May 10 • 16M

May 10, 2022: Transit officials from Vermont brief Charlottesville transit group on using public transit to ferry pupils to public school

Plus: Bob Good raises $71K in April while challenger Dan Moy files a day late

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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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Following up from yesterday, did you find your lost socks? Do you have an interest in tying up loose ends? For that’s mostly what this May 10, 2022 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement shall be, with bits and bobs from previous weeks knitted together in this 377th edition of this newsletter and or podcast. I’m your host, Sean and or Tubbs.  

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On today’s program:

  • Transit officials from Burlington, Vermont chat with Charlottesville-area transit officials about efforts to carry more public school students on public transportation 

  • The latest campaign finance reports are in for the race for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District

  • Stonefield will be the next place in the area that people can relax in public with an alcoholic beverage 

  • And both Albemarle and Charlottesville are still recruiting lifeguards to open up the swim season 

First shout-out: The Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign 

It’s springtime, and one Patreon subscriber wants you to know that the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Campaign is a grassroots initiative of motivated citizens, volunteers, partner organizations, and local governments who want to promote the use of native plants. This spring the group is working with retailers across the region to encourage purchase of plants that belong here and are part of an ecosystem that depends on pollination. There are plenty of resources on the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives Facebook page, so sign up to be notified of lectures, plant sales, and more!

Good raises $71K in April; Moy did not file FEC report by deadline 

There are ten days remaining in the race for the Republican nomination for the Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Incumbent Bob Good faces a challenge from Attorney Dan Moy of Charlottesville. 

Yesterday was the deadline for candidates to file a report for campaign activity between April 1 and May 1, a report that only applies to candidates who are seeking a party nomination through a convention. (details on FEC website)

Good raised $71,058 in the period and spent $74,225, leaving a balance of $370,131.54. (read the report)

Updated after publication:

Moy filed a day late and reported $7,870 in contribution in April and the campaign spent $38,127.13. The challenger had $17,682.75 on hand at the end of the period. (read the report)

The winner of the Republican convention on May 21 will face Democrat Joshua Throneburg in the general election. Throneburg was the only candidate to qualify for the primary ballot.

(read all of campaign finance reports for the 5th District filed with the Federal Election Commission)

Read the report on the Federal Election Commission’s website

Supervisors support Stonefield as a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area

A live music program at one of Albemarle County’s mixed-use communities got a boost earlier this month when the Albemarle Board of Supervisors agreed to a letter of support for an Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority license known as a DORA. 

“A DORA is a designated geographic area licensed by the ABC annually that allows the consumption of alcoholic beverages, (wine, beer, mixed beverages) in a public space and a private space which include things like streets and lawns, and within any business without an ABC license as long as the business agrees,” said Roger Johnson, Albemarle’s economic development director. 

These designated outdoor refreshment area licenses have been used in Scottsville and last month, one was used in Charlottesville for the Tom Tom Festival.

“I will mention to you that I spoke with the director of economic development from Charlottesville and there were no complications with this particular event,” Johnson said. 

Johnson said beverages purchased at individual restaurants at Stonefield could not be transferred between those businesses. In this case, a nonprofit organization will be the entity that technically applies for the license. 

“And what we’re asking you to do is provide a letter of support that verifies that Stonefield consulted with a local municipality and they will submit that with their ABC application,” Johnson said. 

An ordinance would be required if an entity wanted to hold more than 16 events a year or for more than three days. Until then, all that’s required is a map of the DORA, a public safety plan, and designated cups.

“Also required at the events are specific containers that are no larger than 16 ounces with the name or the logo of the retailer from which it was purchased,” Johnson said. 

In the case of Stonefield, they’ll produce the Music on the Lawn events and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence will be the nonprofit partner. But the whole point is to drive business.

“Stonefield informed us that onsite traffic increased by 25 percent when they held Music on the Lawn,” Johnson said. “The point being, we will be helping existing businesses with the foot traffic.” 

Supervisor Diantha McKeel asked that there be outreach to the people who live in the apartments and condominiums at Stonefield. She was also concerned with the potential waste from the plastic cups. 

“Is there a way to brainstorm or think about what other options we could provide that are not just, I mean, we’ve switched to paper here and I don’t think these cups are going to work,” McKeel said. “I am saying that it’s something to think about.”

Johnson said that could be made as a condition of the letter of support. A vote to authorize that letter passed unanimously. 

The first event will be held on May 27 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. 


Lifeguards still sought for summer season

Memorial Day Weekend is less than three weeks away, marking the beginning of the summer outdoor swimming season. Both Albemarle and Charlottesville are preparing to open lakes and pools and need more lifeguards to ensure services can be offered to the public. 

The Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department will hold a job fair at Carver Recreation Center on Wednesday May 18 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. that will cover more than just lifeguards.

“A sample of positions that are currently open include: camp counselors and directors, lifeguards (includes signing bonus), aquatic fitness and program instructors, instructor-American Red Cross, athletic officials, landscapers, custodial maintenance, aquatic maintenance, adaptive camp staff, customer service attendants, and more,” reads the website announcing the job fair

In mid-April, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board were told by staff that new lifeguards in Charlottesville are signing bonuses, and all of them are eligible for end-of-season bonuses. (story)

Albemarle County is also seeking lifeguards and needed 19 new employees as of last Wednesday in order to open on a full schedule. Until then, there is a contingency plan. 

“We’re going to be moving forward with plans to open two of the three swim parks, Mint Springs and Chris Greene Lake,” said Trevor Henry, Albemarle’s assistant county executive. “We’re having issues getting enough [people] to staff Walnut Creek and so in order to safely open up the parks, the plan will be to start with those two.”

In the hopes of opening up Walnut Creek, Albemarle County is also recruiting for lifeguards and will pay $15 an hour, plus reimbursement for any certification costs. Apply online

Charlottesville will open up the city’s four spray grounds this weekend, according to a news release that went out this morning. Learn more on the city’s website.

Today’s second shout-out goes to LEAP

We’re now well into spring, and many of us may have already turned on our air conditioning units for the first in months. To see what you can do to get the most out of your home, contact LEAP, your local energy nonprofit, to schedule a home energy assessment this month - just $45 for City and County residents. 

LEAP also offers FREE home weatherization to income- and age-qualifying residents. If someone in your household is age 60 or older, or you 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!

Regional Transit Partnership briefed on efforts to use public transit fleets in Vermont to carry students to school

In the nearly five years the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership has been in existence, there have been many conversations about how various systems might be made more efficient. One idea that has been discussed is the combination of transportation for school pupils with regular transit. 

“For Burlington, the school district has a handful of school buses for special needs kids but the majority of the school population rides Green Mountain Transit buses to school,” said Peggy O’Neill Vivanco, the Vermont Clean Cities Coordinator. 

At their meeting on April 28, 2022, the members of the Regional Transit Partnership learned about efforts in Burlington, Vermont to do just that. Those efforts stemmed from a commonly asked question in the Green Mountain State. 

“Why do we have two public transit systems?” asked Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. “One for students, one for the public. That’s really inefficient. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get the public on school buses because school buses go everywhere and they go places that are hard to reach by transit.”

Wallace-Brodeur said a group came together to study the issue with funding from the Vermont Agency of Transportation as well as the Energy Action Network.

“We started out by looking at where our public transit system is currently providing services that students can access,” Wallace-Brodeur said. “There had been some research done for one of our regional planning commissions on the topic where they really dug into some of the legal issues and some of the other challenges that could come with this.” 

Wallace-Brodeur said the best path forward was to adjust public transit to provide more service to middle school and high school students. 

“Anybody can ride the bus,” Wallace-Brodeur said. “There’s really no barrier to that. Anyone can ride the bus including little kids, older adults, anybody. The general public can get on the bus. Not so for school buses.”

Some of that work extended to the exurbs of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. Wallace-Brodeur said the group worked with school systems that were open to the idea. Two goals are to build lifelong transit riders and to fill service gaps.

“One of the things we hear a lot about is that students can’t access some after school activities if there isn’t a late bus or something that can get kids home after extracurriculars so if students don’t have personal transportation, they miss out on really important opportunities which then becomes an equity issue,” Wallace-Brodeur said. 

How does it work? 

Jamie Smith is the director of marketing and planning for Green Mountain Transit.

“We operate during the school year ten additional routes,” Smith said. “The [Federal Transit Administration] doesn’t really allow traditional school transportation to be operated by a public transit agency but they do allow for us to increase our capacity during the academic school year,” Smith said.  

Wallace-Brodeur said there had been an attempt to reroute some rural transit routes in eastern Vermont to serve a pair of high schools, but that ran into some obstacles due to COVID. Mike Reiderer is with Tri-Valley Transit which serves Addison, Orange, and northern Windsor counties with commuter routes. He pointed out that many school children are transit-dependent until they have a driver’s license and a car. 

“We were looking at an addition to one of these routes that would be able to transfer students basically from one high school to another to take more advantage of those after school opportunities,” Reiderer said. “Worked great, great partnership, really great information sharing that really culminating in our ability to provide that service. I think it was one of those instances where COVID came to bite us once again.”

Reiderer said he hopes that partnership can be resumed by the next school year. 

Speaking of schools, the Burlington area is home to several institutions of higher education, such as the University of Vermont. Smith explains that an entity called the Chittenden Area Transport Management Association runs a transportation demand management program that seeks to get more people on buses, including university and college students.

“And we have an agreement with them, an unlimited access agreement where students are able to use their IDs to ride for free in our system,” Smith said. 

The University of Vermont also has its own system of shuttle buses that run the inner loop of their campus in Burlington which has a student population of about 13,300. Champlain College also has a bus that runs throughout their campus. 

I’ll have more from the April 28, 2022 meeting of the Jefferson Area Regional Transit Partnership in a future edition of the program. If you can’t wait, take a look at the meeting on YouTube now. So far, there are 3 views. Why not give it the Charlottesville Community Engagement bump?


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