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May 31, 2012

Legacy of Vinegar Hill remembered in film

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 31, 2012

This week’s celebration of Charlottesville’s 250th birthday shone a spotlight on the 1964 demolition of the Vinegar Hill neighborhood.
 
“What has never been the same since that time has been the economic footprint African-Americans had,” said former City Councilor Holly Edwards in a film screened Tuesday before a packed house in City Council chambers.
 
Edwards and others appeared in the 2010 short documentary “That World is Gone: Race and Displacement in a Southern Town,” which tells the history of the neighborhood and its importance to those who were displaced.
 
Vinegar Hill was the center of the African-American community,” said Scot French, one of the film’s producers. “After the Civil War, you have a very large population of formerly enslaved people looking for places to live and looking for places of employment.”
 
French, who spent many years as a historian at the University of Virginia, said Booker T. Washington encouraged former slaves to empower themselves by becoming business owners.
 
“People living in and around Vinegar Hill needed services,” French said. “They needed groceries. They needed laundries. They needed insurance. A whole dual economic system emerges here with African-Americans providing services to the black community.”

Continue reading "Legacy of Vinegar Hill remembered in film " »

May 29, 2012

Judge Moon rules against Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park; Parkway Interchange to proceed

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Another legal hurdle blocking completion of the Meadow Creek Parkway appears to have been cleared.
 
Judge Norman K. Moon of the U.S. Western District Court has dismissed a lawsuit from the Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park that claimed the Federal Highway Administration unlawfully split three components of the roadway in order to evade environmental scrutiny.
 
“The FHWA properly followed the required procedures,” Moon wrote in a 53-page ruling that was filed Tuesday. “I find that the requisite consideration of the Interchange Project’s cumulative impacts on the environment was adequately undertaken.” 
 

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A rendering of a design shown to Council in late 2009 depicting  how the interchange would look heading south towards downtown Charlottesville.(Source: RK&K)

Under the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Six-Year Improvement Program, the parkway is considered three projects with separate funding sources.
 
The grade-separated interchange with the U.S. 250 Bypass is the only one of the three projects scheduled to receive funding from the federal government.
 
The FHWA issued a “finding of no significant impact” allowing the interchange to proceed in September 2010.
 
The Coalition filed suit against the FHWA in February 2011. One of their claims was that the agency should have reviewed the entire parkway and not just its interchange. They also argued that an environmental impact statement was required and not a less rigorous environmental assessment.
 
During an April 25 hearing in the U.S. Western District Court, Coalition attorney James B. Dougherty argued that the FHWA should have not dismissed interchange options that would have entirely avoided McIntire Park.

Continue reading "Judge Moon rules against Coalition to Preserve McIntire Park; Parkway Interchange to proceed" »

Placemaking: Ann Marie Hohenberger

 

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Our 2012 annual community conversation took a look at the concept of placemaking and the  findings from the Knight Foundation's Soul of the Community project which reveal how attachment to place drives economic vitality – and how understanding those attachments can direct the ways in which a place chooses to change and grow.

This series features reflections from community members who attended the event. We hope their stories will inspire you to define your version of this community’s narrative and use it as a lens through which to view decisions that will impact the character of this community.

Name: Ann Marie Hohenberger Annmarie7
Age: 34
City/County resident? City
Occupation: Freelance business writer; server at Hamiltons’ downtown
How long have you lived in Charlottesville? 17 years

Why did you come here? 
I went to UVA as an undergrad. I visited on a spring day and immediately fell in love with the natural beauty here.

What do you love most about where you live?
I love “small city” life. I can bike almost anywhere I need to go, but I can still live on a tiny, quiet street with a view of Carter’s Mountain. Every day there’s an incredible variety of events - music, theater, community meetings, clubs & activities - and no matter what I choose, I’ll probably run into someone I know.

My favorite thing about this area is the enthusiasm for local food. As an aspiring urban homesteader, I’m so grateful to talk with farmers at the market and start learning all the things I missed growing up in the suburbs. Then I can go to a restaurant and glean ideas for cooking with pastured meats and seasonal produce.

Any takeaways from the Placemaking event?
One statistic that particularly stood out from the Soul of the Community studies was that, on average, 40% of people felt no attachment to their community. That sounds like a massive, widespread failure to serve everyone’s needs, rather than just the needs of certain segments. What a loss for the community to have so many people uninvested in the well-being of their neighbors and neighborhoods. 

Continue reading "Placemaking: Ann Marie Hohenberger" »

News n' Brews: Imagining Futurist Charlottesville

On Thursday night, local officials and community members joined us at Chroma Gallery on the downtown mall to consider the question:  What could Charlottesville look like if there were no rules? 

Here's how we captured the conversation...

Soundboard 5-25-2012 - Charlottesville's news straight from the source

Soundboard

Soundboard: Charlottesville's news straight from the source

A collaborative local news radio program by WTJU 91.1 FM, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and C-Ville Weekly.

Each Friday from 4-5 PM, tune in to hear area journalists and guests discuss local news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area. Whether we're talking about city politics, scientific innovations, or the local music scene, you'll get to hear in-depth discussion about stories that matter.

Soundboard is co-hosted by WTJU's Lewis Reining and Charlottesville Tomorrow's Jennifer Marley.

Podcasts may be downloaded from this website, via RSS, and via Charlottesville Tomorrow on iTunes.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120525-Soundboard 

The May 25 show features contributors Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • update on the sale of Media General’s newspapers, which includes The Daily Progress
  • a free natural history museum opens in Nelson County
  • a new study will look at ways to change the Charlottesville transit service
  • the owner of ACAC is suing over a planned YMCA facility in McIntire Park
  • local web-based company Silverchair Holdings sells off one of their subsidaries
  • guest Erica Lloyd, the coordinator for I Have a Dream Charlottesville
  • guest Brevy Cannon from the Market District Alliance to talk about the City Market’s search for a permanent home
  • guest UVA music professor Judith Shatin drops by to discuss her film, “Rotunda, A Living Portrait”

Soundboard is produced by Robert Packard and Nathan Moore. We hope you enjoy it, and we look forward to your feedback!

 
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Success, challenges of neighborhood model debated

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The ongoing update of Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan is giving county officials an opportunity to review a key planning strategy meant to encourage density within the designated growth areas.
 
“The Comprehensive Plan talks about the neighborhood model as being the preferred model of development,” said Elaine Echols, principal planner for the county.
 
12-principles
An abbreviated list of the 12 principles in Albemarle County's Neighborhood Model
The neighborhood model, which was adopted in 2001, has 12 principles ranging from orienting buildings to be more pedestrian friendly to providing clear boundaries between urban and rural areas.
 
“Since that time we’ve had many developments which are achieving the [goal] of the neighborhood model,” Echols said at a recent county Planning Commission work session.
 
Other principles include encouraging a mixture of commercial and residential uses, and relegated parking.
 
Each new neighborhood that makes its way through the community development department is measured against these principles.
 
“It puts [applicants’] eyes on the individual aspects that they need to address, or if they can’t address them it becomes clear why they can’t,” Echols said.

Continue reading "Success, challenges of neighborhood model debated" »

May 28, 2012

Virginia’s top court to hear YMCA case

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, May 28, 2012

The Virginia Supreme Court has scheduled a June 7 hearing date for a pair of lawsuits seeking to block the Piedmont Family YMCA’s aquatics center from being built on the west side of Charlottesville’s McIntire Park.
 
YMCA-Slide1
Artist's rendering of the planned YMCA (Source: VMDO Architects/Piedmont Family YMCA)
The Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association filed separate suits against Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville in 2010, claiming that each had violated Virginia’s procurement rules.
 

Related stories by Charlottesville Tomorrow

City to advertise lease agreement for McIntire Park YMCA, September 18, 2007, by Sean Tubbs

Council approves McIntire Park lease for YMCA, December 18, 2007, by Sean Tubbs

County approves use agreement for McIntire YMCA; pool details to be ironed out, January 10, 2008, by Sean Tubbs

Fitness group sues Albemarle and Charlottesville over YMCA, May 13, 2010, by Sean Tubbs

YMCA officials hopeful for summer construction, pending lawsuit, February 19, 2011, by Sean Tubbs

Testimony heard in case against lease for YMCA fitness center, April 2, 2011, by Sean Tubbs

Judge dismisses second YMCA lawsuit; Fitness clubs considering appeal, April 21, 2011, by Sean Tubbs

VA Supreme Court to hear YMCA case of fitness clubs vs. Albemarle, August 22, 2011, by Brian Wheeler

 

The City Council awarded a $1-a-year ground lease to the YMCA in December 2007. The organization developed plans to build a 70,000-square-foot facility and received approval from the city Planning Commission.
 
However, the lawsuit against the city alleges that the request for proposals unlawfully excluded for-profit companies from submitting bids.
Judge Cheryl Higgins dismissed the city case in April 2011. In her ruling, she said the city was within its rights to limit who could bid on the project.
 
The city has budgeted $1.25 million toward construction of the aquatics facility. Albemarle will contribute $2.03 million.
The suit against Albemarle alleges that the county does not have the legal authority under state law to accept a donation for a specific purpose. The case against Albemarle was dismissed in November 2010.
 
Both cases were appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Continue reading "Virginia’s top court to hear YMCA case " »

May 27, 2012

Almost 50 local bridges found deficient in face of shrinking repair funds

DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday. May 27, 2012

In the face of recent bridge repair controversies and the release of Albemarle County's Six-Year Im-provement Plan, local government officials have been trying to balance meeting infrastructure repair needs with a decreasing budget. Both state and federal funds for transportation are waning and the effects are being felt at the local level.

This year, the Virginia Department of Transportation has allocated $366,810 in the Six-Year Secondary Construction Program for Albemarle. As little as five years ago, in fiscal year 2007, the county received $3,747,032 for secondary road projects.

Because Albemarle's bridges are considered secondary roads, this significant decrease in funding could have a direct impact on bridge repair projects.

Forty-nine bridges in Charlottesville and Albemarle have been deemed structurally deficient, but only seven of those are listed to receive funding in the current Six-Year Improvement Plan. Even within this shortened list, it seems unlikely that funds exist to repair them all.

The average repair cost for each of the Albemarle bridges is $3,779,833. The repairs for the two bridges located within Charlottesville city limits are even higher. The Belmont Bridge replacement project's cost is estimated at $14,466,000, and $11,389,000 is the listed estimate for the Jefferson Park Avenue bridge replacement, which is expected to be completed at the end of the summer.

However, VDOT says the decrease in secondary road funding may not be as problematic as it seems.

Continue reading "Almost 50 local bridges found deficient in face of shrinking repair funds" »

May 25, 2012

City hires new transit consultant

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, May 25, 2012

The city of Charlottesville has commissioned a $116,000 study to examine whether its bus routes should be restructured, a little over a year after another company recommended against the idea.
 
Nelson Nygaard is a San Francisco transportation consultancy firm with clients around the country.
 
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12 of 13 of CAT routes radiate from the Downtown Transit Center
“They’ve not worked here for our transit system before so we think it’s a new set of eyes, taking a look at everything we do and how we might improve what we do,” said Judy Mueller, the city’s public works director.
 
In July 2010, the city held a transit summit where the City Council was told that the best way to increase ridership is to provide more frequent service.
 
“We hear a lot that — ‘I would ride the bus if it came more often,’” Mueller told members of the Planning and Coordination Council recently.
 

Continue reading "City hires new transit consultant " »

May 24, 2012

Progress on bike infrastructure discussed

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, May 24, 2012

The woman responsible for implementing new infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians thanked the City Council recently for its commitment to improving safety.
 
“We’re very fortunate to have the political will, community support and additional staff resources dedicated to this important issue,” Amanda Poncy, the city’s bike and pedestrian coordinator, said at Monday’s council meeting.
 
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Source: City of Charlottesville
As part of Bike Month, Poncy briefed councilors on progress made since 2003, when the city adopted a bicycle and pedestrian master plan in order to support its Comprehensive Plan goal of reducing single-occupancy commuting from 61 percent to 50 percent.
 
Poncy said about 30 percent of on-street projects called for in the 2003 plan have been completed. However, she said only 5 percent to 10 percent of off-street projects have been completed.
 
Earlier this month, the League of American Cyclists raised the city’s bike-friendly status from bronze to silver in part because of additional investment.
 

Continue reading "Progress on bike infrastructure discussed" »