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July 18, 2012

Environmentalists say Shenandoah National Park at risk

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

State and local environmental protection advocates gathered in Darden Towe Park on Wednesday to warn about federal legislation that they said poses a clear and present danger to the Shenandoah National Park and other wilderness lands in Virginia.

Activists said unless the bills pending in Congress are stopped, wilderness areas in Virginia will be threatened by road building, development and resource extraction.

Charlottesville City Councilor Dede Smith said public parks are “some of our nation’s greatest treasures.”

“Here in Virginia we are lucky enough to have one of our crown jewels in our own backyard,” said Smith. “More than one million people come to the Shenandoah National Park every year for its spectacular vistas, its quiet hollows and cascading waterfalls.”

The press conference was timed with the release of a report by Environment America, entitled “Trashing our Treasures: Congressional Assault on the Best of America.”

Priscilla Lin is a Washington-based preservation assistant with Environment Virginia, an affiliate of Environment America. The environmental advocacy organization works “to promote clean air, clean water and preserve natural spaces.”

“If passed, the three bills highlighted in this report would have particularly devastating impacts on Shenandoah,” Lin said. “The American Lands Act [H.R. 2588] would require the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to sell 8 percent of their lands annually until 2016 to the highest bidder.”

“The Wilderness and Roadless Release Act [H.R. 1581] and the Wilderness Development Act [H.R. 2834] would allow road building and logging in the most pristine and sensitive areas of Shenandoah National Park,” Lin said.

The latter bill’s official name is actually the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act.

Kyle Bonini is communications director for Michigan Republican Rep. Dan Benishek, the sponsor of the bill.

“The claim that Dr. Benishek’s Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities legislation would allow logging in any national park is factually incorrect,” Bonini said. “The bill is a common sense measure to protect the long-standing tradition of hunting and fishing on federal lands, but explicitly does not apply to logging in areas like Shenandoah National Park or any of the national parks in America.”

Continue reading "Environmentalists say Shenandoah National Park at risk" »

July 17, 2012

AUDIO -- McIntire botanical garden proposal gets support from City Council

By Ian Lamb
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

For close to a year the Charlottesville Department of Parks and Recreation has been working to create a plan for what the eastern side of McIntire Park will look like following the completion of the Meadow Creek Parkway.

20120716-McIntireParkEast-DraftMPThe plan Charlottesville City Council viewed July 16 featured an improved Dogwood Vietnam Memorial and a relocated skate park. In addition, it moved the wading pool from its current location and added a soccer field.


Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20120716-CC-McIntirePark

However, many of the comments shared during the meeting centered on the park’s inexpensive golf course and the proposed botanical gardens.

“Golf benefits just a few hundred people a year, while passive parks and educational uses of a botanical garden might use this space a thousand times,” said city resident Elly Tucker.

The renovation of the park calls for the golf course to be removed from the park by 2020, but makes no explicit plans for relocation. To many, losing the public course would be detrimental to the community.

“I encourage you to find a place for inexpensive golf and youth golf before you force it out of McIntire,” said Susie Hoffman, a city resident whose son plays at McIntire through The First Tee program. “This would be a great loss to the community.”

Organizations such as The First Tee of Charlottesville use the course to teach skills and values to community youths through golf. In response, some at the meeting recommended that Meadowcreek Golf Course at Pen Park be made more available for student programs and affordable golf.

“The Parks Department and maybe some community members should get together and talk about using Meadowcreek Golf Course in a different way,” suggested city resident and former mayor Virginia Daugherty. “There could be a day or two … when the rates are lower. We pay for other things for our low-income community and we can do that too.”

Continue reading "AUDIO -- McIntire botanical garden proposal gets support from City Council" »

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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June 20, 2012

Decision on new soccer fields deferred

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Albemarle Planning Commission said at its meeting Tuesday that it needs more information before it can make a decision on a special-use permit that would allow four new soccer fields and a parking area off Polo Grounds Road.

The Monticello United Soccer Club requested a deferral on its application after a lengthy public hearing.

20120619_Reilly_Pat_close
Pat Reilly, president of the Monticello United Soccer Club

The club has worked out a lease with the owners of an almost 80-acre parcel between U.S. 29 and the entrance to the Montgomery Ridge neighborhood. Farther down Polo Grounds Road is the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle’s South Fork Soccer Complex.

“We are trying to put four soccer fields on this property,” said Dan Ivory, a MONU board member and director of coaching. “We simply want to grow grass, put up some soccer goals and let kids play.”

“Local residents will be able to use the property,” Ivory added. “We are not opposed to allowing others to use the fields when MONU doesn’t have events taking place.”

Seventeen residents spoke at the commission’s public hearing, with only a handful offering support for the project. Some neighbors of the proposal’s site said they were concerned about the project bringing more traffic and about the location on a flood plain in Albemarle’s designated rural area.

Joseph Kulbok is president of the Montgomery Ridge neighborhood association.

“Montgomery Ridge has about 60 families and we have large houses and a lot of children — a lot of soccer players — and we support soccer,” Kulbok said. “However, the No. 1 problem is traffic, and people are very concerned about it. To put additional facilities there without changes to the road will cause gridlock.”

Continue reading "Decision on new soccer fields deferred" »

June 17, 2012

New soccer fields proposed along Polo Grounds Road

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pat Reilly hopes his patience with Albemarle County’s development review process will pay off when the Planning Commission meets on Tuesday. County staff are recommending approval of a plan to add a four-field soccer complex on Polo Grounds Road.

20080412-SOCA-SFSCIt would give Reilly’s Monticello United Soccer Club its first long-term home for its youth league. The club president first submitted his application for a special-use permit to create soccer fields along the flood plain of the South Fork Rivanna River in October 2010.

“We want to get some fields for our club,” Reilly said. “There is a shortage of fields in this community and it’s always difficult to get them with scheduling.”

Reilly has worked out a lease with the owners of an almost 80-acre parcel between U.S. 29 and the entrance to the Montgomery Ridge neighborhood. Farther down Polo Grounds Road is the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle’s South Fork Soccer Complex.

“They are nice local people that we know,” Reilly said, referring to the Crockett Corp., which owns the land being leased. “There are only two things you can do with the property, either farming or recreation, and we think that is the perfect thing to do on it.”

Residents of nearby Montgomery Ridge have mixed opinions about the project, said neighborhood association president Joseph Kulbok.

Continue reading "New soccer fields proposed along Polo Grounds Road" »

June 14, 2012

Commission presented with details for McIntire’s eastern side

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Charlottesville Planning Commission took its turn this week to review the draft master plan for the eastern side of the McIntire Park. The master planning process, which began last summer, has seen significant community input and debate over the park’s primary use.
 
“We only get one opportunity to do this right, so I hope it’s going to be done right,” said Genevieve Keller, chair of the commission. 
 
New-concept
(Click to enlarge)
In May, the city’s Parks and Recreation advisory board voted 7-2 to recommend a plan that would phase out the existing golf course by 2020. Instead, land will be set aside for a botanical garden
 
“I think that the botanical gardens are a good thing and I think that will get a lot of use,” said Commissioner Lisa Green. 
 
Following that group’s recommendation, the concept now features a rectangular field at the northern end of the park. That field will be fenced in, lit and made of synthetic turf.
 

Continue reading "Commission presented with details for McIntire’s eastern side" »

June 10, 2012

City leaders contemplate future neighborhoods

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Sunday, June 10, 2012

At a joint planning meeting last week, members of Charlottesville’s City Council and Planning Commission found themselves tasked with a staff-designed planning exercise. With the group spread out among three tables, poster-sized black-and-white city maps beckoned colored pencils.

20120607-Haluska
Brian Haluska, Neighborhood Planner, City of Charlottesville
View all past stories related to the
Livable Communities Planning Project

City planners Brian Haluska and Missy Creasy asked the officials to color their maps to match existing conditions delineating green space, employment centers, high-density residential, entertainment venues, civic centers and transportation connections. Staff added one caveat — they had to do it from memory.

“If you have any papers, put them under your chair,” said Creasy, sounding more like a schoolteacher preparing her class for a quiz. “If I see that you are looking at any of your papers, then I am going to take your papers. We are going with a clean slate for this evening.”

“We’re just asking everyone to go down the list and fill in the city … the way you see it now,” Haluska said. “You can also do potential [uses] if you wish.”

Some tables started with green pencils to outline parks; others marked up existing business zones in red. All wrestled with whether to document today’s conditions versus a city of the future.

“We wore off the entire lead of our green pencil,” said Councilor Kristin Szakos. “We were more interested in parks that don’t exist yet.”

“We also recognized that the University [of Virginia] and the hospital are major employment centers,” said architect Kurt Keesecker, a member of the Planning Commission. “So we tried to look at how we could bring more multi-family residential or high-density residential to the fringes of those areas.”

Continue reading "City leaders contemplate future neighborhoods" »

June 09, 2012

Soundboard 6-8-2012 - 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 20120608-Soundboard

The June 8 show features contributors Graelyn Brashear & Laura Ingles (from C-Ville Weekly) and Sean Tubbs (Charlottesville Tomorrow) discussing: 

  • Wintergreen buyer Jim Justice
  • Thursday's state supreme court hearing on a proposed YMCA
  • updates on the Meadowcreek Parkway and the Western Bypass
  • Albemarle County's new leash laws
  • guest Zoe Ward to talk about teaching yoga after studying in India

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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June 07, 2012

Virginia Supreme Court hears testimony in YMCA case

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, June 7

RICHMOND — The Virginia Supreme Court spent an hour Thursday debating whether Albemarle County and Charlottesville broke the state’s public procurement laws when they entered into an agreement with the Piedmont Family YMCA.
 
YMCA-Slide1
Artist's rendering of the planned YMCA (Source: VMDO Architects/Piedmont Family YMCA)
“The Public Procurement Act … exists to ensure that all bidders have access to public business and that favoritism does not result,” argued David Thomas, attorney for the Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association.
 
The group, which consists of ACAC and Gold’s Gym, filed suit in May 2010 against the city and county, claiming that each violated procurement rules to give an unfair advantage to the YMCA.
 
Charlottesville’s City Council awarded a $1-a-year ground lease to the YMCA in December 2007 after issuing a request for proposals to build and operate an aquatic center on the western side of McIntire Park.
 
The RFP called for a “nonprofit youth and family community recreation center program to construct a facility to operate their program.”
 
The YMCA was the only bidder and proposed to construct a 77,000-square-foot fitness and aquatic center on land currently occupied by picnic shelters.
 

Continue reading "Virginia Supreme Court hears testimony in YMCA case" »

May 29, 2012

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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