Streets that Work Initiative
Since council passed my resolution in February 2014, staff has engaged residents city-wide in an effort to pinpoint the city’s traffic circulation and safety problems. With the help of Toole Design Group and a citizen steering committee, a report on priorities and new street standards should be ready for public review by the winter of 2015. http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=3573.
My proposal for a new design and engineering team to work directly with a citizen steering committee came to pass last year, following the closure of the original firm.
West Main Street
Since 1988, seven studies have been conducted and shelved. Today, increasing conflicts between cars, bikes, pedestrians and buses slow traffic and put our most vulnerable citizens at risk. Landscape architects Rhodeside-Harwell and a citizen steering committee have created a “vision” that remakes West Main into a gracious, tree-lined corridor that works for all users. This plan calls for a managed parking strategy, lowered building heights and new zoning standards that align with the city’s 2013 Comprehensive Plan. The roughly $18 million of improvements (which can be phased) include upgrading streetscapes and underground utility lines. Council will review the plan in detail, beginning this spring. Already, more than 300 city residents have participated in this process, so let’s not make this the eighth plan to be shelved. http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=3256.
Pollock’s Greenway in the Strategic Investment Area (SIA)
With the help of architects Cunningham Quill, a citizen steering committee and at least 30 public meetings, the city now has a “vision” for this area south of Water Street. In 2014, Council adopted the SIA Plan that I spear-headed, which calls for rebuilding streets with rain gardens and building a new park along Pollock’s Branch that doubles as a storm water management facility. The Departments of Public Works, Neighborhood Development Services and Economic Development are looking for grant funding to turn this “walkable watershed” into a working landscape in a part of town that currently has no parks. http://www.charlottesville.org/index.aspx?page=3409.
East McIntire Park and Botanical Garden
I was an early advocate for this beautiful “gateway” to the city that would provide passive recreation space and a botanical garden. The landscape architectural firm, Mahan Rykiel and a citizen steering committee led the process through several public events. Once council approves a final plan, construction can begin.
We are now taking stock of zoning ordinances city-wide to make sure they implement our 2013 Comprehensive Plan. The West Main Street Project and Strategic Investment Area (SIA) Plan have recommended changes to existing zoning, including reduced building heights. Council has yet to act on these recommendations.
Charlottesville Strategic Plan
No organization, public or private can function effectively without a mission, vision, clear goals, objectives and performance measures. That’s why I called for a strategic plan in 2012. It was adopted in 2014, but an implementation strategy and performance measures are still pending. (http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=92) The five goals in the strategic plan are:
1) Enhance the self-sufficiency of residents.
2) Be a safe, equitable, thriving, and beautiful community.
3) Have a strong diversified economy.
4) Be a well-managed and successful organization.
5) Foster strong connections.
During my first two years on Council, I discovered that many citizen complaints were left unresolved for over a year. The assistant city manager was put in charge of monitoring complaint resolution and investigating other options like a 311 Mobile Tracker system.
According to the Center for Advances in Public Engagement , “The public is most often viewed as an audience to educate or a problem to manage, instead of a highly useful resource and collaborative partner.” This was a finding of the PLACE Design Task Force two years ago, that has gradually become common practice as evidenced by the increased use of citizen steering committees, public meetings and workshops on several projects that I championed, like the SIA, West Main, Streets That Work, the Code Review, and the Belmont Bridge.
City Manager Evaluation
Two years ago I championed this effort and an evaluation format from the International City/County Management Association was adopted last fall.
Cost Allocation Agreement for Waste Water Projects
Reaching agreement across jurisdictional lines is never easy. This agreement between Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Service Authority is fair, meets industry standards, and gets the pump station out of the Woolen Mills with the regional partners paying for it. It provides a lasting method for allocating costs on future projects, saving time and money. It also made room for a positive working relationship between the city and county on such issues as the courts, regional transportation, and the Rivanna River.
Woolen Mills Pump Station and Odor Mitigation
After three years, work on the Rivanna Pump Station tunnel has begun. As a Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) board member, I pursued funding authorization of an Odor Mitigation Plan that was added to RWSA’s capital budget in 2015. This would not have been possible if efforts had failed to pass the Cost Allocation Agreement between the city and county that moved the pump station out of a city neighborhood.
Strategic Action Team (SAT)
This group was formed in 2012 after a work session I championed on “reducing poverty through employment.” The SAT produced a report that called for creating an economic advisory council, a downtown Workforce Center and a peer to peer network (to get the word out about resources and jobs.) All of these goals have all been achieved and then some. http://issuu.com/cvillecity/docs/2014sat_growingopportunities
Workforce Satellite Center Downtown
Two years ago, I discovered that relatively few city residents were taking advantage of the Virginia Workforce Center on Hydraulic Road. That’s when I raised the possibility of creating a Workforce Center in the City, inspired by the Opportunities Industrialization Council (OIC) directed by Alicia Lugo back in the 1970’s. We now have a Workforce Center in the Main Public Library that provides one-stop employment services. Upon my urging, those on-site services were expanded to include personal financial counseling via another City supported program, “Bank On.” The Center also links people to city apprenticeship programs like “Go Driver.”
Strategic Investment Area (SIA) Plan
Building streets, parks and storm water facilities along a new Pollock’s Greenway will grow local “green infrastructure” jobs. Rebuilding 340 units of assisted and public housing in the SIA will generate construction jobs, a third of which must go to qualified low income residents according to HUD regulations. City staff and community folks have been meeting since December to chart out career pipelines now so that when projects break ground, we have low income residents ready to compete for these jobs. I also support partnering with the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority (CEDA) to develop affordable flex-work space in the SIA for all kinds of industries and businesses.
Local Food Partnership
Charlottesville and Albemarle County have gotten a joint Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) grant from the state to craft a business plan for a flash-freezing facility in the City that will process food grown in the County, thereby growing jobs in the City. I worked with our county counterparts to secure the local matching funds.
Plugged In Virginia (PIVA) and PIVA for Public Housing
In 2013, I convened a group from Thomas Jefferson Adult and Career Education, Economic Development and Piedmont Community College to create a career pathway for people with only a GED or high school diploma. The result was PIVA, an intensive customer service education and certification program. A course tailored to meet the needs of public housing residents (that included GED preparation and workforce development in customer service) was later created in 2014.
Blue Ribbon Commission on Schools
State funding for local schools has decreased over the last three years and over 30 positions have been cut. This special commission was pulled together (based on a proposal I gave to council in 2013) to investigate ways to get the city schools on fiscally sound footing. The commission gave council many strategies, however the council has yet to adopt a comprehensive approach to solve this recurring problem. http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=3483
Lugo McGinness Academy
After my stint on the School Board, I knew we needed a better alternative but temporary learning environment for some of our most challenged students. That’s why I supported buying the Hope Community Center for the School Division. The new academy, has a corps of well-trained, committed teachers, administrators and counselors in a beautiful, light filled building with access to ball fields and a gym.
Strategic Investment Area (SIA) Plan
Julian Bond’s words, delivered in 2013, are as relevant today as they were then: “The title was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Then as now, black employment is far higher than white employment, but I think people forgot that jobs were part of the equation.” (1) The SIA Plan honors the legacy of the Ix Textile Plant and Better Living Mill Shop by keeping jobs in the equation. The Plan’s goal is to rebuild 340 units of supported housing already in the SIA, build new streets with sidewalks and trees, and establish Pollock’s Branch as a park that manages storm water. The SIA Plan calls for building 300,000 SF of new commercial space for our growing innovation industries and construction of more than 400 units of workforce and market-rate housing over the next 10-15 years. These construction developments will generate over $2 million in tax revenue and at least 75 jobs each year. HUD- owned property, if we choose to develop using that mechanism, requires that 30 % of those jobs be offered to qualified low income residents. Since December, I have convened meetings with city staff, developers, contractors, and community members to chart career pathways in the skilled trades so that when we break ground, our low-income residents are poised to compete.