Monday moves majestically, meandering more mysteriously, making many mighty memories. Maybe. Or it’s another day like any other as we all spend time inhabiting a world that alternates constantly between light and dark. However, Charlottesville Community Engagement is not a tribute to the poetic but is more concerned with the anecdotal and the wonky. I’m Sean Tubbs until I am not.
On today’s program:
Albemarle Supervisors will hold a special meeting Wednesday perhaps to purchase property
We learn from the county executive’s office that there’s a new disc golf course in Albemarle
The Commonwealth Transportation Board will meet in Charlottesville tomorrow
The Greenbrier Neighborhood Association has held the second of several candidate forums for three Democratic nominations for City Council
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First shout-out: Camp Albemarle
Today’s first subscriber-supported public service announcement goes out to Camp Albemarle, which has for sixty years been a “wholesome rural, rustic and restful site for youth activities, church groups, civic events and occasional private programs.”
Located on 14 acres on the banks of the Moorman’s River near Free Union, Camp Albemarle continues as a legacy of being a Civilian Conservation Corps project that sought to promote the importance of rural activities. Camp Albemarle seeks support for a plan to winterize the Hamner Lodge, a structure built in 1941 by the CCC and used by every 4th and 5th grade student in Charlottesville and Albemarle for the study of ecology for over 20 years. If this campaign is successful, Camp Albemarle could operate year-round. Consider your support by visiting campalbemarleva.org/donate.
Albemarle purchasing land on Wednesday?
The next regular meeting of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors is not until June, but the six members will meet in closed session this Wednesday. Virginia’s open meetings laws allow for elected bodies to discuss certain matters without the public present.
The first is “to discuss or consider the acquisition of real property in the Rivanna Magisterial District.”
The second is “to consult with and be briefed by legal counsel regarding specific legal matters requiring legal advice relating to such acquisition.”
Immediately after the closed session, Supervisors will vote on a resolution to authorize purchase of property and assets. There are no further details but Supervisors will convene in Room 241 after this vote to hold a media briefing.
Albemarle Executive report: New disc golf course at Chris Greene Lake, HARTS team in place
In Virginia, a locality’s top manager actually performs the business of government and is responsible for executive actions. In Charlottesville that’s interim City Manager Michael C. Rogers. In Albemarle that is County Executive Jeff Richardson.
Often reports on what’s happening are made to the elected body. On May 17, Albemarle Supervisors got a report from Trevor Henry, the Deputy County Administrator. They learned there is now a new 18-hole disc golf course at Chris Greene Lake.
“The development of this new amenity in the northern part of the county was a successful partnership between Parks and Recreation by providing the space and in-kind services and the Blue Ridge Disc Golf Club whose members devoted 1,100 volunteer hours to construct the course,” Henry said.
Henry also said graduate students at the University of Virginia School of Architecture are working with the county have helped with the creation of a Regional Digital Equity Plan that is being developed by the Broadband and Accessibility Office.
“This is in partnership with community organizations, the city of Charlottesville, and [the University of Virginia],” Henry said. “Their analysis resulted in several key recommendations that the coalition will incorporate into their final plan.”
To learn more about that project, here’s the March meeting of the Coalition:
Henry also had news about the Human Services Alternative Response Team that Albemarle is putting together. The HARTS Team is intended to answer calls where a person is believed to be having a mental health crisis.
“The team has been formed and will be adjusting to responses based on each situation to ensure the safety and best outcomes for individuals involved,” Henry said. “As they are forming, they are beginning training and developing protocols to implement the co-responder model. That work will continue with procedures and training as they become operational and start responding to mental health calls for service.”
Henry also reported on the results of an archaeological study from materials uncovered at the location of the former Swan Tavern in Court Square in Charlottesville. That’s the site of the future General District Court that will be jointly used by both the city and Albemarle County.
“These artifacts include a Moravian press pipe, bowls, antique glass bottles and more,” Henry said. “This project is a good reminder for the important of preserving our county’s history. The artifacts that were uncovered during this dig period are being cleaned and catalogued and we expect a final report by the end of this calendar year.”
CTB to meet in Charlottesville this week
The body that approves funding across the Commonwealth of Virginia will meet this week at the Residence Inn on West Main Street in Charlottesville, steps away from a now-canceled project.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board will begin with a workshop at 8:30 a.m. that will feature a large amount of state-wide business. One item to watch is a discussion on the fifth round of Smart Scale, which is a mechanism that helps decide what transportation projects are funded. (workshop agenda)
The CTB will make a final decision in June, but here are three area projects currently in the running:
Avon Street Multimodal Improvements (only for the Druid Avenue to Avon Court section) – $15.8 million (Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO)
US 250/Peter Jefferson Parkway Intersection Improvements, Park and Ride, and Access Management – $20.55 million (Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission)
Belvedere Boulevard/Rio Road Intersection Improvements – $4.89 million (Albemarle County)
On Wednesday is the action meeting unless the workshop on Tuesday finishes early. Opportunity for public comments is taken at this meeting. (action meeting agenda)
The CTB meeting is just steps away from what had been Phase 1 of the West Main Streetscape. Charlottesville had slowly assembled money for a nearly $50 million project to be built in four phases, but canceled them last year in order to put the local match toward the renovation and expansion of Buford Middle School. (read my story)
Sponsored message: Buy Local
Charlottesville Community Engagement’s continued existence means that many of you support local information. Want to support some local businesses as well? The Buy Local campaign is in full swing, and both the Albemarle and Charlottesville Offices of Economic Development want people to consider spending locally as they shop throughout the year.
The Buy Local campaign highlights small businesses within Charlottesville and Albemarle County through a multi-channel, multimedia promotional and educational campaign designed to reinforce how important supporting area small businesses is to the local economy.
Locally-owned, independent businesses with a brick-and-mortar presence in the City or County interested in being featured in the campaign should visit www.showlocallove.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Buy Local campaign, visit www.ShowLocalLove.org or follow us on Facebook and Instagram @BuyLocalCvilleAlbemarle or on Twitter @BuyLocalCville.
Council candidates introduce themselves to Greenbrier neighborhood
Last week, the Greenbrier Neighborhood Association held the second of many planned candidate forums for the three nominations for Charlottesville City Council. The event began with opening statements beginning with Dashad Cooper who was unable to attend the May 10 event I co-hosted with Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum. (view that event)
“As a Council member, I believe it is crucial that we have an open and honest discussion about the vision of Charlottesville, and I’m here to share my vision,” Cooper said. “Together I believe we can work towards a solution that would benefit all members of society.”
Cooper is a social services assistant who said he sees many people struggling with mental health issues who are affected by increases in rent.
“I think mental health has been overlooked for far, far too long and the pandemic has put the mental health at the forefront and the people need help now,” Cooper said.
Former City Councilor Bob Fenwick used much of the same opening statement he made at the May 10 forum but leaned in with his skepticism of the city’s ability to provide solutions for one intractable problem.
“The notion that affordable housing can be addressed with yet another program without better management, including adequate funding for all of the peripherals that go with it is very much in the air,” Fenwick said.
Fenwick said the big issues he is hearing about are the zoning code rewrite, increased property assessments and public safety.
“And the biggest issue tonight is probably going to be the zoning rewrite as well it should be as it hasn’t been fully crafted and is virtually incomprehensible,” Fenwick said.
Challenger Natalie Oschrin also used much of the same opening statement as the May 10 event but I’ll quote different parts from a previous story. She said her primary job has skills that would apply to time on Council.
“I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for over ten years, mostly planning and organizing weddings,” Oschrin said. “As you might imagine there’s a lot of coordinating and managing in addition to cajoling and negotiating that needs to happen to pull the event off successfully and within budget.”
Oschrin said she supports efforts to build more places to live within the city.
“I’ve worked with a lot of people who have to commute from outlying communities for their job in the city [and] that means close to an hour in the car each way,” Oschrin said. “Our teachers, nurses, firefighters deserve to live in Charlottesville and not be pushed out by high housing costs.”
Councilor Michael Payne is seeking his second term and also had many of the same introductory comments.
“For those of you who don’t know me, I grew up in the area and after college moved back here and worked for Habitat for Humanity of Virginia in affordable housing as well as gotten involved in politics through community organizing with Indivisible Charlottesville and the Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition and have been on Council since January 2020,” Payne said.
Payne said the past few years have been difficult for city government but Council has begun to make progress with the adoption of a climate action plan and an affordable housing plan that comes with $10 million a year in funding.
“We’ve started to stabilize city staff and build a strong staff team within the city as well as made historic investments in schools and are moving toward being able to create a regional transit authority to strengthen our bus system,” Payne said.
Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook also addressed many of the same themes as the May 10 opening statement beginning with a general slogan for his campaign in 2019.
“My overall slogan was ‘Let’s Work Together’ and ‘Let’s Try to Make Charlottesville Work again,” Snook said.
Snook said he and Payne both voted to adopt that affordable housing plan in March 2021 and they worked together to identify the funds to invest in the renovation and expansion of Buford Middle School. He said he wants four more years to ensure that work is completed.
“Not only make sure that Buford gets finished but also start thinking about the next step in the school reconfiguration process,” Snook said. “That’s to look at Walker and the elementary schools.
In his opening statement, Snook pointed out that many of Fenwick’s critiques of the zoning code were inaccurate given that a final draft has not been presented to Council yet.
For more on that topic, take a look at my next column in C-Ville Weekly, out on newsstands Wednesday. Now I have to write it. (view the 20 articles I’ve written to date)
What happens next? Buckingham commission weighs mining question, Brian Carlton, Farmville Herald, May 19, 2023
Buckingham GOP nominates recently fired registrar for seat on elections board, Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury, May 19, 2023
Embattled Charlottesville SPCA to replace director, Charlottesville Daily Progress, May 20, 2023
Concluding thoughts for #535
This is the first Monday edition of this program in a while! The perfect situation is when there is one of these a day to keep an eye on the happenings and not-happenings of local government. I’m grateful for the hundreds of paid subscribers who are helping me at least attempt to be a one-person time-keeping canine, or something like that.
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