virginia Senate are not until 2023. *Another roundabout is coming to another corner of Albemarle County. Construction will get underway next week at the intersection of Stony Point Road and Proffit Road for the project, which was funded in the second round of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process in 2017. In order to save money and attract efficiencies, VDOT opted to bundle that project with several others into a single $28.5 million design-build contract that was eventually awarded to Curtis Contracting. Completed projects include a traffic light on U.S. 29 at Interstate 64’s Exit 118 and the Rio Mills Connector Road that opened in June. A conversion of the junction of I-64 and U.S. 250 at Exit 124 is underway, and a roundabout at Route 151 and U.S. 250 southwest of Crozet will begin construction later this summer. (more information)Construction phasing documents for the project (Credit: Virginia Department of Transportation)Today, two segments that make up half of a recap of the Charlottesville Planning Commission meeting from earlier this week. There was a lot of activity and it is all worth documenting. First, the meeting began with announcements. First up was Bill Palmer, the non-voting representative from the University of Virginia’s Office of the Architect. Another office building from the 20th century is coming down. “The demolition of the Dynamics building over at the Emmet/Ivy corridor is underway and a lot of the utility enabling seems to have started over there so that project to enable the Data Science institute as well as the conference center and hotel that we’re building over there so that’s finally getting underway after lots and lots of planning,” Palmer said. The Dynamics building will be demolished. Where will the materials go? (Credit: Charlottesville GIS) Planning Commission Chair Hosea Mitchell serves on the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. He told his colleagues and the public that the Onesty Family Aquatic Center will not open this summer.“The reason is we just can’t get enough lifeguards to support all of the parks we’ve got,” Mitchell said. “This is not unique to Charlottesville. This seems to be a nationwide problem that we just can’t get the lifeguards.” In the first item of business, the Commission considered a rezoning and special use permit for a vacant lot currently zoned R-2, which would allow two units on the property.“The requested rezoning would be to R-3, residential multifamily medium density,” Mitchell said. “And then the following special use permit would then allow the applicant to build eight units.”A similar application went before Commission and the Council in 2018 and was denied by Council in October that year. As part of this application, eight parking spaces would be provided on site. Here’s Matt Alfele, a city planner. “Residents are concerned that the code-required eight parking spaces will not be enough for this development and the overflow parking will impact the surrounding neighborhoods, especially the homes on Chestnut Street,” Alfele said. One change since 2018 involves how vehicles will get in and out of the site. Justin Shimp is the engineer on behalf of MSC. “We have worked with the traffic engineer and we have a one-way entrance off of Carlton because that is a narrow street and the one-way entrance is a safe entrance and we exit out the alley, so there’s no traffic concerns,” Shimp said. Shimp said the rezoning was consistent with the city’s desire to build more housing units.“The reality is that if you look at the goals that are stated for the city in terms of providing housing to folks who take alternate means of transportation, and how to deal with climate change and other issues we face, these sort of in-fill projects are an excellent way to achieve those goals,” Shimp said. Though not a representative of the rental company that would manage the units, Shimp said the one bedroom units would be rented between $1,100 and $1,200, and the two-bedroom unit would be around $1,500. None of the units are being subsidized and will not be proffered to keep them below market. The situation may be different in the future when the Comprehensive Plan is adopted and the zoning ordinance is rewritten. Lisa Robertson is the city attorney.“What we’re all waiting for so anxiously is a zoning ordinance that can have regulations that say if we’re going to require a certain amount of affordable housing for every development of a specific size, we want to be right upfront about what that means and what the paperwork that’s going to be required over the course of the affordability period will be,” Robertson said. Several residents of the immediate neighborhood asked for the rezoning to be denied or for more parking to be required. Another Belmont resident said there should not be more parking.“I have to say I’m a little dismayed by the number of my neighbors who want more car storage here,” Gold said. “This is a really solid location for car-free living.”This time around, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of both the special use permit for more density and the rezoning. It goes next to City Council at a future meeting. The cover of the applicant’s concept plan (download the full PC packet)In today’s second Patreon-fueled shout-out is for the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign, an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water. Start at the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you! Next, the Commission was asked to weigh in on whether Charlottesville should give up public right-of-way between East High Street and Meriwether Street in the Little High Street area. This is what is known as a “paper street” because most of the land dedicated to the city for a road was built upon. Tony Edwards is the Development Services Manager in the city’s Department of Public works. “This subject street was created in 1940 with a subdivision plat that established the Little High neighborhood,” Edwards said. “The 1940 subdivision created a new Lewis Street.”The original play for the Little High Street neighborhoodAn adjacent landowner has asked for the city to give up the right of way in order to avoid a cut-through street from ever being built to the Little High neighborhood. Another nearby landowner asked that an existing gravel path be turned into a formal city trail for bikes and pedestrians.“It was determined that the existing gravel path actually veers outside of the platted right of way of 13th Northeast over the yard of a private residence and a busy parking lot,” Edwards said. “Staff at that time was also of the opinion that establishing a bike and pedestrian connection within the platted right of way would be difficult and expensive.”Nonetheless, city staff recommended not vacating and closing the right of way in part to preserve the possibility of meeting future transportation needs. The applicant for the street closure said one reason for the request is because the amount of developable property on the parcel he manages is less than it should be because of differing building setback rules when there’s an adjacent street - real or paper. In this case, twenty feet versus fifteen. “If you take 20 feet away from the property line, basically, it removes all of that property from utility,” said Roy Van Doorn, the manager of the LLC that owns 1140 East High Street. Van Doorn said a connector road would overwhelm the Little High neighborhood. Under his proposal, there would be more parking for uses on East High Street and he would fix drainage issues. He made this offer on behalf of himself and neighboring properties. “I made a proposal and its on the table that we as property owners around this section would put in a 12-foot wide gravel connector so that bikes and pedestrians could walk in that area,” Van Doorn said. If the city were to work out an arrangement for that land to be dedicated to public use, that connector would need to be built to standards according to traffic engineer Brennen Duncan.“It wouldn’t necessarily have to be built to the full roadway standards but it would have to be built to [Americans with Disabilities Act] or bicycle-trail standards,” Duncan said. The specific question before the Commission was whether vacating the street conformed with the Comprehensive Plan. Commissioner Jody Lahendro said no.“I don’t like the idea of forfeiting the city from the future possibility of doing something,” Lahendro said. Commission Lyle Solla-Yates said he support thinking about the issue more while an arrangement is worked out to use the right of way for non-motorized modes of travel. Van Doorn had sent over his compromise proposal on Monday, which was not enough time for the Planning Commission to get a staff report on the idea. Van Doorn requested a deferral to work through the details of how to make the connector trail work.“Owning the land for us is not that important,” Van Doorn said. “What is important is that the Little High Street neighborhood has a way to utilize connectivity but not automobile,” Van Doorn said. Will this come to pass? Stay tuned in future installments of Charlottesville Community Engagement. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
The Henrico Board of Supervisors awards contracts for new outdoor basketball courts and a phase of the Fall Line Trail; VDOT seeks input about a busy Northside corridor.(Today's Henrico News Minute is brought to you by Henrico County CSB Prevention Services.)Support the show (http://www.henricocitizen.com/contribute)
A year ago today I took a leap of faith to begin bringing you information about what’s happening in the area in and around Charlottesville, with a focus on local meetings. I’m Sean Tubbs, and I’m glad to say that I’m grateful that you and many others have become listeners and readers. The world doesn’t have to be a scary place if people are armed with information and the power of critical thinking. In today’s Substack-fueled shout-out, Code for Charlottesville is seeking volunteers with tech, data, design, and research skills to work on community service projects. Founded in September 2019, Code for Charlottesville has worked on projects with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Charlottesville Fire Department, and the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights. Visit the Code for Charlottesville website to learn more, including details on projects that are underway.In this episode of the program: The Albemarle County Economic Development Authority endorses ownership change at a section of Southwood Community members ask questions at Barracks/Emmet public hearing Several area companies receive funding from Virginia for early-stage research In a sign that the pandemic continues to be dormant, Albemarle County reopened its office buildings to the public yesterday. Though regular business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. have resumed, community members who need to transact business are asked to call 434-243-7929 to ensure that the service is available. The last day the buildings were open to the public was March 27, 2020. Public meetings will remain virtual now as the county continues to operate under a local emergency. At the same time, the Virginia Department of Health today reports another 346 new cases of COVID-19 and the seven-day percent positivity is at 2.3 percent. Today’s count is the highest since May 28 when 404 new cases were reported. Source: Virginia Department of HealthGovernor Ralph Northam has announced that his first budget proposal for the Virginia government’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding will be to use $353 million for small businesses and industries that were hit hard by the pandemic. Part of that will be $50 million to assist the Virginia Tourism Corporation with a Virginia Tourism Recovery Program. Another $250 million will be added to the existing Rebuild VA program. The balance of the funding will to the Industrial Revitalization Fund and the Virginia Main Street program. (release)Two local recovery programs currently have open windows for grant applications. Albemarle County is receiving applications for its Agribusiness Resiliency grant program through July 26 for awards of up to $10,000 through July 26. (apply)Charlottesville’s Office of Economic Development is accepting applications for the second round of their BRACE Grant for small businesses. BRACE stands for Building Resiliency Among Charlottesville Entrepreneurs and offers up to $2,500 for businesses to “gain resiliency and adapt in response to a threat such as the COVID-19 pandemic.” (more information)Several area researchers and entrepreneurs will receive an infusion of funding from the state government to advance development of new technologies. Governor Ralph Northam has announced the inaugural recipients of the Commonwealth Commercialization Fund, which seeks to boost research in a variety of fields including autonomous systems, clean energy, cybersecurity, and data analytics. Grants of up to $100,000 will go to firms engaged in stage technology. (click for full release)“Facilitating research breakthroughs and getting new technologies out of the lab and into the hands of consumers is key to driving economic growth and creating jobs in the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. Recipients in the area include:Advary of Charlottesville will receive $100,000 for Progress Toward Commercialization of a Novel Hydrogen-Based Product for Pelvic BrachytherapyAgroSpheres, Inc of Charlottesville will receive $100,000 for Commercialization of Reliable, Sustainable Crop Protection ProductsBonumose, Inc of Charlottesville will receive $100,000 for Making Healthy Sugar Affordable for the Mass MarketCaza Health LLC of Earlysville will receive $99,898 for Improving Women's Health Outcomes – A New Diagnostic Research ToolCerillo, Inc of Charlottesville will receive $100,000 for Development of a Low-Cost, Miniaturized, Field-Deployable ELISA ReaderContraline, Inc of Charlottesville will receive $100,000 for Development of Market Access Strategy for a Novel Male ContraceptiveIcarus Medical LLC of Charlottesville will receive $99,989 for Determination of Clinical Outcomes for a Novel Multi-Compartment Unloader BraceLaser Thermal Analysis LLC of Charlottesville will receive $50,000 for Steady State Thermoreflectance in Fiber Optics: SSTR-FLeading Edge Advanced Fibers, Inc. of Charlottesville will receive $100,000 for Development of Ultra-Lightweight Materials for Use in SatellitesMetaform of Charlottesville will receive $97,547 for System for Effectively Integrating Disparate Information SourcesOne of several major transportation projects intended to make Charlottesville an easier place to bike or walk passed a milestone last week. In 2017, the city was awarded $8.6 million in Virginia Department of Transportation Smart Scale funds for a project at the intersection of Barracks Road and Emmet Street. The design public hearing was held on July 7, 2021. “The purpose of the project is to improve the operational performance of the Barracks Road and Emmet Street intersection while also enhancing bicycle, pedestrian and transit facilities serving the adjacent neighborhoods,” said the narrator of a presentation shown at the virtual meeting. (watch the full presentation)The work will include a new northbound right-turn lane on Emmet Street, an additional west-bound left-hand turn lane on Barracks Road, upgraded traffic signals, increased medians, and a shared-use path up Barracks Road. Part of the work will involve something called a “pedestrian refuge” to allow slower walkers to cross Emmet Street and take a break. “The scope of bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Barracks Road were less somewhat less defined which provided an opportunity to involve local citizens in the early planning and decision-making process,” the presentation continued. One man expressed concern that this plan seemed to have come from nowhere and that it may not actually work. “This has been a long time question for me about Charlottesville and planning and development,” said Joel Bass. “How do we actually develop in this town without working with [the University of Virginia] and getting feedback from them on their plans?” Bass said what was needed from westbound Barracks Road was a right-hand lane. Before we hear from city staff, some background. In 1986, Albemarle, Charlottesville and UVA signed a Three Party Agreement and until 2019 there was a public body known as the Planning and Coordination Council (PACC) where projects and planning were discussed in the open. Since late 2019, a private body called the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee meets and those events are closed to the public. This LUEPC group last met on June 25, 2021 and there is one page of minutes. (read those minutes)Back to the Barracks/Emmet project. There is a steering committee that includes a member of the UVA Office of the Architect and those meetings are open to the public. Kyle Kling in Charlottesville’s public works department.“In our department, we meet quarterly with the University to discuss projects the city is administering as well as projects that the University has throughout their Grounds and during those conversations we always discuss how things will trend during the future and how projects may supplement each other so that coordination is ongoing,” Kling said. Two other Smart Scale projects are in the planning states to the south on Emmet Street. The Emmet Street Streetscape had its design public hearing in December 2019. The Commonwealth Transportation Board just approved $20.6 million in funding for a second phase of that project that would span between Arlington Boulevard and Barracks Road. There was some concern at the public hearing about the shared-use path that will travel about a third of a mile up the hill on Barracks Road to Buckingham and Hill Top roads. Gregory Kastner was appreciative to get a dedicated facility, but had a question about how that fits into a larger network.“As you’re on the bike lane coming up the road, how does that transition to the current sidewalk?” Kastner asked. “With it ending at Hill Top, there’s still a fair bit of up to go where the rider is going to be going pretty slow and it really wouldn’t be a great place to get dumped out on the road.”Kastner said he hoped the scope of the project extended up to Rugby Road where the hill flattens.Kling said in the short-term, a sharrow would be painted on the road in the short-term as VDOT has strict rules about extending Smart Scale projects past the boundaries outlined in their initial application. “I do know that there are some plans in the works on the city’s end to kind of continue bike and pedestrian upgrades further into town along this stretch,” Kling said. About another two-thirds of a mile up Barracks Road is another Smart Scale project to address the intersection of Preston Avenue and Grady Avenue. That project has also not yet begun. Next steps for the project include final approval by City Council this summer and completion of the design in the winter of 2022. If all goes according to schedule, construction would begin in the spring of 2023. Now time for another reader-supported public service announcement. The future of passenger rail in Virginia got a lot more brighter this year as the Commonwealth of Virginia signed agreements with CSX to purchase hundreds of miles of railway corridors for three billion dollars. Virginians for High-Speed Rail are holding a transportation town hall on July 15 at 1 p.m. on the “True Story of the Virginia-CSX Deal: Lessons Learned and the Future of Passenger Rail.” Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine and Amtrak President Stephen Gardner are the speakers. (register)Later on tonight, the Albemarle County Planning Commission will get an update from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville on the redevelopment of Southwood. The 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee got an update in late June, as reported in this newsletter. The first phase of construction is underway based on a rezoning granted by the Board of Supervisors in August 2019. Part of the project involves construction of apartments that will be required to be rented to families below sixty percent of the area’s annual median income. Those units will be constructed by Piedmont Housing Alliance, who are contracting with Habitat to purchase 4.74 acres of land within the first rezoning phase. Habitat had entered into a performance agreement with Albemarle County and the Albemarle Economic Development Authority to provide the below-market units in exchange for up to $1.8 million in funding from the county tied to specific milestones. Under the terms of the agreement, Habitat would also receive tax rebates for either a period of ten years or until Habitat got $1.4 million in rebates. (original performance agreement)Some of the language in the Performance Agreement (read the document)That agreement has to be amended to reflect the new arrangement. The Albemarle Economic Development Authority met on June 30, 2021 to discuss the matter. Richard DeLoria is the assistant county attorney. “The redevelopment plan is going to work towards 700 to 800 new dwelling units,” DeLoria said. “Four hundred of those units will be affordable dwelling units… The plan is to develop phase one first because that will not displace the residents who are now in the mobile homes.” DeLoria said the EDA is serving as a conduit for the funds that Albemarle is putting forward, both up-front and through the rebate process. He also said it was always anticipated as a possibility that Habitat would involve another partner.“From my recollection and discussions before the Planning Commission and before this board is that in order for this project to be viable, Habitat would sell a portion of it to a third-party,” DeLoria said. In late June, the Virginia Housing Development Authority awarded Piedmont Housing Alliance over a million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits for 70 units in what will be known as Southwood Apartments. The cost to build the remaining 51 apartments in the project that are shown in a conceptual drawing of the Southwood project will be supplemented by another affordability mechanism. (2021 LIHTC rankings) In order to close the deal, the EDA had to adopt a resolution approving a certificate that determined Piedmont Housing is an entity that will implement some of the terms of the affordability agreed to in the original performance agreement. The resolution was crafted to acknowledge that the EDA was solely serving as a conduit and had no independent verification of the contents of a letter the EDA chair will sign acknowledging the EDA’s endorsement. “The reason for that is that you never know where these letters will end up or when it’s going to become a problem,” said Jim Bowling, the attorney for the EDA. “My role is to ensure that the board members don’t become entangled in any future disputes.”DeLoria said that Housing Coordinator Stacy Pethia indicated no issue with a draft endorsement letter, but deputy county attorney Andy Herrick had raised a flag. “I will say that the attorney for the Planning Commission has had some comments on it, and the significant comment is on page 2, clause number 2 that indicates that the 30-year minimum period of affordability may be shortened in the event of the sale of property,” DeLoria said, The agreement doesn’t anticipate that as a possibility. That language is required by federal regulations related to Low Income Housing Tax Credits. (approved resolution)Attorney Tara Boyd represented the Piedmont Housing Alliance at the EDA meeting and explained the apartment complex will be built on Hickory Street in the northeast corner of the property. Rendering included in the packet for the July 13, 2021 Albemarle Planning Commission meeting Boyd said her job is to do due diligence for PHA, which is a newcomer to the performance agreement. “We reviewed this and we saw some things that we wanted to get comfort on to make sure that we weren’t stepping into liabilities that either we weren’t intended to have or didn’t make sense for us,” Boyd said. “And one of the things that jumped out was this description of the LIHTC [affordable dwelling units], the 80 LIHTC ADUs, and this 30-year requirement. In order to get the Low Income Housing Tax Credits for these 80 units, the federal [regulations] governing those credits, they provide a 15-year point during the affordability period when the ownership can turnover.” Boyd said the plan is for Piedmont Housing Alliance to retain ownership for the 30 years but the technicalities of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit require an amendment to reflect that possibility. Piedmont Housing Alliance took advantage of such a point a few years ago to become the majority partner in a consortium that owns Friendship Court. The Board of Supervisors will consider this matter at an upcoming meeting. *Finally today, I mentioned at the top of the show that today, July 13, is the anniversary of the first edition of the program. I created this show and newsletter because the pandemic woke up a calling to describe what was happening. I’m fortunate that when I was about 19 I lucked out and found a pathway forward that allowed me to apply my curiosity about the mundane into a career. If you’re interested, check out the first newsletter. The podcast version is less than five minutes long. (July 13, 2020 Community Engagement Newscast) I hope to do this for a very long time. Thank you for your support, and for reading. There was a brief time I strayed off the pathway and I’m glad to be back now. I can definitely do so if I can continue to grow the audience and get more people to help cover the cost of me working tirelessly to get this work done:Support my research by making a donation through PatreonSign for a subscription to Charlottesville Community Engagement, free or paidPay me through VenmoI’d like to thank my very good friend Jeffry Cudlin for his contribution of music that you hear throughout most of the shows. He makes me sound good, and I’m grateful for his work. I owe him vocals to finally get the musical act we’ve been practicing on for over 35 years. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out: As we head into summer and the weather heats up, your local energy nonprofit, LEAP, wants you and yours to keep cool. LEAP offers FREE home weatherization to income- and age-qualifying residents. If you’re age 60 or older, or have an annual household income of less than $75,100, you may qualify for a free energy assessment and home energy improvements such as insulation and air sealing. Sign up today to lower your energy bills, increase comfort, and reduce energy waste at home!On today’s show: Updates on capital projects and cybersecurity from the Rivanna Water and Sewer AuthorityA look at how the pandemic affected transportation behaviourAnd the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership discusses ways to get a better system by connecting various moving parts Over three quarters of a million Virginians on Medicaid now have access to mental health and dental benefits. Governor Ralph Northam marked the occasion on July 1 while launching a new medical and dental center in Richmond. The change came in the form of an increased line item in the budget, which went into effect on yesterday. Medicaid members are now eligible for three cleanings a year as well as preventive care. The benefits are administered by DentaQuest, who can be reached at 1-888-912-3456 or visiting dentaquest.com. (press release)The Board of Directors of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) met virtually on June 22. The RWSA builds and maintains the infrastructure that treats drinking water and processes wastewater in the various urban locations. That takes a lot of money, and there are a total of 54 projects in the agency’s capital improvement program over the next five years, at a cost of $170.1 million. But planning is also underway for projects that will be built after that time. (CIP highlights)“The theme in our infrastructure and master planning you may note is pipelines,” said Bill Mawyer, the executive director of the RWSA. “We’re working on a central waterline that is going to largely go through the center area of the City of Charlottesville.”A route has been identified for this project, and a cost-share allocation between Albemarle and Charlottesville has been discussed. The current capital program does include about $43 million for a new waterline between the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and the Observatory Hill Water Treatment Plant. That amount includes an upgrade of the water treatment plant that will increase its capacity to 10 million gallons a day. The RWSA is still working to secure easements for a nine-mile pipeline to connect the Ragged Mountain and South Fork reservoirs. The project has a cost estimate of $80 million and has a current estimated completion date of 2033. Another project that needs an agreement between Albemarle and Charlottesville is the replacement of the Schenk’s Branch interceptor. That’s an aging sewer line for which the first phase has been completed. The hold-up is the project’s alignment, which can either go on city property underneath McIntire Road south of Preston Avenue, or it can go on land owned by Albemarle County at its main office building. The RWSA’s monthly update on project has more information about the nearly $4 million project. “Following pipe alignment determinations, the design plans will be updated, and the construction approach will be coordinated with a City project planned for the same general area,” reads the update.The Board also got an update on security issues from the RWSA’s information systems administrator.“Cyber-attack is the number one threat right now to our water infrastructure,” said Steven Miller. It’s been nearly two months since a ransomware attack led to the shut-down of the Colonial Pipeline, leading to temporary fuel shortages in Virginia and other southern states. In February, a water treatment plan in Oldsmar, Florida was attacked by a hacker who sought to increase the levels of sodium hydroxide in order to poison people. That attack was stopped by monitoring by an employee. (Industrial Defender article)Miller described the vulnerability that was exploited.“Somebody left a remote access program on a machine and just left it sitting there and the operator’s password was acquired somehow and they were able to break in,” Miller said. Mitigating tips include requiring multifactor authentication and backing up critical systems so they can be replaced if access is shut down through a ransomware attack. Miller said there are several layers of protection.“So our first layer basically is physical,” Miller said. “We lock our water plants. We don’t just let people walk up to computers and use them.”Other layers include camouflaging the RWSA networks through the next generation of firewalls.“That software will also allow us to do something called geo-fencing which allows us to block all traffic from a specific area,” Miller said. “There’s really no reason we should have any traffic going to or from China.”Details on the Oldsmar incident are part of Miller’s presentation Next, the RWSA got an update on the federal and state permits required to draw water from the natural environment for urban water supply. The permits issued by the Virginia Department of Environment Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expire in 2023 and will need to be reviewed. Jennifer Whitaker is the RWSA’s chief engineer.“We luckily submitted our permit for the urban system in May of 2021 and are working our way through the process,” Whitaker said.Since the last permits were issued, there’s a new dam at Ragged Mountain and the upgrade of two water treatments are underway. Future elements in the water supply plan include the construction of the South Fork to Rivanna waterline, the eventual raising of the water level at Ragged Mountain, and the decommissioning of the North Rivanna water treatment plant. There are separate urban water systems for Crozet and Scottsville, as well as Glenmore. The RWSA Board will next meet virtually on July 27 shortly after the meeting of the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority. The pandemic affected how Americans traveled, with fewer vehicle miles traveled at a time when people were asked to stay at home as much as possible. The Commonwealth Transportation Board had a briefing on the numbers at their meeting on June 22 from Laura Schewel, the chief executive officer of StreetLight Data. (view the presentation slides)“Everything that moves these days has some sort of technology on board to help measure it,” Schewel said. “It can be the geolocations in your phone, connected car data, data from car fleet management systems.”StreetLight takes that data and analyzes it to describe how people are using roads across the whole country. Nationwide, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in urban communities was at 60 percent of normal levels in April 2020 at the height of the lockdowns. The decrease was not as high in rural counties.“Urban areas saw far more VMT decline and still haven’t recovered to the same level as the more rural and suburban counties,” Schewel said. Schewel said while VMT is back up, there is evidence congestion is down in part to more people driving outside the traditional peak hours.“We’re using our existing assets more evenly and that means we’re using our existing assets better,” Schewel said. “And that may mean that in some areas, we have reduced the need for road expansion or new roads because we’re doing a better job of using the roads we have.”Schewel said better data may help transportation planners make better decisions about what might be needed in the future and that more time and data collection is needed. “I think for the future, or really right now what we need to is to measure, we need to predict, but I don’t think we should make a prediction,” Schewel said. “We need to predict in ranges because we know there is uncertainty and we know things can change. We need to predict a range of outcomes.” A comparison between April 2019 and April 2021 indicates that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) continues to be lower in urban areas versus rural areas (Credit: SearchLight Data) The Virginia Department of Transportation’s traffic division uses 512 counting stations to measure traffic volumes mostly on major highways. Engineer Mena Lockwood said Virginia saw a sharp decline in VMT in the early days of the pandemic but there has been a rebound. “Since then we’ve been relatively steady and over the last couple of months we’ve actually had our traffic at above typical conditions and the all vehicle traffic has just been below typical conditions.” Lockwood showed data that indicate that congestion in Virginia’s metropolitan areas is beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels. Several members of the CTB noted that this is the time for employers to consider incentive programs for teleworking and other programs to reduce vehicle miles traveled. Another factor in the fall could be the full return to in-person school. Mary Hynes represents the Northern Virginia District on the CTB and she said localities need to be prepared.“I’m a little worried about that, particularly in the really urban places, that we’re just going to have traffic jams beyond believe in September all about taking kids to school,” Hynes said. Credit: Virginia Department of Transportation (read more)You’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement and it’s time for another reader-supported public service announcement.The future of passenger rail in Virginia got a lot more brighter this year as the Commonwealth of Virginia signed agreements with CSX to purchase hundreds of miles of railway corridors for three billion dollars. Virginians for High-Speed Rail are holding a transportation town hall on July 15 at 1 p.m. on the “True Story of the Virginia-CSX Deal: Lessons Learned and the Future of Passenger Rail.” Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine and Amtrak President Stephen Gardner are the speakers. (register here)If you’re interested in driving less, and you want to know what’s happening to improve transit, a good place to start is the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership. The group consists of representatives from Charlottesville Area Transit, Jaunt, and the University of Virginia Transit Service, as well as elected and appointed officials. It’s also a place where people can comment on transit issues. One speaker at the June 24 meeting was Ethan Heil, who decided last year to get more involved.“Last September I was excited to hear my appointment to the CAT Advisory Board,” Heil said. “Unfortunately since then I haven’t received any follow-up communication.” Heil said he understood the body might not have been a priority during the pandemic, but that the advisory board should play a role going forward. “I’m hopeful and respectfully request that we could find an opportunity to reengage the CAT advisory board,” Heil said. Council discussed whether to keep the CAT Advisory Board as an entity last October when they reviewed the status of various appointed bodies. The Board has not met since the pandemic began. At the end of the meeting, City Councilor Lloyd Snook said Council considered the fate of the CAT Advisory Board last October. “We basically decided at that point that there really wasn’t a lot of reason why the CAT Advisory Board should be sort of a Council-level appointment,” Snook said. “It ought to be something that worked directly with Garland [Williams] and the transportation piece more directly rather than have us involved.” Garland is Garland Williams, the manager of CAT. He said the advisory board is important, its its function needs to be studied. “I think it needed to be looked at and I asked for your authorization to hire a consultant to look at what the CAT advisory board does and then bring back a recommendation to Council sometime this year or early next and you authorized me to do so,” Williams said. One item on the partnership’s agenda was new guidance on getting assistance from VDOT staff for Smart Scale projects that seek to move more people onto to transit and other multimodal solutions. Chuck Proctor is an engineer in the Culpeper District.“We can help you develop sketches for infrastructure improvements, if you wanted to put out a bus pull out or if you’re going to be doing bus stops,” Proctor said. “Even bike-pedestrian facilities to and from a transit stop.”This year, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission succeeded in securing $3.38 million in Smart Scale funding for a park and ride lot in Exit 107. That would be on the route of the Afton Express service between Staunton and Charlottesville that is slated to start in September. The next deadline for the next Smart Scale cycle is not until the summer of 2022. Transit agencies can make their own applications. Proctor said there are efforts to find a location for a park and ride lot on Pantops. There had been one at the Pantops Shopping Center. Supervisor Diantha McKeel said she wanted to know more information about how people use park and ride lots, given the rising cost of land in the community. “We don’t want to go out and take good valuable land or space and end up with, I mean we just need to know what we’re doing before we go ahead,” McKeel said.Becca White, the director of parking and transportation at the University of Virginia, said park-and-ride has to be part of a coordinate strategy in order for it to work. “It’s not park and ride for park and ride’s sake,” White said. “It has to be the right amenities. It has to be lighted properly. It has to have waiting areas. It has to be linked to either transit or car pool trips. It can be very successful but it’s not a park and ride for park and ride’s sake.”CAT is studying possible locations for a park and ride lot on U.S. 29 in Albemarle County’s northern growth area. CAT Director Garland Williams said such a facility would be ideal for people driving to the University of Virginia. “It would also add a hub for transit where you would have dedicated restrooms for our facilities moving forward,” Williams said. The TJPDC is also studying expanded service in Albemarle’s northern growth area. The first round of public engagement efforts should begin in July. Scorecard for the Exit 107 Park and Ride lot (read the full list)One change that will happen in the short-term is that CAT buses will no longer travel through the Rio Hill Shopping Center. Williams told the partnership that the property owners asked for the stop to be removed. “Their reasoning was the shopping center will be undergoing a renovation of the storefronts and the current bus route will not work with the vision of the shopping center,” Williams said. The shopping center would still be served, but the buses will not travel on the Rio Hill Shopping Center property. (learn more about the renovation in the February 6 CCE)Toward the end of the meeting, Jaunt’s planning manager Steven Johnson posed an interesting question. Could bus stops used by multiple transit agencies be given names that could be shared?“So that in our literature everybody is referring to the same stop by the same name,” Johnson said. “I think that would be a good thing for users of our systems.” In June, City Council approved an appropriation of federal funding for Charlottesville Area Transit to purchase eleven buses, all of which will be powered by fossil fuels. CAT is conducting a study on how to proceed. (read more in June 24 CCE)But some area transit fleets have bought a few electric vehicles. Jim Foley, the director of pupil transportation for Albemarle County Public Schools, said his system applied to Dominion’s electric school bus program. “I’m not sure we’ll get them, but we gave it a try,” Foley said. “We did go visit Louisa County who did get two of the electric buses and they love them, plus Dominion came out with a program to reimburse schools for fast-chargers which would save hundreds of thousands of dollars.”Foley said he drove one of the vehicles and found it to be smooth and powerful. Christine Jacobs, the interim director of the TJPDC, said she would convene a workshop of various stakeholders outside of a partnership meeting in order to discuss the issue.“Just sit everybody at the table so we can all share all of the information that we have,” Jacobs said. “Results from studies that are being done, data on the different types of buses. I think it’s something that there’s a real momentum and a craving for us all to share information and make sure that we’re all on the same page. Williams expressed caution about having community members decide what kind of buses to purchase.“The community doesn’t get involved when you’re talking about the selection of fire trucks, or police vehicles, or any of the other vehicles associated so it’s a little interesting there’s a lot of concern about selection with individuals who have not run a transit system and do not have any information about running it and what it takes to make sure that I am going to be reliable.” Williams said a study will soon get underway to determine the best pathway forward and to develop a plan to transition the fleet. In the meantime, he does not want his hands tied. “I’m not going to be subject to a command telling me to buy an electric bus when I have no confidence that it’s going to work,” Williams said. Finally today, as reported here before, route changes are pending for Charlottesville Area Transit. The information has been presented to the Regional Transit Partnership and the City Council, but this summer the public will get the chance to ask questions in two virtual meetings. (Council Briefed on Proposed Transit Changes, June 2, 2021)Both the Connetics Transportation Group and the firm Kimley-Horn have as been working with Williams on the changes. Here’s Williams at a June 29 press briefing.“When we went into the pandemic, there was concern like most transit agencies about how when we get out of the pandemic, what do we do the make the system better for all who use it?” Williams asked. Williams said the route changes are intended to reverse a period of ridership declines that was happening before the pandemic. In 2013, CAT carried over 2.4 million riders a year, but that dropped to just over $2 million in 2018. Williams also acknowledged there are a lot of moving parts in transit at the moment. “This is not the end-all to-be-all,” Williams said. “The region is doing a visioning study so this was designed as a temporary measure over the next couple of years while that study is done to prevent us from having continued rapid decline in ridership.”In the current system, all but one of the CAT’s 13 routes goes to the Downtown Transit Station. In the changes, at least one route will be oriented north-south to travel between Stonefield and the Willoughby Shopping Center. Jim Baker is with the Connectics Transportation Group.“We’ve proposed introducing some new crosstown service from south Charlottesville to U.S. 29 so no longer will you need to travel to downtown, transfer to a bus to continue up to U.S 29,” Baker said. “You can do all of that on the same bus.” Another change is that CAT service would be extended to Mill Creek in Albemarle County. Service would also go through the South First Street public housing complex. Other routes would have Sunday service for the first time. The two public meetings will be on Friday, July 16 at noon and Wednesday, July 21 at 6 p.m. Before you go:Thanks so much to everyone for their financial support. No pitch today. I just want to thank you for reading. As I said in the podcast, the fact that you’re reading this shows that you care about the future of our community. I do as well, and have dedicated my life to reestablishing my pathway as a journalist. As you celebrate with friends and family, please tell others about the work. I’m about to begin Year Two and would like to expand the audience! This work is free and the work is paid for by the quarter of the audience that’s decided to contribute. I’m grateful to everyone who thinks this work is worthwhile enough to keep going. Thanks again, Sean Tubbs, Town Crier Productions This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out: The Rivanna Conservation Alliance is looking for a few good volunteers to help out on Clean Stream Tuesdays, a mile and a half paddle and clean-up to remove trash and debris from popular stretches of the Rivanna River. Trash bags, trash pickers, gloves, and hand sanitizer/wipes will be provided, though volunteers will need to transport themselves to and from the end points. Kayaks for the purpose can be rented from the Rivanna River Company. Visit the Rivanna Conservation Alliance's volunteer page to learn more about upcoming dates.On today’s show:The Pantops CAC hears about development projects and an extension of the Old Mills TrailThe Metropolitan Planning Organization endorses planning projects Virginia’s Constitution turns 50 tomorrowAlbemarle and Charlottesville launch a Buy Local campaign We begin today with some transportation news. U.S. 250 in Nelson County between Route 6 and I-64. has reopened to traffic two months after being closed after a rock slide. According to a release, that’s two weeks ahead of schedule. Lou Hatter is a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District. “We had two contractors who were really focused on getting this work done as quickly as possible,” Hatter said. “The fact that U.S. 250 was not open created real issues particularly for people lived on Route 6, Afton Mountain Road.”The contractors worked six days a week and removed over 700 dump trucks of material removed from the failed slope. “It was a steep slope so the work had to be done in stages because they had to go in with equipment and level out an area called a bench that the equipment could work from and then they would reach up above that to remove the loose material.”Hatter said a series of something called a “soil nail” have been drilled into the rock.“They’re secured in place with a cement grout and then over top of that is overlaid a chain link material like chain link fencing, a mesh material and that’s secured to the rods,” Hatter said. Over top of the soil nails is a layer of straw and grass seed intended to grow vegetation quickly. Hatter said the contractors also identified another area where a slope might have failed, and this same process has been applied at that location. Credit: Virginia Department of TransportationIn addition to being the first day of Fiscal Year 2021, July 1 is also the 50th anniversary of Virginia’s current constitution. The 1971 Constitution replaced a version from 1902 which historic records show was created to make it harder for Black Virginians to vote and to enshrine segregation as the law of the land. That constitution imposed a poll tax and literacy requirements to vote. The 1971 Constitution was an attempt to remove those restrictions following federal bans as well as passage of the Civil Rights Act. Copies of all four of Virginia’s Constitutions are on view at the Library of Virginia through Thursday. Learn more about the 1971 Constitution in a press release sent out by the office of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.Governor Northam inspects previous Constitutions with legal scholar A. E. Dick Howard. Howard led the process to write the 1971 document. Albemarle County and Charlottesville have launched a joint Buy Local campaign to promote small businesses in the area. The economic development offices in both jurisdictions will run the campaign and are looking for businesses that might want to participate in what’s being described “as a multi-channel, multimedia promotional and educational campaign.” From the release:“Locally-owned, independent businesses with a brick-and-mortar facility in the City of Charlottesville or Albemarle County interested in being featured in the campaign should contact Jennifer Schmack at firstname.lastname@example.org (for Albemarle-based businesses) and Jason Ness at email@example.com (for Charlottesville based-businesses).” Today is the official last day for Rebecca Carter as administrator of Buckingham County, according to the Farmville Herald. Carter moved to the county south of Albemarle in 1986 when her husband was transferred to a job with CSX. Soon after she went to work for Buckingham County as an administrative assistant. In 1994, she became administrator. Carter announced her resignation last December due to her husband’s failing health. Wayne Carter died in April, and Rebecca Carter told the Farmville Herald she plans to spend her retirement helping with the family farm. There’s an effort underway in Albemarle County to extend the Old Mills Trail along the Rivanna south of Pantops. That was one piece of information told to the Pantops Community Advisory Committee during their briefing on the Urban Rivanna River Corridor Plan, a joint planning effort intended to encourage greater collaboration between Albemarle and Charlottesville along a common border. Tim Padalino is a planner in Albemarle’s parks and recreation department.“There is an existing section of the Old Mills Trail as I think most viewers and attendees know,” Padalino said. “It’s approximately two and a half miles in length between Darden Towe Park on the upstream section and the I-64 bridges downstream, the current ending of the trail.”Padalino said the proposed extension would go further downstream to Milton through an area that is currently overgrown and wild. If turned into a trail, people might be able to walk to a spot that is also being planned for a better place to end a journey on the river itself. “So for example the vision for the Rivanna Greenway and Blueway includes future development of an expanded improved public landing and river access sport at Milton as well as some type of a new trailhead facility at Milton,” Padalino said. The extension will pass over land owned by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Padalino said a primitive pathway does exist, but it’s not sanctioned. The idea would be to use crushed stone as a trail bed rather than paving the four mile long, six foot wide trail. There’s also no funding yet for the extension. “It’s not officially maintained and it’s not permanently authorized for public use,” Padalino said. “Some easement acquisitions are still necessary before beginning final project design and funding request and grant applications and everything else that will come in the weeks and months ahead.” The extension to Milton will pass in some section close to the railroad, which will be owned soon by the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority. It will also pass by the Luckstone quarry. “And part of the arrangement and agreement between Luckstone and Albemarle County is to make sure that trail users can remain safe while passing through an active quarry,” Padalino said. Prepared by Albemarle County Parks & Recreation with support from Albemarle County Community Development – Geographic Data Services Division.Padalino made his comments at the Pantops Community Advisory Committee. That group also got updates on development projects under construction or under review. Senior planner Cameron Langille said contractors hired by the Virginia Department of Transportation continue to work on converting the junction of U.S. 250 and Interstate 64 into a “diverging diamond.”“As it stands that project is still on track to be completed at the original date of March 2023,” Langille said.Planners are reviewing a new 1,000 square foot building at the Pantops Shopping Center.“There’s a flat green grassed area there that they’re going to install some new parking into and then the new building is going to be a drive through car wash,” Langille said. Across U.S. 250, the façade of the former Battlefield/Malloy Ford has been demolished. Malloy moved to U.S. 29.“What they’re doing is to try to build the façade back because they’re looking to get some new auto dealerships to go back to that site,” Langille said. A site plan is nearing approval for The Hampton Inn to be built on State Farm Boulevard. A second hotel The Overlook is still in the review process for a rezoning application. “The applicant has told us that they want to continue going through reviews with staff until our comments have gotten to a point where the applicant feels comfortable moving forward to a public hearing with the Planning Commission,” Langille said. Langille said a proposal to build 130 apartment units on South Pantops Drive next to the Overlook Condominiums has been withdrawn. In its place is a new development for 40 townhomes. Two former fast food franchise buildings in the Pantops Shopping Center have closed in the past year. A Burger King remains vacant while the Hardees has a new tenant. “Tobey’s Pawn Shop has gone on in and occupied that space,” Langille said. “They just did some work inside of the building but really didn’t change anything else on site.”The Pantops Community Advisory Committee will next meet in August and will take off the month of July. Time for another subscriber-supported public service announcement! The Friends of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library are having a Warehouse Sale at Albemarle Square Shopping Center (300 Albemarle Square) Friday, July 9 through Sunday, July 11 from 10-6 each day. There will be Fiction, Mysteries, SciFi and Fantasy, Cookbooks, Military, Biographies and YA and Children’s Books There will be a capacity limit of 80 shoppers. Proceeds benefit our regional public library system, JMRL, serving Charlottesville, Albemarle, Greene, Louisa and Nelson.*Finally today, time to go through some of the June 23 meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board. To recap, that’s the federally-mandated body that approves transportation funding. It’s made up of two Charlottesville City Councilors, two Albemarle Supervisors, and the head of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District. The MPO adopted a resolution supporting an effort by the city of Charlottesville to seek additional funding to support the Meadow Creek Trail. Chris Gensic with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said the city received a Transportation Alternatives grant of $300,000 two years ago for the project, which according to the staff report was for “the design and construction of a bike and pedestrian bridge across Meadow Creek as part of the U.S. 250 Commuter Trail from Hydraulic Road to Brandywine Drive.” That amount included $75,000 in local funding. However, that amount will not be enough to cover the project.“After doing some discussions with VDOT and thinking it through, we came up with a plan where A, you can’t just build a bridge that isn’t connected by a full multi-use path,” Genesis said. “There’s paths in that area but they are recreational dirt surface paths. In order to construct the entire project, to get all the funding in at once and hire one contractor and just get it all done, we’ve decided to apply for a second round of funding.” The request this year is for $500,000 and will require $135,000 in local funding as a match. A second city department is also making a Transportations Alternative Project grant request to fund the existing Safe Routes to School program for the next two fiscal years. More specifically, the funding would cover the cost of a full-time coordinator.“That coordinator helps to implement programs in the city schools, things like Bike and Walk to School day events, helmut giveaways, neighborhood bike repair,” said Amanda Poncy, the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. “Working with the city school division to better understand how kids are getting to school, and also building a website and social media presence.”The MPO approved resolutions of support for both, and a third for a planning grant for future of the Amtrak station on West Main Street. Jessica Hersh-Ballering is a transportation planner with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. “This is a small station but it serves a lot of riders,” Hersh-Ballering said. “The size of the station doesn’t currently meet the needs of our numbers of boardings and alightings and with continued investment by the state into rail and passenger rail, it will continue to not meet those needs.”If funded, the TJPDC would create a master plan for the site. More on all three of those projects as 2021 continues. We’ll also hear more the rest of the year about the candidates for projects for consideration in the next round of VDOT’s Smart Scale process. The deadline isn’t until next year, but pre-selection work is underway. Potential projects for the MPO to consider are:A roundabout at the intersection of District Avenue and Hydraulic RoadAn extension of Hillsdale Avenue to the U.S. 250 bypassA bike and pedestrian crossing of the Rivanna River Multi-modal improvements for Avon Street between Mill Creek and Belmont Bridge Multi-modal improvements for 5th Street between Southwood and Harris RoadA grade-separated interchange, or “flyover” at U.S 250 and U.S. 29 Interested in more information in any of these stories? Take a look at the video. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll try to help. That’s what I am here to do! A “flyover” interchange was suggested as a candidate by a member of the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
The Virginia Department of Transportation announced it has completed cleanup efforts following February's ice storm; The city of Richmond held a press conference yesterday to provide a pandemic update; Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are pushing for more financial support to implement the Ashanti Alert system; and other local news stories.
New Balance released a DC-inspired sneaker but forget about finding it anywhere in the DC area or online. The DC Flag is represented in their made in America 995 collection. Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland is offering vaccination shots before their upcoming shows starting July 3. Upcoming shows include New Kids on the Block, James Taylor, Dave Matthews Band. Adam Morgan Bid asks pizza companies (including Jumbo Slice) on 18th Street to offer a box on weekend nights after 10pm only if the slice is being taken home. This is because the trash cans are being overwhelmed with large pizza boxes by late-night partygoers. Virginia native Ludacris responded on social media to VDOT signs spotted around the Commonwealth said “Driving Fast and Furious? That's Ludacris.” Jessica Sidman food reporter for the Washingtonian Magazine reports on what is the biggest restaurant in the DC area. Carmine's, The Hamilton, Clydes at Gallery Place, and Pinstrips in Georgetown are all contenders. How do you define the largest restaurant? Carole Baskin joins us to promote her work to save Big Cats; she was in DC and lobbying on Capitol Hill continuing her work for years along with many other feline activists on the “Big Cat Public Safety Act” that would basically make illegal the breeding, capturing and selling access to lions and tigers. Nationals are on a great winning streak with Schwarber continuing to get home runs and Parra aka Baby Shark joining the starting lineup. Kelly travels to Miami to cheer on the Nats, and what did Derek Jeter do to Marlins Park?
Today's Patreon-fueled shout-out is for the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign, an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water. Start at the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you! On today’s show:Charlottesville City Council gets an update on city finances and economic recoveryAlbemarle’s Places-29 Hydraulic panel gets an update on crime, climate, and StonefieldA new round of transportation projects will move forward across the regionWe begin today with Charlottesville City Council. As of today, there are only eight days left until the beginning of Fiscal Year 22. On Monday, June 21, the five elected officials got a glimpse of where things stand through the first eleven months of Fiscal Year 21. A shortfall related to the economic shutdown that began in Fiscal Year 20 is not as bad as initially reported. “Based upon the current conditions of what we’re seeing in terms of revenues, things are continuing to trend in a positive direction,” said Ryan Davidson, a senior budget management analyst for the city. In April, budget staff estimated there would be a $8.35 million gap, but revenues picked up and the current forecast is for a $7.42 million deficit for fiscal year 21. (staff report)“We’re continuing to see some volatility month to month in some of our larger economic driven revenues,” Davidson said. “Sales, meals, lodging. But we’ve been seeing more of a positive trend in these areas.”After the fiscal year, the accounts for FY21 will be audited which will take several months. The city will likely use a mixture of sources to make up the shortfall, including the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA). Other options include the $7.3 million reserve set aside in previous federal funds and use of surpluses from previous years that have not been appropriated. “Should we need to use the ARPA funds to cover any of the remaining budget variance that’s not covered by other means, we’ll know those figures after the close of the fiscal year and have those final audited amounts in the November or December timeframe,” Davidson said. This table is available in the staff report for the discussion Let’s take a closer look at where the shortfalls are coming from. The adopted budget for FY21 estimated the city would bring in $14.3 million in meals taxes, $6.3 million from lodging taxes, and $1.34 million in income from parks and recreation. The current projections show the potential actual amounts as missing those targets by $3.5 million for meals, $2.6 million under for lodging, and $910,824 short for parks and recreation.To get those numbers up for the soon-to-be-current fiscal year, the Economic Development Office is implementing a Recovery Roadmap and Economic Development Director Chris Engel provided an update on how it is going. (staff report)“This process emanated out of a discussion the Council had at the beginning of the budget season late last year, November and December, where you indicated that helping businesses recover was one of your priorities,” Engel said. Engel said there are 15 specific initiatives in the roadmap clustered in four categories. They are financial assistance, training and resource access, infrastructure needs, and marketing and advertising. As of July 1, Virginia law pertaining to carrying alcohol outside of a licensed establishments will become more flexible to allow people to explore Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas (DORA). Jason Ness is the Deputy Director of the Economic Development office.“The designated outdoor refreshment area concept has been on the books with [Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority] for quite some time and really the fundamental change that takes effect on July 1 is that it is now localities have more control over these types of events,” Ness said. “In the past it was a permitted system both at the state and the locality. The new legislation will allow for cities to create ordinances to control these.”Take a look at HB2266 if you want to see how what the legislation looks like and what it does. Ness said there would still be restrictions.“You couldn’t take a cup from one ABC license holder to another, so you could not go from restaurant to restaurant but you could go into retailers if they would allow that,” Ness said. Ness said the city is in talks with the Ix Park for a community block party for this fall. One idea would be to get the local DORA ordinance in place to allow that to be extended to the Downtown Mall. Mayor Nikuyah Walker expressed concern that inviting alcohol consumption across a wider geographic area could lead to behavioral issues as well as unequal treatment. “We’ve had a lot of concerns about drinking in public, drunk in public, those types of conversations,” Walker said. “I am hoping that we resolve those and that we’re not allowing some people just because they’ve purchased it in a restaurant when we know that other people are already drinking and there is different treatment.”Councilor Michael Payne said he was open to the idea and shared Walker’s concerns.“I couldn’t say that I’m 100 percent behind it at this point,” Payne said.There was enough support from Council to give Engel the go ahead to work on pursuing an ordinance. Ness said he heard the concerns of Payne and Walker.“Those are the important questions that we need to consider and flesh out all the answers on how things like that are going to be handled before we actually put that into place,” Ness said. Vice Mayor Sena Magill said if the city seeks to explore a DORA then it needs to be about more than just one place.“If we’re developing something like this, I don’t want it to be Mall-focused,” Magill said. “I want to make sure that if we’re developing it, that it can be developed for all areas of Charlottesville.” Under the legislation, localities could set up three DORAS to explore. Other ideas in the Recovery Roadmap include a twice-yearly clean-up day to address maintenance issues identified by businesses as well as a buy local effort. Engel said his office is making a request for $1 million in American Rescue Plan funding to help boost the tourism sector. Part of that money would be used to replace revenue losses that have led to a decrease in available funds for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau “The Visitors’ Bureau revenue due to the transient occupancy tax in the city and [Albemarle] has been reduced by about $1.5 million and since the city and the county both fund that entity, the request that we’re both making through the ARP process if for half of that,” Engel said. Walker asked whether this use of the ARP funding was the highest priority.“If we do give those dollars, the $750,000, what are they used for and how do weigh the direct aid to businesses against the money to CACVB for their loss?” Walker asked.Engel said the budget for the Visitors Bureau is based on previous years, so they won’t feel the effects until the new fiscal year begins.“The funds are intended to replace the drop for next year and the year after,” Engel said. Councilor Payne also questioned whether the city should use its share of the ARP funding to make up the losses. He suggested the General Assembly could vote later this summer to appropriate state money for the purpose of tourism marketing. “If that money doesn’t come, or doesn’t cover the gap, I’m very curious to know what data and research exists about what is the actual return on investment to the tourism board and what return on investment do we actually expect and anticipate, recognizing that the ARP money is limited and its all about trade-offs and ensuring that we’re making an investment that’s having the most positive impact on our community,” Payne said. Engel said if the General Assembly did allocate funding to tourism, it would most likely be in the form of grant funding and not a direct replacement of lost funds. He said he would return to Council with information along the lines that Payne requested.I’ll have more from the rest of the Council meeting in a future newsletter. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau next meets on June 28. The Commonwealth Transportation Board meets today and tomorrow virtually and in Richmond. The appointed body today coted to approve the Six-Year Improvement program for fiscal year 2022 through 2027, and that includes transportation projects in our area that come through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process. In all, 21 projects submitted in the VDOT’s Culpeper District have been recommended for funding, including a pedestrian bridge across U.S. 29 that would connect Stonefield with the Seminole Square Shopping Center. That project included funding left over from the Route 29 Solutions suite of projects and the CTB will vote to allocate an additional $5.7 million to allow it to move forward to the design phase. Other projects include $5.3 million for a roundabout at Old Lynchburg Road and 5th Street Extended, $8.74 million to add safety improvements on Ridge Street, and $10.1 million for a roundabout at the John Warner Parkway and Rio Road East. Smart Scale applications from across the Commonwealth are ranked according to a series of metrics including addressing safety, relieving traffic congestion, and providing economic development. The initial scores were released in January as I reported back then. Table by Flourish teamYou’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement, and it’s time for another subscriber-supported public service announcement. The Rivanna Conservation Alliance is looking for a few good volunteers to help out on Clean Stream Tuesdays, a mile and a half paddle and clean-up to remove trash and debris from popular stretches of the Rivanna River. Trash bags, trash pickers, gloves, and hand sanitizer/wipes will be provided, though volunteers will need to transport themselves to and from the end points. Kayaks for the purpose can be rented from the Rivanna River Company. Visit the Rivanna Conservation Alliance's volunteer page to learn more about upcoming dates.The Places29-Hydraulic Community Advisory Committee met on June 21 for a wide-ranging meeting that began with an update on crime statistics from a new county employee. “My name is Andrew Friedman and I am the new crime analyst here with the Albemarle County Police Department,” Friedman said. “I am new to the county as well and I actually live within the area that we’re going over today.” Friedman’s report was intended to cover the area within the jurisdiction of the CAC, but he gave some overall trends.“We see that property crime has been trending upwards since 2018 in the county at least whereas violent crime has been trending downwards,” Friedman said. “This matches the trend that we do see nationally.”In an area that is slightly bigger than the Places29-Hydraulic area, there have been 134 property crimes through June 14.“We’re talking about stuff like burglaries, we’re talking stuff like motor vehicle thefts, and largely led by larcenies,” Friedman said. Of those property crimes, 21 were thefts of catalytic converters. “Catalytic converter thefts are trending upwards,” Friedman said. “They’ve been increasing drastically in recent years throughout the nation and that’s because the material they’re made out of go for a lot on the black market. They would be pawned for a lot of money.”Friedman said police departments across the region are working together against this specific kind of larceny. Of the 14 violent crimes reported this year in the area, four were rapes and in all four cases the victims knew the offender. The 10 other crimes were aggravated assaults, and four of them were classified as domestic violence. There were 30 calls for service in the area for shots fired this year. Friedman said most of these calls are unsubstantiated, meaning no shell casings are found. In one of the substantiated cases, one individual was struck by a bullet. Friedman said patrols have been stepped up in these areas. (watch the Places29-Hydraulic video) (view the full report)Read the rest of the report hereThe next topic at the Places29-CAC meeting dealt with two topics on the minds of many, though not necessarily at the same time. Climate change and growth management. Cynthia Neff is the chair of the CAC.“Every now and then we need to refresh ourselves with what the growth management policy is,” Neff said. “The growth area is different [from] the rural area. The growth area is where the development is and the necessary housing is.”There’s an entire chapter - Chapter 3 - of the county’s Comprehensive Plan dedicated to growth management, a policy that dates back to a Comprehensive Plan update in the late 70’s. Last October, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors adopted the first phase of a Climate Action Plan. Michaela Accardi is a planner with the county. (current Comprehensive Plan)“The first objective in the county’s Comprehensive Plan is to consistently use the growth management policy as the basis on which to guide decisions on land-use, capital expenditures, and service provision,” Accardi said. Around 95 percent of the county’s 726 square miles are designated as rural, and the rest is for development. Chapter 7 of the plan offers strategies for conserving land in the rural area and chapter 8 offers strategies for maximizing the use of land in the growth area. Objective four of the later chapter is to “Use Development Area land efficiently to prevent premature expansion of the Development Areas.” In her presentation, Accardi also brought up some statistics included in Housing Albemarle, an update of the county’s housing policy that had a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors earlier this month. “The median rent for rental units in 2019 was $1,278 a month and the income that a household will need to afford that rent is $50,640 a year,” Accardi said. “Approximately 31 percent of households in Albemarle have incomes less than $50,000.”The Places29-Hydraulic CAC next heard from Gabe Dayley, the county’s new climate protection manager. In that role, he is the point person for Albemarle’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “Emissions from vehicles traveling around burning gasoline is our highest slice of the pie in terms of greenhouse gas emissions in the community,” Dayley said. If it’s expensive for people who work in Albemarle or Charlottesville to live there, meeting the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2020 will be harder to accomplish. “When housing is sometimes less affordable in a community but folks are working in that community, they may have to live in further outlying areas,” Dayley said. “That’s something that can increase traffic which has a variety of effects. One of those is larger greenhouse gas emissions.”The Climate Action Plan has several chapters with strategies that seek to address specific areas of where emissions come from. One of these is on Transportation and Land Use which has the overarching goals of reducing vehicle miles traveled, shifting vehicles to those with lower or no emissions, reducing use of single-occupancy vehicles, and increasing transit, walking, and biking alternatives. “Greater density can support fewer transportation emissions and better energy efficiency but that really requires a holistic approach to land use,” Dayley said. “Density, as well as mixed-use, where there’s maybe some businesses on the first floor serving local communities. Complete streets is a term that folks might have come across that has to do with the idea of a street that not just is functional for pedestrians and cyclists and cars and buses but is also pleasant and attractive for everyone to make use of.” CAC member Vito Cetta said he was a supporter of the growth management policy.“We have 1,200 to 1,500 people who move here a year and the Comprehensive Plan is really taking control of how we develop our county,” Cetta said. However, Tom Olivier of the group Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population said the county should limit the number of people who move to the community. Olivier lives outside of the Places29 area but made his comment at the end of the conversation. “The primary drivers of greenhouse gas emissions are growth in both people numbers and gross domestic product and whether we add people to the development areas or to the rural areas, we add greenhouse gases and we also do that when we sort of expand economic activity,” Olivier said. “This is a very difficult issue, and basically I just wanted to say really I think there’s little chance of Albemarle County becoming carbon neutral if it doesn’t contain growth and I think that’s something the comp plan will have to address as we go forward.”The Albemarle Board of Supervisors last updated the Comprehensive Plan in the summer of 2015 and a review and update is expected to begin in the not too distant future. Some of the strategies in the climate action plan’s Transportation and Land Use chapter This is a public episode. 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In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out: Help support black-owned business in the Charlottesville area. Check out the Charlottesville Black Business Directory at cvilleblackbiz.com and choose between a variety of goods and services, ranging from beauty supplies, professional services, and e-commerce. Visit cvilleblackbiz.com as soon as you can to get started. On today’s show:The Crozet Community Advisory Committee weighs in on the master plan update The Downtown Crozet Initiative unveils its vision for a public plazaThe Community Climate Collaborative unveils the winners of its Better Business ChallengeToday’s show focuses on Crozet in western Albemarle County. Crozet is not a town, but it is a designated growth area under the county’s growth management policy. But it is a place with traditions. Here’s an announcement made at the June 9, 2021 meeting of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee about an event coming up on Saturday, July 3. “I’m Tim Tolson, president of the Crozet Community Association, and along with other civic groups in Crozet we’re hosting the annual Crozet Independence Day celebration parade at 5:00 p.m. as part of the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department that ends at the Crozet Park where the celebration will take part, take place. We’ll have fireworks around 9:30 or quarter to 10 when it gets dark.” The Crozet Community Association is seeking donations to cover the cost of the fireworks. Visit their website to learn more. The Albemarle Planning Commission will take up the Crozet Master Plan at a work session on Tuesday, June 22. At the June 9 CAC meeting, committee members and participating residents got a presentation on the implementation of projects intended to bolster Crozet’s urban character. They also had the chance to comment on the plan update to date. But first, the implementation projects. The master plan is a large overview of the entire area, and further studies are suggested. The draft implementation chapter shows a list of ten potential topics ranging from a Downtown Neighborhood Architectural and Cultural Study to a stream health study for Parrot Branch, a local waterway. Initial feedback has already been submitted and planner Tori Kanellopoulos gave the rundown for how planning projects scored.“The top ranked projects were the Crozet Avenue Shared-Use Path feasibility study, the Three Notch’d Trail feasibility study, and the Route 250 West design guidelines,” Kanellopoulos said. “And then the policy projects were also ranked and the top priority was updating residential zoning designations to allow for more preservation of natural resources.”Potential capital projects were also ranked. Kanellopoulos said the highest ranking projects are the completion of Eastern Avenue, downtown Crozet intersection improvements, and sidewalk connections. Let’s hear more about that Three Notch’d Trail.“Lately there’s been a lot more focus and attention on the potential Three Notch’d Trail which would ideally connect from the Blue Ridge Tunnel along Crozet and over to Charlottesville,” Kanellopoulos said. “A feasibility study would look at this alignment and there are opportunities to partner with [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and the Planning District Commission and trails groups to look at the feasibility study for the alignment.” Supervisor Ann Mallek said later in the meeting that VDOT planning may not have staff to conduct that feasibility study this year, but community work can be done now to prepare for that work possibly in 2022. “And the other blessing that goes along with that is 2022 is when [Virginia] is going to take over the rail access right of way from CSX and therefore that increases greatly the possibility that we will be able to have a trail beside the rail,” Mallek said. Another “catalyst” project now in the implementation chapter is Western Park, which has long been called for in the plan and for which the county received 36 acres in 2010 as part of the Old Trail rezoning. A master plan for that project was created in 2018 that identified three phases. The first is recommended for funding, a decision which would be made by the entire Board of Supervisors during the budget process.“This phase one would include the access road with parking, a playground, and additional support of infrastructure and utilities,” Kanellopoulos said.Committee member Sandy Hausman noted the rankings were based on responses from fewer than a hundred people. “I wonder if anybody feels like this there needs to be a bit more outreach, like a mass mailing to everyone who lives in Crozet,” Hausman said. “It just feels to me that this is a relatively small group of people who tend to be paying attention to this stuff and everybody else will be unpleasantly surprised in a year or two when things start happening.”Committee member Joe Fore said he wanted to see all three phases of Western Park listed as catalyst projects, meaning they would be prioritized first.“I think just given the fact that it’s been in the works for so long, that the phases of at least getting started, the land is already there,” Fore said. “I understand it's expensive but it’s not an Eastern Avenue or Lickinghole Creek bridge expensive.” Fore also said he would support the creation of a special taxation district to help pay for new infrastructure. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has previously been briefed on how service districts or a “business improvement district” could be levied in certain areas to fund amenities. “I looked through currently, and this may be a comment for the full draft, there’s only one mention of service districts in the entire draft and that’s in reference to funding ongoing activities and services at the plaza and downtown,” Fore said. “But I would like to see maybe a little bit more and maybe a full suggestion saying maybe this is something we should explore in Crozet to fund some of these capital projects so we’re not constantly having these be projects are ten years out.” The Board of Supervisors last had a formal presentation on service districts at their meeting on December 7, 2016. (presentation) (story)Fore has looked up the section of Virginia code that allows for the creation of such districts.“It’s a pretty broad statute as I read it,” Fore said. “Things like sidewalks, roads, programming, cultural events, economic development, beautification and landscaping. It’s a very broad statute. It seems to me you could raise money for most of the kinds of projects that we’re looking at. When we look at the list of priorities and say, yikes! Where are we going to get all the money for this? Well, rather than say let’s raise taxes on everybody in the county, you might be able to say let’s raise funds specifically from Crozet that would stay in Crozet for some of these projects we want to see in Crozet.”CAC member David Mitchell is skeptical of the idea and said it would lead to Crozet receiving fewer direct funds from the county.“Over time we will start to be looked at by the other Supervisors as ‘they have their own money, they can do their own thing’ and you’re going to slowly over time lose your share of the general fund,” Mitchell said. Supervisor Mallek agreed.“I would really discourage our citizenry from burdening themselves because I think David is right,” Mallek said. “We need to go to toe to toe, to say, this is a need that’s been on the books.”Mallek singled out the Eastern Avenue connector road that will provide north-south travel. A major obstacle is the cost of a bridge required to cross Lickinghole Creek. “We have made all of these zoning changes prior to 2007 that were counting on that bridge and we absolutely have a moral obligation to build it,” Mallek said. Eastern Avenue is ranked #8 on the county’s transportation priority list and there was an update in May. There’s not yet a full cost estimate on what it will cost, but engineering work is underway. “This project is currently being evaluated through an alignment study and conceptual design which is funded through the Transportation Leveraging Fund in the [Capital Improvement Program],” reads the update. “The alignment report was presented to the Board in January and the preferred alignment was selected. This project is being considered for a Revenue Sharing Grant application.”Allie Pesch, the chair of the CAC, said she wanted Eastern Avenue to be the top implementation priority.“I like seeing Eastern Avenue at the top of that list,” Pesch said. “That is a priority for everyone in our area and just so overdue.”After this discussion of implementation, county planner Rachel Falkenstein turned the conversation to the working draft of the master plan. The draft that will be reviewed by the Planning Commission at their work session on Tuesday incorporates feedback from the June 9 CAC meeting. (download the draft) “We still have a couple of steps to go before we get to our public hearings and we’ll continue to accept feedback and make revisions to the chapters and to the content,” Falkenstein said. A work session with the Board of Supervisors will take place in August. (Watch the CAC meeting on YouTube)You’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement. On June 22 at 7 p.m., the Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society gives a glimpse into the cemeteries at Pen Park in Charlottesville. Tucked behind the Meadowcreek clubhouse are three, enclosed, family cemeteries, with the oldest dating back to the Colonial era. Outside the enclosures of the family plots, the city has confirmed the presence of 40 or more unmarked graves, all likely those of people enslaved at Pen Park. Join us as a panel of three professionals discuss what led to the examination of this site, the process of the investigation, and the efforts to identify and commemorate those buried there. Register on the JMRL website. A few days after the CAC meeting, the Downtown Crozet Initiative held a public meeting to talk about a 30,000 square foot plaza intended to be located at the former Barnes Lumberyard. The plaza would anchor a mixed-use building and a hotel through a public-private partnership. The idea involves construction of a connector road using revenue-sharing funds from VDOT. That process requires a local match. Frank Stoner is a principal at Milestone Partners which seeks to redevelop the space. They’re putting up $2 million to serve as that match. “This project started in 2014,” Stoner said. “We developed this road plan in 2016, 2017. Most of the design elements of the road have been resolved. We felt strongly and I think the community felt strongly and the county felt strongly that the streets had to be appropriate for the small town that is Crozet and not be a highway through the middle of downtown which is kind of where VDOT wanted to go with it.” Albemarle County has contributed $1.6 million in cash to the project, and will provide another $1.6 million in rebates through a process known as tax increment financing. (read the June 2019 performance agreement)Stoner said the idea is to build an urban plaza, not a park. “And most importantly we wanted this plaza to be the heart not just of the neighborhood but the Crozet community,” Stoner said. Credit: Downtown Crozet InitiativeVDOT is contributing $2.5 million and the Downtown Crozet Initiative is seeking to raise over a million in private funds. “Which will be used to fund essentially the furniture, fixtures and equipment, sculpture, artwork, seating, all of that kind of stuff that goes in the plaza,” Stoner said. The designs aren’t close to final yet, but Stoner wanted to get feedback from the community. There are also no identified tenants for any of the spaces yet. “We haven’t really been in the position to take commitments because there have been so many unknowns because of the VDOT plans and then we had some stormwater issues we had to work through and so it has just been one obstacle after another,” Stoner said. Stoner said if all goes according to plan, construction could get underway next year. To Stoner, success means making sure it’s a place to expand what already makes Crozet Crozet.“If we can’t create a place that’s affordable for local businesses, then we’re not going to succeed,” Stoner said. In April 2020, the firm Downtown Strategies unveiled their report on a Downtown Strategic Vision for Crozet. Stoner suggested interested parties might take a look. (take a look)Nearby there is a separate VDOT project to rebuild the existing Square to add sidewalks and address ongoing stormwater issues. (watch the June 14 presentation)Finally today, last week the Community Climate Collaborative handed out the latest awards in its Better Business Challenge. Around 75 local businesses took part in an effort to reduce energy and water use. Two groups were Momentum Medalists for their work to investigate energy-use and to make changes to lighting. The Legal Aid Justice Center came up with a plan to replace their heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at their headquarters and a plan to replace internal lighting. Loaves and Fishes, a food pantry on Lambs Road, looked at increasing energy efficiency and began plans to install solar in the future. Jane Colony Mills accepted the award. “We also kind of did this last year because we were adding two additional walk-in refrigerators, and we knew that they were going to add to our energy burn, so we wanted to reduce what we were burning in the warehouse,” Colony Mills said. The Iron Pillar award was granted “for perseverance through uncertain times” and went to the upscale resale boutique Twice as Nice. Sara Guerre is the assistant manager. “The pandemic caused a lot of disruption but we took that opportunity to use the time to focus on as doing as many actions as we could no matter how small,” Guerre said. “And all of those little actions add up.” The Changemaker Award went to an entity for “the strategic pursuit of an action with long-term impact.” Steve Haske teaches Studio Art at the Renaissance School, and also handles Facilities and Information Technology. The student Earth Club wanted changes. “We put all new windows in this very old building here in downtown Charlottesville,” Haske said. “At the pushing of a lot of the students about being cleaner and more efficient, especially in winter time, getting the windows updated so they could open and close and actually seal.”The Schools Champion award went to the Blue Ridge School, a boarding school in Greene County. Cory Woods is the Director of Natural Resources and assistant director of outdoor education. “The Challenge provided us the opportunity to showcase some projects that were already underway like new LED lights and energy efficient windows in our dormitories and motivated us to explore some new opportunities,” Woods said. One of those ideas was a composting program to reduce material that ends up in a landfill. Six entities wound up as the Better Business Champions for scoring the most points in efforts to increase efficiency. In one of two Small Business awards, the Center at Belvedere was one of the winners. Scott Hilles is the director of finance and operations at the Center. “The Center at Belvedere has created a brand new building and it has allowed us to provide a beautiful setting that promotes healthy living in its programs,” Hilles said. For the new building, the Center entered into a purchase agreement with Sun Tribe Solar and have over 400 panels at the new location. “That agreement has allowed us to provide 50 percent of our energy needs through the panels,” Hilles said. “It also allows us to mitigate risk by planning our costs pertaining to energy.”For the other Small Business champion, Scivera transitioned entirely to a home-office based workplace during the pandemic, a move that will continue in 2021. “We normally set up our office in Vault Virginia on the Downtown Mall but because of the pandemic we all had to like so many people scatter to our own home offices and get things going and it ended up working really well,” said Joseph Rinkevich. Rinkevich said only a third of the company’s employees are based in Charlottesville, and going forward there could be less travel for regular internal meetings. One of the medium-sized business awards went to ReadyKids for their work to install low-flow toilets and to begin the process of planning for a solar installation. Ashley Branch is an administrative specialist.“We are very proud and have seen a tremendous saving from our action of doing work on the toilets and now we’re not wasting water, and it has shown profoundly in our water bill each month after we have made those changes,” Branch said. SunTribe Solar was the other medium-sized business champion created an internal sustainability team and had its employees participate with C3’s Home Energy Challenge. Here’s their marketing manager, Summer Rain Ursomarso. “First, we’re trying to help our team be empowered to be more sustainable so that means putting tools in place and providing enough resources to be more sustainable in their day to day actions,” Ursomarso said. “But it also means educating them to take that sustainability and those initiatives home so they can help their friends and family and community be more sustainable.”On to the large entity champion. One of these awards goes to the City of Charlottesville. Kirk Vizzier is the energy management coordinator in the Public Works Department. “Sustainability is something that the city has been very interested in coordinating what we do,” Vizzier said. “We have obviously a lot of municipal operations and services that we want and there are a lot of opportunities to improve those and embed sustainability in the way we do business.” The city created an engagement program for employees called WE to reduce water and energy use. They’re also working on setting up an energy saving performance contract to help speed up the implementation of energy-efficiency measures in city buildings. Finally, Sigora Solar received the other large business award for their plan to convert their fleet of vehicles to either electric or hybrid. Sarah Nerette is the company’s Director of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability. “We’re actually going to be transitioning some of the sedans in our fleet to hybrid and electric vehicles,” Nerette said. “This is going to help make our fleet overall more efficient and more green in general.”For more on the initiative, look up all the award winners at C3’s website.At the DCI meeting, no members of the CAC were on the call because it was not an official meeting. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out: Code for Charlottesville is looking for volunteers to help with the Summer Session of their Pro Bono Tech Consulting Shop! The Shop is a pro bono IT consulting and problem-solving service for nonprofit organizations in Charlottesville and Central Virginia. Code for Charlottesville assigns small teams of volunteers to work directly with someone at a nonprofit to solve a specific issue with tech, data, or web design. RSVP for the info session Monday, June 21 at 7pm at this link. In today’s edition:Albemarle Supervisors say goodbye to some key staff members and get an update on how the county will utilize America Recovery Plan fundingThe University of Virginia will soon close their community vaccination center at Seminole Square Shopping CenterA new connector road opens in Albemarle County Tomorrow is Juneteenth, marking the end of two and a half centuries of slavery in British colonies in North America as well as the young United States of America. The day parks the day in 1865 federal troops entered Galveston, Texas two months after the Civil War to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. Here’s Vice President Kamala Harris at a bill signing yesterday.“Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names,” Harris said. “Jubilee Day. Freedom Day. Liberation Day. Emancipation Day. And today? A national holiday.”Harris said there is much more work to be done to address racism in the United States, but the creation of a national holiday makes a statement. In this case, it’s to acknowledge history that many continued to be enslaved in Confederate states long after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863. “For more than two years, the enslaved people of Texas were kept in servitude,” Harris said. “For more than two years, they were intentionally kept from their freedom. For more than two years!” The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center will celebrate from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, with food, music, and “a non-sewing sewing event” from Stitch Please. That’s the podcast hosted by Lisa Woolfork. The event is free, but donations are encouraged. (register) For more on what’s happening this weekend to mark Juneteenth, visit this article on C-Ville Weekly. Watch Vice President Harris’ remarks on the WTVR 6 YouTube pageJust under half of Virginians are fully vaccinated according to the Virginia Department of Health. Becker’s Hospital Review ranks the Commonwealth number 16 among the 50 states and D.C. for percent of the population vaccinated, with Vermont at number one and Mississippi last. What do those numbers look like locally? Dr. Costi Sifri is director of hospital epidemiology for the University of Virginia Health System.“Right now 79.9 percent, you know, 80 percent of all adults in Albemarle County have received at least one dose of vaccine,” Dr. Sifri said. “In Charlottesville that number is 68.1 percent.” Dr. Sifri said Nelson is also at 68.1 percent and Louisa is at 56.7 percent. Tonight, UVA Health will hold a vaccine clinic at the first Friday’s After Five event in over 21 months. Justin Vesser is a pharmacy supervisor for UVA Health who said the event is in partnership with Red Light Management. “We know we wanted to go to the Downtown Mall because that’s where people have gathered in Charlottesville from all different walks of life so they offered the perfect space at the Pavilion,” Vesser said. “We’ve had a fair number of vaccinations there but even more important I think we’ve had a great series of conversations with people especially about the topic of vaccine hesitancy. We’ve seen hesitancy head on down on the Downtown Mall.” UVA Health will close their community vaccine center at Seminole Square by the end of July and move it back to the hospital’s west complex at Jefferson Park Avenue and Lee Street. Justin Vesser is a pharmacy supervisor for UVA Health. “The Seminole Square vaccine site has been a huge boon to the community,” Vesser said. “We’ve been able to offer just a massive number of vaccines there with a really good experience for everyone who’s gone there. But the roster there has gone down and down and down. I think that shows signs of progress that we’re reaching most people who at this point want to get the vaccine.” A program to bring vaccines to people in their homes will continue.“Those patients are often the most vulnerable among us who would potentially have the worst outcome if they were to get sick with COVID,” Vesser said, “We will continue to work with the fire departments and with the Blue Ridge Health District to offer those homebound vaccines until there’s nobody left, until there’s no demand for that.”The seven-day average for new cases is 139 a day and the seven-day average for positive results is 1.5 percent. The state of emergency will lapse on June 30. Yesterday, the Commonwealth’s Attorney in both Albemarle and Charlottesville issued a joint statement that anyone who decides after that day to continue wearing a mask for COVID purposes will not be prosecuted. “A state law making it unlawful to wear a mask in public with the intent to conceal one’s identity will go back into full effect on that day,” reads the statement. “The same law permits the wearing of masks to protect the safety of the wearer and other persons.”Source: Virginia Department of HealthA new piece of roadway in Albemarle County has opened this week. The $2.9 million Rio Mills Connector runs for a quarter mile between Berkmar Drive Extension and Rio Mills Road and is now complete. This road allows for a gravel road that had lead to U.S. 29 to be closed to traffic, including trucks that access the Luckstone Quarry in the vicinity. This project is one of six designed and built by Curtis Consulting as part of a single contract. Two other recently completed projects are the new traffic light on U.S. 29 at Interstate 64, and improvements to the Fontaine Avenue interchange with U.S. 29. Coming up next is the diverging diamond at U.S. 250 and I-64 and roundabouts at U.S. 250 and Virginia Route 151 and Route 20 and Proffit Road. (VDOT’s design-build project page) Time now for another subscriber-supported PSA! The Rivanna Conservation Alliance is looking for a few good volunteers to help out on Clean Stream Tuesdays, a mile and a half paddle and clean-up to remove trash and debris from popular stretches of the Rivanna River. Trash bags, trash pickers, gloves, and hand sanitizer/wipes will be provided, though volunteers will need to transport themselves to and from the end points. Kayaks for the purpose can be rented from the Rivanna River Company. Visit the Rivanna Conservation Alliance's volunteer page to learn more about upcoming dates.The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors said goodbye Wednesday to three employees, two of whom are retiring and one who is moving on to the School of Data Sciences at the University of Virginia. Michael Frietas has been the Chief of Public Works for Albemarle for the past 15 years, and the resolution in his honor recognized his work to help the conversion of the former Yancey Elementary School into the Yancey School Community Center. Phyllis Savides was honored for 22 years in the county’s social services department as well as the director for the past several years. Here’s Deputy County Executive Doug Walker. “She is forever a champion of the underdog and that is a role that she relishes in all of our conversations by making sure that we don’t forget,” Walker said. The next person recognized hasn’t been with the county as long but has played a significant role in the past few years. Here’s County Executive Jeff Richardson. “I appreciate the Board’s formal resolution of recognition of Michael Freitas’ retirement and Phyllis Savides’ retirement,” Richardson said. “The third person this afternoon, Siri Russell, the situation is a little different. Siri will be leaving our organization at the end of the month and she will be taking a great opportunity to further her career.” Russell has been the director of Equity and Inclusion for Albemarle and will now be the Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the School of Data Science.“”The good news is that Siri Russell will still be part of our community,” Richardson said. “She will still be part of our organization as a key partner agency.”Richardson lauded Russell for her office’s recent annual report. For her part, Russell thanked the Board for taking the work seriously.“It’s been a resolve for equity, a commitment to inclusion, to a diverse community, to justice, to recognizing lesser told histories and stories and to really furthering the work,” Russell said. “To collaboration with our partners like the city, the University of Virginia, and others.” Russell and Supervisor Ann Mallek recently appeared together on a panel discussion run by the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. Later in the meeting, Supervisors discussed possible ways of using their share of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. At the public comment period, Roy Van Doorn of Charlottesville spoke on behalf of the area chapter of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging, and Travel Association and asked for direct funding for recovery funds. “The ARP stipulates that 25 percent of these local funds be devoted to hospitality but the legislative text is not specific on how local governments should meet that goal,” Van Doorn said.Van Doorn pointed to a decline in property assessments for hotel properties, as well as the shuttering of the wedding industry for 15 months, as signs of how the hospitality sector has been hurt. Courtney Cacatian, the executive director of the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, said tourism provided 3,400 jobs and generated $14 million in tax revenues for Albemarle. In 2020, that changed. “COVID hit the tourism industry especially hard,” Cacatian said. “As our industry begins to climb back, it’s essential that we invest in promoting the county in order to have a strong recovery.”The CACVB is funded in through transient lodging taxes, which means the budget for marketing is down. Cacatian asked the Board to consider using the ARP funds to make up the difference as well as support for the lodging industry. “The lodging industry has not received local COVID relief to date and I humbly ask the Board of Supervisors to consider providing grants to the sector for recovery,” Cacatian said. Chief Financial Officer Nelsie Birch then briefed the Board on what’s happening with the ARP. In all, the county will receive $21.2 million from the legislation, and half has already been distributed to the county. Unlike with the previous federal CARES funding, the U.S. Treasury directly funded localities, bypassing state governments. Birch described the broad category for how $4 million of the first portion will be spent. “We wanted to continue the work that we had started with the CARES CRF funding that we did on human services, economic activity and business support,” Birch said. “The Board also supported the use of about $3 million for broadband, knowing that that’s probably not all that we may want to contribute, but there was significant funding for broadband.” The rest of the funding could go to help Albemarle government as an organization, but staff are still seeking to identify how the funding would comply with federal rules. The Treasury Department is still taking comments, and so Supervisors won’t be asked to take a final vote on how to use the money until July. Birch recommended a flexible approach to using the balance of the funding, given there are multiple sources of funding. “There is continued need right now because people are not out of the woods, businesses and households are not out of it,” Birch said. “The state is going to have a lot of funding available with respect to mortgage offset, rent relief, utility relief. We don’t yet know specifically how that is going to fund down to a local resident, but we know that there is something there.”The Albemarle Broadband Authority could take up how to use the $3 million at their meeting next Wednesday. The Board of Supervisors will appropriate the full amount of ARP funding at their meeting on July 7. Albemarle Chief Financial Officer Nelsie Birch presents to the Board of Supervisors This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
Today's Patreon-fueled shout-out is for the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign, an initiative that wants you to grow native plants in yards, farms, public spaces and gardens in the northern Piedmont. Native plants provide habitat, food sources for wildlife, ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change, and clean water. Start at the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page and tell them Lonnie Murray sent you! In this edition:Charlottesville may try out open-carry containers in public spaces to boost economic recoveryAlbemarle’s Places29-North group talks traffic, apartments, and congestionPerrone Robotics continues to move its autonomous vehicles forward The University of Virginia has a new RectorA former member of the House of Delegates and a former Secretary of Transportation in Virginia has been named as the Rector of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. Whittington Clement from southside Virginia will take over the position on July 1, succeeding James Murrary of Albemarle. Robert Hardie will become the vice rector. Read more on UVA Today.Perrone Robotics of Crozet has recently demonstrated the use of its autonomous vehicles in the city of Westminster, Maryland, according to a press release distributed by the company. Perrone participated in the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory Autonomous Corridor Project by using its AV Star, which purports to be the world’s first and only fully autonomous vehicle and uses the company’s TONY software. TONY stands for To Navigate You and its use was pioneered in Albemarle with a three month trial in Crozet when a six-sheet shuttle reached something called Level 5 Autonomy. In Westminster, the AV Star operated on a “complex operational design domain” route that required it to make left and right turns, a four-way stop, and to drive through a historic city neighborhood. According to the release, Perrone has now installed the autonomous software on over 30 different kinds of vehicles. The AV Star (Source: Perrone Robotics)The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is seeking comments on a proposal from the Commonwealth Transportation Board to implement something called the Transit Ridership Incentive Program. Legislation passed the General Assembly in 2020 that seeks to improve transit service in urban areas of the Commonwealth with over 100,000. When TRIP goes live, transit agencies and localities will be able to apply for funding for regional projects. Like Smart Scale, candidate projects would be scored on how well they mitigate congestion and how they can provide connectivity to job centers. Review the resolution if you’re interested and send in a comment. The Charlottesville Economic Development office has been working on a recovery plan for the city, and the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority got a look at their meeting on June 8. Director Chris Engel said his department will seek American Rescue Plan funding from City Council to pay for projects within the initiative. “Essentially we met and did a series of outreach efforts including a series of phone calls that was led by Jason Ness on our team with previous recipients of our grants from last year to find out how they’re doing,” Engel said. “We found four basic buckets in which there was desire for additional assistance.Items in the roadmap include direct financial assistance through continued grant programs and additional training programs including a “specific hospitality focused training program.” Other ideas include updating maps for business corridors and creating a marketing leverage program. There are also ideas to create new infrastructure.“One of them is a unique opportunity that is now available to municipalities to seek out what are called designated outdoor refreshment areas,” Engel said. “These are areas where alcoholic beverages can be served in an outdoor environment without putting up the traditional hard barriers that people might be accustomed to for these types of things.”That would allow people to walk on parts of the Downtown Mall while carrying their drinks with them.“Some details to be worked out with that,” Engel said. “There’s a particular kind of cup that would have to be used and some things like that. Not quite Bourbon Street but a more toned-down version.”City Council will be presented with the plan on June 21. Screen shot of the draft Roadmap to Recovery for Charlottesville*You're reading to Charlottesville Community Engagement. Time now for another subscriber supported public service announcement. This June, the Jefferson Madison Regional Library is hosting two virtual programs to commemorate Juneteenth. On June 17th, JMRL is hosting a panel discussion on the lives of the enslaved populations on the Monticello, Montpelier, and Highland plantations. (register)On June 22, JMRL will hold a program about the recently discovered unmarked graves outside the enclosures of the cemetery at Pen Park. (register)Tonight, the Albemarle Planning Commission will once again consider a rezoning for about 19 acres near the Forest Lakes neighborhood for a multifamily complex. RST Development last went before the Planning Commission in March, and their proposal for 370 units was vehemently opposed in a coordinated effort from the Forest Lakes Community Association. Members of the Places29-North Community Advisory Committee were presented with a revised plan on June 10. But they also heard two other items and a common thread throughout all of them was the impact new uses and developments have had and will have on existing roads. The first item was a community meeting for an application from the Monticello United Soccer Club (MONU) to expand the number of fields from four to seven at their location on Polo Ground Roads, as well as the hours. The site is on the banks on the South Fork of Rivanna River and is directly south of the Brookhill community that’s currently under construction. Planner Scott Clark said that section of Polo Grounds Road has received capacity upgrades to handle the additional traffic for the development. “We’ve got signalization, turn lanes in both directions, the westbound straight lane across to Rio Mills Road was closed, and also Rio Mills itself can no longer send traffic directly across to Polo Grounds,” Clark said. Some residents to the east, however, are concerned that any increased use will bring new vehicles. Polo Grounds Road eventually gets to Proffit Road, but there’s a one-lane railroad underpass that prevents high levels of traffic. The amendment to the existing special use permit has already been to the Planning Commission, but Clark wanted to bring it back to the CAC. That gave one man who lives on Proffit Road the chance to ask this question.“Are you telling me that all the traffic is going to enter and exit from U.S. 29 and nobody’s coming under the railroad tunnel to get to Proffit Road?” said the man. Clark said he could not guarantee that none of the people would go that way. The man responded that the Brookhill development is just getting started and any additional uses would affect the overall area. Fred Gerke, a member of the Proffit Community Association, offered some perspective on how the community has changed over time. “You know, I’ve lived out here for 35 years and I’ve watched Proffit Road turn from a dirt track,” Gerke said. “Polo Grounds when I moved out here was a dirt road. I’ve watched it paved and VDOT said it couldn’t get paved. It got paved. Our concerns are just with traffic. MONU is a good organization, does good things. No complaints about that. The objections with the original permit which we commented on all those years ago, that’s why those limits were in there, about traffic concerns.” Gerke said the county’s plans have not kept up with increases in population and use in the area. “Brookhill is great, but what are you going to do?” Gerke said. “We put in these sidewalks and paths and bike lanes that go nowhere. You have no choice. You live in Brookhill, you’re going to have to get in your car to go anywhere, and it’s the same with MONU.” The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will hold their public hearing on MONU on August 4. Next, the Places29-North CAC held the community meeting for a rezoning for the proposed Maplewood Community to be built on a vacant parcel of land at the intersection of Proffit Road and Worth Crossing. The 3.41 acres of land are currently zoned commercial, but the application is for Planned Residential Development to build a maximum of 102 units. Ashley Davies is with Riverbend Development. “We’ve got some layouts now and it’s probably going to land somewhere closer to about 74 units total,” Davies said. “We think it’s a nice, complementary use to the other commercial uses in the area and we imagine sometime in the future the rest of this area will probably see some redevelopment.” The layout shown to the CAC features housing units called a “two over two.”“They’re a new unit type that is basically townhouse units but they have two units per townhouse, so it’s a four story unit,” Davies said. “You’ve got parking on the bottom and then one of the levels is one unit and then you have a two-level unit.”One CAC member noted that there have been several applications in this area that are approaching the upper limits of allowed residential densities. County planner Mariah Gleason had some explanation. “In terms of proposals coming in at higher level densities, yes, we have had several lately come in that are in this area,” Gleason said. “I think it’s a combination of where there’s availability and the desire to build from the development community.”The applicant requested an indefinite deferral yesterday to respond to comments from staff. One issue in the letter is that staff interpreted the application as requesting five-story buildings, which aren’t allowed under zoning at that location or in the Comprehensive Plan. Davies said that was not the case.“The buildings proposed are four stories so there’s no height issue,” Davies said. A basic layout for the Maplewood project The last item on the agenda was a discussion about the RST project. The applicant was not on the call, but members of the CAC talked about their official list of concerns for the revised project. “Most are driven by concern for the very high density of units on this small parcel of land,” reads the comments. “We feel the sheer number of units proposed will not sustain even a relatively high quality of life for either current residents, or the people who will move into this development.”The one and a half page list of comments points out three good things about the new proposal. They are the slightly reduced size, the provision of below-market units, and the “ethnic diversity” the project would bring. But the rest of the comments are in opposition. Citing one of them, CAC member Steve Cameron said he was against a special exception request for a fifth story in the main apartment building. “I don’t understand the reason for the five-story waiver or the necessity for that,” Cameron said. “Looking out the topography, this is a higher portion of ground. It’s going to be higher. Four stories. The density is still the same. And then when we look around, Brookhill certainly would have wanted to go to five stories if they could.” Tony Pagnucco went next.“I have three concerns about this development,” Pagnucco said. “First of all, the traffic. Second of all the transportation site so that if there’s ever public transportation, that there would be some place where people could get on and off of public transportation. And lastly the schools.”However, Pagnucco said he was not sure the CAC should send out the document and he did not support it. He did suggest that high density multifamily units could be built in the rural areas. “Where really the only people that would care about that are few and far between,” Pagnucco said. Back in March, there was concern that there were no provisions for transit. Supervisor Bea LaPisto Kirtley said the new proposal does include considerations for future bus routes.“There are three projected transit stops for the RST development,” LaPisto Kirtley said. “One on 29, one on Ashwood Boulevard, and one inside the actual development.” The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will soon begin the public comment period before expanding transit in Albemarle. Charlottesville Area Transit is conducting a similar study in the whole area. The CAC did not take a vote to officially endorse the comments. Planning Commissioner Corey Clayborne thanked the group for their discussion.“Thank you guys for that conversation,” Clayborne said. “It was very helpful to be able to those concerns and document those.Watch the whole meeting of the Places29-North Community Advisory Committee here. Screen shot of the comments discussed but not endorsed at the meeting. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (5:05). Sections below are the following:Transcript of AudioAudio Notes and AcknowledgmentsImagesExtra InformationSourcesRelated Water Radio EpisodesFor Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.). Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 6-4-21. TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 7, 2021. MUSIC – ~10 seconds - instrumentalThat's part of “Tropical Tantrum,” composed for Virginia Water Radio in 2017 by Torrin Hallett, a recent graduate of Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. The music sets the stage for our annual preview of the Atlantic basin tropical cyclone season. We start with some guest voices, calling out names that, if we're lucky, will not become infamous this summer or fall. Have a listen for about 30 seconds, and see if you can guess who—or rather, what—is being named. GUEST VOICES - ~30 sec – “Ana. Bill. Claudette. Danny. Elsa. Fred. Grace. Henri. Ida. Julian. Kate. Larry. Mindy. Nicholas. Odette. Peter. Rose. Sam. Teresa. Victor. Wanda.” If you guessed the names planned for storms that may occur during this year's Atlantic tropical cyclone season, you're right! The Atlantic basin includes the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic tropical cyclone season runs officially from June 1 through November 30. Most Atlantic tropical cyclones occur within this period, but not all of them. For the past six years in the Atlantic basin, named storms have formed before June 1, including Alex in January 2016, and this year, Ana, which strengthened into a tropical storm on May 23. [Editor's note, not in the audio: Other recent pre-June named Atlantic storms include Arlene in April 2017, Alberto in May 2018, Andrea in May 2019, and Arthur in May 2020.]Tropical storms and hurricanes are two categories of tropical cyclones, which are rotating storm systems that start in tropical or sub-tropical latitudes. A tropical cyclone is called a tropical storm—and gets a name—when sustained wind speeds reach 39 miles per hour; at 74 miles per hour, a tropical cyclone is considered a hurricane. Tropical depressions—with wind speeds below 39 miles per hour—don't get named if they never reach tropical storm wind speed,* but they can still bring damaging rainfall and flooding. Hurricane-force storms are called typhoons in northwestern areas of the Pacific Ocean.[Editor's note, not in the audio: A tropical system that never gets above the tropical depression wind-speed level won't be given a name. But a lingering tropical depression that previously was at the wind speed of a tropical storm or hurricane will have a name associated with it.]Before a tropical system of any speed or name barges into the Old Dominion, here are some important preparedness steps recommended by the National Weather Service. Know your zone – that is, find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area by checking the Virginia Department of Emergency Management's “Know Your Zone” Web site, or contacting your local emergency management office. Assemble an emergency kit of food, water, medicines, and supplies. Have a family emergency plan, including plans for evacuating and for getting in touch with one another in an emergency. Review your insurance policiesto ensure that you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property. And establish ways to stay informed, especially if the power goes out, and be sure you understand the meaning of Weather Service forecast terms. Detailed safety tips for hurricanes and other severe weather are available from the “Safety” link at the National Weather Service Web site, www.weather.gov. Thanks to several Blacksburg, Va., friends for lending their voices to this episode. Thanks also to Torrin Hallett for this week's music, and we close with the last 15 seconds of “Tropical Tantrum.” MUSIC – ~15 seconds - instrumental SHIP'S BELL Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment. For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624. Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show. In Blacksburg, I'm Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water. AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS “Tropical Tantrum” is copyright 2017 by Torrin Hallett, used with permission. Torrin is a 2018 graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio, a 2020 graduate in Horn Performance from Manhattan School of Music in New York, and a 2021 candidate of the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. More information about Torrin is available online at https://www.facebook.com/torrin.hallett. Thanks very much to Torrin for composing the piece especially for Virginia Water Radio. This music was used previously in several episodes, most recently in Episode 526, 5-25-20, the 2020 Atlantic tropical storm season preview. Click here to hear the full piece (28 seconds). Thanks very much to Blacksburg friends who recorded the planned tropical cyclone names.Click here if you'd like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode. More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com. IMAGES Predictions for the 2021 Atlantic tropical storm season. Graphic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “NOAA Predicts Another Active Atlantic Hurricane Season,” 5/20/21, online at https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/noaa-predicts-another-active-atlantic-hurricane-season.Map showing the names, dates, and tracks of named Atlantic basin tropical cyclones (tropical storms and hurricanes) in 2020. Map from the National Hurricane Center, “2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season,” online at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/index.php?season=2020&basin=atl.One of several “5 Things to Know About…” posters related to hurricane safety, provided by the National Weather Service, “What to Do Before the Tropical Storm or Hurricane,” online at https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-plan. The other posters in the series cover evacuation planning, strengthening one's home, getting information, and updating insurance. EXTRA INFORMATION ON TROPICAL CYCLONE PREPAREDNESS The following information is quoted from the National Weather Service, ‘Hurricane Safety,” online at https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane. Plan for a Hurricane: What to Do Before the Tropical Storm or Hurricane(online at https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-plan)“The best time to prepare for a hurricane is before hurricane season begins on June 1. It is vital to understand your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind. Here is your checklist of things to do BEFORE hurricane seasons begins.Know your zone: Do you live near the Gulf or Atlantic Coasts? Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area by contacting your local government/emergency management office or, in Virginia, by visiting https://www.vaemergency.gov/hurricane-evacuation-zone-lookup/. Put Together an Emergency Kit: Put together a basic emergency kit; information to do so is online at https://www.ready.gov/kit. Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators, and storm shutters.Write or review your Family Emergency Plan: Before an emergency happens, sit down with your family or close friends and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supplies kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster. Information to help with emergency plan preparation is online at https://www.ready.gov/plan. Review Your Insurance Policies: Review your insurance policies to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property.Understand NWS forecast products, especially the meaning of NWS watches and warnings.Preparation tips for your home are available from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, online at https://www.flash.org/. Preparation tips for those with chronic illnesses are available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, online at https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/emergency.htm.Actions to Take When a Tropical Storm or Hurricane Threatens(online at https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-action) “When a hurricane threatens your community, be prepared to evacuate if you live in a storm surge risk area. Allow enough time to pack and inform friends and family if you need to leave your home. Secure your home: Cover all of your home's windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8 inch exterior grade or marine plywood, built to fit, and ready to install. Buy supplies before the hurricane season rather than waiting for the pre-storm rush. Stayed tuned in: Check the websites of your local National Weather Service office (online at https://www.weather.gov/) and local government/emergency management office. Find out what type of emergencies could occur and how you should respond. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or other radio or TV stations for the latest storm news. Follow instructions issued by local officials. Leave immediately if ordered! If NOT ordered to evacuate: *Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level during the storm. Put as many walls between you and the outside as you can. *Stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors. *If the eye of the storm passes over your area, there will be a short period of calm, but at the other side of the eye, the wind speed rapidly increases to hurricane force winds coming from the opposite direction.” After a Hurricane(online at https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-after) Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates. If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe. Once home, drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects in the road, downed electrical wires, and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks that might collapse. Walk carefully around the outside of your home to check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage. Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building, if the building or home was damaged by fire, or if the authorities have not declared it safe. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms in areas dealing with power outages. Never use a portable generator inside your home or garage. Use battery-powered flashlights. Do NOT use candles. Turn on your flashlight before entering a vacated building. The battery could produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.” EXTRA INFORMATION ON TROPICAL CYCLONE NAMES The following information is quoted from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Tropical Cyclone Names,” online at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml, as of 6-8-21.“Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms had been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization [online at http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/tcp/]. “[Six lists] are used in rotation and re-cycled every six years, i.e., the 2019 list will be used again in 2025. The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO committee (called primarily to discuss many other issues) the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it. Several names have been retired since the lists were created. [More information on the hi
In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out: Help support black-owned business in the Charlottesville area. Check out the Charlottesville Black Business Directory at cvilleblackbiz.com and choose between a variety of goods and services, ranging from beauty supplies, professional services, and e-commerce. Visit cvilleblackbiz.com as soon as you can to get started. On today’s show:Charlottesville officials press City Council for $7 million now for 7th Street Parking garage, but Council directs staff to take a pause on planningAlbemarle supervisors get an update on transportation projectsAn update from the University of Virginia Health System on the ongoing pandemic. As of midnight Friday, all COVID-19 restrictions in Virginia are lifted, more than two weeks before Governor Northam had originally announced that community health metrics were low enough to drop all of the rules that have been with us for months to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. But the director of hospital epidemiology at the University of Virginia Health System said no one should consider the pandemic over.“COVID has not gone away completely,’” said Dr. Costi Sifri. “It is reduced. It is at some of the best levels we’ve seen in more than a year. But it’s still the case that we have patients being admitted at our hospital with COVID, that there is COVID being transmitted in the community. And we really cannot predict what will happen in a week or a month or three months.”Today the Virginia Department of Health reports a seven-day average for new cases of 339. As of this morning, 44 percent of Virginians are fully vaccinated. Dr. Sifri said the restrictions can be lifted in part because of the trends. “Vaccines are highly, highly effective,” Dr. Sifri said. “If you’re not vaccinated, nothing really changes. You should still be practicing the same precautions that you’ve been practicing.”Many in the community may not feel comfortable with making the change back to a non-restricted world where masks are not required. “In those situations I think it is understandable that people still want to wear a mask and we need to make sure that we with grace say that they can wear masks and feel comfortable doing that without judgement,” Dr. Sifri said. Dr. Sifri stressed that the pandemic is not over. “Please don’t go out and buy the book that talks about the history of the pandemic because its a story that is still being written,” Dr. Sifri said. “Only about four or five percent of the world’s population is vaccinated at this point so I think there’s a lot that will occur in the future. The virus isn’t done with us yet.” Source: Virginia Department of HealthMemorial Day Weekend is the traditional opening of outdoor pools and swimming areas. That’s that’s certainly the case in Charlottesville, where Washington Park is scheduled to open today as well as the spray grounds at Belmont Park, Greenleaf Park, and Tonsler Park. The Forest Hills spray park will open in June due to mechanical errors. However, today’s rain puts a damper on all of that. Onesty Pool will remain closed due to staffing issues. However, swimming lakes run by Albemarle County will open later than usual. The season at Chris Greene Lake, Mint Springs, and Walnut Creek will begin on June 17. Albemarle County swimming lakes will open on June 17 (Credit: Albemarle County)At the height of the Great Recession earlier this century, Albemarle County froze many positions and slowed contributions to its capital improvement program. One job that was not filled for many years was transportation planning, but for the past few years, Albemarle has put together an organized list of potential projects to address road capacity issues as well as bike and pedestrian connections. In July 2019, they adopted a priority list ranging from Hydraulic/29 Improvements at #1 to U.S. 250 West / Gillums Ridge Road Intersection Improvements at #89. “That list provided all capital transportation projects that are recommended through the various county planning processes,” said Kevin McDermott , a chief of planning in Albemarle, in a May 19 to the Board of Supervisors. (review the update)The list is intended to help planners identify funding sources for projects, such as the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale program as well as the county’s own capital improvement program. “We have gotten 12 projects from that 2019 project list funded,” McDermott said. Hydraulic 29 / Improvements, including a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 29 and a roundabout at Hillsdale and Hydraulic, are slated to be funded at $24 million by Commonwealth Transportation Board in June (#1)U.S. Route 250 improvements to add median between Route 20 and Rolkin Road to receive $6 million in Smart Scale funding using $2 million in local funds (#2)Route 20 / U.S. 250 intersection will be rebuilt using funding from 2018 Smart Scale round sometime in 2024 (#3)Berkmar Drive will be extended further north to Lewis and Clark Drive, providing a continuous roadway to UVA North Fork Research Park. Funding came from VDOT’s revenue sharing program.Further changes to Fontaine Avenue / U.S. 29 intersection including a shared-use path (#6)A roundabout will be built at Old Lynchburg Road and 5th Street Extended with $5 million in VDOT funds and $2 million in Albemarle funds (#7)A roundabout at Rio Road and the John Warner Parkway is recommended for $8 million funding in the current Smart Scale process and $2 million in Albemarle funds will be used (#15)Bike and pedestrian improvements will be made on Old Lynchburg Road using Albemarle funds (#26)A section of the Northtown Trail shared-use path will be built between Seminole Lane North and Carrsbrook Drive at a cost of $4 million (#35)A greenway trail on Moores Creek and a trail hub at 5th Street Station will receive Smart Scale funds and has a total cost of $10 million (#40)A park and ride lot will be constructed near Exit 107 and Crozet Park to serve Jaunt and the future Afton Express at a cost of $3 million (#82)This map depicts location of projects that have received funding since 2019 (Credit: Albemarle County)McDermott’s purpose for appearing before the supervisors was to get their preliminary support for the next round of transportation projects. At the top of a short list for this year’s cycle of VDOT revenue-sharing funds is the completion Eastern Avenue, a north-south roadway designed to increase connectivity and traffic circulation throughout Crozet. “That project is currently being evaluated through an alignment study and conceptual design which the county has funded through our transportation leveraging project,” McDermott said. “We have just recently received the updated cost estimates from that consultant we have hired and their preliminary cost estimates are now at $19,983,000.” That would require at least a $10 million match from county funds. However, if approved the state funding would not be available until 2027. Another project on the list for potential revenue-sharing projects is one to build bike and pedestrian improvements on Mill Creek Drive to Peregory Lane, a top priority in a recent corridor study. That has a cost estimate of $2 million. Applications for revenue-sharing projects are due this year. Next year Smart Scale projects will be due. Potential applications to be made next year include a roundabout at District Avenue and Hydraulic Road, a realignment of Hillsdale Drive, and a roundabout at the intersection of Belvedere Boulevard and Rio Road. There’s plenty of time to get involved with these applications. Keep reading and stay tuned.You’re reading to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In this subscriber supported public service announcement, over the course of the pandemic, the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society has provided hours and hours of interviews, presentations, and discussions about interpretations and recollections of the past. All of this is available for you to watch, for free, on the Historical Society’s YouTube Channel. There’s even an appearance by me, talking about my work on cvillepedia! On Tuesday, May 25, City Council held a work session on two items related to transportation, though there was little in the materials presented to suggest the two are linked. The second item was on route changes for Charlottesville Area Transit, and we’ll come back to that in the next installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Would Council give staff permission to continue planning work on a proposed 300-space parking garage at the corner of East Market and 9th Street for which 90 spaces would be reserved for Albemarle County for their courts system. That’s codified in a December 2018 agreement between the two jurisdictions. (download the agreement) (staff report)Here’s City Manager Chip Boyles.“A previous Council had approved for the city to pursue building a parking structure as part of the MOA on the site of 7th Street and Market,” Boyles said. “We’ve been working on that and we’re here to discuss with you both that option as well as other options that perhaps meet more current needs and demands of the city and Council’s vision.”Staff has been working off of a resolution adopted by Council in December 2019 to proceed with the plan, including the allocation of $1.28 million from a capital contingency account to cover the county’s share of the surface lot the two jurisdictions purchased in 2005 to support an eventual court expansion. (minutes from December 6, 2019 City Council meeting)Charlottesville is now the sole owner of this surface lot which city staff have been planning to use to build a 300-unit parking structure with ground floor retail. (Source: City of Charlottesville)Alternatives in the MOA include selling that lot back to Albemarle, or providing 100 spaces in the Market Street Parking Garage. The deadline to provide any of these is November 30, 2023. The city currently has a shortlist of three firms who would both design and build the structure. “Those three are slightly on pause right now while we get through this meeting,” said Scott Hendrix, senior project manager for Charlottesville. Each of the firms has submitted a request for qualifications at their own expense, and Hendrix said clarity from Council was needed. During development of the fiscal year 2022 budget, Council reduced the amount requested by staff from $8 million to $1 million, delaying the balance to FY2023. That would delay the project meaning it would not be complete in time for the November 2023 deadline. Chris Engel, the city’s Economic Development Director, presented Council with a couple of alternatives to Council, both of which involve selling a share back to the surface lot back to Albemarle and only using the land paid $2.85 million for in January 2017. There are two commercial buildings on that lot whose tenants pay rent to Charlottesville. Option 1B would be to build a smaller structure on the land with between 150 and 200 spaces, and Option 1C would be to just use the land for surface parking. A matrix of options presented by city staff to Council at the May 25, 2021 work session. Engel said one of the city’s goals has been to continue to provide enough parking for visitors traveling downtown for either business or entertainment. For instance, he said 50 spaces under the Belmont Bridge will be lost after it is replaced. Engel said Council will have to consider the future of the Market Street Parking garage, which he said is 46 years old. “It’s about to have a structural reassessment as it does every five or seven years,” Engel said. “It’s probably in the city’s best interest to start thinking about what a plan for replacement looks like. Obviously having another facility nearby would help alleviate that when and if the day comes.”The Market Street Parking Garage (Source: City of Charlottesville GIS)The city owns the Market Street structure outright, whereas the Charlottesville Parking Center owns the Water Street Parking Garage. The city manages that structure, but leases the space to CPC. The two were involved in a series of lawsuits within the last decade. Albemarle County currently participates in the validation system for the two garages.The most recently available official study of parking in Charlottesville is from 2015 when the firm Nelson Nygaard was hired to conduct a study of downtown parking. One recommendation was to create something called a Transportation Demand Management Plan. More specifically the idea was to create a “Transportation Management Association.” (read the study)“A TMA can help to disseminate information about alternative commuting options, run events and campaigns to encourage workers to try alternate commutes, and develop tailored programs for both employers and employees that meet their needs,” reads page 68 of the study. An inventory of parking included within the 2015 Nelson Nygaard studyCouncilor Michael Payne asked if a TDM program had been examined while plans for the proposed garage were penciled up.“As a way to handle supposed parking demand issue throughout downtown throughout that strategy as opposed to purely meeting it through building new parking spaces or maximizing the amount of new parking spaces being built,” Payne said. The Nelson Nygaard also suggested creating a parking department in city government. Rick Siebert was hired in 2017 to implement the Parking Action Plan and as well as a six-month pilot for on-street parking meters. He said TDM is not a magic solution.“It is generally a very long-term solution and it requires a lot of comprehensive cooperation,” Siebert said. “If a lot of the people who work and visit downtown come from in the county or neighboring counties, then we need to work with those counties in working out mass transit options that are more attractive than driving your car or we have to work out park and ride lots that somehow are more attractive than driving to the Water Street or Market Street garages.” A possible venue for that discussion would be the Regional Transit Partnership or the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization. As we’ll hear more tomorrow, Charlottesville Area Transit is looking to build park and ride lots. Several members of the Parking Advisory Panel spoke. That group is divided. Joan Fenton wants more parking spaces downtown. “If you look at the number of parking spots that have been lost downtown and will continue to be lost downtown, this is a neutral amount of parking spaces that are going to be added,” Fenton said. However, Jamelle Bouie took an opposing view. “When thinking about the necessity for additional parking, we really should be focused on whether or not there has been any demonstrated need for it,” Bouie said. “In the data the city collects and the 2015 parking study, both strongly suggest that with better parking management, there’s all the parking we need downtown. There’s no need for an additional structure.”During their discussion, Mayor Nikuyah Walker said she did not think the full garage was necessary to meet the terms of the agreement. She suggested collecting new data post COVID to demonstrate how many people will no longer travel downtown to work. “What is staff considering in terms of work from home and is there a possibility that to decrease the demand on parking, that that becomes part of our plan,” Walker said.Walker pointed out that the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission already has a RideShare program in place for commuters. She also added that programs are in motion to reduce the number of people who go through the criminal justice system. “If the city and county makes a commitment to keep their citizens out of the courtroom when it is possible, then that should also limit the impact on parking,” Walker said. “But I still think to cancel the project and not honor our parking needs with the county should not be an option.”City Councilor Michael Payne said he felt the city could honor the agreement without building the garage, especially at a time when there are additional pressures on the Capital Improvement Program. He also wanted more data collected. “You know we hear a lot about perceptions but I haven’t seen a lot of data to back up that there is a severe parking shortage,” Payne said. Payne’s option would be to go with Option C combined with some form of transportation demand management. Councilor Lloyd Snook spends a lot of time downtown as an attorney. Before COVID, he supported a new garage downtown to address long-term parking inventory. This spring, though, he supported delaying the $7 million in the budget to get new information on parking capacity with buildings like CODE, Apex Clean Energy, and the 3-Twenty-3 Building on 4th Street SE. “You could reasonably expect to have something like a thousand more people coming to work in those buildings and apparently only about 500 parking spaces were being provided,” Snook said. “We can see that pre-COVID we were heading for a real problem with those places coming online. I decided a couple of months however that the changes from COVID were likely number one were significant right now, number two were likely to continue for at least a year or two or perhaps longer.” Snook said the pause also comes at a time when the capital budget is under a crunch. He also said the 300-space garage may not be in the city’s long-term interests. He said he thought the city should take time to develop the garage with other uses on the same site. “That particular spot, that particular lot, and that particular design don’t do very much for the way that I think that we want to be developing the city,” Snook said. “I’ve said before if we built that structure, we would probably look back ten years later and say ‘what we were thinking when we built only that parking garage?”Councilor Heather Hill said she understood the concerns of her colleagues, but thought a garage would be needed sooner rather than later. “The loss of the parking spaces is going to be real, especially for city employees and we have to figure out within the organization how we are going to accommodate our own employees and I think that’s going to have to be some creative thinking around how do we get our own employees into the downtown area without providing them with parking immediately adjacent to City Hall,” Hill said.Perhaps a transportation demand management plan would be in order? The Lucky 7 on Market Street would be demolished under all of the options suggested by city staff. (Source: Charlottesville GIS)At the end of this event, Boyles said he heard direction to negotiate with Albemarle County on what new options they might be interested in to meet the needs of the agreement. “The second thing if I’m hearing correctly is that we should cease the movement toward the 200 to 300 spot garage and pursue the option 1C with the surface parking so that is going along the same time frame as we’re discussing and presenting options to Albemarle County,” Boyles said. Boyles said he will need a resolution to confirm that direction. That will happen at the June 7 meeting. The surface lot would require demolition of the Lucky 7 and the Guadalajara. The city purchased the lot for $2.85 million in January 2017. With 38 spaces proposed, that’s $75,000 a space, before the costs of demolition are factored in. In the next installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement, we’ll hear about upcoming changes in coming up for Charlottesville Area Transit. Thank you for reading. Please consider a contribution through Patreon to support general research or pay for a subscription through Substack. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
In today’s Substack-fueled shout-out, Code for Charlottesville is seeking volunteers with tech, data, design, and research skills to work on community service projects. Founded in September 2019, Code for Charlottesville has worked on projects with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Charlottesville Fire Department, and the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights. Visit the Code for Charlottesville website to learn more, including details on three projects that are underway.On today’s show, a lot of catching up on older items in Albemarle: The Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee considers a neighborhood proposal much less dense than it had beenThe Places-29 North Community Advisory Committee does the same thing City Manager Chip Boyles continues to fill key positionsThree months after becoming city manager, much of Chip Boyles’s leadership team is in place. This week, Boyles announced the hiring of Sam Sanders as Deputy City Manager of Operations. For the past 15 years, Sanders has been the executive director of the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance near Baton Rouge.“He’ll be bringing some extensive knowledge in the areas of affordable housing, community development, as well as small business development,” Boyles said. Sanders begins work on July 12. Among other things, he’ll oversee the Departments of Neighborhood Development Services, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works. Sam Sanders becomes Deputy City Manager for Operations on July 12, 2021Ashley Marshall began work as the Deputy City Manager of Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on May 10. Among other things, the position oversees the Office of Human Rights and the Police Civilian Review Board, as well as the Human Services Department. Ashley Marshall became Deputy City Manager for Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on May 10, 2021Earlier this month, Lisa Robertson was named as City Attorney, removing the acting in front of the position. Robertson served as deputy city attorney from 1994 to 2006 when she became administrator of Madison County. She returned to Charlottesville in 2013 to once again be deputy. How she’s the first woman to hold the position. City Councilor Lloyd Snook offered some words shortly before her appointment was confirmed by Council on May 3. “Anybody who has seen Lisa in action over the last couple of years in particular on all of the statue litigation cannot help but be impressed and cannot help but recognize that we have someone already here and already known to us who is an excellent city attorney and will be an excellent city attorney,” Snook said. Lisa Robertson was confirmed as Charlottesville City Attorney on May 3, 2021The Fitch Ratings agency has downgraded the creditworthiness of the company that owns Fashion Square Mall in Albemarle County. The Washington Prime Group is now listed as RD, for “restricted default” from C which brings it one step above default. Washington Prime missed an interest payment in February, triggering speculation the company will enter bankruptcy. “Fitch believes that the only resolution of the company's capital structure is through a near-term restructuring event or a potential bankruptcy filing,” reads a news release. The former J.C. Penney has been the site of a mass vaccination center operated by the Blue Ridge Health District, but that use will stop by the end of June according to the Daily Progress. At the May 10, 2021 meeting of the Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee, Southern Development held a community meeting for a reduced version of their Breezy Hill development in eastern Albemarle along U.S. 250. The property is within a growth area and had been since December 1989. At the time, the expected density was 1.3 units per acres but that increased to three to six units in the 1996 Comprehensive Plan. Since then, many nearby residents have spoken out against any rezonings at that higher level. (watch the meeting on YouTube)Last summer, Breezy Hill was a proposal for 160 units on about 84 acres. The Planning Commission recommended denial of that proposal last July, followed by another denial in November when the project was reduced further to 130. Charlie Armstrong described the proposal to committee members on May 10.“We are proposing R-1 zoning for this property,” Armstrong said. “It’s the lowest conventional district that Albemarle has in its zoning ordinance.”Armstrong said they will add a maximum residential density of 80 lots before the plan goes to the Albemarle Planning Commission. Members of the committee wanted Armstrong to remove a proposed road that leads to Running Deer Road or to depict it as emergency access only. VDOT required a second entrance to planned subdivisions that have more than fifty units. “Running Deer is not really a road within the development area,” said Dennis Odinov. “Half of it is and half of it isn’t. And so we’re saying there should be an exception there.” Armstong said he would consider making a request for an exemption from VDOT, but that county staff favor the road and it is called for in the Village of Rivanna Master Plan. The next step for the reduced proposal is for the Albemarle Planning Commission at some point in the near future. A page from the Village of Rivanna Master Plan. The area in yellow here is the site of the future Breezy Hill neighborhoodLater that week, the Places29-North Community Advisory Committee got a first look at a second submittal of the RST Residences, an apartment and townhome complex proposed at the site of a recently closed mobile home adjacent to the Forest Lakes neighborhood. On March 2, the Forest Lakes Community Association dominated the project’s public hearing before the Albemarle Planning Commission, which resulted in a deferral. (read or hear that story)Andy Reitelbach is an Albemarle County planner who reminded the Places-29 North that the RST project is intended to be on about 19 acres of land.“The applicant is requesting that the property be rezoned from its current zoning of R-1 Residential which allows one dwelling unit per acre to Planned Residential Development which allows for up to 34 dwelling units per acre,” Reitelbach said. “And in the Places29 Master Plan, this property is designated as Urban Density Residential and privately owned open space. Most is Urban Density Residential and then there is a narrow strip along 29 that is the open space.”Valerie Long is an attorney with Williams Mullen who said the project has the same basic alignment of the original plan but there are changes. “The number of total dwelling units has been reduced from 370 to 340 units,” Long said. One building closed to the Ashwood subdivision has had a story removed in order to fit in closer with their scale.“We also have enhanced buffers and screening on the site,” Long said. “It was always the attention to retain the berm along Ashwood Boulevard but we recognized after the Planning Commission meeting that we could have highlighted that [more].” Long said the plans now clearly state that the affordability goals will exceed the county’s current requirements for some units to be made available at below-market rates. That currently means that 15 percent of units must be rented or sold to households with annual incomes of 80 percent the area median income.“Seventy-five percent of the apartment units within the project will be affordable for a 30 year period,” Long said. “The average level of affordability would be to those making 60 percent of the area median income.” Members of the CAC had the opportunity to ask questions about the project. You can watch all of that on the Albemarle County YouTube page. The next public hearing for the Planning Commission is scheduled for June 15. The RST Residences development is now proposed to be 340 units, down from 370 units. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
In today’s reader-supported public service announcement, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards is getting ready for a series of fall classes for new volunteers. The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards increase public awareness of the value of trees in all environments, rural and urban. The Fall 2021 class will involve a combination of online training sessions and field activities with a maximum of 32 students to facilitate the best field training possible. The registration period opens on June 15 and slots will fill quickly! With a 15-week duration beginning August 7th and ending November 13th the online classes will precede the field activities held on every other Saturday at various locations in the Charlottesville area. Learn more at charlottesvilleareatreestewards.org. On today’s show:Charlottesville City Council gets an update on city finances and how cost overruns for an infamously planned piece of Belmont infrastructure will be bridgedThe Commonwealth Transportation Board hears about items in Louisa County and Nelson CountyAnd the Board of Equalization spent all day hearing appeals of property assessments, but not one for the Omni Hotel There are only about six weeks left in the current fiscal year and there’s no change in the projected $8.35 million shortfall between what the city will spend and what revenues will come. Senior Budget Analyst Ryan Davidson told City Council yesterday that staff don’t think it will get worse and they are no longer considering a worst case scenario. “Based upon the current conditions and what we’re seeing in terms of revenues, things are trending in a positive direction,” Davidson said. “We’ve removed that further downturn scenario as it seems very unlikely at this point that we would revert back to the worst case scenario.” Davidson said sales and lodging revenues are still volatile, but things are trending in the right direction.“Receipts collected for January, February, and March were much better compared to prior months and therefore based on those new receipts we have increased those projections in our last revision,” Davidson said. “And in this past month, our collections again have slightly exceeded our projections.” How to close the shortfall? Davidson said the city has not yet tapped into the $6.7 million COVID reserve fund it set aside in the current fiscal year, and the shortfall does not include use of a surplus from fiscal year 2019 or department savings in the current. But, there’s no rush to balance the books until after the fiscal year has ended.“We know those figures around November, December, January time frame towards the end of the year, and we’re currently working to come up with some estimates but nothing can be finalized until later in the year and we’ll be discussing that with Council as we move through the year,” Davidson said. Final slide from the financial forecast report*After that financial report, the executive director of the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority had an update on a program approved by Council in fiscal year 2018 to provide additional funding for rental assistance. The program is known as the Charlottesville Supplemental Rental Assistance Program and allows CRHA to issue more vouchers to households who have incomes less than 60 percent of the area median income. (Sales’ report)“We currently have 70 families that are enrolled in the program and two of those families are searching for homes in the city of Charlottesville and 68 of them are already housed,” said John Sales. “With 36 of them living in the city of Charlottesville and 32 living in the county but working in the city.” Sales said 58 percent of the recipients have incomes below 30 percent of the area median income. “A majority of those families are working, so they are working but just not earning enough wages to pay for their housing,” Sales said. There are 122 families on the waitlist for the program. Sales said no new families were processed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Because many participating families lost income during the shutdown, Sales said CRHA has been paying larger amounts to landlords. “There were a lot of increases in what CRHA’s obligation was,” Sales said. Sales said one policy consideration going forward is whether there should be a time limit on the assistance to make sure more people can take part in the program.“There aren’t any guidelines on how long someone can be assisted in the program, but without adding a whole lot of new funding, you’re always going to be assisting the same families,” Sales said. Sales said another conversation that needs to happen is related to fair market rents. He said the CSRAP program is capped at paying no more than 110 percent of fair market rent. The fair market rent for a three bedroom unit in the Charlottesville MSA is $1,575 a month. “That really limits where individuals can rent in the city to where they have to go to the county and normally they are in the same communities,” Sales said. “In the HCV program, we probably have 40 or 50 families in one housing community just because that is typically a low-rent community. And it’s like that in most of the communities so if we really want to put members, low-income individuals, in all sectors of the community, we really need to do some work around the fair market rents.” Sales recommend increasing the maximum fair market rate to 125 percent for Charlottesville properties and decreasing the amount for Albemarle to 100 percent. Later on in the meeting, Council adopted a new agreement to govern the program that made those changes. They did not reach conclusion on whether CSRAP funding should be used to help cover the cost of security deposits. A second program for that function was authorized by a previous Council but has not yet been implemented by city staff. Vice Mayor Sena Magill expressed interest.“I do think it’s really important that we are looking for security deposit help,” Magill said. “I know when I worked at Region 10, that was always probably the hardest thing to try to find was security deposits for people.”*But the main event at Council’s meeting was direction to proceed with a plan to use millions of funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation to cover another cost overrun for the long-planned Belmont Bridge replacement. The project was put out for construction bids in February with a $31 million cost estimate. According to the city’s Urban Construction Initiative manager Jeanette Janiczek, that wasn’t enough money. “The lowest responsive, responsible bid can be awarded with existing project funds, however there is a need for additional funding, $4.2 million, to cover contingency, construction inspection services, VDOT oversight, as well as utility relocation,” Janiczek said. VDOT has suggested adding funds from its bridge maintenance account, something referred to as State of Good Repair. Janiczek said possible reasons for the higher estimate include inflation, increases in material costs, and potential issues related to the pandemic.Janiczek said one choice would have been to remove items from the project, such as a pedestrian tunnel on the southern end. “Any of these options would result in us having to rebid the project,” Janiczek said. “This adds at least a year in time but most importantly it doesn’t fulfil the commitments we’ve made to the public as well as the Board of Architectural Review.” Janiczek if the appropriation of the VDOT goes forward in June, construction could begin this summer. Another public meeting will be held when the contractor is hired to explain how traffic will continue to use the bridge during construction. “So once they submit their baseline schedule, we’ll release that to the public and let people know what to expect during construction,” Janiczek said. Asked by Council if the project costs could increase, Janiczek said many of the prices for materials would be locked in as soon as the construction contract begins. City Manager Chip Boyles said he thought construction costs would increase as the federal government prepares to make billions of investments in infrastructure projects. That’s why he r“If this project is delayed, we’re already seeing very substantial inflationary projections into the near future,” Boyles said. “If President Biden’s infrastructure package that is in Congress is approved, you will see multiple fold of capital projects underway. If this had to be rebid, I would say that we would end up with less product and at least the same amount or more of the cost.” The second reading of the appropriation will be on the consent agenda for Council’s June 7 meeting. They’ll next meet on May 25 to have a work session on the 7th Street Parking garage followed by a May 26 joint meeting with the city School Board on the reconfiguration of the city’s middle schools. Council adjourned their meeting before 8 p.m. something that newcomers to city government should never ever expect. You’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement and it’s time for another subscriber-supported public service announcement. This spring, the Central Virginia Regional Housing Partnership is holding a speaker series to illustrate various topics related to affordability. This time around, the guests discuss the role that transportation costs factor into household budgets. They are: Todd Littman of the Victoria Policy Institute; Steven Johnson, Planning Manager for Jaunt; Albemarle Supervisor Diantha McKeel, chair of the Regional Transit Partnership. The event begins at noon. (register)*The Commonwealth Transportation Board met all over the state today in what might be their last all-virtual meeting. Items at the meeting today included a discussion of an economic development project to pay for design of road improvements to support the Shannon Hill Regional Business Park in Louisa County. The funding would come from something called a Major Employment and Investment grant. Russell Dudley is with VDOT’s local assistance division.“It is a project that supports a facility that is expected to generate $250 million of capital investment and create more than 400 full-time jobs,” Dudley said. The Shannon Hill Regional Business Park is about half a mile from Louisa’s border with Goochland County and three-quarters of a mile from I-64.“The business park totals 700 acres and design plans call for an 8,000 feet of roadway improvements along Route 605 with improvements to begin at the I-64 westbound ramp and end at the northern end of the business park,” Dudley said. The current funding is to cover some of the cost of design of the project. Dudley said there is an “undisclosed business” that Louisa County is working to be a major tenant of the park. Allison DeTuncq, the Culpeper District representative on the CTB, said she supported the project.“I think it’s a great opportunity for Louisa County and the surrounding areas,” DeTuncq said. Aerial view of the planned Shannon Hill Regional Business Park in LouisaThe CTB also agreed to cancel a funded Smart Scale project in Nelson County. There had been a plan to create a Restricted Crossing U-Turn at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Virginia Route 6 north of Lovingston. Kimberly Pryor is VDOT’s director of infrastructure investment. “This project was submitted by Nelson County in round 3 of Smart Scale,” Pryor said. “The total original project was $2.7 million.”A separate project to address safety through less expensive means has been installed in the meantime. “They installed some traffic-activated flashing beacons, they improved the pavement markings, and also installed some signage improvements,” Pryor said. “Since completion of that project there’s been significant improvements in the safety issues. There’s been a significant decrease in accidents. Total crashes and angle crashes have been reduced by about 50 percent.” As a result, staff are recommending not proceeding with the project and the Nelson Board of Supervisors endorsed the idea in April. The funding will go back into the pool for other Smart Scale projects. This project is not going to happen. *Finally today, the Board of Equalization met for their annual meeting to hear appeals of property assessments. Fifteen different requests from property owners went before the BOE, and before the first item began, board members discussed various items. Members are appointed by the Circuit Court to serve as independent arbiters of property assessments. As reported in the Daily Progress in April, The Omni Hotel has filed a lawsuit against the city of Charlottesville for the 2020 assessment of $46.5 million for the land and structure, but have not challenged the 2021 assessment of $34.84 million according to city assessor Jeffrey Davis.“They were comfortable for the values that we had assigned this year so they did not go to the Board,” Davis said. Overall, total property assessments were up by 2.3 percent on 2021, with residential properties increasing an average of 4.3 percent and commercial properties decreasing by 0.19 percent.“I think everybody was probably expecting a reduction rather than going in the other direction,” Davis said. “And it is absolutely crazy this year, I tell you so far it’s been, you all know I’m sure. You see it every day.”However, Davis said the market could change as conditions change. I will have more from this meeting in a future installment. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
VDOT Charlottesville residency engineer Carrie Shepheard and communications manager Lou Hatter join the show to break down what VDOT is doing at the site of the Afton Mountain rock slide.
In today’s Substack-fueled shout-out, Code for Charlottesville is seeking volunteers with tech, data, design, and research skills to work on community service projects. Founded in September 2019, Code for Charlottesville has worked on projects with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Charlottesville Fire Department, and the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights. Visit the Code for Charlottesville website to learn more, including details on three projects that are underway. On this installment:Albemarle’s Planning Commission endorses the Housing Albemarle planCharlottesville will to hold a design public hearing tonight for Fontaine Street pedestrian and bike upgradeWoodward Properties purchases a major site on Cherry AvenueVirginia is in the second day of a new state of emergency declared by Governor Ralph Northam to deal with the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which is the primary source of gasoline in the Commonwealth as well as other southeast states. “While current gasoline reserves in the Commonwealth are sufficient to address immediate supply concerns, a long-term disruption in the pipelines will require transportation of fuel and other oil-derivatives via interstate and state roadways,” reads the order. Among other things, the executive order enacts a provision intended to fight price gouging, allows state and local services to coordinate on emergency services, and allows for agency heads to conduct some contract purchases outside of the normal process. Have you changed your habits for the day? Did you go looking for fuel? I’d love to hear your stories. The ever-intrepid Bogey investigates a lack of gas at a fueling station on Emmet Street (Credit: Lindsey Daniels) A major commercial property and several vacant residential lots in Fifeville are under new ownership. Woodard Properties has purchased the Cherry Avenue Shopping Center for $1.9 million and five vacant lots behind it for $1.4 million. Anthony Woodward said in an email that there are no plans to develop the property and the purchase is an investment. The commercial property is within the Cherry Avenue zoning corridor and the residential lots are zoned R-2. Earlier this year, Council adopted the Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan as an advisory guide for future development. There are no plans to redevelop the Cherry Avenue Shopping Center the other purchased properties (Source: Charlottesville GIS)It has now been 18 months since Albemarle County and Charlottesville opted to end participation with the University of Virginia in a public body called the Planning and Coordination Council. The PACC convened for over three decades in open sessions before giving way to a closed-door body known as the Land Use and Environmental Planning Committee (LUEPC), which met last on April 16. Planning Commission Chair Hosea Mitchell sits on the LUPEC body and updated his colleagues last night on a presentation on UVa’s plans for their property at the intersection of Emmet and Ivy Road.“The corridor starts at the intersection and Emmet and Ivy and runs all the way down to Copeley,” Mitchell said. “UVA is going to build and manage and own a hotel there. And they’re going to build a manage a convention center there and it will be the largest convention center in our region. And what I really like about this is that even though it is going to be UVA owned and operated, it will be a tax-generating entity for our region, so good news there.” Mitchell said the new UVA School of Data Science will also operate out of the Emmet-Ivy area. He said LUEPC members learned about a couple of other projects, but those are not ready to be disclosed to the public yet. Source: UVA Buildings and Grounds Committee packet for March 2021 meeting (view all BOV packets from March 2021)UVa is also a participant in a VDOT-funded project known as the Emmet Street Streetscape which seeks to make it safer and more welcoming to walk or bike along Emmet Street between Ivy Road and Arlington Boulevard. This was funded in the first round of VDOT’s Smart Scale process at $12.1 million. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2023 according to a schedule on the project website. Mitchell also gave an update on the $8.6 million project to improve the intersection of Barracks Road and build a wider pathway on Barracks up toward Preston Avenue. “They’re hoping to begin this in the spring of 2023 and looking worse case to be wrapping this up in early 2025,” Mitchell said. A still from the animation of the Fontaine Avenue Streetscape. You can watch yourself in the materials for the Design Public Hearing. Another project funded in that first round is the $11.7 million Fontaine Avenue Streetscape, which has its design public hearing tonight. That’s a key step in the process in how a VDOT project moves from concept to construction. A video that will be shown on the webinar is already posted on the project website. The narrator explains that there are four goals of the project. (meeting materials)“In line with the city of Charlottesville overall transportation goals, the project seeks to make Fontaine Avenue a complete street which improves accommodations for all users, ensuring safe passage for pedestrians and bicyclists, understanding that this serves as a gateway corridor into the city and ensuring that the impression is attractive, and improving access to local facilities and ensuring these connections are also easily accessed by pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users.”You can watch the presentation at any time on the project website and see an animation of what the project might look like. As with the other two projects, the goal is to have this project under construction in the spring of 2023. (review the materials)The draft plan prioritizes the above strategies in the short-term. What do you think of the plan? You have another shot at public input at the public hearing on June 16, 2021 (read the May 4 draft)The cost of housing is one of the most pressing issues in our community. This is an affluent place. With many very wealthy individuals, the annual area median income skews the federal definitions that set levels of subsidization for housing. Charlottesville City Council adopted a new affordable housing update in March. Albemarle County is also updating its housing policy and a draft went before the Planning Commission on May 4. Stacy Pethia is the county’s housing coordinator. (read the May 4 draft)“The recommendations to update [the plan] came out of the 2019 Housing Needs Assessment that was released by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission,” Pethia said. (link)The plan update takes into account population projections from the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia which shows Albemarle continuing to grow in the next couple of decades to 138,485 by 2020, an increase of over 27,000 people over the current estimate. The plan has 12 objectives and dozens of strategies. “And these strategies include increasing the amount of affordable housing required in special use permits and rezoning applications from 15 percent to 20 percent [and] expanding the definition of affordable housing to include workforce housing category,” Pethia said. There are many other strategies, such as finding ways to lower the cost to connect to water and sewer, as well as reduced regulatory burdens for projects with additional below-market units. Some short-term ideas include exploring the idea of using county-owned land to develop permanent below-market units, creation of an affordable housing trust fund, creation of an affordable housing committee in the county, and increased partnerships with public and private groups to build more units.Luis Carrazana, the University of Virginia’s not-voting representative on the Albemarle Planning Commission, noted that a home priced to sell to someone at 60 percent of the area median income is still beyond the reach of many.“We’re talking about a home that’s over $200,000,” Carrazana said. “I guess it depends on your definition of affordable. We’re in a high AMI area.” There’s also language in the plan about renovating existing houses that are currently below market. However, Chair Julian Bivins said that can make some residents skittish about speaking up. “People are nervous about saying something because they don’t want to be displaced by their landlords or they just don’t want to go out and engage with ‘authorities’ because they don’t want that kind of attention,” Bivins said. Bivins also noted that many of Albemarle’s residents make their money through existing wealth, and not through employment. “And how do we have this conversation in our community about how do we increase or how do we attract or what do we do to bring [payrolls] here so people can think about climbing up or having ladders they can ascend for better salaries and for better compensation?” Bivins asked. During the public hearing, the town administrator for Scottsville said that incorporated section of Albemarle would like to work with the county to provide some space for housing. “Town Council adopted an updated Comprehensive Plan in 2018 and then followed up with two planning grants and a West Downtown Small Area Plan in 2020,” said Matt Lawless. “I expect to see about ten percent population growth over the past decade when Census results come out and our Comp Plan calls for roughly doubling the population by 2040.” Lawless said the zoning will be changed to allow for quadplexes in town and to encourage upstairs apartments downtown. He himself lives in one of these units and pays less than a thousand a month in rent. The Planning Commission agreed that Scottsville should be listed as a partner. The Board of Supervisors will have their public hearing on the plan on June 16. In the meantime, you can watch the entire public hearing at the Albemarle Planning Commission at this link, which goes right to the item. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
Today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out wants you to consider a new adventure this Sunday. The Rivanna Conservation Alliance resumes the tradition of the Rivanna River Race! Contestants will travel 6.8 miles downriver via kayak or canoe from the Rio Mills Bridge to the Rivanna River Company. Registration costs $40 a person or $50 for tandem, and proceeds go to the Rivanna Conservation Alliance. Don’t have a boat? Rent one from the Rivanna River Company! Visit the sign-up page in the newsletter to learn more and register. It’s all part of the Rivanna Riverfest which runs from May 1 to May 9. In this installment:Tourism industry officials want reform of the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors’ BureauUpdates on transit planningThere are no qualifying bids yet for the reconstruction of the Belmont BridgeVirginia DEQ creates an environmental justice officeVDOT wants you to drive slow in work zones - this and every other week!The long-awaited construction of the Belmont Bridge in Charlottesville will not begin this spring, and City Council might be briefed on Monday about how to move the long-planned project forward. Several firms submitted bids in time for the March 16, 2021 but the city has not released any further information at this time. “The submitted bid proposals for the Belmont Bridge replacement are being evaluated by the City staff and its consultant in accordance with the planned project scope,” reads an email from Brian Wheeler, the city’s director of communications. “This evaluation also includes consideration of the project’s planned budget.”The current bridge was built in 1962, and city staff recommended in April 2009 that it should be replaced rather than repaired. The firm MMM Design was hired to conduct the design process for what was then a project with a $9 million cost estimate. But there was a fierce public debate about whether the bridge should even be replaced, or if a tunnel underneath the railroad tracks should proceed. MMM Design went out of business soon after Council selected to go with a bridge in July 2014. Soon after that, the firm Kimley Horn was selected and began a new review in April 2017. Last August, Council voted to authorize $15.26 million in federal and state funding for the project, which by then had a $31 million cost estimate. At least $7.5 million of that amount are city capital improvement funds. The project was advertised for construction bids earlier this year, but the process is now stalled pending new direction from Council. “A recommendation for moving forward is being developed, as are possible options,” Wheeler wrote. Check tomorrow to see if the item is on the City Council’s agenda for the May 3 meeting. This is the way the finances for the project pencil out in Virginia’s Draft Six-Year Improvement Program for FY22. Take a look!Want to show support for those people who work on road and transportation projects in Virginia? Tomorrow, April 28, is the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Go Orange Day, where people are asked to wear orange to mark National Work Zone Awareness Week. If you do, take a selfie and send it to VDOT in one of two ways:Email to William.Merritt@vdot.virginia.gov and Lou.Hatter@vdot.virginia.gov Please include names, where the photo was taken and the company's name.Text 540-717-8376 (be sure to include your name)Take a look at their gallery to see examples. A road crew poses to ask for you to slow down in work zones (Credit: Virginia Department of Transportation)Preparations continue for a study of how transit could work better in Albemarle County. Some fixed-route service is provided by Charlottesville Area Transit, which is owned by the City of Charlottesville. Jaunt provides fixed-route service between Crozet and Charlottesville as well as paratransit service throughout the region. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is shepherding a Regional Transit Vision as well as a study of additional service to serve Albemarle’s urban areas. A kick-off meeting for the study will take place in early June. Jessica Hersh-Ballering is a planner with the TJPDC. She spoke at the April 22 meeting of the Regional Transit Partnership. “This is a project to determine the best way to expand transit service to three priority locations in Albemarle, and those priority locations are Pantops, north 29, and Monticello,” Hersh-Ballering said. “The goal is to apply for funding to implement that service in fiscal year 2023.” To do that, the study will need to be completed, including public review, in order to apply for a demonstration grant by next February. Albemarle Supervisor Diantha McKeel is the chair of the Regional Transit Partnership.“I just have a comment, Jessica,” McKeel said. “I looked at that February date in February and thought, wow, that is a tight timeline but I’m sure you all have figured it out.” The University Transit System is a member of the Regional Transit Partnership and they updated community officials on the results of a recent passenger survey. The pandemic skewed ridership last year, with almost 90 percent of people taking shuttle routes to the Health Complex, a figure that was 57.25 percent in 2019. Academic routes usually make up just over forty percent ridership, but that dropped to ten percent last year. An image from the recent UTS ridership survey (download)The University Transit System is completely separate from Charlottesville Area Transit, but does offer some service on some streets in the City of Charlottesville. “We are the public provider on 14th Street, Grady, Rugby, Arlington, Massey,” said Becca White, the director of Parking and Transportation at UVA. “People who have been around long enough know that CAT used to serve some of those corridors and were able to concentrate elsewhere while UTS agreed to be the public provider on those corridors.”However, Charlottesville Area Transit said they are in talks with UTS about whether that will continue. CAT Senior Project Steve MacNally told the Regional Transit Partnership about upcoming capital projects, including the potential for a transit hub and park and ride lot on U.S. 29. They’re looking for a suitable two acre lot. “I’ve been busy looking at some vacant or unoccupied properties, looking at right of way issues, the access to those, and a number of other criteria,” MacNally said. CAT is about to begin work on two studies of its own. One will look at the need for future facilities and a more dedicated look at the park and ride possibility with the firm Kimley Horn. In response to a question from White, CAT director Garland Williams said he has not been in touch with anyone from the University of Virginia Foundation, which owns many properties in the 29 North corridor, including the North Fork Research Park.“This is our kickoff to bring all those elements together, so the study is really going to look at whether the corridor itself is ripe for transit,” Williams said. “We do believe that it is.” Williams added this could help CAT increase ridership which would in turn bring in more funding. “Initially we have looked at potentially the airport to [the University of Virginia] as the initial corridor of looking at, kind of the route, but that’s up for discussion as we’re working with our consultant,” Williams said. The work by Kimley Horn is separate from the work being done by the TJPDC on behalf of Albemarle County. Williams said the work is complementary and will function together. A third transit-related land use study in the same geographical area is a potential relocation of Albemarle school bus fleet to land somewhere in the U.S. 29 corridor.Christine Jacobs, the interim director of the TJPDC, said the conversation was a sign of the role the Regional Transit Partnership can play. “I think this is really exciting because there’s a lot of synergy and coordination that is occurring between some of these corridors and I just want to make sure I remind you that the PDC we will also be doing through the MPO in their North 29 study corridor from Airport Road all the way up into Greene,” Jacobs said. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has opened a new Office of Environmental Justice. Renee Hoyos will serve as the first director of the office, which will oversee the implementation of an environmental justice program at DEQ. The office stems from an executive order from Governor Ralph Northam from 2018. A report from Skeo Solutions and the Metropolitan Group completed in the fall of 2020 further outlined how the office might work. Hoyos most recently served as the executive director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network. Hoyos will work with Jerome Brooks as the Environmental Justice Coordinator. Brooks has been at DEQ for a decade and a half as the manager of the office of water compliance and director of the office of air compliance coordination. Even before the creation of the office, Brooks has been serving as DEQ's environmental justice coordinator for the past 13 years. You’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement and time for another subscriber-supported public service announcement. It’s becoming more and more safe to go out and check out live music. If you’re interested in going out and hearing people who have been waiting to get out and play, check out the Charlottesville Jazz Society and their running list of events! The Charlottesville Jazz Society is dedicated to the promotion, preservation and perpetuation of all jazz, and that the best thing you can do now is to go check out some music.Check them out in the link in the newsletter. To close out the show today, a long look at the April 26, 2021 meeting of the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, a public body that since 2018 made up of appointed and elected officials from Albemarle and Charlottesville. The CACVB was originally formed in 1979 and exists today to serve as a clearinghouse for information on tourism, as well as to discuss strategies for how to market the area. Different entities in the community want to bring in more visitors for different reasons. At the beginning of the April 26 meeting, Susan Krischel is with the Ix Art Park, a centrally-located and flexible destination space. The organization has put together a new campaign called Charlottesville Excursions with $20,000 in funding from the Virginia Tourism Office to attract people in neighboring states to come to the area to experience the many arts in the community. “We are such a strong and vital arts destination that we wanted to position Charlottesville as a city to come and really immerse yourself in arts,” Krischel said. “We thought that that not only could help spur economic activity here in Charlottesville. It could also encourage tourists to come back to Charlottesville.” The Ix Art Park partnered with the CACVB, the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville, the Bridge Performing Arts Initiative and the Quirk Hotel Charlottesville on the project. The latter would offer a discount during the duration of the campaign. “This campaign is going to run every weekend in September and October of this year and this would be an example of what we might suggest to someone who comes in for a four-day weekend,” Krischel said. For most of its history, elected officials did not serve on the CACVB’s governing body. Until 2004, there was a Tourism Council that advised the tourism agency’s executive director but that was abandoned at the time in favor of a larger Board of Directors. In 2017, city and county officials both to add more oversight and altered the make-up of the Board to allow two elected officials from both Albemarle and Charlottesville. Albemarle Supervisor Diantha McKeel said the program is exciting, but noted that much of the presentation was centered on Charlottesville. “I understand the city-centric nature of the proposal,” McKeel said. “What was your outreach to Woolen Mills or Stonefield, some of the areas that are really close by but not in the city?” Krischel responded that the Ix Art Park is small, and personnel limitations forced them to focus on their immediate environment. “Some of it quite frankly came down to what we were just physically able to manage,” Krichel said. “We’re a small organization so we really felt we needed to keep it as close to the downtown center as possible just because we thought that was what we were able to manage.” Krischel said the program could grow if it is successful. She said arts organizations have not been showcased to potential tourists.“So this is sort of stepping our toe in the water to a more comprehensive arts campaign but I truly hope this will be a first step toward something that will be more permanent and long-term,” Krischel said.Supervisor Ann Mallek said she wanted the Ix Art Park’s program to highlight fall festivals and to put a spotlight on excursions into Albemarle. “And certainly everyone of those wineries and breweries that people mention, many of them have art galleries and have resident studio people there,” Mallek said.Krischel said she would be happy to consider adding that information, but they’ve used up all of the $20,000 in funding so far.“If you think that there are arts organizations that would like to be involved in this and would like to be willing to do a little bit of the footwork to get them involved and to help us tie them in, we’d be more than happy to speak to them,” Krischel said. “I think it’s just a lack of knowledge as to who everyone is and what’s going on.” In February, the CACVB Board talked about the exploring ways to change the working dynamics of the Board to reflect best practices used by similar entities across the country which seek to market themselves as destinations. An informal work group has looked at the issue since, including City Council Heather Hill. They looked at four other groups in Virginia and concluded the make-up of the CACVB skews heavily to government representation. Of the 15 members of the Board, eight are elected or appointed officials from Albemarle and Charlottesville. “”We see ourselves as pretty unique in this position of being quasi-governmental with board oversight,” Hill said. The work group on the working of the CACVB Board presented this slide as part of the discussion The working group met with industry representatives to find out what people thought about the CACVB and its ability to promote tourism.“There’s just a sense that there’s not enough dialogue among the sectors and just being able to have more of those seats at the table so they can kind of be a conduit for that sector dialog that can happen across the region,” Hill said.Hill said some representatives said there were power dynamics on the Board that intimidated people from approaching the agency for help and assistance. Chris Eure, executive director of the Paramount, is another member of the working group. She said she wanted the Board to operate in a way that would lead to more connections, and referenced the presentation from the Ix Art Park.“I would love to know how the arts could help better,” Eure said. “What nights do they need to be filled? What weeks, what months? And then have all these different sectors perhaps come up with plans for what activities to stage!” Eure suggested adjusting the agendas for the meeting to invite more organizations to the table to get feedback from Board members. The working group also suggested changing the composition of the Board itself. “Overarching, I think a lot of the themes that we were hearing was just that there feels like a disconnect between the work of the Board and representatives in the industry,” Hill said.Eure said the current make-up of the CACVB came at a time when there was suspicion from government officials about how their tax money was being spent. “That’s by and large while we are here because there wasn’t the confidence from the elected officials that their funds that were their tax revenues were being used according to how they thought it should strategically be done,” Eure said. McKeel said that was part of the discussion, but not the whole reason why she supported the board realignment in 2018. She said she wanted to expand the kinds of work the CACVB did and it wasn’t just about the money. “Every time we asked about vineyards, every time we asked about the work that we are doing in this community around African-American history and some of the trails, every time we asked about something besides one group which was at that time was ‘heads and beds.’ We were told ‘we don’t do that, we can’t do that, we’re not interested in all of that other stuff,’” McKeel said. There appeared to be support for reform of the board, but there was a warning about how much the members could do to reform itself. Roger Johnson is the chair of the CACVB Board and Albemarle Economic Development Director. “I don’t think we can entertain any Board changes whatsoever,” Johnson said. “That’s part of the operating agreement and outside the scope of what this Board has the authority to do.”However, Johnson will meet with his counterpart in Charlottesville as well as CACVB Executive director Courtney Cacatian to discuss next steps. The meeting then moved on a presentation on Virginia’s tourism industry. The final speaker was Travis Wilburn of Stay Charlottesville. Wilburn went back to the discussion of the Board’s make-up. He said he has spoken with many people who feel the presence of elected officials on the CACVB Board was intimidating. “As I speak representing these folks, I personally and honestly fear political retribution for the businesses that I’m involved in, which is exactly how many of your board members feel and fear on a regular basis,” Wilburn said. “We’ve created a toxic environment and we call on you to try and right this ship.” Wilburn said data from the Virginia Tourism Office showed that tourism had a $683 million economic impact on the Charlottesville community in 2019.“That was roughly 6,100 jobs and those are jobs we’d desperately like to bring back,” Wilburn said. “We very much need the help of this bureau.” Wilburn cited a letter that Senator Creigh Deeds wrote to Susan Payne last Friday in which he appears to critique the make-up of the CACVB Board. Payne is the president of the Blue Ridge Group and chair of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Let’s hear Wilburn read Deeds’ words. “Several years ago I supported legislation to allow an elected official from both the county and the city to serve on the CACVB,” Deeds wrote to Payne. “I did so to encourage cooperation and work between the public and private sectors. I understand that membership has grown beyond what was intended, and it seems to me that you have to have more industry representation, so that the people who know the work can guide its growth.” In response, Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker said her priority as an elected official is addressing race and labor issues. “No matter how you spend it, we have an economy that has been built on a university and tourism that leaves the majority of the individuals who happen to be people of color, Black people and other people of color, to service those industries who can never make it out of poverty wages job even though we’re talking about a [nearly] $700 [million] industry,” Walker said. “That should be unacceptable to all of us.” Walker said she would not be silent about her views. “Besides the guests on this call, two of the four, I am the only Black person or person of color represented on this screen, so part of Heather and Chris [Eure]’s conversation about how to change that is a very important conversation.”The conversations will continue at the CACVB’s next meeting. Phew. This was a long one. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. Never a dull moment. This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
Today’s show is brought to you by the quarter of the audience who has stepped up to make a financial contribution to the show in the form of a Substack subscription, a monthly Patreon amount to help support general research, Venmo, PayPal, or simply by sending in a check to Town Crier Productions. In the past eight months, we’ve begun to build together something intended to engage the community with information about local decision-points about the future. I’m grateful to each of you, and I will soon have an announcement about another way this project will be made sustainable. Until then let’s get on with the information. On today’s show:Governor Northam finalizes a $3.7 billion investment in rail in VirginiaAn update on the Regional Transit Partnership including news that fare-free will continue for area systemsCharlottesville City Council agrees to wait a year to make a final decision on West Main StreetscapeHow do our localities fare in a new rankings for health metrics? The Virginia Supreme Court rules that the Confederate statues can come downSome breaking news came in just as I was finalizing the script. The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that Charlottesville can remove two Confederate statues in city parks that were erected in the early 1920’s. In February 2017, Council voted to remove statues of two Confederate generals and were soon sued by a group who argued the statues were protected war memorials under a law that passed the General Assembly in 1997. A Charlottesville Circuit Court judge backed them up the plaintiffs in an October 2019 ruling. However, the opinion written by Justice Bernard Goodwyn found that the Circuit Court Judge “It has long been the law of the Commonwealth that retroactive application of statutes disfavored,” reads the opinion. We’ll have more on this in tomorrow’s program. Four assignments of error in the opinion written by Justice Bernard Goodwyn (download)On Tuesday, a ceremony was held at the Alexandria train station that is the culmination of an announcement in December 2019 from Governor Ralph Northam about a $3.7 billion investment in Virginia rail. That includes:A $1.9 billion bridge over the Potomac River dedicated to passenger railPublic purchase of 223 miles of track and 386 miles of right of way from CSX$1 billion in related infrastructure improvements in VirginiaShannon Valentine is Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation. “From the moment that this agreement in principle, the concept, was negotiated with CSX and announced in December 2019, with our partners Amtrak and [Virginia Railway Express], we have been working deliberately and sequentially over these past 15 months,” Valentine said.The expansion of Long Bridge has cleared at many environmental hurdles. An authority to expand passenger rail has been created. Congress has given approval to transfer some parkland to the project. (read press release)The ceremony was held at the train station in Alexandria (watch the ceremony)The ceremony was held at the Alexandria train station to sign the agreements governing how CSX, Amtrak and VRE will work together.“Through an extraordinary year, often with great uncertainty, there has been steadfast commitment to reaching this destination,” Valentine said. The initiative includes purchase of a freight corridor between Charlottesville and Doswell north of Richmond for eventual passenger rail service. Also included is funding to extend rail service to Christiansburg and planning to hear further west to Bristol. “This transformative plan will make travel faster and safer,” Northam said. “It will make it easier to move up and down our east coast and it will connect urban and rural Virginia.” Also in attendance was U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg who said the recently signed American Rescue Plan will help ensure public transit makes it through the pandemic.“The rescue plan has more than $30 billion in funding for public transit agencies helping them to avoid layoffs and service cuts,” Buttigieg said. “We know that the cuts these agencies were facing disproportionately harm workers who depend on public transportation including so many of the workers we have belatedly come to call essential workers.” The statewide rail network will make it more possible for people to choose not to own an automobile. But how will the regional public transportation be improved to provide alternatives to driving? Since October 2017, the Regional Transit Partnership has met as a program of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC). The group consists of Charlottesville and Albemarle officials, and the University of Virginia joined the partnership by the end of 2019. The idea is to share information with an eye to having the city-owned Charlottesville Area Transit, the public service corporation Jaunt, and the University Transit System work better together. Last week, regional leaders got an update on the creation of a regional transit vision that the TJPDC is working on that will serve as a blueprint for a more efficient system. The next milestone is for a committee to select a firm to work on the project. Jessica Hersh-Ballering is a transportation planner with the TJPDC who spoke at March 25 RTP meeting. “The regional transit vision plan requires technical assistance from a consulting team and the role of the selection committee is to review proposals from those firms to the vision plan [request for proposals] and then to recommend to the Regional Transit Partnership a preferred firm to complete the vision plan,” said Hersh-Ballering. The committee will review the proposals in May. Charlottesville Area Transit Director Garland Williams gave an update on the forthcoming revision to bus routes after presenting an overview at the February RTP meeting. There will be a change to the route that travels between downtown and U.S. 29 in Albemarle County’s designated growth area. (FY22 CAT service proposals)“We’re doing some extensions, we’re trading some of the components of the 7 and extending it out to Wal-Mart so it will be seven days a week,” Williams said. “It looks like we’ll be able to have final iterations that we will be able to share with the public probably in a couple of weeks.” These are the guiding principles for the proposed service modifications (download)Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act requires two rounds of public input before the routes can be approved. One effect of the pandemic has been a reduction in demand for parking at the UVA Health System. UVA parking and transportation director Becca White said that’s coming to an end.“We’re back up to about 90 percent of the pre-COVID demand at the hospital,” White said. “Of course, as you know we transport all those people that last mile. We intercept them in a big parking area and shuttle them to their final destination.” White said parking demand in the academic campus is at about 55 percent of pre-COVID levels. “So many of the classes are still not in person or are hybrid such that that whole class change thing isn’t really, still isn’t happening,” White said.The last day of classes is May 6 and the last day of exams is on May 15. Graduation is on May 20, and UVA is expected to make an announcement this Friday about how what they call Final Exercises will proceed. Jaunt is also seeing a small return to pre-COVID traffic. Karen Davis is the interim director.“Our ridership is starting to tick up and we’re putting more drivers out on the road,” Davis said. “More of them are able to have a full schedule although we are at reduced capacity and we’re actively keeping an eye on how COVID rules will change transit, and also reopening our main office.” Davis said Jaunt will soon survey riders of the Crozet Connect route which began in the summer of 2019. The service has changed due to the pandemic.“Up until this point, we have pretty much changed our service structure to demand and so we’ll do the same in Crozet,” Davis said. “It’s such a shame because it was flourishing and growing so strong and then COVID hit and it’s just like, oh gosh!” After Davis’s update, Williams dropped this information.“Karen and I, I believe, are still contemplating in our FY22 budgets operating fare-free,” Williams said. He added the idea is to use a portion of COVID relief funds to cover the cost of fares, which makes up about ten percent of the CAT budget.“We have it in our numbers for three years,” Williams said.Williams added study will soon get under way to see if CAT can permanently remove the farebox. The system will also soon add automated passenger counters to buses to track ridership. Jaunt can’t quite make that commitment, but will be fare-free in fiscal year 2022, which begins on July 1.“Especially going fare-free in this next year will really enable us to get out ridership back, up and running,” Davis said. “When you take that barrier away for passengers, the risk of trying to use transit is so low and people, why not get on the bus and see where it goes? I think it’s really exciting if we can make this work.” One item called for in the Regional Transit Partnership’s strategic plan is a visit to a community similar to Charlottesville to see how transit works. A possible trip to Blacksburg was put on hold a year ago when the pandemic began. Here’s Albemarle County Supervisor Diantha McKeel. “I just think it’s always good if we can take a look at what other communities are doing,” McKeel said. However, Williams said CAT is planning to work with the firm Kimley Horn on a peer review of its own. “That’s a necessary component for us as we start to build out and ask for more for our alternative fuel vehicles and facilities,” Williams said. “We need to see how we match up as we are starting to ask for more capital projects.” Williams said as part of that work, they are looking for a location for a park and ride lot on U.S. 29. Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley asked for more information.“Garland, are you looking for your park and ride up in the area around… North Pointe?” LaPisto-Kirtley asked. “They’re really building out up there.” “I will just say that what we don’t want to do is give the developers a chance to grab the pieces of property from us that we are looking at,” Williams said. Williams said he has had conversations with Albemarle officials about the idea. And that’s where the Regional Transit Vision plan and a separate Albemarle transit plan are intended to come in. The TJPDC is also studying the North 29 Corridor in both Albemarle and Greene counties. In today’s subscriber-supported public service announcement:There are many fewer monarch butterflies than there were in the past and efforts are underway to study and implement solutions. On April 19, Wild Virginia welcomes Virginia Master Naturalist Michelle Prysby for a virtual talk where she will describe several programs underway, ranging from the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project to Project Monarch Heath. Sign up now at Wild Virginia for this talk on the Biology, Ecology, and Conservation of Monarch Butterflies.Charlottesville City Council will have a public hearing on the proposed fiscal year on Monday, April 5. On March 25 they held a work session on the proposed capital improvement program as well as what to do with some additional revenue that budget staff now anticipates receiving during the year that begins on July 1. For months, budget staff have been telling Council that the city is close to its capacity to raise additional debt. (link to presentation) (watch on city website)“With the proposed CIP we are projecting a five year debt financing of roughly $121 million,” said senior budget management analyst Krissy Hammill. “WIth the bonds that we’ve previously committed but not issued, and the CIP before you, we are committing to a debt capacity of about $195 million.” To cover that amount, budget staff are anticipating increasing the property tax rate for a total of ten cents over five years to cover the additional debt service. The actual vote to do so will be made by Council next year, including any new Councilors that are elected this November. That $195 million Hammill mentioned includes about $18 million in bonds that have not yet been sold for the West Main Streetscape, which was split into four phases in order to obtain funding from the Virginia Department of Transportation. David Brown is the city’s public works director.“The funding that’s being proposed right now covers Phase 1 but there is $6.5 million that is needed to complete Phase 2,” Brown said. A third phase is recommended to be fully funded by VDOT with no match of local tax dollars, unlike in phase 1 and 2. Phase 4 is currently unfunded. City Manager Chip Boyles said VDOT is willing to delay the projects another year in order for them to be done at the same time, if the city comes up with the $6.5 million or scales back the project. One of the biggest costs of the program is to place utility lines underground. This has a $4.3 million cost in Phase 1 and a $5 million cost in Phase 2 according to a budget presented to Council last September. This image was shown to Council during their September 30, 2020 work session on West Main (preview story) (review story)Another decision point was how to use some additional revenues freed up by other budget reductions and higher estimates for business licenses. About $1.3 million was found. A million is proposed for a two percent cost of living increase for city employees and another $60,000 would go to fully fund a deputy city manager position. Staff had recommended using the rest for personnel to support a climate action plan when one is drafted. Kristel Riddervold is the city’s environmental administrator.“The anticipation is that when we have a climate action plan adopted, there will be a range of initiatives be it on the municipal side or the community support side that actually exceed the capacity staff has to deliver. A majority of Council supported the climate position, but Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker favored a “measurement and solutions” position intended to track how the city is achieving its goals. A committee had been expected to produce a report last summer but the work was delayed by the pandemic. City Manager Boyles said he would try to find a way to fund the measurement position as well. The public hearing for the budget will be held at Council’s meeting on Monday night. A wrap-up work session is scheduled for April 8 and the budget is expected to be adopted at a special meeting on April 13. *A community health research firm at the University of Wisconsin has recently updated its rankings for how Virginia counties measure up in health. The Population Health Institute has ranked Albemarle as the 7th healthiest locality in the Commonwealth, based on several metrics including life expectancy. Life expectancy in 82.7 years according to the data. Charlottesville is ranked 23rd (79.8 years), Fluvanna County is ranked 26th (80.1 years), Greene County is ranked 33rd (79.5 years), Louisa is ranked 60th (78 years) and Nelson is ranked 58th (78.3 years). Arlington is ranked first (85.9 years) and the city of Petersburg is ranked last at 133 (67.4 years). The data is worth exploring and in this year where community health has become so important, this is an invaluable resource that I’ve only just begun to explore. This link will take you to a comparison among all of the localities in the TJPDC. Included on that list is a metric that relates to the segment earlier on transit. Seventy-seven percent of working Virginians drive alone to work. In Charlottesville, the figure is 59 percent according to the database. That number is higher in the other communities.Take a look and let me know what you see in the data. Source: University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute* This is a public episode. 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Good morning, RVA! It’s 45 °F, and, while you can expect highs in the 60s today, you can also expect a whole lot of wind. Later this week we could see lows below freezing, so think hard if you’ve got plans to plant your garden!Water coolerAs of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 1,392 new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealthand 20 new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 145 new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 72, Henrico: 31, and Richmond: 42). Since this pandemic began, 1,203 people have died in the Richmond region. While it’s good news on the vaccine side of things, which you’ll see in a moment, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Virginia continues to climb up off of this bumpy plateau. One thing I’m interested in is how having a huge percentage of the state’s seniors vaccinated impacts the number of hospitalizations and deaths. I mean, I’m not interested enough to want case counts to increase, but it looks like that’s happening anyway.As for vaccines, the Richmond region continues to vaccinate more than enough people to meet the governor’s stated goals (which works out to 37,000 vaccines administer per week). For folks still waiting on a vaccination appointment—or waiting to become eligible—“vaccinating more than enough people to meet the goal” does not feel like nearly enough. We’ll get there, though. Here’s this week’s graph of total doses administered locally along with the graph of state allocation of vaccine. And, over the weekend, I put together a new, simple graph of total people in Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield with at least one dose. The purple part of this graph represents 75% of the region’s population (679,950) and is what we’re shooting for if we want to reach herd immunity. I don’t really know if you can “reach herd immunity” in a locality or even in a group of localities, but I think it’s something to shoot for (or at least make a graph about).City Council will host its second budget work session today! You can tune in live at 1:00 PM or check out the recording on The Boring Show later this week. The presentation attached to the agenda looks like a general budget overview and has the Mayor and CAO’s names on it, which could be a fun presentation to listen in on. One additional budget update I wanted to mention. Last week I wrote about how the new “Complete Streets” CIP project folded together a bunch of projects from last year’s CIP—including the City’s project for paving. For FY22, all of those projects combined totaled $23,900,000 while the new Complete Streets project only had $8,150,000 budgeted towards it in FY22. The budget for paving in last year’s CIP alone was $20 million, so I was concerned about the missing $15 million and nervous that money previously allocated to sidewalks and bike lanes and traffic calming would get spent on paving. I’ve since learned some things! The key piece of information I lacked was that money from the CVTA (about $17 million) will get moved into a CVTA Special Fund in the City’s operating budget. That solves the mystery of the missing $15 million. I assume (always stupid) that most of this will be spent on road (and sidewalk!) maintenance and paving for the foreseeable future due to years of disinvestment, and that the $8 million allocated for Complete Streets will be used for just that. That might be an overly naive take—given that the new Complete Streets money is more discretionary than listing out specific projects for specific needs like, say, setting aside $X million for sidewalks. It’s something to keep an eye on. Also, nothing says that the money coming from the CVTA forever and always must be used on road maintenance. That’s something to keep an eye on, too.Kenya Hunter at the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that “Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School accepted more Black and Latino students for the upcoming 2021–22 school year than it has in five years. This year, around 8% of Black students who applied were accepted; 11.7% of Latino applicants got in. That’s up from 3% for Black students and down from 20% for Latino students, who applied in significantly greater numbers this year.” What changed? Hunter says the school got rid of in-person admission tests. While school administrators aren’t willing to say that’s what increased applications from Black and Latino students, you can easily see how standardized tests are a barrier to some students.The Partnership for Smarter Growth, Virginia Poverty Law Center, and Richmond For All have put together a proposed affordable housing framework for the Richmond Region. There’s a lot in here, and a lot of it is above and beyond my housing chops. While I really don’t know the path forward on public housing—for example, does the federal support exist to commit to “one-for-one brick-and-mortar replacement of like kind of any public housing units lost in the process of redevelopment”—I do appreciate some of the suggested process improvements for RRHA. I’d like to learn more about Local Rent Supplement Programs, too. Anyway, you can learn more today at a virtual presentation at 12:00 PM. It’s free, but you’ll want to register over on the Eventbrite.I think I’ve linked to each previous phase of VDOT’s commuter survey, so now I am honor-bound to link to the Phase 3 Virginia Commuter Survey. If you commute, or if you no longer commute, take a couple minutes and fill this out—especially if you get to and from work in something other than a personal vehicle! These days, I make most of my commutes in my slippers.This morning’s longreadWhy a ship stuck in Egypt threatens the economy in the United StatesLast night they got the boat slightly less stuck in the Suez Canal. Here’s a piece in the WaPo about why having it stuck there in the first place was a big deal.If you’ve been paying attention to the story, you’ve probably heard this aspect mentioned. This ship, this one gigantic, Empire State Building-sized ship, might potentially cause economic damage to the United States. This may seem inscrutable to a layperson. The ship will do this … how, exactly? To answer this question, I contacted several experts on global logistics. The goal wasn’t to understand the intricacies of the international trade system, but simply to answer that direct question. What’s the butterfly-flapping-its-wings process by which that stuck vessel ripples onto our shores? The short and obvious answer is that, unlike that apocryphal butterfly, there’s a direct and obvious connection between that ship and American consumers.If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.Picture of the DayA flying squirrel.
In today’s Patreon-fueled shout-out, supporter Lonnie Murray wants you to know about a series of seminars on spring and fall landscaping with native plants. Plant Virginia Natives has held two of these already, but the next one is coming up on March 23 with Trista Imrich, owner of Wild Works of Whimsy. This is a good place to start if you’d like to plant natives but don’t know where to begin! On today’s show:A quick look at the pandemic metrics for todayThe Albemarle Architectural Review Board reviews the Ivy Road corridor Albemarle Supervisors get an update on planning for the next Comprehensive PlanBelmont Bridge safety initiatives return while we await information on construction bidsA new name for Albemarle’s charter school A newcomer enters race for Charlottesville School BoardThe current seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in Virginia is 1,442 as reported by the Department of Health, and the seven-day average for positive PCR tests is 5.6 today, up slightly from 5.4 on Sunday. As of today, 1.14 million Virginians are fully vaccinated. Demographic information for who has received a vaccine dose so far (Source: Virginia Department of Health)On Friday, the UVA Health System offered another briefing on its pandemic responses. This time around, Dr. Taison Bell spoke about how the system is working with the Blue Ridge Health District to ensure vaccination distribution is being done in an equitable manner. “Equitable distribution has been an issue nationwide,” Dr. Bell said. “Every state that reports data on who has received a vaccination has reported a discrepancy. Those who have received the vaccine tend to be white Americans whereas underrepresented minorities who disproportionately over-represent cases and deaths have received disproportionately low access to vaccine.”Dr. Bell said the district is taking a strategy involving communications to fill information gaps, targeted clinics for smaller communities, and making sure people who don’t have time to hunt for an appointment get one anyway.“We want to make sure that we are removing geographic barriers and administrative barriers to make sure that we have easy access and actually make getting vaccinated a downhill process rather than an uphill process as it exists at the present,” Dr. Bell said. Dr. Bell said some remain skeptical about getting vaccinated and he does not like to use the term hesitancy and is there to listen. “People should have questions and concerns about something that they’re going to inject into their bodies and I think that the one thing to underscore is that our messaging and information around the COVID-19 vaccines just started once they were ready for approval or authorization and so there is a lost time for when we could have closed that information gap,” Dr. Bell said. An advisory group that’s been considering names for Albemarle County’s charter school is recommending the name Community Lab School. Murray High School and the Community Public Charter School have merged and needed a new name. The charter school’s head teacher also served as chair of the advisory committee. “We believe Community Lab School combines two of the most popular choices while celebrating a distinguishing strength of our school and helping to explain the purpose and mission of the learning experience we offer to students,” said Stephanie Passman. Albemarle Schools are also reviewing the name of Virginia L. Murray Elementary School. A survey concluded last Thursday and results should be announced soon. Three people have now declared their intention to run for three seats on the Charlottesville School Board. Parent Christa Bennett announced on Facebook last week.“I want for our community to be a just one,” Bennett said. “This includes equity in education and for children to have access to what they need to grow strong and healthy, and prepared for bright futures.” Bennett has been working on a project to get a playground built at Walker Upper Elementary. Her website highlights efforts to persuade the school system to stop taking away recess time for punishment. There are currently three incumbents. One of them is Juandiego Wade and he’s running for City Council. Lisa Larson-Torres has indicated she will seek another term, but Leah Puryear has not yet made an announcement. Realtor and former teacher Emily Dooley has also announced her candidacy. For more on Bennett’s candidacy and the race, read an article by Katherine Knott in the Daily Progress. Christa Bennett is one of two challengers who have emerged so far for the Charlottesville School Board race (Source: Campaign website) In the previous installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement, we listened in on the Albemarle Architectural Review Board’s discussion of the Fontaine Avenue entrance corridor. The ARB also discussed another roadway that connects to the University of Virginia on roads that travel through both Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville. The ARB reviewed the urban portion of 250 West from I-64 to Old Ivy Road, and touched on the continuation of the roadway into Charlottesville. Currently under construction on Ivy Road is the 195,000 square foot UVA Musculoskeletal Hospital on the former ground of the now-demolished Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital. The Musculoskeletal Center is expected to open in February of next year (Image: ZGF Architects)Sentara Martha Jefferson is building a facility to the west of ViVace and WTJU. On the latter, ARB Member Frank Hancock noted its form is more urban that what is currently along the corridor. “I think it’s going to be interesting to see that redevelopment, that level of redevelopment, if other parcels adjacent to that,” Hancock said. “I know that’s taller and maybe a little bit closer to the corridor which I think is appropriate as we’re moving into the city and of more of the urban area.” The ARB’s newest member, Chris Henningsen, also said he was interested to see how the corridor is becoming more urban. “I’m interested to see how the Sentara building looks and gets landscape in its final form, as with the orthapedics center, too,” Henningsen said. The ARB reviewed the Sentara building but not the orthopedics center because UVA is exempt from formal review by the ARB. Many buildings have been constructed on Old Ivy Road across the railroad tracks, which serves as a barrier to pedestrian connectivity. ARB member Fred Missel is the director of design and development for the UVA Foundation, which has purchased and consolidated many properties further to the east in Charlottesville for the future Ivy-Emmet section of University Grounds where a new hotel and academic buildings are planned. Missel said the section of Ivy Road in Albemarle County has issues. “That railroad, and especially the utility lines along that side, it’s just not a great entrance corridor,” Missel said. “With the development of the hotel and conference center, the School of Data Science, and everything on that corner up to Arlingon, that whole area has about 14 acres of land and it’s got capacity for about three-quarters of a million square feet of development long-term.” Missel said that would mean a lot of vehicular traffic coming through the area, something that will need to be addressed. “It’s one of the two sort of front doors to the University which is why the Visitor’s Center is located there, unfortunately in the Police Station,” Missel said. “That’s looking to be relocated to the Hotel and Conference Center.” The city was awarded $12.1 million in funding for a Smart Scale project in the first round to improve the streetscape along Emmet Street. A VDOT dashboard indicates that project is behind schedule. Speaking of city transportation projects, Charlottesville will once again place traffic barrels on a southbound lane of the Belmont Bridge as part of its Safe Streets initiative. The idea is to give more space for pedestrians and cyclists.“The safety measures will be in place until the Coronavirus state of emergency is lifted, or until the construction of the replacement bridge commences,” reads a press release. The city has been planning for the replacement of the Belmont Bridge for over ten years and the project was advertised for construction bids in January. The project has a $31.1 million cost estimate according to VDOT’s most recent Six-Year Improvement Program. Bids for the project closed last Tuesday but the city has not responded yet to a request for information about whether any of them came in under the cost estimate. The current fiscal year contains a $5 million capital payment for the project, and the proposed capital budget for FY22 includes another $2.5 million payment. The parameters of the Safe Streets InitiativeYou’re reading Charlottesville Community Engagement. In this subscriber-supported public service announcement, the days of live music at clubs are in our future, but if you feel safe and want to check out people playing together in a safe environment, the Charlottesville Jazz Society has a running list of events coming up on their website. The Charlottesville Jazz Society is dedicated to the promotion, preservation and perpetuation of all jazz. Check them out in the link in the newsletter. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors said last week they want a faster review of the county’s Comprehensive Plan and that three years will be too long. Supervisors last updated the plan six years ago and much has changed since then, according to Planning Manager Rachel Falkenstein. “Since the 2015 update, we have had significant work on: climate action planning; economic development; and equity, inclusion, and infrastructure investments and we want to better align the plan with those initiatives,” Falkenstein said.Falkenstein said the Comprehensive Plan also needs to inform a rewrite of the rules of where development can go, and how. “We’ve identified the need for a zoning ordinance update and doing the comp plan update now to incorporate these initiatives will help set that stage,” Falkenstein said. In February, Supervisors had pushed back on the three year process staff recommended to update the Comprehensive Plan and asked for a more expedited review. However, Falkenstein said staff still believed in a 36-month process. “We feel that given the level of engagement and the breadth of topics that are covered in the comp plan, that three years is really a realistic timeline for this work,” Falkenstein said. A detailed community engagement plan will come back to the Board later this year. A project advisory group would be formed to oversee the process and members would be paid a stipend. Staff has now changed that to have the funding to used to “reduce barriers to participation.” These could include access to language as well as transportation. Supervisor Ann Mallek said the existing plan is clear to read, and she did not want that to be lost as the current plan is amended.“The benefit of our comp plan and I think why it won awards and is very well accepted is its readability and the fact that it is not just the last 12 months of something,” Mallek said. “It is a very long term history document about how we got here.” Supervisor Liz Palmer said she wanted the Planning Commission to weigh in about whether the plan needed to be rewritten, or just updated.“I am concerned about this idea of a three-year plan being a complete rewrite of this Comprehensive Plan and that’s the part I’m really struggling with,” Palmer said. Palmer also wanted to know if the zoning ordinance and Comprehensive Plan could be updated at the same time given many conflicts. County Attorney Greg Kamptner said he would prefer to do the comp plan update first. “The ideal situation would be to have a comp plan and then immediately follow it with a comprehensive rewrite and updating of the zoning ordinance because it is 40 years old,” Kamptner said. Palmer asked if that would mean the zoning rewrite would not begin for three years. Planning Director Charles Rapp said supervisors will have the chance to weigh in with more direction as the work plan for the Community Development Department comes before them. He said work on the the zoning rewrite could at least begin before the comp plan is finished. “I think once we get to that framework for the comp plan so we know what it’s going to contain, then we can go ahead and start making progress on the zoning ordinance,” Rapp said. Charlottesville hired one consultant to produce an affordable housing plan, a Comprehensive Plan, and a new zoning ordinance. The Cville Plans Together initiative just completed the housing plan, which Council endorsed earlier this month. Albemarle Supervisors had a public hearing on their new housing plan last week, but sent it back to the Planning Commission for further work. I’ll have more on that in the next installment. As for the Albemarle Comprehensive Plan, Supervisor Diantha McKeel also thought three years was too long to wait, and that parts of the zoning needed to be changed sooner. “The zoning, the code, it is critical to getting it updated,” McKeel said. “To be honest with you it’s really my priority along with specific areas in the comp plan. Economic development. Climate action. I mean, I could go through and name maybe just a couple of others.” Deputy County Executive Doug Walker said he heard a disconnect between staff and the Board on this issue. He provided some clarifications.“This is not intended to be a rewrite which was actually done the last time,” Walker said. “It is an update but I acknowledge that to some extent updating and rewriting may seem a lot the same if we’re not very careful about how we distinguish one from the other.” Falkenstein said staff will come back with a more detailed scope, but still maintained the process will be lengthy. County Executive Jeffrey Richardson agreed.“The staff is trying to manage this and manage the Board’s expectations,” Richardson said. “Three years sounds like a long time but everywhere I have ever been, a Comprehensive Plan update takes quite some time because of the domino effect of touching all of the various aspects of the plan document.” This is a public episode. Get access to private episodes at communityengagement.substack.com/subscribe
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Unlike so many of us, Amanda Asaro just completed a fall race season as an elite amateur runner for Central Park Track Club. That's right, you read that correctly - a fall race season. Amanda is a New York City based personal trainer, group fitness instructor at Barry’s, and a decorated college runner. Barry's is an internationally-known HIIT workout gym that focuses on strength, speed, and aerobic exercise. At Gettysburg College, Amanda set several college records on the track. She is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and a certified run coach through Road Runners Club of America as well as Jack Daniel’s VDOT program. In this episode Amanda gives us a full recap of the Trials of Miles races that she competed in as well as a breakdown of the bodyweight and strength work that she teaches at one of the best gyms in the country. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amanda.asaro/ Sponsors: Previnex is a supplement brand that I trust, use, and have greatly benefited from. They source the highest quality ingredients in the most clinically effective and beneficial forms. Previnex manufactures to the highest standards possible, testing every ingredient, every step of production and every finished product. Visit www.previnex.com and use coupon code Runner15 to save 15% on your first order. Paper Trails Greeting Co. is a small business was created by a dedicated amateur runner with a passion for snail mail and the running community, and a frustration with lack of options for greeting cards appropriate for runners. Their online shop of 35+ greeting cards, all with messages specifically for runners. There’s never been a better time to connect with your people via handwritten note. Visit www.papertrailsgreetingco.com and use code RAMBLING will get you 15% off any order. You can also check them out on Instagram www.instagram.com/papertrailsgreetingco. Follow Matt: Instagram - @rambling_runner Twitter - @rambling_runner https://www.theramblingrunner.com --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app