The Woodland Height Civic Association Safety Committee met on March 28th and identified a number of safety and health concerns that might need to be remedied. Some of these are: Traffic concerns, road signs, broken sidewalks, clogged storm drains, unsafe street trees, park safety, street-lighting and alley issues.
The Safety Committee is organizing a series of walks to identify problems in our area and report them to the City for repair. The committee has broken the neighborhood into Six Zones to help divide up the work. The first walk took place on Saturday, May 5, between 10 and 11 AM starting at W. 29th and Bainbridge at Carter Jones Park. We will document concerns then enter them into RVA311. You can help with walking/documenting or entering. Subsequent walks will focus on other areas of Woodland Heights and will be announced on Nextdoor and Facebook Woodland Heights pages.
Come out and join us for these walks. You can get some exercise, visit with neighbors and help make Woodland Heights a safer community!
In February, over sixty concerned neighbors came together to explore the potential for Woodland Heights to revitalize a Neighborhood Watch Program with a personality specific to our community. In the remote past, there have been some efforts to have an effective Neighborhood Watch program, but in recent years, Woodland Heights has gone without the benefits that Neighborhood Watch can offer.
At the first meeting, the sense of the group was that the overarching goals of the Program would be to improve the quality of residents’ lives, to participate in preventing crime in our neighborhood, and to realize a greater sense of security, responsibility and personal control over our homes. It was agreed that none of this will be possible without developing a greater sense of community in Woodland Heights, and working on that goal will be a significant component of the Program’s plan.
Woodland Heights is recognized as being a vibrant, diverse, urban community, which is one of its greatest attractions. The Neighborhood Watch Program recognizes the need to foster and encourage this virtue by focusing on community-building, on looking out for the welfare of our neighbors, and on developing effective communication among our residents and with the police in appropriate situations. The emphasis of Woodland Heights’ program is not planned to involve patrols or interventions which many feel would be inconsistent with the welcoming quality that characterizes our community.
The Watch program has heard from Police Department representatives at several meetings, and received an update on crime statistics and trends in the area. There was a report concerning some recent arrests following a number of complaints and a theft from the Patrick Henry School. At the meeting, there were suggestion about the best way for residents to report suspicious activity, and how best to communicate that to their neighbors. It has been decided that the Program needs Block Captains for the purpose of initiating first-hand contact with as many residents as possible, and a list of goals for Block Captains has been drafted. About twenty of our neighbors have offered to be Block Captains, but Woodland Heights is a big area and more volunteers are needed!
At this time, the Woodland Heights Neighborhood Watch program has nearly 70 members who share a desire to make the community a better place. The Watch Program has plans to make available free advice to folks who are interested in acquiring or upgrading a security system, and the Program’s Block Captains will be introducing themselves. With the Woodland Height Neighborhood Watch coordinating the efforts of the residents of the community, everyone can have a safer and more secure home.
Those who are interested in joining the Woodland Heights Neighborhood Watch can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Riverside News, Spring 2018 Issue. Submitted by Malcom Parks.
Another beautiful spring has arrived in Woodland Heights. As you may remember, Woodland Heights Neighborhood Association membership fees are due at the beginning of the year. Last year our Vice President helped collecting dues. This year, we implemented an online payment option; residents can use PayPal on our website: www.woodlandheightsrva.org, or they can mail checks to our P.O. Box.
Knowing that traffic is a concern for some of our neighbors, I would like to propose that neighbors who park their cars on the street leave between two and three car lengths between their vehicles and the street corners. This will help with visibility for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers at the intersections, and will help when two cars meet on the same road, especially on the streets that lead to Semmes Ave.
Summer is on the way, and plants have started growing. Please keep plants inside gardens and away from our sidewalks, to facilitate their usage. Let’s make our neighborhood a more pleasant place to walk, run, and ride.
As usual, we encourage you to help us by participating in any of the committees. Without your involvement we cannot run any of the events that help us to integrate our neighborhood. We have a new Vice President, Vaughn Garland, who was elected in our February meeting. I would like to thank Susan Martin for her services as Treasurer for the last two years. I also thank the continuing officers, Susan Spain in her new role as Treasurer, and Wilhelmina Bourne as Secretary.
I would like you to start thinking about elections for new officers; we meet five times per year, so for our September meeting we would like to have the candidates ready, in order hold elections at our November meeting. I would like to replace 2 officers this year. It is really important to rotate the officers; we do not want to call upon the same people for four or even six years. New officers will keep the association and its members much more active.
Enjoy the warmer weather, and see you on the streets!
Manchester, infamously known as Dogtown, continues to see development and it’s heading westward. This new growth is led Michael Hild, Charlie Westbrook, and other individuals who have invested serious financial capital and energy into the area. But this investment is a slight shift from past development and focuses on the section of Manchester anchored by Hull Street between Cowardin and Commerce. As development pushes westward along Hull Street there are strong indicators it will continue through and past our neighborhood.
Justin Sledd, a commercial real estate agent at One South Realty Group, says, “The recently approved B5 rezoning along Hull street, which allows for taller buildings, is causing property owners to re-think the current use of their space. The desire of developers to preserve so many of the cool old buildings is requiring some creative thinking.” Developers want to balance the preservation of historic property while adding new height. Sledd has managed property in the area and has sold several properties along Hull Street recently.
Sharing the hope of many in our neighborhood that the development will be beneficial, Sledd notes, “It will result in more commercial occupants and hopefully things like grocery stores will be more enticed to fill upcoming vacancies.” A grocery store has been much sought after from those in and neighboring Manchester.
The last WHCA meeting included fervent discussion about the fate of 3101 Porter Street. The property was used as an assisted living facility for years and is currently vacant. Its nearly 20,000 square feet of commercial space is a major source of concern for our community. A city official spoke at the meeting and discussed the requirement fora new special use permit to be issued to whoever purchases the building at auction. The special use permit must be issued by the city’s Department of Development and Planning Review and will add additional restraints to the type, size, and design of the property.
Assessed at just over 1 million dollars, it will be a potentially large under taking for a developer and has already garnered significant attention from homeowners who are worried about the potential direction of the upcoming development.
Continuing westward, development is marked by new restaurants Little Nickel and Happy Empanada at the corner of Westover Hills Boulevard and Forest Hill Avenue. The announcement a month ago about mixed-use commercial space with a Veil Brewing tasting room spurred buzz and positive energy from significant portions of the neighboring community. Local developer duo Birck Turnbull and Charles Bice of High Summit Partners, LLC have more recently been focused on Veil’s flagship location and other projects in Scott’s Addition. Their shift of attention to opportunities south of the James indicates that investors recognize the energy and promising, lucrative opportunities here.
As with any development, communities are forced to be adaptive and to change. For now, our neighborhood will need to be a positive advocate for those looking to invest while also protecting our green spaces, historic buildings, and neighborhood charm.