Town Crier Articles

Posted on June 1, 2021 7:03 AM by Stuart Dopp
Categories: NTRA Business
Perhaps you have dragged out the big notebook (or e-document) to study the original Master Declaration governing New Town. Kudos for due diligence! Now, it is time to tackle the swampy morass of the Supplemental Declarations. These are the documents that dictate services, easements, and some aspects of assessment protocols for the individual neighborhoods that constitute New Town. You will find a mess of contradictions and omissions in these Supplementals.
 
Each Supplemental identifies common areas within the neighborhood. Rightly, we should share in the cost for the upkeep of these spaces, as common areas and their beauty are shared by all residents.
 
Basic services for New Town lots are enumerated in Article IV, Section I of each Supplemental, including grass maintenance, trimming of trees and shrubs, sidewalk and streetlight repairs. Individual neighborhoods’ property assessments are supposed to stem from the services provided to the residences in that neighborhood. Let’s take Charlotte Park as an example of the swampy suction. Sixty-eight lots (covered by four Supplementals) do not have any services enumerated; twenty have basic services listed but have added responsibility for the maintenance of non-VDOT streets. Roper Park homes have a mishmash of basic services but varying requirements for maintaining easements, wetlands buffers, and non-VDOT streets. Village Walk adds a different dimension, as their assessments include exterior maintenance of housing. 
 
Equally confusing are easements for Neighborhoods. Easement policies for utilities, NTRA-owned pedestrian ways, and drainage are found in Section VIII of the Master, but there is no consistency in what is covered by Neighborhood Supplementals. Abbey Commons and Chelsea Green, for instance, have no mention of utility and pedestrian easements —- only drainage. Some neighborhoods have roadways that are maintained by the Association rather than VDOT, and thus should require easements.
 
These discrepancies need to be addressed, of course. You recently received an e-blast letter from the NTRA Board concerning the need for revisions to all our governing documents, so you know that they are working diligently, with legal guidance, to rectify the issues. There is a process to make this work transparent; you will receive updates and opportunities to comment. What is most important is this fact: you must be part of the vote to adopt the finished product (probably late in 2021). Two-thirds of owners must approve. Lacking that, we will be drowning in a quicksand of illogical policies written almost twenty years ago under a different set of circumstances. That could also place us in murky legal waters. Stay tuned…….
Posted on June 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
Categories: Life in New Town
Great photo submitted by New Town resident Sara Benolkin and in a new (almost) post-pandemic era, the Town Crier Staff is THRILLED to share something that reminds us of life before Covid and bridges us to the normalcy its conclusion will bring!
 
Several families in New Town got together for and afternoon of frolic in sun and water-splashing fun! It even looks like it was a great day for freezy pops!
 
Posted on June 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
submitted by Ginny Fisher
 
With our community growing, we thought we might benefit by starting another book club. The idea would be to meet from September through June. Also, because some may occasionally be out of town, we’d choose books at the beginning of the year so everyone could plan when they’ll be able to attend and what books they’ll read. 
 
By discussing and planning books upfront, we hope to get a nice mix of high-quality books. We can then mix up autobiographies, fiction/ non fiction and maybe some “ice cream and lollipops” lighter books too. 
 
To start off the year here are a few we’ve chosen: Heartland, Sarah Smarsh (memoir), Three Ordinary Girls by Tom Brady (non-fiction), The Second Mountain by David Brooks (philosophy), Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah (autobiography).  Please bring along your book suggestions so we can discuss them at our first gathering in September. 
 
So, if you’re interested in joining us, please contact Ginny Fisher, ginnyfisher258@gmail.com.  Blanche Scharf and I look forward to hearing from you. Please let us know by August 1. 
Posted on June 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Jim Carey
Categories: NTRA Business
Ever wonder how James City County and the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) make sure the streets, alleys, open spaces, and other improvements are constructed properly?  Well, here’s a brief summary. 
 
First the county must provide its approval that requirements have been met. Since New Town’s development has evolved over 20 years, each section is reviewed as the work is completed. The townhomes and about half the single-family homes in Charlotte Park, and homes in Chelsea Green, Savannah Square and Abby Commons have final approvals. 
 
Charlotte Park (Section 10), Roper Park townhomes and Village Walk are or will be in the county acceptance/final approval process and the ownership transferred to the NTRA in the next year or so. 
 
The county acceptance process kicks off when all the homes are completed and ready for occupancy or occupied. At that time the developer’s engineer prepares and submits to the county as-built plans detailing how all the improvements, alleys, parks, walkways, stormwater systems etc. were constructed. The county staff compares these plans and on-site conditions to the plans which the county originally approved. Often the county requires the developer to take remedial actions if the as built plans and/or field conditions do not comply with the original plans and county construction standards. When the county gives final approval, it will release financial guarantees that the developer posted to guarantee its obligation to complete the area in compliance with county requirements. 
 
The transition of ownership typically follows the county acceptance process. At this time the developer works with the NTRA to transfer ownership of the alleys, walkways, parks, stormwater systems etc. to the NTRA. (Homeowner associations often retain professional assistance in conducting a due diligence review.) Currently the developers are pursuing county acceptance for the remaining area of Charlotte Park and Village Walk. Atlantic Homes, the developer, has not yet initiated any county review for Roper Park. 
 
James City County conducted its field review of Charlotte Park last August.  The county subsequently issued a number of letters detailing deficiencies for corrective actions. The developer is still working to correct these items. So if you’ve seen plantings and curb/alley work around Christine Court, this is part of Atlantic Homes’s commitment to fix deficiencies. Once the necessary changes are submitted to the county, we will have a professional engineering firm participate in the final inspection on our behalf. 
 
According to David Carter of Village Walk, James City County inspectors and NTRA representatives have similarly met and identified a variety of issues that Eagle of Virginia, LLC is required to address in Village Walk before the transfer of assets can be completed. Some of these punch list items as well as planned amenities like benches and additional landscaping have already been addressed or are scheduled for completion shortly.
 
Posted on June 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
Categories: Life in New Town
Reviving a favorite pre-covid tradition, friends and neighbors in Foundation Square held a gathering in their community Garden in May featuring New Town's own Phil Casey behind the mic. Don't we know that guy from somewhere? hmmmm...
 
    
 
  
 
 
Posted on June 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Activities Committee
We're More Than Books!
 
From ebooks, downloadable music, genealogy, and health research to direct assistance from librarians, you can find what you need through Williamsburg Regional Library’s (WRL) digital collections and services. We will discuss the variety of resources that can be accessed with your library card 24/7 from the WRL website, www.wrl.org. Whether you use a desktop computer, a laptop, or a mobile device there is something for you at WRL.
 
Speaker: Barry Trott is Special Projects and Technical Services Director at the Williamsburg (VA) Regional Library, where he coordinates the library’s communications and marketing, statistical analysis, digital collections, services, and programs, including the library website, and acquisitions and cataloging. Barry is past-president of the American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association (RUSA). In 2007, he was awarded both the Public Library Association’s Allie Beth Martin Award and the ALA Reference and User Services Association’s Margaret E. Monroe Library Adult Services Award in recognition for his work in readers’ 
Posted on June 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Dick Durst, NTRA Board President
Categories: General, NTRA Business
In several of our neighborhoods the Board of Directors approved the removal of street trees that were dying or dead as part of our ongoing effort to keep our community looking its best.  Obviously, this is a two-step process: removing the trees/preparing the site for the new tree and then planting the replacement.  Simple….well, maybe not.
 
The removal of the trees (13 of them) went pretty well.  Then the challenges began….  We contracted with a local company, Colonial Colors, to plant the replacement trees.  We knew that the county identifies the placement of trees on the approved plats, but they also indicate the type of tree (linden, oak, maple, etc.).  If a tree dies, the county statues say you must replace those with the same species, since most of our streets have a consistent type of tree in order to maintain a cohesive “look” to the neighborhood.  The county also requires that street trees be a minimum of 1.5 “calipers” (the diameter of a tree, measured at breast height: 4.5 feet above the soil).  This is to better ensure that the tree will survive, since they are a bit more mature than the typical tree you might buy at your local big box store.  
 
We did not have the original plats, so we worked with JCC to find the original plats, then identify the types of trees, since we began this project in the winter after the trees had lost their leaves.  It took the county several weeks to locate the plats, then identify the trees.  We petitioned the county to reconsider the original linden trees on Town Creek Drive, since the original trees did not do well (we have six to replace, plus two more that will probably not survive this year).  The soil on that street is not just heavy clay, like so much of New Town, but very moist and the lindens do not tolerate that much moisture.  JCC relented and allowed us to plant red maples, which will complement the remaining lindens.
 
By the time we got the information and negotiated with JCC, it was near the ideal time to plant trees to enable them to begin to put down roots before the hot season begins in Williamsburg.  We gave the green light to Colonial Colors to purchase the replacement trees.  Finally, after four months of planning, we were on the way!
 
But wait—Colonial Colors checked with their regional suppliers, then expanded the search -- they have been unable to find ANY trees available anywhere in Virginia, of the type and size we need.   It appears that the COVID pandemic has affected yet another aspect of our society – people stuck at home began to do lots more landscaping and one supplier told us “we have sold three years’ worth of trees in the past nine months.”  So, we’ll just wait for trees to grow and mature a bit to reach the 1.5 caliper size…except trees are at a premium and suppliers aren’t willing to leave their stock just sit in their nurseries patiently growing, when other people, not subject to the JCC rules, are willing to buy them NOW.
 
The Board doesn’t really have a solution for this, yet.  We are hopeful that this run on trees will subside as the pandemic gets somewhat more under control and people resume some sense of normalcy in their lives.  In the meantime, we have two “holes” waiting for oak trees on Rollison, two for maples on Center, two sycamores on Discovery Park Blvd, and seven red maples on Town Creek Drive.  We are concerned about several more trees on Rollison and are waiting a bit to see if they are just late in leafing out.
 
So, be patient with us and thanks for your concerns.
Posted on June 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Sarah Carey
Have you visited New Town’s Farmers Market? Hopefully, but just in case you haven’t, here is the story behind how the market came to New Town.  Also known as Christopher’s Produce Market, it was previously located on Richmond Road by IHOP.
 
Christopher Starbuck was and still is providing fresh produce to local restaurants, including Paul’s, here in New Town. George Tsipas, the owner of Paul’s, approached Christopher and asked if he would be interested in setting up a produce stand on New Town Avenue between the restaurant and Iron Bound Gym. Scott Grafton of Iron Bound Gym supported the idea and so it all began! Christopher’s Produce Market is also listed in the Iron Bound Gym newsletter and on Facebook under Williamsburg Eat Local.
 
Hours of operation currently are 10-4 Monday-Friday, 9-5 Saturday. Closed Sunday. The second week of June hours will be extended to 5 pm during the week when Christopher’s son finishes school. There will also be more local produce available.  So walk over to New Town Avenue and support local vendors!
 
Posted on June 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Jim Ducibella
Categories: General
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond covers more than 50 acres of flowers, plants, trees, shrubs, with a conservatory that is the only one of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic and a host of programs that make this place far more than a walk through an oasis.
 
Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours for special events, June’s calendar seems especially full and enticing. Through August 25, the Ginter is offering what it calls “Alfresco.” It is designed to be a relaxing evening for couples or friends to spend time together while socially distanced from others in Ginter’s magnificent Garden. Food and drink are available for purchase online or in person, though reservations are required.
 
The Ginter’s “Flowers After Five” programs feature food, music for background strolls and dining – and several special occasions. The second and fourth Thursday of the month are also “Fidos After 5 Nights,” when the Garden partners with the Richmond SPCA and leashed dogs are allowed onto the grounds.
 
There’s a Juneteenth celebration that is in partnership with Project Yoga Richmond from 9-11 a.m. on the Garden’s terraced lawn.
 
All areas of the children’s garden are open, except for Water Play. https://www.lewisginter.org/visit/kids-learning/.
 
For those not familiar with Lewis Ginter, he was a prominent businessman, financier, military officer, real estate developer and philanthropist and fierce supporter of Virginia’s capital city. The city’s world-famous Jefferson Hotel was a project of his. Ginter hired renown architects to design the structure, investing between $5 and $10 million.
 
He also commissioned Edward V. Valentine – Richmond’s Valentine Museum is named for him and his brother, Mann S. Valentine – to create the life-size statue of Thomas Jefferson that is the centerpiece of the hotel’s upper lobby.
 
At the time of his death in 1897, Ginter had amassed a vast fortune, some of which went to his niece, Grace Arents. It was Arents who turned Ginter’s Lakeside Wheel Club into, first, a progressive farm known as Bloemendaal, then the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
 
Because of ongoing Covid-19 precautions, and Garden management’s desire to adhere to Virginia standards, admission and all events require advance purchase online, with customers choosing their arrival time.
 
The Garden is located at 1800 Lakeside Avenue in Richmond. The phone number is 804-262-9887. For a complete listing of requirements and events, visit this website https://www.lewisginter.org/.
 
Photo by Tom Hennessy
Posted on June 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Patti Vaticano
New Town has its share of innovative floor plans on 2, 3, and even 4 story levels.  Style and grace have been our community’s hallmark, but multilevel living presents unique challenges for homeowners. For the elder New Town resident, stairs are an obstacle to easy living but trading off the energy and convenience of “life in town,” for a ranch or carriage home further out in the county may not be a viable option.  For residents with personal elevators in their homes, a complex interior conveyor, while novel, presents a considerable undertaking in time and money to maintain.  
 
Installation of a stair lift—or two—is the chief way for residents to age in place and a great alternative to moving to a more manageable, albeit, less centrally located home. Of course, the first question is cost.  Stair lifts can be costly, but when compared to the cost of a house move or a senior care transition, it’s a downright bargain.  Though not a hard-and-fast rule, some Medicare supplements will pay for a stairlift, in whole or in part, if the need for one is a medical issue and sanctioned by a physician. The homeowner may be able to take advantage of state grants to fund their lifts, as well, or tap into state assistive technology projects that are in place to help the disabled. In general, however, a lift will be an out-of-pocket expense for the homeowner.
 
If your home has a straight staircase with about 12-14 steps, you should budget anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 to purchase a new stair lift. The average cost usually ends up in the middle of this range, between about $3,000 and $4,000. Outdoor steps are more expensive, ranging from $5,000 to $7,000, with outdoor curved lifts reaching as high as $12,000, depending upon the company contracted, of course.  These prices generally include installation as well as a one-year service warranty. It is possible to rent a stairlift if the need of the homeowner is temporary, for a convalescent period or when a short-term visit of a disabled friend or family member is anticipated.  Rentals are not always cost-effective, however, as they can range from as little as $50 to as much as $250 to $500 a month.  In a rental scenario, as well, repair costs thereafter may be necessary to bring your home back to its pre-lift appearance.  Not surprisingly, the higher-end lifts offer a number of design options for the homeowner, from slim-line and/or collapsible designs and curved or customed tracks to color-coordinated fabrics for your home interior.  A standard lift, however, will meet the needs necessary to tackle the dilemma of an aging household in a multi-level home.  
 
Lifts are most often powered by a rechargeable battery which offers unbroken service if a home’s power is ever interrupted.  However, some companies advise that you turn the lift off during an outage to preserve it from sustaining a possible power surge when the power comes back on. It is recommended, to reach maximum battery performance, to use your lift chair regularly, keep it plugged in to its wall outlet, at all times, and park your lift in the down level or up level space, never mid-track.  When out of town, turn off the lift entirely by its power button. The track should be dusted and the seat and back portion sanitized, regularly; and a maintenance check by the professional installer, once a year, is highly advisable.
 
New Town residents with personal elevators have a lengthier maintenance checklist to address.  To ensure a fully functional home elevator, there are specific rules the homeowner needs to follow for both safety and damage-control issues:
  • Pay attention to the elevator’s weight limit — don’t overload it;
  • Keep all contents at least 2 inches away from the cab gate and cab wall;.
  • Always keep the landing doors closed unless you’re getting in or out of your elevator;
  • Don’t operate your elevator if the car gate or landing door locking system seems to be malfunctioning;
  • Never tamper, bypass, disable or remove door locks or any other safety features;
  • Don’t operate your elevator if you hear strange sounds or if the ride seems unusual;
  • Make sure the elevator completely stops before you get out or in and be sure to watch your step;
  • Don’t open the car gate while the elevator is moving or put your hands or feet through the openings in a scissor-style gate; and
  • Schedule regular maintenance checks with the elevator’s professional installer as well as perform self-checks between your services dates.  By way of example, when you step into the elevator, make note of the following:
    • Are all of the buttons working as they should be?
    • Does the door open and close properly?
    • Do you notice any interior damage at a glance?
Stair lifts and personal elevators.  Not inexpensive or maintenance-free, but the best options for New Town residents who love their home and community and choose to age in place.
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