Apr 15, 2021 • 13M

April 15, 2021: Crescent Halls dedication; Gallaway running again in Rio; Scottsville Town Council briefed on infrastructure projects

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Sean Tubbs
Regular updates of what's happening in local and regional government in and around Charlottesville, Virginia from an award-winning journalist with nearly thirty years of experience.
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In today’s Substack-fueled shout-out, would you like to use your tech, data, design, or research skills in the name of community service? Code for Charlottesville may be the place for you! Code for Charlottesville will be holding an orientation session on April 21 where you can learn more about their streetlight mapping project, criminal record expungement data analysis, or their pro-bono tech consulting for local nonprofits. Learn more on the Code for Charlottesville website

On today’s show: 

  • Scottsville Town Council briefed on various infrastructure projects

  • Albemarle Supervisor Ned Gallaway seeks a second term

  • Ground is finally broken for Crescent Halls rehabilitation 

For the second time in the past six weeks, an official ceremony has been held to begin major construction at a public housing site in Charlottesville. Crescent Halls was built in 1976 at the intersection of Monticello Avenue and 2nd Street SE. Brandon Collins is with the Public Housing Association of Residents.

“As we all know, urban renewal happened in Charlottesville in the 60’s and we hear a lot about Vinegar Hill but it also happened here on Garrett Street and that was the birth of this building, Crescent Halls,” Collins said.

The Public Housing Association of Residents put together a four-page booklet outlining the amenities in the new structure (download)

Collins said a lack of investment in the facility has led to a series of well-documented maintenance problems, including a lack of air conditioning during the summer months. He said the Public Housing Association of Residents pushed to create a Bill of Rights to protect citizen rights during relocation. 

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority was created to serve as an instrument of what was termed “slum clearance” following a narrow referendum held on April 15, 1954, 67 years ago today. The proposal won by only 36 votes. At the time, The Daily Progress reported that approval of the new authority carried three of the city’s four wards in the referendum. A master plan intended to guide redevelopment of all the sites was adopted in the summer of 2010 but nothing happened. 

The events of the summer of 2017 moved the rehabilitation project forward. In October 2020, Council approved a performance agreement with CRHA that governs the use of $3 million in direct city investment in Crescent Halls as well as the first phase of South First Street. Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker also serves on the CRHA Board of Commissioners.

“By doing this today we also show that promises that have been broken for decades are finally being fulfilled,” Walker said. “People shouldn’t have to wait for decades for their basic needs to be met and that happens when a community doesn’t own its responsibilities.” 

Walker said construction should take about 18 months. 

Riverbend Development has shepherded design and financial planning for the project. Part of the project is funded through low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) that are used to encourage private investment. The credits were granted by the Virginia Housing Development Authority in 2019 to Crescent Halls Reno LLC, which is made up of the CRHA and its nonprofit arm known as the Charlottesville Community Development Corporation (CCDC). (VHDA application)

Under the terms of the arrangement, the Crescent Halls building will no longer be owned by the CRHA but will instead be owned by a limited liability company (LLC) created specifically for the project. That’s the same arrangement for the first phase of South First Street which broke ground on March 7. 

Unlike the CRHA, the CCDC must pay to pay property taxes to the city of Charlottesville for the rehabilitated structure. An agreement signed on March 5 between the city, CRHA and CCDC compels the city to make a subsidy to CRHA to cover the costs for CCDC’s tax liability for a period of 15 years. 

Cornelius Griggs, president and CEO of GMA Construction, also spoke at the dedication ceremony.

“We are here today partnering with our great partners at Martin Horn who are going to assist us and work with us to deliver an excellent facility to the residents of Crescent Halls,” Griggs said.

CRHA Executive Director John Sales also spoke at the event. He took that job last August after serving for a brief time as Charlottesville’s housing coordinator. 

“One of the things that really excited me about taking this job was an opportunity to work with the residents to build a future that they saw themselves living in and I think this project as well as South First Street and all the other future projects will have that same aspect,” Sales said. 

CRHA Executive Director John Sales speaks at the dedication ceremony on April 14, 2021. The event can be viewed in its entirety on the CRHA Facebook page.

Scottsville’s Town Council met this past Monday and got several updates on several infrastructure projects. Planning continues for a park in west downtown funded through a $80,000 grant from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. Scottsville Town Attorney Jim Bowling said the next step is to sign an easement document for public access on land owned by prominent landowner Dr. Charles Hurt. 

“All of this land is in the flood plain and its proposed to be a permanent recreational easement for the benefit of the town and its citizens,” Bowling said. “The easement will be jointly owned as proposed by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the town.” 

The Council also got a briefing from the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, which withdraws water from Totier Creek or the Totier Creek Reservoir. RWSA Executive Director Bill Mawyer said the reservoir was built in 1971 and holds 155 million gallons. 

“We get water out of the creek most of the time,” Mawyer said. “Totier Creek Reservoir tends to have a high turbidity and sediment load.” 

Mawyer said RWSA is planning for an $11 million upgrade to the water treatment plant that was originally built in 1964. That won’t happen for at least five years. 

Much sooner than that, Albemarle is working on a facility where residents can bring household waste in southern Albemarle to a collection site known as a “convenience center.” The project will be built in the unincorporated area of Keene on land owned by the county, north of Scottsville on Route 20. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has allocated $1.1 million for this project. 

“And that would include all of the containers and compactors necessary to open the operation,” said Lance Stewart, the county’s director of facilities and environmental services. “That of course would be done in cooperation with the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority.”  

The county purchased the land in 1990 for a potential trash transfer facility, but that project was never built. Stewart stressed this is not the site of the now-closed Keene landfill. 

But what is a convenience center, exactly?

“It’s a place to take bagged household waste or in containers, not bulk household waste,” Stewart said. “Also compostable food waste or array of recyclables, glass, plastics, paper, cardboard, tin, and other metals.”      

Stewart said the project helps the county implement its Climate Action Plan by moving forward with a project to reduce greenhouse gases. 

“That food waste that’s compostable is the largest greenhouse gas emitter among the solid waste components so from a climate action plan perspective that’s a significant and growing opportunity for us,” Stewart said. 

For the project to move forward, it will need to be reviewed against the Comprehensive Plan by the Albemarle Planning Commission.  The hope is to have the facility to be open in the fall of 2022. The Scottsville Town Council will vote on a resolution of support at its meeting on Monday, April 19.

Ned Gallaway has announced he will seek a second term to represent the Rio District on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. Gallaway was first elected in 2017 as a Democrat after running unopposed. 

“Four years ago when I ran, I said that my priorities would be public education, public safety and economic development and I feel that after four budgets and many votes that I have stayed true or focused on those priorities,” Gallaway said. 

Gallaway said highlights of the last four years have been adoption of the Project Enable economic development plan, adoption of the Rio and 29 Small Area Plan, and passage of the Climate action plan. 

So far, no one has filed to run against Gallaway as an independent or a Republican. The deadline to challenge him in the Democratic primary on June 8 has passed. Currently all members of the Board are Democrats, but Gallaway said that does not make them a monolith.

“I think people think that because we are all of the same party that we are automatically of the same mind on things and we’re not,” Gallaway said. 

Gallaway previously served on the Albemarle School Board. He moved to the community in 2002 and lived on Old Ivy Road before moving to Fluvanna County for a brief time. He moved back to Albemarle in 2007. Since then, he said there has been a lot of growth.

“A lot has changed in a quick amount of time,” Gallaway said. “I remember driving back from D.C. and you weren’t really feeling like you were in town until you started to get to the Kroger on Woodbrook. And now that’s a whole different animal, even through Greene County.” 

Last week, Supervisor Diantha McKeel announced she would seek a third term to represent the Jack Jouett District. Democrat Jim Andrews is the only candidate who has filed in the Samuel Miller District race to succeed outgoing Supervisor Liz Palmer.  

No independents have yet filed for any of those three seats, and would-be candidates have until June 8 to qualify for the ballot. No Republicans have filed either, according to Albemarle Republican Chairman George Urban. 

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