November 8, 2021: Charlottesville's Woolley era to begin on Dec. 1; Fifeville group seeks facilitator for Cherry Avenue plan listening sessions
The past has a long reach into the future, but this present is 43 days away from the time when our portion of the Earth begins tilting back to the light.
Let’s begin the show with the first of two Patreon-fueled shout-outs.
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/cville350
On today’s show:
Charlottesville selects a Pennsylvania administrator as the third interim City Manager in three and a half years
The Fifeville Neighborhood Association seeks a facilitator to help with implementation of the Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan
A Charlottesville television pioneer has died
COVID vaccinations for those aged 5 to 11 have begun
And a Louisa County Supervisors wins a seventh term on a four-vote margin
This weekend, vaccinations of children between the ages of 5 to 11 began in the Blue Ridge Health District. According to spokeswoman Kathryn Goodman, there were 127 vaccinations in that range at the Community Vaccination Center in Seminole Square and Pediatric Associates vaccinated 565 children. The Blue Ridge Health District and the University of Virginia Health System begin administering shots today.
“I think this is a really big step forward and the COVID vaccine is one of the most well-studied vaccines at this point in history,” said Dr. Debbie-Ann Shirley, an expert on pediatric infectious diseases at the UVA Health System. “There have been hundreds of millions of doses already given. There have been clinical trials done in adults, young adults, adolescents, and now children in the 5 to 11 age group.”
Federal officials approved the Pfizer vaccine for children last week, which uses a smaller dose than the one given to people 12 and above. Dr. Shirley said that lower dose was suggested through the testing process. Last week, she penned an article on UVA Today outlining the work that has gone into producing the shots.
“Using that low dose vaccine, they still make really high levels of antibody that were comparable to the same antibody levels that we’ve seen in adolescents and older adults who received higher doses,” Dr. Shirley said.
Dr. Shirley said Moderna has submitted their data to the Food and Drug Administration for approval, and Pfizer will soon submit data for a vaccine for even younger children.
This morning the Virginia Department of Health reports another 913 new cases and the seven-day average of new cases at 1,276 a day. The percent positivity has increased slightly to 5.6 percent, up from 5.4 percent on Thursday. The Blue Ridge Health District reports another 42 cases today and there have been five more reported fatalities since Thursday.
The man who started Charlottesville’s first commercial television station in 1973 has died. Harold Wright passed away on Saturday at his home at Lake Monticello. WVIR launched on March 11, 1973 using $500,000 of capital as well as second-hand equipment. That’s according to a story published this morning on NBC29.com. Wright retired from the station in January 2020, not long after it was purchased by Gray Communications in March 2019.
Louisa County Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes has won re-election to a seventh term representing the Patrick Henry District. A canvas and recount on Friday that included remaining provisional and absentee ballots extended Barnes’ election-night lead of one vote to four votes over challenger William D. Woody Jr. According to coverage on Twitter by Tammy Purcel of Engage Louisa, Woody would have had ten days to ask for a recount but he conceded the race.
Charlottesville’s Fifeville Neighborhood Association and the city government are seeking a consultant to help with a series of listening sessions to help implement the Cherry Avenue Small Area Plan. That document was produced by consulting staff at the Thomas Jefferson Planning District and approved as an addendum to the city’s current Comprehensive Plan on March 1. On that same night Council adopted an affordable housing plan as the first milestone in the Cville Plans Together initiative.
The neighborhood association seeks a “third-party facilitator to help co-design and lead up to three Anti-Displacement, Land Acquisition, and Development Working Sessions.” The goal is to move forward with implementation of the plan. (read the request for proposals)
The firm Rhodeside & Harwell will not pursue this request for proposals, according to Cville Plans Together project manager Jennifer Koch. Her team is familiar with the Cherry Avenue Plan.
“We reviewed this plan, as we reviewed other completed Small Area Plans, and looked to support recommendations related to fostering a mix of uses and more housing options/density at levels that respect the current scale of the neighborhood,” Koch wrote in an email this morning. “The affordability framework and anti-displacement mechanisms built into the plan (including, but not limited to, the Sensitive Community Areas) also align with goals in the Cherry Avenue SAP.”
Since adoption of the plan in March, several properties have exchanged hands. In April, Woodard Properties purchased the Cherry Avenue Shopping Center as well as vacant land immediately behind. In July, the company bought a vacant lot in the 800 block of the busy roadway. Also in July an LLC called Project New Life bought undeveloped land on Cherry Avenue at the intersection of 7 1/2th Street.
The Future Land Use Map in the draft Comprehensive Plan calls for Cherry Avenue west of Roosevelt Brown Avenue to be in the new Medium Intensity Residential, which calls for increased housing opportunities “along neighborhood corridors, near community amenities.”
The areas around Nalle Street and King Street north of Cherry Avenue east of Roosevelt Brown are designated as “low-intensity residential (sensitive community areas)” to “allow for additional housing choice, and tools to mitigate displacement, within existing residential neighborhoods that have high proportions of populations that may be sensitive to displacement.”
But will that stop those with wealth from purchasing single-family homes that would then be protected from additional density? In April, a house in the 700 block of Nalle Street sold for $700,000, or 85.83 percent over the 2021 assessment. October’s property transactions will be posted soon for paid subscribers of Charlottesville Community Engagement.
You’re listening to Charlottesville Community Engagement and it’s time for the second Patreon-fueled shout-out.
WTJU is hosting Classical Listening Parties, a series of four free, casual events on Tuesdays in November. These four events are led by Chelsea Holt, pianist, teacher, and one of WTJU’s newest and youngest classical announcers. She’ll guide you through all the eras of classical music beginning Tuesday, Nov 9th, 7 p.m.: Early & Baroque. For a list of the others, visit wtju.net to learn more and sign up!
At the same time ballots were being counted in Louisa County on Friday afternoon, City Council introduced Marc Woolley as the next interim city manager. Woolley recently resigned as Business Administrator in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania. The city has U.S. Census 2020 population of 50,099. Deputy City Manager Ashley Marshall and Sam Sanders will remain in place.
“Together with the assistance of staff, Sam, Ashley, and Council, I will be focusing on some key issues currently before Charlottesville,” Woolley said. “Mainly the budget and the completion of the Comprehensive Plan.”
Woolley will begin work on December 1. The process to find a permanent city manager will resume once again in April.
Woolley is a native of Wilmington, Delaware who went to law school at Boston College. He’s worked as general counsel for the Philadelphia Housing Authority, two positions at the Delaware River Port Authority, three positions at the Hershey Trust Company, and the position in Harrisburg. (read his resume)
“I’ve been with the City of Harrisburg for the past four years as the Business Administrator,” Woolley said.
Harrisburg has a form of municipal government where the executive and legislative branches are separate, so a “strong mayor” oversees department heads. The business administrator position is equivalent to a city manager.
“All administration functions flowed through me except for the city solicitor,” Woolley said.
According to an article on Pennsylvania Live, Woolley’s resignation had been expected to begin on November 12, but Mayor Eric Papenfuse made that effective November 1 after learning of the Woolley’s decision to leave Harrisburg. Papenfuse was defeated the next day in his bid for a third term, though he ran as a write-in.
Anticipating questions from the press about Woolley’s careee, Councilor Lloyd Snook led a friendly cross-examination of his career history after resigning from the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
“Looking at the next ten years or so of your career it seems like you were often put in a position of having to kind of clean up a mess. Is that an accurate assessment?”
“I think to first assess what the issues were and then accordingly if there were things that needed to be done to implement those policies in order to rectify anything.”
Harrisburg has been considered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a distressed municipality since 2010. That requires creation of a Financial Recovery Plan which is called the Harrisburg Strong Plan. The latest financial report for the capital city is from 2019.
“When you got to Harrisburg there were shall we say some financial difficulties that you were having to unravel.”
“Some financial difficulties. We are in Act 47 which is for distressed municipalities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Years before I arrived in Harrisburg there were a number of bond deals that were done and saddled the residents with a lot of debt and turns out they just couldn’t pay it. The city couldn’t pay it back. The state sent in a receiver to develop what they call the Strong Plan. They sold off a lot of assets, almost $400 million worth of assets, applied those to the debt and set up payments for other general obligation debts. When I arrived in Harrisburg, we were rounding the corner. This year and actually starting last year, was able to entertain actually getting back our credit rating. We didn’t have a credit rating. Looking to refinance debt and put out for capital projects. It’s a 180 degree turn from where they were and I think Harrisburg is going to better for it and I think they’re going to get a credit rating. Not as good as Charlottesville, but they’re going to try.”
The city has held a AAA bond rating from Standards and Poor’s since 1964 and a AAA bond rating from Moody’s since 1973. For the past several years, the city has been steadily increasing debt-financing for capital projects, including several million a year for affordable housing projects and $75 million for the renovation of Buford Middle School. The next budget may include a property tax increase to help pay the debt service. Woolley will oversee creation of that next document but acknowledged Council will be reopening the pubic process for a permanent manager next spring. (Routine advice wanted for city bonds, October 26, 2021)
“This is not necessarily the transition,” Woolley said. “The transition will occur when the new city manager is appointed through the process that you’ve described in April but right now there are certain acute issues that need to be taken care of, mainly the budget and the Comprehensive Plan.”
Woolley said his role is to lay the foundation for that person.
While Charlottesville’s government is not considered distressed, the separate Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority is considered a troubled agency by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Former City Manager Chip Boyles recently took a job as the executive director of the George Washington Regional Commission, the planning district around Fredericksburg.
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