Jul 20 • 17M

July 20, 2022: Charlottesville responds to the heat by opening cooling centers; Sanders updates Council on efforts to make school walking routes safer

Plus: Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook wants you to apply for a city board or commission

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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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Fifty-three years today, human beings landed on Earth’s moon. As far as I know, they didn’t stay very long but I’ve not had the chance to check out the scene myself. But with enough subscriptions to Charlottesville Community Engagement, I will consider purchasing a rocket just to make sure. For now, it’s the July 20, 2022 edition of the program and I’m your lunatic host, Sean Tubbs. 

On today’s program:

  • The city of Charlottesville opens up cooling centers as temperatures continue to climb

  • Interim Charlottesville City Manager Michael C. Rogers and his staff provide updates on the Crescent Halls bus stop as well as efforts to make walking school routes safer

  • Chamber’s Minority Business Alliance seeking applications for 2022 Vanguard Award

  • A local brewery unveils the official lager of the University of Virginia 

  • Charlottesville wants more people to apply to various boards and commission

Today’s first shout-out: Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards to lead more walks

In today’s first subscriber supported public supported public service announcement: Want to know more about our majestic wooden neighbors that help purify the air and provide shade on these hot summer days? The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards have two upcoming walks where you can learn more about trees in the area: 

  • This Saturday at 9 a.m., a group will be led through Darden Towe Park beginning at the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center to see Ancient tOsage Orange trees, a historic Monticello Tulip Tree, elm tree devastation due to the emerald ash borer, and common deciduous and conifer trees. (register)

  • On July 29 at 9 a.m, three stewards will lead a walk through Belmont with about twenty stops to explore urban (register)

Become a member, and you’ll get access to even more Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards events!

Charlottesville opens up cooling centers

With temperatures this week in the 90’s and possibly above, the city of Charlottesville has officially launched several places where people can go to stay out of the heat.  Key Recreation Center, Tonsler Recreation Center, and the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library have been designated as cooling centers during the day until further notice. 

  • Key Recreation Center is located at 800 E. Market Street.  The hours of operation are 5:30pm– 9pm Monday through Friday; 1pm– 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.  

  • Tonsler Recreation Center is located at 501 Cherry Avenue.  The hours of operation are Noon – 9pm Monday through Friday; 1pm-6pm Saturday and closed on Sunday.

  • Jefferson – Madison Regional Library (Central Branch) is located at 201 E. Market Street.  The hours of operation are 9am-9pm Monday through Thursdays; 9am-5pm Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday.

Planning for heat for near-term, long-term

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is working on an update of the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is intended to help coordinate public response to natural disasters. There’s a section on extreme heat that may be useful to know at a time when heat records are being surpassed across Europe. 

“Extreme heat can be defined as temperatures that hover 10°F or more above the average high temperature for the region, last for prolonged periods of time, and are often accompanied by high humidity,” reads page H-25 of the plan. “Under normal conditions, the human body’s internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed, and the body must work much harder to maintain a normal temperature.”

As with COVID-19, extreme heat effects take a toll more strongly on the elderly, people with respiratory difficulties, and those with other health vulnerabilities. 

The City of Charlottesville recently produced a summary of hazards associated with climate change. (read the report)

“The climate models show that by 2050, Charlottesville may experience more than twice as many extreme heat events annually as there were in 2020,” reads page 3 of that report. “By 2100, there may be almost seven times as many.” 

One way to cool off is at an outdoor pool. Both Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville have struggled to fill positions this summer. Charlottesville has offered signing bonuses for lifeguards and pool managers, but Deputy Parks and Recreation Director Vic Garber told City Council on Monday that the decision to only open one outdoor pool a day is still in effect.

“We are probably 70 percent there so we’re still rotating Washington Park and Onesty but we’re working very hard,” Garber said. 

The issue also came up at today’s meeting of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.

“In the next ten days, we’re looking at temperatures each day going over 90 up to 100,” said Supervisor Chair Donna Price. “The last seven years have been the hottest in recorded history. Climate change is real and I would ask everyone to be careful, to do what you can to reduce the heat footprint that you are creating.”

Price said that includes reducing driving, drawing shades, and raising the thermostat for air conditioning. 

What do you do when it gets hot out? Say something in the comments. 

Leave a comment

City Manager Rogers provides updates on Crescent Hall bus stop, other matters

Once a month, interim Charlottesville City Manager Michael C. Rogers publishes a written report that summarizes recent activities. In my fifteen years of covering and monitoring Charlottesville government, this is one of the most thorough and useful documents produced by the city. (read the report)

On Monday, Rogers offered some verbal updates taken from the report. Earlier this year, Charlottesville Area Transit had proposed moving a bus stop at Crescent Halls, a temporarily vacant apartment complex owned and operated by the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority. 

In April, the Public Housing Association of Residents pushed for CAT to reconsider and Rogers said the city has listened.

“A decision has been made and the bus stop will not be moved,” Rogers said. “The bus stop will not be moved. It will stay right there so we are very pleased to make that announcement.”

The stop is currently served by Route 6, which currently travels between the University of Virginia Health System, Downtown Mall, and Willoughby Shopping center. There are plans to change the route to eliminate the UVA connection, but implementation of those changes are delayed due to a lack of drivers. (Next steps for Charlottesville Area Transit route changes outlined at partnership meeting, June 24, 2022)

Rogers said work continues on development of a collective bargaining ordinance and Council will have a work session at 4 p.m. on August 15. The company Venable LLP has been hired to assist with the work. A firm has also been hired to assist with a search for a new police chief.

“We selected a company called Polihire out of Washington, D.C.,” Rogers said. “They will work with us on developing an aggressive community outreach program. We look forward to hearing from the community with respect to what kind of chief do they want.”

The city has also hired Steve Hawkes as the director of information technology and Caroline Rice as the new Public Engagement Coordinator. Kyle Ervin will be the Public Information Officer for public safety. He was formerly the marketing coordinator for CAT. 

Sanders provides updates on school walk zones

Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders said the local government continues to work to address driver shortages for the school system. There are 35 days to the first day of school and there will not be as many bus routes. 

“We are working in collaboration with Charlottesville City Schools to solve the various issues that may result from having an additional 750 kids having to walk to school this year,” Sanders said. 

Last week, the Charlottesville Planning Commission told Council they wanted to see solutions in place before school begins. (read that story)

Sanders said talks have been held with Albemarle County Public Schools about collaborating with one possibility being for special needs students to make sure they can get to school. Another collaboration could be with Jaunt to see if there is a possibility to share drivers.

“We won’t be able to use their equipment because of the federal nature of the funds that they receive but when drivers are working for Jaunt they may be able to drive for us so we’re looking to see if we can figure out a way to make that possible,” Sanders said. 

Sanders said the planning affects multiple localities across the region and regional approaches are required. He said the city is also looking to find ways to work with groups who want to solve the identified problem. 

“We’re looking to capture proposals from neighborhood led groups hoping that we’ll be able to deploy those groups in doing some of the work as well since they have offered to do so,” Sanders said. 

That includes suggestions from Livable Cville and the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. In a future edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement, we’ll hear more about the possible addition of $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding to cover the costs of some of the work. 

“Our goal will be to quickly get some of these things out and basically available to make this process a little bit easier,” Sanders said. 

If you have a student or students in Charlottesville Public Schools, what do you plan to do?

Leave a comment

Second shout-out: WTJU staging the Cville Puzzle Hunt on August 27

In today’s second Patreon-fueled shout-out: By now, readers and listeners know WTJU’s position on algorithms. But do you know that the radio station celebrates puzzles? In fact, on Saturday, August 27, WTJU is organizing the Cville Puzzle Hunt, a huge, cerebral puzzle that will spool out across downtown Charlottesville. The Cville Puzzle Hunt will take you and a team of friends on a wild afternoon running around trying to untangle five diabolical, large-scale puzzles inserted into the urban landscape. The opening clue will be read at 1 p.m. at the Ix Art Park. Find out more about this WTJU-organized event at cvillepuzzlehunt.com

Chamber’s Minority Business Alliance seeking applications for 2022 Vanguard Award

Do you know someone who should be recognized for their efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion? Or a small business or group that seeks the same goals? 

The Minority Business Alliance of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce is taking applications through August 5 for the John F. Bell Sr. Vanguard Award. 

“The MBA Vanguard Award is named in honor of John F. Bell Sr., a strong, determined and respected business leader and citizen who established successful businesses during a time when the larger society wasn’t welcoming to or supportive of the Black business community,” reads a press release for the award.

This will be the tenth annual award. Previous recipients include Community Investment Collaborative, William Jones III, Hollie Lee, Eugene and Lorraine Williams, Forward Adelante Business Alliance, and Kaye Monroe.

Nominations can be submitted here

Pictured (L to R): CIC staff members Shannon Beach, Anna Isserow, Carolina Medina, Stephen Davis and Juana Dent accept the Vanguard Award in September 2021.

Champion to make official lager for University of Virginia

The Champion Brewing Company began operations ten years ago with a small brewery in downtown Charlottesville. Now they’ve expanded to multiple places across Virginia and are part of the larger Champion Hospitality Group with restaurants in Stonefield, Gordonsville, and across Charlottesville.

In 45 days, the first University of Virginia home football game will be held at Scott Stadium. Yesterday, Champion announced that its Cavalier Lager will become the officially licensed beer for UVA sporting events.

“As life-long UVA sports fans, it’s been a dream of the team to have a Cavalier beer offered at UVA games,” said Champion CEO Hunter Smith in a release. “It’s a hometown lager brewed with our college athletes and their fans top of mind.”

The beer will also be available in area stores. This is the first year that the University of Virginia has licensed an official beer. 

Cavalier Lager is four percent alcohol brewed with Vienna malts and Saaz hops

Vacancies still remain on various board and commissions in Charlottesville

The next edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement will provide details of who got appointed to the Charlottesville Planning Commission. Council made those appointments at the end of the July 18 meeting, and I’m going through that one chronologically. 

Earlier in this meeting, Charlottesville Mayor Snook LLoyd pleaded with the public to consider getting involved.

“We need more people applying for Boards and Commissions,” Snook said. “We’ve got a couple of Boards and Commission that are down a couple of people. The Region 10 Community Services Board is one. The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority is another. Historic Resources Committee. The Jefferson Area Community Criminal Justice Board. Jaunt. [Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau] needs a representative from the tourism industry.” 

If you’d like to apply, visit the city’s website. Here’s a list of all the boards.

Housekeeping items for the end of #410

Thanks for reading today. Charlottesville Community Engagement is a service of Town Crier Productions, a limited liability company set up to produce information about the public policy and the built environment in Charlottesville and beyond. We are now in the third year of this publication, and this is installment 410. 

Please consider a paid subscription to ensure I make it to the fourth year. There’s a lot at stake as we continue to live our complex lives in a democratic civilization that always needs its community members to pay attention and to look at the documents up close. 

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