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July 15, 2012

Soundboard 7-13-2012 - 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 20120713-Soundboard

The July 13 show features contributors Giles Morris, Laura Ingles, Ryan McCrimmon & Graelyn Brashear (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs & Ian Lamb (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

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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January 06, 2012

Councilors raise questions about water cost-share agreement

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, January 6, 2012

The two members of the Charlottesville City Council opposed to the construction of a new dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir asked several questions this week about an agreement that specifies how Charlottesville and Albemarle County will share its cost. 

NowcommentNEW! You can review and add your comments and questions to the proposed cost sharing and property use agreements using Now Comment

“I want to make sure that what we’re doing in 2012 is in compliance with both state law and our owncity charter,” Councilor Dave Norris said.

The council will hold a public hearing on Jan. 17 for two documents that must be approved before a $21.5 million contract can be awarded to Thalle Construction to build a new earthen dam.

One is a property use agreement between the city and the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority that gives permission for the new dam to be built. The city owns the land on which the Ragged Mountain, Sugar Hollow and South Fork Rivanna Reservoirs were built. 

The other document is a cost share allocation agreement between the city and the Albemarle County Service Authority that states the city will pay 15 percent of the costs of a new dam, and 20 percent for a new pipeline to connect the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. 

Continue reading "Councilors raise questions about water cost-share agreement" »

December 21, 2011

City Council falls short of consenting to parkway opening

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Charlottesville City Council approved an ordinance Monday that asks the Virginia Department of Transportation to make several safety improvements before Albemarle County’s portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway is opened early next year.

However, councilors made clear the vote did not indicate they were pleased with the imminent opening of the road that will eventually connect the two communities while cutting through a city park.

“I am not for consenting because I think that our consent is not necessary and is not being asked for,” Councilor Kristin Szakos said. “[VDOT] will do it whether we consent or not.”

Construction of the county’s portion of the parkway was completed in mid-October. Earlier this month, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking VDOT to open the road to the public.

City staff held negotiations with VDOT and the county and determined a series of improvements to mitigate the effects of opening the parkway. They include longer turn lanes as well as a posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour as the parkway approaches Melbourne Road.

Szakos said she could support a request that VDOT make those improvements.

Continue reading "City Council falls short of consenting to parkway opening " »

December 06, 2011

Council will not oppose opening of parkway

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Charlottesville’s City Council determined Monday that it would not oppose the opening of the first segment of the Meadow Creek Parkway.

Albemarle County’s portion of the parkway was officially completed in October. Residents in neighborhoods along Rio Road have been lobbying local leaders to open the road to alleviate traffic congestion.

20111207-MCP-picture

Cars are detoured from Rio Road onto the Meadow Creek Parkway in October 2010 during a temporary opening of the parkway while work was being done to Rio. (Daily Progress file photo)

City Councilor David Brown said he felt it was appropriate to open the parkway given that the city’s portion will not be completed for years.

“There’s a lot of people in the city who don’t think we need the road, but there’s plenty of city residents who say we should be opening it,” Brown said.

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will consider a resolution today asking the Virginia Department of Transportation to open the completed portion of the road to traffic. City staff briefed councilors on Monday on steps they feel should be taken first to improve safety. Those requests were not part of the project’s original design.

Continue reading "Council will not oppose opening of parkway " »

November 01, 2011

Albemarle Supervisor candidates on city/county/UVa cooperation

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.com
image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.com
In the run up to Election Day on November 8th, Charlottesville Tomorrow will once again mail out our in-depth nonpartisan voter guide, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council.  In the weeks before the election, we will feature one to two questions a day so that citizens like you can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice November 8th.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2011 Election Center website features links to the full written transcript and audio of candidate interviews, as well as links to videos of candidate forums, copies of our 2011 voter guide, information on where to vote, and more.  All the following passages are excerpts from our interviews.

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, THIRD IN A SERIES

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.comHow should the city, county and the University of Virginia work together to enhance our community’s unique character and economic vitality?


 

Rivanna District

Ken Boyd (R) – Incumbent

The county, the city and the university have a long history of collaborative discussions and actions.  We have a very different scenario from many regional communities in the commonwealth where the cities and counties don’t even try to work together.  These efforts, in such a diverse community, will inevitably lead to differences of opinion, but we deserve kudos for continuing the discussion.

I represented the board for several years on the county, city and UVA joint [Planning and Coordination Council] (PACC) committee and I have participated in countless discussions with both the city and the university.  These efforts have led to many collaborative ventures, including [the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center] (CATEC), and the Ivy Creek School, courts and jail authority, mass transportation, water, sewer, and solid waste, recycling, and may other joint ventures.  I expect we will continue to move in the same direction.

 

Cynthia Neff (D) – Challenger

Again, this is like an absolute great question.  It’s one that really resonates me … I don’t need a passport to come into the city.  We’re one place.  You know, I don’t understand these artificial constructs we’ve put up between us because they are inhibiting our progress.  And the same thing with UVA. 

… UVA is often an afterthought.  … [There are] millions and millions of dollars of procurement that the University of Virginia does and of course they go out to low bidders, but you know there’s a great opportunity for us to all sit down together with them and say, “Well, you know, let’s see what we could provide locally.” … maybe the city and the county we could work together in true economic development form and try to figure out how to give these our companies a chance to have like a little tax break or something so that they can compete and start to grow that business … the county can’t do that alone.

Continue reading "Albemarle Supervisor candidates on city/county/UVa cooperation" »

City Council candidates on city/county/UVa cooperation

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.com

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.com

In the run up to Election Day on November 8th, Charlottesville Tomorrow will once again mail out our in-depth nonpartisan voter guide, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council.  In the weeks before the election, we will feature one to two questions a day so that citizens like you can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice November 8th.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2011 Election Center website features links to the full written transcript and audio of candidate interviews, as well as links to videos of candidate forums, copies of our 2011 voter guide, information on where to vote, and more.  All the following passages are excerpts from our interviews.

CITY COUNCIL, THIRD IN A SERIES

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.comHow should the city, county and the University of Virginia work together to enhance our community’s unique character and economic vitality?


 

Scott Bandy (I) – Challenger

That’s been a bone of contention with some folks. County and city relations, I chalk that up to the fact that the city in a way conducts itself as if though were the county, and the county conducts itself as though it were the city. Look at the urban ring there. Commercial development. People moving out to the county. The city has lost a lot of residents, people that have moved from the city into the county. You go where the jobs are. The jobs happen to be mostly in the county. Not that we don’t have them in the city, certainly we do.

And of course, the University of Virginia. Let’s drag that into this. Certainly there is room for improvement. We could talk to each more. Not that we don’t already. But as Bob Fenwick said, as a city, we have a problem of talking things to death. The people want action. Whether that’s in the next few minutes or over a period of time. Certainly I am willing to extend the hand of cordialness and consideration to the university, to the county, to work on things together.

One of the things that is close to me that also involves the county is the Sunset-Fontaine Connector. The improvements are going to be in the county, but that improvement is going to dramatically affect the city. The residents along Old Lynchburg Road, that segment of Jefferson Park Avenue. They will be impacted when that  connector is ever completed and done. Perhaps once it is done, and certainly that’s one of the things I would be most interested in the county with, and of course, the university, because we have the Fontaine Avenue Research Park over there, of accomplishing. That impact would be that Jefferson Park Avenue, [Old] Lynchburg Road, could return to the status of a slower paced neighborhood street, not the cut-through as it is and has been currently used as. Let’s move on.

 

Brandon Collins (I) – Challenger

… I think everyone knows that things between the county and the city have not been great for quite some time.  I am looking forward to at some point getting beyond the [Meadow Creek] Parkway and the water supply plan, and in to really seeing what the county and the city have in common … We can cooperate a lot on a regional transit plan, or a regional transit authority, if there’s interest in the county for that.  I think in the long term we really need to make a list of priorities for the city when it comes to the county and determine which of those are really worth taking a stand for and what is somewhat negotiable …

Continue reading "City Council candidates on city/county/UVa cooperation" »

October 25, 2011

City Council candidates on ward-based elections

Web-exclusive
City-candidate-banner
In the run up to Election Day on November 8th, Charlottesville Tomorrow will once again mail out our in-depth nonpartisan voter guide, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Charlottesville City Council.  In the weeks before the election, we will feature one to two questions a day so that citizens like you can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice November 8th.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2011 Election Center website features links to the full written transcript and audio of candidate interviews, as well as links to videos of candidate forums, copies of our 2011 voter guide, information on where to vote, and more.  All the following passages are excerpts from our interviews.

CITY COUNCIL, FIRST IN A SERIES

image from cvilletomorrow.typepad.comWould you support switching from at-large seats to ward-based representation for elections to Charlottesville City Council? Why or why not?


 

Scott Bandy (I) - Challenger

"Boy, you know how to ask them, I’ll give you this.

It’s past high time that we switched from an at-large system to a ward-based system. I’m of the opinion, I don’t care what kind of configuration, as long as part of it is ward-based. Do a half and half, some sort of configuration of some at-large, and some ward-based, or do it completely ward-based but we need to move in the direction of representation from wards. This is how citizens’ interests are best represented.

My own area that I come from, Fry’s Spring, for a long time, one of the, it’s sort of like running, something akin to a running competition and a running joke between the difference between Belmont and Fry’s Spring. Well, for the first time in ages, this election has had three candidates and one of them whose background has been questioned and I won’t allude on that, three candidates that declared from Fry’s Spring to run at large. That’s ridiculous!

Why can’t we get a representative from… divvy up the city in an acceptable way, whether it’s a representative from Fry’s Spring, whether it’s a representative from Belmont, whether it’s a representative from Venable, or Woolen Mills. Find a way to divvy the city into an acceptable ward-system so that the citizens are better and honestly represented."

 

Brandon Collins (I) - Challenger

"I considered this a lot when I was first crafting my platform and it’s not in my platform right now.  I would like to see the amount of people on council expanded--the amount of people on council—I think that would be healthy for us. I do have cautious support for a ward-based system, but there are some critical things that need to be straightened out before I would fully support that.

Continue reading "City Council candidates on ward-based elections" »

September 23, 2011

Audio & Video of Charlottesville City Council candidate forum

2011-election-DPx476On September 20, 2011, Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Daily Progress co-sponsored a city council candidate forum for six of the seven candidates (eight at that time) running for three of the five seats on Charlottesville City Council.
 
Local residents came to the Burley Middle School auditorium to hear the candidates respond to questions posed by the moderator, the audience, and each other.  Read this article for complete coverage by Charlottesville Tomorrow.

 


Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110920-CityCouncilForum

20110920-city-candidate-forum

The candidate forum participants
  • Brandon Collins (I)
  • Bob Fenwick (I)
  • Kathleen M. Galvin (D)
  • Satyendra Huja (D)
  • Dede Smith (D)
  • Andrew Williams (I)
  • Brian Wheeler, Moderator

Not participating

Charlottesville City Council
candidate forum
from Charlottesville Tomorrow on Vimeo.

QUICK RESPONSE TOPICS

Water plan
As the primary approach for adding to our long term water supply, do you favor dredging and water conservation before construction of a new or taller dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, YES or NO?

Meadow Creek Parkway
Do you support construction of the Meadow Creek Parkway in the city of Charlottesville, YES or NO? 

Ward-based elections
Would you support switching from at-large seats to ward-based representation for elections to Charlottesville City Council, YES or NO?

SEVEN MODERATOR QUESTION TOPICS

Your qualifications for City Council
Please describe your past experience that qualifies you to be on City Council.

Transportation / Transit
Do you support an expanded transit system? If so, how would you raise the money to pay for additional service?

City-County-UVA relations
How should the city, county and the University of Virginia work together to enhance our community’s unique character and economic vitality?

Workforce development / Jobs
Last month the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce reported that Charlottesville lost 3,248 jobs during the years 2000 to 2010.  What specifically should city council do to promote employment?

Education
Do you support the city school board’s grade reconfiguration initiative?  Why or why not?

Comprehensive plan
Recent projections show that the city’s population will increase significantly in the next 50 years.  What changes would you advocate for in the city’s comprehensive plan to address that growth?

Police / crime
What is your top priority for the city police department?

After the moderator questions, the candidates each answered one question from the audience.  Then each candidate had an opportunity to ask another candidate a question.

 

Rosehill, Kellytown residents share concerns with council

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, September 23, 2011

Residents of two of Charlottesville’s central neighborhoods had the opportunity Thursday night to give advice to city councilors and department heads about how local government can work more effectively to serve their needs.

The City Council’s latest town hall meeting was targeted at residents of the Rose Hill neighborhood and a nearby community that is only now finding an identity.

20110922-Forum-Council

“We’ve discovered a lot of people don’t know what Kellytown is,” said Tom Bowe, the president of the Kellytown Neighborhood Association.

One city councilor said he could understand that sentiment.

“I’ve lived on Rugby Avenue for thirty years, and I wasn’t really sure if I was a resident of Kellytown,” said City Councilor David Brown. “Part of it in my view is that neighborhoods form around a community of interest, and that’s often a problem. What are the problems that can bring an identity to this neighborhood?”

City government recognizes many neighborhoods, but does not make decisions about their boundaries.

Bowe said problems facing the neighborhood include cut-through traffic on Rose Hill Drive, as well as the pressures of more development. He said the neighborhood is considering seeking historical status from the city in part to help protect its residential character.

“We’re concerned about commercial development on Rose Hill Drive and Amherst Street," Bowe said. He pointed to a pending development by Artisan Construction that will consolidate four businesses into one medical clinic, which he said will include an inappropriate access onto Amherst Street.

“That is a neighborhood street,” Bowe said. “If [patients] want to go to Barracks Road after they go to the clinic, they would cut through our neighborhood.”

Susan Hoffman, a resident of Augusta Street, said she felt a developer outmaneuvered the neighborhood during a rezoning process that allowed for the development.

“It is difficult for a neighborhood to pull together and come to a consensus in a short amount of time,” Hoffman said. “For the developer, that’s their business, and they have lawyers. We felt like we didn’t have any voice in the matter.”

Jim Tolbert, the city’s director of neighborhood development services, said he understood the neighborhood’s concerns, and that his department tries to inform citizens about how rezoning and other development applications work.

“If neighbors have concerns, we’ll give you advice on how the process works,” Tolbert said. “We’re not going to tell you how to defeat it, but we’ll put you in touch with the developer and help you strategize.”

Neighborhood resident Anne Colony is helping to research the history of Kellytown.

“It’s apparently one of the first free black neighborhoods in Charlottesville,” Colony said. “We are talking about doing a historic plaque to give a little of the history.”

Colony added that many in the neighborhood believe that Thomas Jefferson looked at the area as a potential location for the University of Virginia.

Tolbert also used the meeting to educate people about a new honorary street name that is being applied to Rose Hill Drive. The street will gain a second name, Jackson P. Burley Drive, from Preston Avenue to Madison Avenue.

James Hollins, the president of the Rose Hill Neighborhood Association, asked the council to increase police patrols.

“Rose Hill is basically a quiet area and we like to keep it quiet and have the police come through late at night,” Hollins said.

In 2009, Councilor Kristin Szakos campaigned on a platform to hold town hall-style meetings in order to reach people who might feel uncomfortable coming to city hall for a regular meeting.

“I think they are going probably better than we expected,” said city spokesman Ric Barrick.

The program will continue next year, but Barrick said neighborhood associations will be encouraged to take a more active role in planning them.

The next town hall meeting will be held on Oct.13 at Walker Upper Elementary School for residents of the Greenbrier and Rugby neighborhoods.

September 21, 2011

Council candidates talk water, infrastructure

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Six of the eight candidates running for the Charlottesville City Council gave their view on the Meadow Creek Parkway, the water supply plan and electoral reform during a forum held Tuesday by Charlottesville Tomorrow and The Daily Progress.

Independent candidates Scott Bandy and Paul Long chose not to appear at the event. Long later released a statement announcing he is withdrawing from the race.


 

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110920-CityCouncilForum

20110920-Forum

In his opening statement, Democratic incumbent Satyendra Huja, 69, pointed to news that a major website recently ranked Charlottesville as one of the best places to live in the country.

“This is no accident, and I have played a role,” Huja said. He cited his work in developing the Downtown Mall, creating a tree commission and volunteer work with Meals on Wheels.

Brandon Collins, 38, is a lifelong resident who has worked as a socialist activist at the state and national level.

“We hear a lot of talk about how great our city is, but Charlottesville, for many of our residents, remains a difficult place to live and a difficult place just to get by,” Collins said. He added that if elected, he would be an independent voice on the council.

Kathy Galvin, 55, said she was qualified for the council because of her experience as both an architect and as a current member of the school board.

“I can make a unique contribution if elected,” said Galvin, who is running as a Democrat.

Independent Bob Fenwick said one of the biggest threats to the city is the need to invest in capital projects while citizens are facing the potential of a double-dip recession.

“The city is poised to commit $300 million to huge public items like a new dam, a new pump station, the replacement of Belmont Bridge and replacement of sewer infrastructure,” Fenwick said. “I am poised to bring to City Council a look at these expenditures and help [Council] make the best decision.”

Dede Smith, 55 and a former member of the school board, said Charlottesville has been a great place to raise two children and that voting for herself and the rest of the Democratic ticket is the best way to keep it that way.

“I think you would see we would bring a wealth of experience, decision making and proven leadership to council,” Smith said.

Andrew Williams, 25, the only African-American in the council race, said he is running as an independent so he can bring a nonpartisan voice to the council.

“To become a world class city, shouldn’t we have a diverse representation on council?” Williams asked. He said his experience as a claims adjuster for State Farm showed he had the inquisitiveness and ingenuity to serve.

After opening statements, candidates were asked to give quick responses to three questions.

Collins, Fenwick, Smith and Williams said they would favor dredging of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir and water conservation as a first step to increase the community water supply plan before building on the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

Galvin indicated a new or taller dam should be the first step, though Huja said he would be open to studying dredging as a component of the water supply plan.

On the Meadow Creek Parkway, Huja and Galvin said they supported construction while the rest of the candidates said they were opposed.

The candidates were also asked if they would support a switch to how councilors are elected. Currently all councilors are elected at-large.

Collins and Williams both expressed their “cautious support” for ward-based elections. Fenwick said he was a “strong supporter” of the idea. Huja said he would support a combined system of both ward-based and at-large councilors. Smith and Galvin said the public should be asked what they think about the idea.

Jobs were a major theme during the forum. Candidates were reminded that a recent report from the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce showed a net loss of 3,248 jobs over the past ten years.

Smith said the report offered an opportunity for the community to find a new identity for employees and employers.

“The biomedical industry meshes well but there are others,” Smith said. “We have a large university that is a major attractant to certain industries. We [also] need to retool our education system to produce a workforce that can be employed.”

Williams said that money spent on public housing could perhaps better be spent on vocational training.

“Educated people will go out and create jobs,” Williams said. “We should provide training in locations that need it. We should scrutinize the budget and make sure we are spending money where the needs are.

Huja said the city should help small businesses locate here because that is where most job creation can be done.

“I have suggested a very ambitious plan for guaranteed employment,” Collins said. “This is not something that can happen overnight but there are steps that can take us there.”

Fenwick said that he would favor council actions that would create jobs and not simply create more opportunities for workforce development.

“What good does workforce development do if we don’t have jobs?” Fenwick asked. “We talk the talk, but we don’t walk the walk.”

The two candidates with experience on the school board had divergent views on whether the school system should reconfigure itself by moving 5th- and 6th-grade students to an expanded Buford Middle School.

“I do support the reconfiguration,” Galvin said. She said the capital expenditure would pay for itself over 20 years by helping to reduce operational costs.

However, Smith said she did not support the idea, but would like to hear more information.

The candidate forum participants
  • Brandon Collins (I)
  • Bob Fenwick (I)
  • Kathleen M. Galvin (D)
  • Satyendra Huja (D)
  • Dede Smith (D)
  • Andrew Williams (I)
  • Brian Wheeler, Moderator

Not participating

Charlottesville City Council
candidate forum
from Charlottesville Tomorrow on Vimeo.