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July 07, 2011

Albemarle Supervisors briefed on state biosolids rules

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, July 7, 2011


<p><strong>Listen using player above or download the podcast: </strong>

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors has been briefed by Virginia Department of Environmental Quality officials on steps the county can take to monitor the use of treated human waste as fertilizer. 

“Localities are pre-empted [by state law] from regulating biosolids, including its quality and when, where and how it may be applied,” said Albemarle County Executive Thomas Foley

Listen using player above or download the podcast:  Download 20110706-biosolids

A map generated by Albemarle County's GIS department depicting locations where biosolids can be applied

A work session was held to Wednesday to provide information on state law and to find out whether the county should create its own inspection program to act as a second set of eyes. 

Recyc Systems of Remington is permitted to spread biosolids on 6,438 acres of county farmland, and the company has requested permission to add an additional 545.1 acres. A decision on that request will be made by the DEQ later this year.

A second company, Synagro Cental LLC, has a permit from the Virginia Department of Health to apply biosolids on one Albemarle farm. The DEQ assumed control of regulating biosolids in January 2008.

Mark Graham, the county’s director of community development, said over 12,000 dry tons were spread in Albemarle during 2008-2010.

Through the end of May of this year, 309 dry tons have been applied. A report for June will be made available later this month.

Supervisors wanted to know whether the DEQ had sufficient personnel to inspect the use of biosolids to make sure human waste was not entering surface water or ground water.

Gary Flory and Tim Higgs of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality answer questions from Supervisors

“We go out on every farm, we do an inspection and we do follow-up inspections in many cases,” said Gary Flory, water compliance manager for the DEQ. “We’re out there in the field virtually every day because there are significant concerns, and because of those concerns, the General Assembly established a fee structure that allows [us] to be fully-staffed,” Flory said.

Under the existing regulations, companies pay $5,000 to the DEQ to have a permit issued, as well as a $1,231 yearly maintenance fee. Companies also pay the state $7.50 per dry ton applied each year.

“All of those fees are deposited into the sludge management fund [which] is used to fund all of the DEQ inspection and compliance programs as well as any local monitoring done throughout the state,” said Tim Higgs, with the DEQ’s Shenandoah Valley office.

Some of that funding can be used to pay for a local monitoring program.

“The county’s inspection role would be limited to determining if the land application is done consistently with the conditions established by DEQ,” Foley said.

Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker said most people are more concerned with the long-term effects of chemicals in biosolids rather than whether the DEQ is doing its job.

“The Food and Drug Administration [has] extensive testing that has to go on to prove that something is safe,” Rooker said. “Here it almost seems like there’s a presumption that its safe and someone has to prove that it’s not… We’re putting them down on the ground before we know whether they pose significant concerns.”

Several supervisors expressed concerns that state law does not provide sufficient notification.

Adjacent landowners are only notified when a property has been requested to be added to the DEQ permit. The only notice to adjacent landowners before human waste is applied is a small sign placed at the entrance to the property.

Rooker said he did not think it was a good use of county funds to hire an inspector. Instead, he would like to be able to use the money from DEQ to boost the notification process.

“If we got notice, at a minimum we could put it on our website and let people know,” Rooker said.

Higgs said he is working with county staff to develop a Geographical Information Systems layer to track where and when biosolids can be applied.  

“They’re asking for ways to better notify the public and be better informed of what’s going on,” Higgs said. “There is an effort being made by the staff here in Albemarle to provide more accurate data to the constituents here.”

Supervisors will continue to discuss the matter and will weigh the possibility of sending a letter to legislators asking for changes to state law. A discussion of whether to create a county-based monitoring program could take place during the cre

October 07, 2010

Albemarle calls for a decision on joint recycling program with Charlottesville

DailyProgressBy Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, October 7, 2010

With the clock running out on a joint agreement for solid waste services between Charlottesville and Albemarle, officials in the county have decided to send a letter to the City Council to ask for a decision on the future of recycling and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority.

“We need to hear whether the city will continue to support the McIntire Recycling Center,” said Mark Graham, Albemarle County’s director of community development. “If we don’t hear they will continue to support it, we are going to look at other options for dropoff recycling services in the county.”

In August, the RSWA extended its operating agreement and set Dec. 31 as the expiration date. Neither locality is obligated to continue paying for RSWA services after that deadline.

According to Graham, who gave an update to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, the county has budgeted $350,000 to support the RSWA’s operations this year. From that amount, Graham estimated that the county would pay about $80,000 for its share of the McIntire Recycling Center, whereas the city will pay about $40,000.

Formed in 1990, the RSWA manages the McIntire Recycling Center and the Ivy Materials Utilization Center.

Regardless of whether the RSWA offers future recycling services, the jointly operated agency must remain in existence to administer, along with the University of Virginia, the environmental remediation of the old Ivy Landfill.

The RSWA is no longer self-sufficient from tipping fees as competition from private facilities, such as the one operated by van der Linde Recycling at Zion Crossroads, has significantly reduced the tonnage of solid waste received at Ivy.

Since the agreement’s extension, a majority of city councilors have said in public statements or in interviews with Charlottesville Tomorrow that they preferred keeping the McIntire Recycling Center open. Graham told the board, however, that the city was signaling an interest in taking a different approach to recycling.

County staff recommended Wednesday that Albemarle continue to support the RSWA’s operations at Ivy, but that support of the McIntire Recycling Center should continue only if the city shares in those costs.

“If they are out, we are out too,” Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd said in an interview. “If you want to still partner, let’s talk, but if recycling remains at McIntire [without the city’s support], we’ll have to figure out a way to charge the city residents.”

September 06, 2010

Majority of City Council supports keeping McIntire Recycling Center open


By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, September 6, 2010

 With the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority facing an uncertain future due to a dramatic drop in revenue, a majority of the City Council appears to favor keeping one of its key services in business.

“I’m strongly in support of not only maintaining the McIntire Recycling Center but figuring out how to enhance the services,” Mayor Dave Norris said.

As of Jan. 1, neither Albemarle County nor Charlottesville will be obligated to continue paying the RSWA to operate the Ivy Material Utilization Center or the McIntire Recycling Center.

Both localities recently amended an agreement that governs operations at Ivy and McIntire. The RSWA previously funded the services with profits made from tipping fees charged at Ivy and another transfer facility at Zion Crossroads.

Many trash haulers have chosen to stop using the Ivy facility, and the RSWA no longer collects a fee at Zion Crossroads. That was one of the conditions of a settlement between the authority and Van Der Linde Recycling, which operates a similar facility nearby.

In fiscal year 2005, 105,593 tons of municipal solid waste and other items passed through the Ivy facility. In FY2009, that number had dropped to 69,636 tons.

The authority’s executive director, Thomas L. Frederick Jr., told the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors last week that his employees need to know soon what their destiny will be.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty in their eyes right now about what are they going to be doing, how are they going to feed their families and pay their mortgages in the future because I can’t tell them beyond the end of December what our structure is going to look like,” Frederick said.

Frederick said the RSWA could play a role in helping Albemarle County continue to provide services at Ivy, as well as the recycling center, should the city opt out.

To save money, the RSWA also cut back hours at McIntire and stopped accepting certain materials that are expensive to dispose, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, batteries and paint. Area residents are being directed to private companies or to wait until a special collection day the RSWA will sponsor next spring.

“In the last two months we have seen increasing numbers of complaints, and the vast majority of those complaints are about the services that we curtailed,” Frederick said. “There are some people that are feeling the effects of not having a regular place to take their CFLs and their fluorescent tubes anymore.”

Frederick also told supervisors he thought the city may exit the RSWA because it provides many of the same services to its residents.

However, Councilor David Brown, who sits on the RSWA Board of Directors, said at the authority’s August meeting that he still wants to find a way to have the city contribute to the McIntire Recycling Center.

City and county staffers are preparing solid waste plans for elected officials to consider.

County Executive Robert W. Tucker said supervisors will be presented with a series of options on how to proceed at their meeting in October. They might include curbside recycling through private haulers, a recycling center at the Ivy transfer station or finding a way to build multiple centers in populated areas throughout the county.

“At one time we had five recycling centers in the capital improvement program, and they were taken out because of funding issues,” Tucker said in an interview. Each one was estimated at $250,000, though Tucker added that that figure may have dropped due to the recession.

Norris said he hopes the city can make its decision in October as well. He said one option might be contributing to the McIntire center outside of the auspices of the RSWA.

In an e-mail, Councilor Holly Edwards called the center “part of the fabric of the community.”

Councilor Satyendra Huja said he had not yet made up his mind, but observed that the county has more of a use for the McIntire center than the city does. Councilor Kristin Szakos could not be reached for comment.

Regardless of the RSWA’s destiny, the city must continue to participate in an agreement to pay for the continued remediation of the Ivy landfill, which closed in 2001 after being the primary landfill for the city, county and the University of Virginia.

August 27, 2010

Future of McIntire Recycling Center uncertain

DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, August 27, 2010

The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority has amended the agreement by which Albemarle County and Charlottesville will pay for the continued operation of the McIntire Recycling Center and the Ivy Materials Utilization Center. Included in the new agreement is a provision that neither locality is required to keep paying after Dec. 31.

The RSWA’s executive director, Thomas L. Frederick Jr., said in an interview that he cannot rule out the closure of both facilities.

“We have to know what the revenue sources will be to continue the programs,” Frederick said.


To save money, the RSWA cut back hours at the recycling center and stopped accepting hazardous materials such as paint, batteries and compact fluorescent bulbs.

Frederick told the RSWA board at its meeting Tuesday that there has been a substantial increase in complaints related to the cutback in services. The RSWA will offer a one-day collection of hazardous materials next spring, but many board members expressed concern that is not a long-term solution for a community that has grown accustomed to disposing materials safely.

“It’s an issue that all communities are dealing with,” said Judy Mueller, the city’s director of public works. “There’s no magic answer that anyone’s come up with.”

“Hazardous materials are very expensive because there are rigorous federal regulations that have to be complied with,” Frederick said. He added that the nearest landfill permitted to handle such materials is in South Carolina.

The RSWA has traditionally funded operations through the sale of recycled materials collected at McIntire and tipping fees made by trash trucks that use the Ivy facility. However, tonnage received at Ivy has reduced dramatically in the past several years as haulers have chosen to use other, private facilities.

In fiscal year 2005, 105,593 tons of municipal solid waste and other items passed through the Ivy facility. In FY2009, that number had dropped to 69,636 tons.

“In years prior, the RSWA was charging a higher tipping fee at the Ivy transfer station and had rights to control customers from Albemarle and Charlottesville at BFI’s transfer station,” Frederick said. The surplus went toward funding public services such as the McIntire Recycling Center.

In 2007, the city and county signed the local support agreement to address the RSWA’s ongoing operating deficits. The RSWA board also directed Frederick to lower the fees at Ivy because private facilities, such as the one operated by van der Linde Recycling at Zion Crossroads, could provide the service at a lower rate, in part because they do not have to subsidize the free recycling services offered to the public.

In June, the RSWA board passed a $2 million budget for fiscal year 2011, a 47.5 percent decrease from the previous year. Under the new terms of the agreement approved Tuesday, the county is now responsible for paying 85 percent of the cost of continued operations at the Ivy facility and 67 percent of the cost of running the McIntire Recycling Center with the city picking up the balance, 15 percent and 33 percent, respectively. The percentages represent the approximate split by which residents of each jurisdiction use RSWA services.

“My sense of [the City Council] is that we’re interested in exploring continuing to be part of the recycling center at McIntire,” Councilor David Brown said. However, Brown added the city had no reason to continue contributing to the Ivy facility.

In addition to the Ivy and McIntire centers, the RSWA also administers the environmental remediation at the now closed Ivy Landfill. The University of Virginia also contributes to the landfill cleanup. The city, county and UVa are expected to pay $875,480 on the cleanup this year. That direct contribution to the RSWA is governed by a separate 2005 memorandum of understanding, which would continue in effect even if the city ended its support for the RSWA’s other activities next year.

June 23, 2010

Solid waste authority approves budget that eliminates some recycling

DailyProgress By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority’s board on Tuesday approved a $2 million operating budget for FY 2011.

The budget is a 47.5 percent decrease from the current operating budget, as the board approved it in the absence of a signed cost-sharing agreement that Charlottesville and Albemarle officials intend to finalize in July.

Albemarle County Supervisor Kenneth Boyd
The RSWA administers the Ivy Material Utilization Center, the McIntire Recycling Center and the environmental remediation at the now closed Ivy Landfill. Charlottesville and Albemarle contribute to the operational budget and the landfill’s cleanup based on a cost-sharing agreement. The University of Virginia also contributes to the landfill cleanup.

During the public hearing, citizens expressed concern that the RSWA budget would eliminate recycling of batteries, fluorescent light tubes, compact fluorescent lights and paint. These items would only be collected at special household hazardous waste collection days and only one is scheduled in spring 2011.

John Cruickshank, chairman of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, said he was concerned that without the recycling convenience centers accepting these items on a regular basis there was greater risk to the environment, particularly from the release of mercury in CFLs.

“I would request that these services be retained in the coming fiscal year,” Cruickshank said. “It is important that these materials be disposed of properly to protect the environment, our natural resources and, perhaps most importantly, to ensure the public health and safety.”

Thomas L. Frederick Jr., Executive Director, RWSA
The authority’s executive director, Thomas L. Frederick Jr., told the board the RSWA budget would have to be increased by $80,000 to support continued collection of these items. The board did not adjust the budget to restore the funding.

Frederick also informed the board that he had been in negotiations with Waste Management Inc. about its contract to dispose of trash at the Ivy transfer center. Waste Management had approached the RSWA seeking flexibility so that it could dispose of collected trash at other locations. Frederick said the van der Linde recycling center at Zion Crossroads was one such facility that might be of interest to the company.

Frederick built the authority’s budget on the assumption there would be no revenues from Waste Management, but he announced that earlier in the day the company had said it may be changing its position on the contract amendment.

Board members expressed support for the budget with the understanding that amendments may be required to account for any Waste Management contract changes that would increase the RSWA’s revenues.

Albemarle Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd called for the board to determine in the very near future its long-terms plans for continued operation of the Ivy transfer center and McIntire Recycling Center.

The short-term cost-sharing agreement currently being negotiated is expected to give both governments a six-month window for this planning.

April 30, 2010

Solid waste board discusses authority’s uncertain future

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, April 30, 2010

At their meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2010, the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority’s Board of Directors discussed the uncertain future of the agency. The RSWA received no credible proposals after asking in late December for firms to come forward with plans to privatize operations at the Ivy Materials Utilization Center and the McIntire Recycling Center.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100427-RSWA

As a result, Frederick said the RSWA is not ready to release a budget for FY2011 because it does not have clear direction from Charlottesville or Albemarle County on what services they want to continue to purchase from the authority. A contract that governs how the two jurisdictions subsidize the two services, as well as a paper sort facility, expires on June 30, 2010.

The RSWA issued the RFP in late 2009 to find out how much it would cost to privatize recycling and transfer services. Frederick said five firms expressed interest, but most of them decided not to submit a proposal because they concluded it would not be profitable to take on the work.

One firm, van der Linde Recycling, did submit a proposal but later withdrew it after RSWA officials expressed concerns about changes that van der Linde’s proposal had suggested. The firm wanted to convert McIntire to a facility where materials to be recycled could be dropped off without sorting  and they also sought a flexible pricing structure. The RFP had asked specifically for fixed prices for services to be rendered.

“The proposal we received did not include fixed pricing,” Frederick said. “It included a formula that is equal to gross revenues plus 15%, minus expenses. A major concern to the staff is the extensive auditing of a private company’s books that would be required to determine… if expenses and revenues on the Authority’s contract were properly charged, separate and distinct from other business aspects of the operation.”

20100427-Frederick RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick

The RSWA receives a tipping fee for every ton brought to its facilities. Usage of RSWA solid waste transfer stations at Ivy and in Zion’s Crossroads has declined dramatically in the past few years, bringing revenues down as well. Through the first nine months of the fiscal year, RSWA revenues are 62.54% under budget.

However, there is one small success. The RSWA had budgeted it would receive about $195,000 through the sale of recycled materials. Through March, the authority took in $210,307 through recycling.

Frederick said he would now be talking to Albemarle County officials to find out much they want to invest to continue offering the services.

“I’m very interested in what we can do to scale back the operations [so that] it does pay for itself, and what services we’d have to give up to do that,” said Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd at the meeting.

20100427-RSWA-Chart Usage of the RSWA's solid waste transfer stations is down dramatically (Click to enlarge)
City Council has directed its public works director to issue an RFP to find out how much firms would charge to handle solid waste once it is picked up.  That would be a separate contract from the one the city has with Waste Management to conduct trash hauling within city limits for city residents.

Frederick suggested the RSWA could invest in its facilities in order to make them more efficient.  That would bring in more revenue.

“I think we need to understand, particularly from the County, what your long-term future desire is for services through the authority, as well as short-term,” Frederick said. “We can make some short-term decisions that may try to defer capital [investment].”

“One option is to simply get out of the solid waste business all together and let private haulers take it,” Boyd said. “I don’t know that that’s the real solution we ought to have. It scares me what would happen to solid waste in the county if we didn’t provide the services.”

Frederick said he would prepare a contingency budget for the RSWA’s operations past June 30. Boyd said perhaps the existing contract could be extended a couple of months to provide some additional room to make the decision.

Councilor David Brown was not present at the meeting. Charlottesville’s public works director, Judy Mueller, suggested holding an interim meeting to further discuss the matter.

Unable to calculate rate of recycling in 2009

The RSWA will not be able to provide a complete calculation of the rate of the community’s recycling for 2009 because one of the region’s leading recyclers is not cooperating, according to Frederick.  He said van der Linde Recycling declined to provide the agency with details of how much material was received at their facility at Zions Crossroads.

“Because the van der Linde facility now contributes substantially toward the local recycling rate, we believe any attempt to publish data without their inclusion would be substantially in error, and thereby without purpose,” wrote Frederick.

Frederick said data on its own recycling center has been supplied to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), which is legally responsible for supplying a recycling rate to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Erin Yancey, an environmental planner for TJPDC, said in an e-mail she did not expect a problem in getting the data from van der Linde.


  • 01:00 - Meeting called to order by RSWA Chair Mike Gaffney
  • 01:30 - RSWA Executive Director Tom Frederick discusses why there will not be a recycling rate for 2010
  • 04:30 - RSWA considers consent agenda, decides to skip adoption of new by-laws because Councilor David Brown was not present
  • 06:10 - Recognition of appreciation for former City Manager Gary O'Connell
  • 09:30 - Discussion begins on summary of findings from the issuance of the RFP for privatization of RSWA services
  • 16:00 - Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd asks how public process will continue on future 

April 22, 2010

Council reviews options for future of solid waste disposal

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 22, 2010

In the coming months, the Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will make several decisions related to the future of trash and recycling services in the community.  An agreement that governs how each community pays for services offered by the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority (RSWA) expires on June 30, 2010, providing each locality with options to handle waste disposal differently.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100415-CC-Solid-Waste-Work-Session

City Councilors were briefed on the topic during a work session on Monday, April 19, 2010.
The RSWA operates the McIntire Recycling Center, the Ivy Materials Utilization Center (trash transfer station), and a paper sort facility. The agency is also in charge of maintaining the Ivy landfill site which stopped receiving new material in 2001. 

In December 2007, a three-party agreement was signed in December 2007 between the city, Albemarle County and the RSWA to continue these operations. However, the agreement did not address how services would be paid for, but set a deadline of June 30, 2010 to come up with a new funding mechanism.

The issue is complicated because each locality offers different levels of service to its residents. The City of Charlottesville provides free curbside recycling to its residents, and charges a fee for pick-up of other trash. In Albemarle County, trash pick-up and recycling is offered through private firms.  

Both residents are able to use the McIntire center free of charge, thanks to payments made by each locality to the RSWA. The cost of those operations are also offset by the sale of some of the collected materials. Recycled materials dropped off at the center are not combined with what the city picks up through curbside recycling. The University of Virginia’s recycled material is also handled separately.

In late 2009, the RSWA Board authorized a request for proposals to get information on how much it would cost to privatize operations at the McIntire Recycling Center and the Ivy Materials Utilization Center.   

20100415-Mueller Public Works Director Judy Mueller

“What we had hoped is that we would have been able to price out each of the individual services that the [RSWA] provides,” said Public Works Director Judy Mueller. "Unfortunately, it hasn’t moved that fast… and we’re not in a position to bring you those numbers.”The proposals were intended to give city and county officials information they needed to make a decision. The information will be published this Friday with the board packet for the RSWA’s April 27, 2010 meeting.

By law, the city, county and the University of Virginia are responsible for paying for remediation of the Ivy landfill for the next few decades. The RSWA did not solicit bids to privatize this service.

The city currently has a contract with Waste Management to pick up trash from city streets. That trash is currently taken to Allied Waste in Zion’s Crossroads at a cost of $41.25 per ton, as required in the 2007 agreement. The specific destination requirement also expires on June 30, 2010.

Mueller asked Council for permission to solicit proposals for alternative trash deposit facilities, but stated that Waste Management would continue to pick up trash from residents’ homes. Council gave her that direction.

20100415-Bedford Mike Bedford runs Peter van der Linde's recycling facility and gave an impromptu presentation at the end of the work session

“We have nothing to sell except for the lowest price and the highest rate of recycling,” Van der Linde said. “That’s our agenda.”

Earlier this year, the RSWA and Van der Linde settled a multimillion dollar lawsuit  the RSWA had filed against Van der Linde claiming that he tried to avoid paying the authority fees for each ton of trash delivered to the waste transfer center at Zion Crossroads. Van der Linde paid the RSWA $600,000 in the settlement.


  • 01:00 - Mayor Dave Norris opens discussion about solid waste
  • 01:30 - Acting City Manager Maurice Jones reviews agenda for meeting
  • 03:00 - Public Works Director Judy Mueller reviews the recent history of the RSWA
  • 08:30 - Norris asks for more information on the bids
  • 09:10 - City Councilor Satyendra Huja asks what services are provided by the RSWA
  • 12:45 - Norris asks Mueller what happens to solid waste when it is taken to Ivy
  • 13:45 - Huja said he thinks mostly county residents use the McIntire center
  • 16:15 - Mueller describes the current situation
  • 17:15 - Norris asks if RSWA would have to continue being in charge of remediation of Ivy landfill
  • 18:30 - Mueller explains economics of recycling and how some materials can offset fixed costs
  • 19:45 - City Councilor Kristin Szakos asks if items picked up from curbside are combined with that dropped off at McIntire
  • 21:50 - Norris asks question about how curbside trash is handled
  • 23:30 - City Attorney Craig Brown explains the history about tonnage taken to Allied Waste
  • 25:00 - Mueller describes how some county trash was exempt from the service contribution fee, whereas city trash was not
  • 25:45 - Norris asks if privatization is a way to reduce expenses
  • 27:00 - Norris asks how end of service contribution fee has affected RSWA budget
  • 28:30 - Mueller asks for permission to seek bids for new destination for trash
  • 31:00 - City Councilor Kristin Szakos asks about other ideas such as curbside composting to reduce waste
  • 33:45 - Norris asks about prospect of moving to single-stream trash disposal
  • 36:00 - Brown said he wants to evolve to a system where recycling is maximized, suggested TJPDC find a grant
  • 41:45 - Brown discusses possibility of incinerators that use new technology
  • 46:30 - Szakos wants more research done on the cost of community composting
  • 46:45 - Norris asks for more information on whether all community recycling should be pooled
  • 50:30 - Public comment from Preston Coiner
  • 55:00 - City resident Downing Smith asks two questions
  • 59:00 - Public comment from Dede Smith 
  • 1:01:00 - Public comment from county resident Richard Lloyd
  • 1:04:30 - Public comment from Mike Bedford, operator of Van der Linde's recycling facility
  • 1:09:10 - Public comment from Peter van der Linde
  • 1:12:30 - Question from city resident Colette Hall about the future of the McIntire center

March 22, 2010

Council discusses transit, future of Crow pool, solid waste, and bike lanes at budget work session

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, March 22, 2010

City Council reviewed the details of the city’s $33.85 million capital improvement program (CIP) budget during a work session last week. Council made several revisions to the budget related to the city’s transportation infrastructure, its inventory of parkland and the number of affordable living choices within city limits.

Highlights from the work session:

  • Council opted not to spend $110,000 to increase service on three Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) routes.
  • Mayor Dave Norris called for an additional $400,000 to be spent on affordable housing initiatives.
  • Council agreed to dedicate $50,000 to expanding the network of bike lanes, despite suggestions by staff that doing so could be much more expensive.
  • $200,000 will not be spent to make repairs to the downtown mall near the Omni.
  • Council remained open to a proposal to allow the YMCA to rent Crow Pool at full cost, extending its operational life until a new facility is built in McIntire Park.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100317-CC-Work-Session

Transit service increases deferred; Huja pushes for bus route for Greenbrier neighborhood

Download Download the entire proposed FY2011 budget (PDF)

Download Download the proposed FY2011 Capital Improvement Program budget (PDF)

Download Download memo from Bill Watterson regarding possible changes to Route 9 (PDF)

In February, CAT Director Bill Watterson proposed several changes to bus routes in order to increase service. One of them involved spending an additional $110,000 to operate three routes (3, 4 & 6) on a twice-hourly basis.

Councilor David Brown said he did not want to expand service at this time.

“I would not mind taking this amount of money and adding it to our [economic] downturn fund,” Brown said.

Councilor Kristin Szakos said she supported Watterson’s proposal because it would be a relatively affordable way to increase the attractiveness of riding the bus. However, Norris said he sided with Brown about holding off on expanding service right now, and Council agreed with his suggestion to set aside the funds.

Councilor Satyendra Huja had also previously requested that staff create a route to serve Charlottesville’s northern neighborhoods.

“Is it fair not to have the transit system in the northern part of town?” Huja asked. He said the demographics of the Greenbrier neighborhood would add more “choice” riders to the system, referring to people who can afford to drive but might not if they had an option to take transit.

Watterson studied three possible ways  to alter Route 9 in order to accomplish Huja’s goal, but said none of them would work because the route could not be completed in under an hour.

Another proposal to alter Route 1 to serve Mill Creek and the Tandem School in the county is also unlikely to happen because some Councilors expressed concern Albemarle County would not provide funding.

“I got a pretty clear indication Council was not enthusiastic about that one,” Watterson said.

New life for Crow Pool?

Major decisions about the future of the city’s aquatic facilities have been made in the past few years. A previous Council agreed to close the Crow indoor pool at Walker Upper Elementary School and use the savings to build a new Smith pool at Buford Middle School. At the same time, the City agreed to contribute to the capital costs for a new Piedmont Family YMCA in part because the city would no longer have to pay for the ongoing operational costs at Crow.

Crow Pool had been expected to close this fall as the new Smith pool comes online. However, Parks and Recreation Director Brian Daly said the YMCA is interested in renting the pool until their new facility is ready.

Currently, the YMCA rents the pool for 24 hours a week at a discounted fee. Under this proposal, the YMCA would begin paying the full cost of operating the pool.

“It would be best for us if they had their own building,” Daly said.  He estimated the YMCA will have their plans finished by June. Construction is expected to take at least 18 months.

City Manager Gary O’Connell said a decision was not necessary from Council until Smith opens in September.

Future uncertain for City payment to keep McIntire Recycling Center open

In June, the City’s contract with the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority will expire. The proposed budget anticipates that it will not be renewed, potentially saving the city $248,928 in “solid waste disposal fees.” 

However, that means that the City’s continued participation in the McIntire Recycling Center is in question. All city residents have the option to recycle items in curbside bins, though that service does not include disposal of batteries, electronics, and other hazardous materials.

 “The City and the County need to make a decision whether or not to keep the McIntire Recycling Center open,” Mueller said. “We don’t know what the cost of keeping [the center] open.”

Council made no decision at this work session, but is expected to take up the matter at another work session in April.

Council discusses other items in CIP

The capital improvement program for FY2011 is $33.85 million, more than double for that of the current fiscal year. The increase is almost entirely due to a $16.5 million payment from the federal government to pay for a portion of the Meadowcreek Parkway interchange

Budget Director Leslie Beauregard said the rest of the capital improvement program is beginning to slow down, in part because of the reductions in revenue.

“Our strategy over time has been when the times are good, we put the money to one-time use, and now we know that those one-time funds have dried up,” Beauregard said. 

The city is expecting to raise $6.9 million through a bond issue later this year. That number will increase to $16.86 million in FY2012 in order to pay for a new fire station on Fontaine Road.   

Councilors had the option to eliminate items from the CIP, and they made several decisions.

Councilor Huja questioned spending $200,000 on repairs to the downtown mall near the Omni. Szakos also said the city might be able to defer spending for another year. Norris also agreed it was not a high priority for this year.

The capital budget for FY2011 does not include funding for a $3 million project to add sidewalks, bike lanes and drainage improvements for Old Lynchburg Road. City Manager Gary O”Connell said the project has been delayed in part because the project is not fully designed. A contribution of $500,000 is expected in FY2012 and design work will continue.

“There’s an impression in the community that this project is just going to start,” O’Connell said. “It’s never been planned to do that. We have to wait until the money catches up.”

The city had expected to eventually receive a million dollars for the project from a proffer from Albemarle County’s rezoning of the Biscuit Run property. The funding was lost when that land was acquired by the Commonwealth to create a new state park.

Council commits additional funds to build more bike lanes

In February, Neighborhood Development Services Director Jim Tolbert told Council that there are very few opportunities to create additional bike lanes in Charlottesville without removing on-street parking or widening roads.

At the work session, Councilor Huja expressed his dissatisfaction.

“There are gaps in the network, and I think they need to be dealt with,” Huja said.

Tolbert said he would be bringing a proposal to Council this summer that would address the possibility of removing on-street parking and widening roads to increase the network of bike lanes.

Brown, an avid cyclist, said one road on which he would like to see bike lanes is Emmett Street, but he acknowledged doing so would cost money.

“There might be a plan that could accomplish [adding bike lanes] but it’s not a $25,000 project,” Brown said. The current year’s capital budget set aside that amount for “bicycle infrastructure” and the money was used in part to develop special signals to allow cyclists to trigger traffic lights.

Huja suggested putting aside money now in order to pay for those projects in the future.

“Symbolically, I think it is important to set aside some money to show our intent that we’re going to do something,” Huja said.

Council agreed to take $50,000 from a line item for “traffic improvements” to dedicate for additional bike lanes.

Council may spend more money on parkland acquisition

The proposed capital budget sets aside $250,000 to acquire more land for parks, an increase from the $100,000 set aside for this year.

The figure for this year may go higher because of the possibility of acquiring an athletic field and because of other opportunities being suggested by parks director Daly.

The City is currently negotiating to purchase Davis Field, a rectangular field off of Park Street, but the $250,000 set aside in the proposed budget might not cover the acquisition costs. Daly said he had a solution, but did not want to discuss it in open session.

“While the $250,000 is great, my counsel to Council would be that there are a lot of potential acquisition opportunities out there that enhance connectivity and do a lot of forest protection, and it may not be advisable to spend all of the funding in one location,” Daly said.

When Norris asked if Council should increase the amount set aside to buy parks, Daly said he could not talk about it without going into a closed session.

Mayor Norris seeks increase in funding for affordable housing

The City dedicated $1 million in the current capital budget for the Charlottesville Housing Fund. Next year, Mayor Norris wants to increase that amount to $1.4 million. He said both the Planning Commission and the Housing Advisory Committee endorsed the increase.

“I’d like to see us go on record as endorsing that dollar figure, however it comes together,” Norris said.

Council held a brief discussion of where the funding would come from to pay for the increase, but did not reach a consensus at this meeting.

Next steps

Council will be on hand for a budget forum this Wednesday night at CitySpace. The public is invited to ask questions of Council and budget staff. The next budget work session  will be held on Wednesday, March 31. The second public hearing on the budget will be on April 5 in City Council chambers. Council will adopt the budget at a special meeting on April 12.

  • 01:00 - Mayor Dave Norris opens the discussion
  • 03:00 - Councilor David Brown asks about state revenues
  • 06:15 - Councilor Satyendra Huja agrees with Brown's request to put more money into "rainy day fund"
  • 10:40 – City Budget Director Leslie Beauregard explains the line item for Council priorities
  • 14:00 - Beauregard explains how more money will be spent on three Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) routes
  • 17:30 - CAT Director Bill Watterson explains evolution of Route 9
  • 21:20 - Councilor Kristen Szakos asks if there's a way to only stop at high school at certain times
  • 26:30 - Brown asks for philosophy behind increasing frequency on certain routes
  • 29:30 - Norris asks about proposal to serve Mill Creek / Tandem School
  • 37:40 - Beauregard details memo from City Parks Director Brian Daly regarding funding for aquatic centers
  • 40:00 - Daly describes how he is projecting additional for aquatic facilities once new Smith Pool opens
  • 55:30 - Daly describes how his department is seeking ways to increase revenues to recover expenses
  • 1:01:00 - Conversation turns to reductions in RSWA /landfill
  • 1:06:30 - Beauregard discusses potential reductions possible if City drops out of recycling at McIntire
  • 1:15:00 - Discussion turns to capital improvement program
  • 1:20:30 - Norris asks about federal and state funding for interchange
  • 1:21:00 - Brown asks about the future of the Levy Building, which is currently vacant
  • 1:22:20 - Conversation turns to revenues that go into the CIP
  • 1:22:45 - Brown asks why debt issue for FY2012 is expected to double
  • 1:24:40 - Beauregard explains why Market Street parking garage needs "serious repairs"
  • 1:29:00 - Councilor Satyendra Huja asks about spending $200,000 to renovate Mall near the Omni
  • 1:31:00 - Councilors ask questions about how sidewalk and street repair is being financed
  • 1:34:30 - O'Connell describes why the Old Lynchburg Road project has been delayed by a year
  • 1:36:30 - Discussion begins on Washington Park bathhouse improvements
  • 1:38:30 - Discussion of $800,000 in funding over 5 years for McIntire Park renovations beginning in FY2012
  • 1:40:20 - Discussion of funding for the Meadowcreek Parkway interchange
  • 1:42:00 - Huja asks why $200,000 is being planned for improvements in the Belmont corridor
  • 1:44:00 - Huja asks for more bike lanes, prompting philosophical discussion
  • 1:48:00 - Norris asks for information on the Planning Commission's CIP recommendations
  • 1:52:00 - Discussion of Planning Commission's request for a Building Endangement Fund
  • 1:54:00 - Discussion of purchase of Davis Field, but further discussion of whether enough money is in budget
  • 1:55:20 - Daly says he has a solution, but does not want to discuss it in open session
  • 1:57:00 - Discussion of stormwater initiatives
  • 2:00:40 - Brown expresses concern about the source of funding for stormwater initiatives
  • 2:08:30 - Discussion switches to Charlottesville Housing Fund and Mayor Norris' request to increase it
  • 2:15:00 - Public comment from Colette Hall

January 05, 2010

Top-10 Growth & Development Stories of 2009

In my weekly appearance today on WINA AM 1070 on the Charlottesville Right Now program, host Coy Barefoot and I will count down Charlottesville Tomorrow's top-10 growth and development stories of 2009.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download Brian Wheeler's appearance on the Coy Barefoot show

This is the fourth year we have counted down the top-10 growth and development stories in Charlottesville-Albemarle.  This wouldn’t be possible without the support of WINA for the Charlottesville Right Now program, host Coy Barefoot for having me on the show each week, Charlottesville Tomorrow’s donors, and the excellent reporting by my colleague Sean Tubbs and our interns.

Charlottesville Tomorrow's Top-10 Growth & Development Stories of 2009
  1. Biscuit Run goes from Albemarle’s largest proposed development ever to a future state park after all 1,200 acres are acquired by the Commonwealth of Virginia in December.
  2. Meadowcreek Parkway construction begins in Albemarle.  Local lawsuit fails to stop construction and City Council’s 3-2 vote to convey City property is upheld in court.  In December, VDOT puts City’s portion (called McIntire Road Extended) out to bid and City Council approves preliminary interchange design.
  3. City & County both hold local elections.  Democrats keep all five seats on Charlottesville City Council.  Three independent candidates in the City are unsuccessful in their bids for Council with Bob Fenwick’s campaign largely a referendum on the future of McIntire Park and dredging for water supply needs.  In Albemarle, Republican Rodney Thomas upset incumbent Chairman Democrat David Slutzky (D-Rio).  In the open seat race to fill the Samuel Miller District seat, Republican Duane Snow defeats two opponents.  Thomas and Snow join Republican Ken Boyd to form a group of three Republicans.  Both newcomers are local businessmen born and raised in Charlottesville-Albemarle. The election results will bring a new mix of experience, politics and philosophy to the board in 2010 that could mean big changes in the board's approach to budgeting, tax rates, economic development and other key issues.
  4. Fifty-year Community Water Supply Plan continues to be evaluated by local officials and public for opportunities to improve plan and lower costs.  Engineering firm Gannett Fleming is dropped and replaced with local firm Schnabel Engineering.  Three studies get underway related to dredging of South Fork, the design of the new Ragged Mountain Dam, and a “conceptual review” of the proposed pipeline connecting the two reservoirs.
  5. Places29 Master Plan is recommended for approval by Albemarle County Planning Commission on 4-2 vote.  Many business leaders continue to oppose grade-separated interchanges and other transportation proposals that cannot currently be funded by state.  Wendell Wood lobbies for growth area expansion on to undeveloped land he owns in Northern Albemarle.
  6. Peter van der Linde opens recycling facility at Zion Crossroads.  Rivanna Solid Waste Authority (run jointly by Charlottesville-Albemarle) files lawsuit against van der Linde accusing him of fraud and non-payment of as much as $1 million in tipping fees to the RSWA facility.  RSWA decides to seek bids to privatize the Ivy Material Utilization Center and McIntire recycling facilities.
  7. Charlottesville Downtown Mall renovations completed under budget and mostly on schedule (fountains needed more work after deadline).
  8. Major new housing and retail developments continue to be held up by market forces, economic downturn, and lack of adequate public infrastructure (e.g. sewer capacity).
  9. Virginia General Assembly blocks local sales tax voter referendum, requested by both Charlottesville & Albemarle as part of search for new transportation funding resources, specifically to support formation of a Regional Transit Authority.
  10. First annual CvillePieFest is held in Crozet.  Organized on Twitter, it was simply amazing.
    (Full disclosure: Coy Barefoot & Brian Wheeler really want to continue as permanent judges for this event, something that should become the Virginia Pie Festival! Keep track of all things local pie here.)
Brian’s predictions for the top stories of 2010
  1. Key decisions will be made about next steps for the fifty-year Community Water Supply Plan related to Ragged Mountain dam design and dredging.
  2. Crozet Master Plan review is completed.  What is new target for Crozet’s build out population and will the growth area be expanded at Yancey Mills for a new business park?
  3. New growth area land in U.S. Route 29 corridor will be considered to replace the 3.5% of growth area lost to state’s acquisition in late 2009 of Biscuit Run for a new state park.
  4. Village of Rivanna and Places29 Master Plans will be reviewed by Board of Supervisors.  Will Places29 be approved and, if so, with what transportation vision for the future of U.S. 29 North?
  5. Local government continues to struggle with the continuing impact of state and local budget shortfalls in very difficult economy.  Officials will consider new proposals to diversify Albemarle’s tax base (increased commercial/industrial) and proposals to reduce recently adjusted cash proffer expectations in an effort to encourage new home construction.
  6. City-County-UVA cooperation will get more attention by the public and local officials (revenue sharing, water, solid waste, schools, public safety).  Will it get better or worse?
  7. Master Planning of McIntire Park will get underway and future uses, like a botanical garden, will be assessed. 
  8. The military facilities at Rivanna Station around the National Ground Intelligence Center will continue their expansion and bring new residents to the community working for the Defense Intelligence Agency and military sub-contractors.
  9. Charlottesville and Albemarle both face challenges from their residents concerned about urban infill development, the type of growth encouraged by each locality’s comprehensive plans, but often opposed in the face of neighborhood concerns about increased traffic, public safety, and noise.  How will this impact redevelopment of West Main and old Martha Jefferson Hospital?
  10. Landmark Hotel construction on Downtown Mall resumes, or not…

December 18, 2009

RSWA will review bids to privatize trash and recycling operations

DailyProgress By Brian Wheeler
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, December 18, 2009

The Rivanna Solid Waste Authority board on Thursday approved a resolution indicating it will accept competitive bids to privatize operations at the Ivy Material Utilization Center and McIntire recycling facilities.

Charlottesville City Councilor David Brown
The RSWA has said it needs to upgrade equipment at the Ivy facility if it is going to continue operating the trash transfer facility. A Charlottesville-Albemarle County agreement related to solid waste operations expires in June and some officials have recommended that, instead of renewing that agreement, local governments should privatize the operation.

In the public comment opportunity, former City Council candidate Bob Fenwick was one of three speakers who asked the board to drop a lawsuit against Peter van der Linde, who is operating a private solid waste and recycling facility in Zion Crossroads.

Officials have said the lawsuit and their interest in privatization are not related.

City Councilor David Brown responded to the public's comments and shared his rationale for supporting the van der Linde lawsuit.

"This case is Rivanna accusing Mr. van der Linde of fraud, and the fraud he is accused of is intentionally not paying as much as a million dollars in fees due to Rivanna," Brown said. "I would hope people aren't saying, 'That's OK. We don't really care what he did, he is doing such a good business now, that he is to be excused from that.'"

"Is there compelling evidence to support a lawsuit against Mr. van der Linde? In my opinion, there is," Brown said.

Peter van der Linde
After listening to the statements from Brown, van der Linde said in an interview that the lawsuit was still unfounded.

"They got it wrong, 100 percent wrong," van der Linde said. "They are relying on information provided only by their counsel and have chosen to ignore information provided independently by [me]."

Van der Linde, who maintains he is being singled out in the lawsuit, said that he has provided the RSWA with all the information he has ever had concerning the records on service fees. He said the RSWA has not reciprocated to provide him information on their other trash customers.

"[The records] would allow me to establish with absolute certainty the widespread neglect of the collection of the fees from other haulers," van der Linde said. "I am innocent."