If you’re in need of something to celebrate today, there are several suggestions from my usual font of opening paragraph inspiration. Why not make some guacamole! Explore the world and collect rocks! Do something—or deliberately don’t do something—to protect the ozone layer! Or find someone you don’t know and sit next to them for a spell. In fact, one icebreaker for that last one is to maybe ask: Are you a subscriber of Charlottesville Community Engagement? This program is intended to give you fodder for conversations with all manner of people. I’m Sean Tubbs, and I am definitely strange.
Are you a subscriber? Sign up below and this time I won’t tell you about the benefits of paying for a subscription
In today’s newsletter:
A University of Virginia audit of public safety recommendations from 2017 reveals that not all steps have yet been taken
Charlottesville will hire a consultant to help come up with an economic development strategic plan
First shout-out: Charlottesville Community Bikes
In this first subscriber supported shout-out, Charlottesville Community Bikes believes that bicycles can be a means to social change, addressing issues of equity, access, and inclusion. They provide free bikes to adults who need one, and have a special program that provides free bikes to children. Their mobile bike repair clinics continue September 29 with a stop on Michie Drive. Want to learn more or support their work? Charlottesville Community Bikes currently is seeking matching funds for a grant from the Outride Fund. Visit charlottesvillecommunitybikes.org to learn more.
UVA Chief Longo addresses BOV audit committee on safety recommendations
The 17-member Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia is meeting this week at the Rotunda and yesterday a committee charged with overseeing audits and compliance gathered first.
One of their discussions yesterday was a review of a public safety audit conducted after the events of August 11, 2017, when a large group of white supremacists led a tiki-torch parade around Grounds shouting slogans such as “Jews Will Not Replace Us.” This resulted in a confrontation in front of the Rotunda in which several were injured.
The University of Virginia Police were criticized for inaction during the incident. A month later, UVA hired the firm Margolis Healy to conduct a review of safety and security programs and a series of recommendations was presented to the Board of Visitors that December. (UVA Today article from that time)
An audit plan approved by the Board of Visitors in June 2021 called for a status update on what’s happened since.
“Sometimes audits scare people, especially if it’s like the [Internal Revenue Service] or something like that,” said Tim Longo, UVA’s Associate Vice President for Safety and Security and Chief of Police. “But audits are about holding people accountable and reminding us of what we committed to and what we promised we’d do.”
The Margolis Healy report had six recommendations, and only two of them are considered fully implemented.
“When Margolis & Healy came, it’s important to remember why they came,” Longo said. “It is become something really bad happened in our community and what we found along the way that were things that were broken. Systems got broken. Communication was broken. Integration was broken. Cooperation was broken, amongst critical public safety systems and the damage will outlive all of us in this room.”
One of the implemented items is Longo’s new position which he said helped created a central command structure for UVa’s police department, the emergency management department, threat assessments, and security cameras.
“What the audit did was remind us that there’s just a couple of things we haven’t done yet,” Longo said. “One of the things we haven’t done yet in the police department is create a strategic plan around community engagement. We’ve put a lieutenant in charge of community engagement and promoted a sergeant into that rank. We hired a student, a community engagement person. We hired a diversity officer. But we didn’t create the plan.”
Longo said the plan needs to be completed “yesterday” but he hopes it will be done by the end of the academic year.
Longo said another item waiting to happen is the transfer of fire safety responsibility and the Medical Center’s emergency management functions to his office.
The full results of the audit were not listed in the packet, and I have requested a copy. Members of the committee had the chance to ask questions. Thomas A. DePasquale is in his second term.
“Do you feel there’s a good implementation between us and the city now?” DePasquale asked. “There was almost no implementation between us and the city during the crisis. Where are we on that?”
“Mr. Chairman, I believe that in the last couple of years the communications between the police departments has been far more robust than it had been in two or three previous years,” Longo said. “Historically the communication has always been great between the city, the county, and the University across the governing bodies and the law enforcement agencies. That’s beginning to improve greatly.”
Longo pointed to the recent decision by Albemarle County to create a separate emergency management division within the Fire Rescue Department.
The University of Virginia Police Department currently has 19 people in queue to become officers, which Longo attributed to recent pay increases for officers.
“I think we’ve just dropped down below double digits,” Longo said. “It’s been a long, long time since we’ve been there.”
More from the UVA Board of Visitors in future installments of Charlottesville Community Engagement.
Second shout-out: Learn about the Origins of Pen Park
In today’s second subscriber-supported shout-out, the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society continues its speaker series with a look back at the Origins of Pen Park. That’s the title of a talk to be given by architectural historian Nancy Kraus on Wednesday, September 21 at 6:30 p.m. at The Center at Belvedere.
Kraus will travel back to between 1770 to 1845 when the site was acquired and assembled by Dr. George Gilmer Jr. The Pen Park Mansion is long gone, but Kraus will compare it to other structures in Albemarle County. If you can’t make it to the Center, the talk will also be livestreamed on Facebook. Register on thecvillecenter.org if you plan to attend!
Charlottesville to hire consultant to strategic plan for economic development
What role should economic development play in the future of Charlottesville? That question is a crucial one as local governments continue to recover from the pandemic, and key in a city where there’s been much executive turnover in the past five years. This week, the city’s seven-member Economic Development Authority was briefed on a new strategic plan intended to guide the city’s efforts.
“It has been about ten years since we embarked on a full-blown strategic planning process so with the encouragement of our interim city manager, Michael Rogers, we are proceeding down the path to have a consultant guide us through a strategic planning effort,” said Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director.
When one is hired, this process will include focus groups. Currently there are four proposals from various firms and a selection will be made in the near future.
“You’re going to hear a lot more about this,” Engel said. “It’s probably going to be about a six-month process once it starts.”
The last strategic plan was done internally and Engel said this process will allow for new ideas and energy while also allowing for inclusivity.
Albemarle County has a similar plan called Project ENABLE which was also created internally though there was public engagement during that process.
If you want to go back in time to ten years ago, take a look at the city’s economic development report for FY2012.
The city will also be participating in a regional economic development plan being conducted by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.
The EDA also got updates on other projects the Office of Economic Development has been working on. One of those is the Go HIRE program.
“This was started late 2015 and early 2016 and it really has two different parts,” said George Sandridge, a business development manager with the city. “You have the existing worker retraining program so that’s existing workers who for a business here in the city. The employer can take advantage of this grant to get employees retrained for a new skill or better an existing skill.”
The other part is a subsidy that can help encourage employers to hire new people.
“That is a grant that employers can take advantage of if they hire city residents and pay them at least $15 an hour, it’s a reimbursable grant,” Sandridge said.
In April 2020, the city repurposed one grant program to become the Building Resilience Among Charlottesville Entrepreneurs and the application period for the fourth round just ended.
“For the past two years, BRACE has been a pretty consistent force coming out of the OED office,” Sandridge said.
There were 157 applications in the first three round, and 116 individual businesses were helped in some manner.
"The average grant is $1,840," Sandridge said.
Another economic development 9+program run by the city is the Cville Match program, where the city helps provide local funds to help entities that are pulling down federal and state programs. Nine companies have so far taken advantage of this program.
The EDA also holds the lease for the Charlottesville Pavilion with Red Light Management. Engel said the two entities are considering conducting an fiscal impact study of the Pavilion that will take a look at the current season which ends later this fall.
“This is the typical economic impact kind of study where there will be big number, some millions of dollars, that are attributed to the activities of the venue,” Engel said.
Liner notes for episode #432
Words, sounds, and images written, produced and arranged by Sean Tubbs using a multitude of different source recordings including the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority, and emails from various entities looking to get information out.
But, missing from such a description are the people who make it all happen financially through some form of a payment to Town Crier Productions, a company created to bring you information about what’s around all of us, because there certainly is demand for descriptive summaries of what’s happening.
The best way to support the program’s continued existence is to subscribe through Substack. Ting will match your initial payment! That continued existence includes ways to improve the reporting, such as covering the costs of fees to research deeds and court filings and everything else required to tell stories about a changing community. That’s what a Town Crier does.
And if you sign up for Ting through this link in this newsletter, you’ll get a free standard install, your 2nd month free, and a $75 Downtown Mall gift card! Enter the promo code COMMUNITY to get those benefits. Thank you, Ting!
Music in the podcast version comes from a musical entity known as Wraki, a musical entity you can sample more of if you purchase the album Regret Everything on Bandcamp. Pay what you want! Thank you, Wraki!