Town Crier Articles

Posted on September 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Mike Reilly, Activities
Categories: Life in New Town
Posted on September 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Tom Nichols, Chair, Preparedness
Categories: Life in New Town
Posted on September 1, 2019 7:00 AM by June Dawkins
Categories: Life in New Town
Autumn is around the corner with its promise of cooler days, crisper nights and the glory of changing leaves. This is a great time to get yourself, your family and friends back outside to hit the trails (and sidewalks) of New Town.  
Did you know that our community has more than 2 miles of trails and 10 miles of walkways?  New Town trails are either Green, Purple or White. Green is primarily crusher run style base material.  Areas prone to wetness also have this material topped with a layer of mulch.  Purple is all mulch, except around bridges, where crusher material is also mulch covered.  White is also primarily a crusher run trail.
The Williamsburg/James City County area has other great locations for strolls, runs, hikes and bikes. Colonial Williamsburg, the Greensprings Interpretive Trail, Freedom Park, and College Woods offer places that are close, but feel miles away.  Yorktown is another option, with waterside sidewalks and long stretches of sandy beach.  There are even hills, for those who want a change of terrain.
After such a stretch of being indoors because of the intense heat, this is a good time for a reminder to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when venturing forth:         
  • Walk in the center of the trail,         
  • Treat clothing/exposed skin with insect repellent,         
  • Use EPA registered repellents such as DEET and Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, and Check for ticks (these are fewer, but they are still around,) when back inside and consult your vet for tick prevention for and pets.
Question of the Month:  Do you have a favorite place to walk/run/bike in the area?  Send us a post and share your insights with the New Town community!
So get out your Fitbit or use your cell phone app and track those steps!  Happy trails!
Posted on September 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Mary Cheston
Categories: Life in New Town
Warm weather brings the constant din of hammering and heavy equipment on our streets. Perhaps you’ve seen the crews working day (and night) to complete some of the remaining homes in New Town. We thought it was time for a construction update.
Roper Park
Roper Park is closing in on completion. Of its 93 planned townhomes, 13 are unsold. Construction of the remaining units bordering Center Street and Casey Boulevard is anticipated to be completed in 2020. According to Mike Youngblood of Twiddy Realty (representative of the builder, Atlantic Homes) the pace of sales has been about 18 homes a year for this neighborhood. Roper Park’s properties include the Federal Townhomes, Parks Edge, Woods View, and Townhouses on the Green. (In case you’ve found the variety of names confusing, Roper Park is considered legally to be Charlotte Park, Section 7, Lots 125+ for James City County records. The different home styles and their relationship to greenspace drove the distinction in marketing.)
Village Walk
Of the 98 planned homes in Village Walk, 79 are sold and 19 are available. The last section of five townhomes opposite Trader Joe’s will be 4-story designs and their construction is expected to begin in January 2020. According to Eagle Construction representative, Kelli Davis. “Homes have been moving well and we hope to be wrapped up here in summer 2020.” Kelli said that Village Walk appeals to buyers as a “close-knit, homey community.” 
Shirley Park
Next month the first residents of Shirley Park should be moving in, according to Mike Youngblood. Twelve single family homes have been sold to date, and up to 6 of these residences will be finished this year. When completed, Shirley Park will include detached as well as attached duplex and triplex models. Overall, the community will probably take until 2024 to reach full buildout.
Shirley Park will include a series of affordable townhomes, as per the proffers for New Town. Clearing has begun for this area, although some of these townhouses are still in conceptual design. Youngblood sees sales in Shirley Park as “evidence of confidence in New Town” and stated further “market values have held” and that should be good news for all residents in our community.
Shirley Park also honors three of the original driving forces behind New Town’s development – John McCann, Joseph Stettinius, and Larry Salzman. The major thoroughfares of the neighborhood have been named for each of them: McCann Way, Stettinius Trail and Salzman Street.
Posted on September 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Jim Bowers
Categories: NTRA Business
This past spring, the Landscape Advisory Committee emailed a link to our first Landscaping Survey to better understand how our landscape contractor, Virginia Lawn and Landscape, is doing and what our residents would like to see going forward. The survey helps our committee identify ways to improve landscape services while maintaining efficiency. 
To see more of the overall survey responses, please view the Committee’s presentation on the NTRA website
As we have heard from our residents, landscaping plays an important part of our community. Proper landscape plantings and care increase our residents’ satisfaction with their homes and community. Additionally, it sustains and improves our property values. New Town has a diversity of housing types and unique neighborhoods all conveniently located within walking distance to a wide variety of commercial establishments. It is this very diversity that also creates challenges for landscape maintenance. 
Our response rate, 30% of homeowners, is considered quite good by survey standards. Those who responded told us quite a bit about how our contractor has done and what we can do better.
Over 60% of respondents were pleased with the overall quality of landscape work performed. The same number felt that the landscape staff demonstrated knowledgeable, profession and courteous service. Over 75% felt that the landscape staff left the areas clean and neat.
When we asked residents if they would prefer to do some or all of their own lawn care, a resounding 80% said “No." Those 20% who would choose to do some of their own work, primarily cited pruning/trimming followed by weeding. 
When asked for areas of improvement, respondents cited a need for better communications and related supervision. Subsequently, we have met with Town Management and Virginia Lawn and Landscape.  We have communicated to our landscaper the priorities of our residents as expressed in the survey. 
Another area for improvement includes maintaining size and form when pruning trees & shrubs. Pruning is particularly tricky considering the need to maintain security around homes, the variety of plants in New Town and the sheering schedule currently in our contract. There were also numerous comments about the condition of the common areas in New Town. (In some cases, parks are a combined responsibility of the NTRA and the New Town Commercial Association.) Next steps will evolve as we continue to meet with the landscape company.  
Our committee of volunteers appreciates the community’s responses to our survey. We need more residents to become involved with our Committee and help oversee beautification efforts. Please come to one of our meetings (third Wednesday of the month) or volunteer to serve with us!  
Posted on September 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
Categories: NTRA Business
Angela Lesnett and her husband, Fred, moved to New Town’s Village Walk neighborhood from Arlington, Virginia, in 2017. 
Since moving to the Williamsburg area, Angela’s involvement in the community has included volunteering for Literacy for Life and starting the Women's Lunch Group in New Town. She enjoys travel and reading, and is committed to daily workouts at the Jamestown Recreation Center (...a necessity, Angela says, because she also enjoys the many good restaurants in Williamsburg). 
Angela loves the friendly and walkable Village Walk/New Town community and is happy for the opportunity to serve on the Residents' Advisory Board to maintain New Town as a great place to live.
Angela retired after 26 years as an in-house corporate attorney for Freddie Mac. Prior to that she was an associate at a large St. Louis law firm and held two judicial clerkships.  Angela holds a Master of Laws in Taxation from Georgetown University, a J.D. from IIT/Chicago-Kent, and a B.S. from Quincy College in Illinois.
Posted on August 1, 2019 7:00 AM by John Morgan
Categories: Life in New Town
Below are some pictures from our gathering on July 12.  We had about 20 neighbors in all for a great evening of eating and conversation.
Posted on August 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Phil Casey
Categories: Life in New Town
The NTRA Activities Committee organized a very successful party at the pool on the evening of July 17.  When I arrived at 7PM, I could not even find a chair!  They served over 150 hot dogs (donated by Paul’s Deli) and provided drinks for a hot summer night.  The crowd dissipated quickly at the end as the sky darkened, more with threatening clouds than with the coming night. (Pictures at the bottom.)
But before that happened, I randomly approached several attendees and asked for their ideas about this guy.
It’s the frog in the fountain outside the Regal Theater.  The majority of folks could identify where the picture was taken but they were pretty evenly split on recalling that there is a frog.  Even so, after studying the picture, everybody was willing to offer an opinion on what he or she is doing.  
Ellen and Mark Tibbles of Center Street were at the party with their daughter Emi. They are newcomers to New Town. They were the first to offer me an opinion that made me realize the frog is not necessarily doing what I thought. I assumed he was running around in a circle, maybe to amuse or impress one of the other frogs in the fountain. But the Tibbles think he is dancing in fountain’s sprays.
Virginia and Dick Barch of Charlotte Park recognized the fountain, but had been unaware of the frogs.  However, they had the marvelous insight that the frog is doing Tai Chi!  Kind of like those Zumba sessions in the community pool.
Even though Karin and Don McQueen of Chelsea Green have been here only two weeks, they recognized the frog.  They believe he is preparing to belly flop from his upper perch into the bottom bowl of the fountain.
Tracy and Jon Waible of New Town Avenue split on whether they had seen the frog before. But their impression leaned again towards dance; possibly a synchronized swimming performance with the other frogs in the fountain.  If you think about it, that would be a super cool thing to watch while sitting on a bench with a frozen yogurt.  
And suddenly, the crowd was gone.  But thanks to the folks who talked to me about New Town’s whimsical frog statuary. And thanks to the Activities Committee for putting on another fine event that brought people together from across New Town.
Posted on August 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Phil Casey
Categories: Life in New Town
Have you ever found a little brown snake sunning on your sidewalk who then suddenly arches up like it is ready to strike and you wonder to yourself if this is a him-or-me moment?  I have.
Have you ever had a big black snake suddenly appear on a trail next to you and have to vault over it because you saw it late and while you’re up in the air you wondered if you can run fast enough to avoid inevitable attack?  I have.
If you have too, you need to know your snakes better.  Trevor Long, who works with Stormwater and Resource Protection for JCC, says there are only two confirmed venomous snakes found in our county:   Copperheads and Northern Cottonmouths.  Even these are not abundant, but they are here and need to be treated with caution.  The Virginia Herpetological Society has a useful website to help identify local snakes and understand their characteristics.  This article has hot links to that website associated with the snake names.  Alternatively, you can buy a hard copy guide to Virginia’s snakes from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
In general, venomous snakes will have a triangular shaped head, resembling an arrowhead or diamond. Non-venomous snakes will have a rounded or oval head. Also, if you have time to look, venomous snakes have vertical slits as pupils while nonvenomous snakes have circular pupils.
Many people in Virginia call almost every snake with a pattern an Eastern Copperhead, so don’t assume a reported sighting is accurate.  Eastern Copperheads have dark colored crossbands, usually shaped like an hourglass.  The Eastern Copperhead is usually motionless and alert but will vibrate its tail when disturbed.  The Society’s website has this recommendation:  “While Copperheads are venomous they are very placid snakes that only bite if stepped on or otherwise threatened. If you see a copperhead, leave it alone and rest assured it will do its best to avoid you.”
The Northern Cottonmouth is a semiaquatic snake inhabiting lowland habitats such as  swamps, marshes, ditches, streams, and forested habitats adjacent to wet areas. When out of the water, Northern Cottonmouths often lie under vegetation, in grasses, or under boards and other shelters.  Adults will not venture far from water, but juveniles may disperse over long distances. Northern Cottonmouths are not aggressive and may remain in place when approached. They will flatten their bodies, vibrate their tails, elevate their heads about 45°, and open their mouths, exposing the white interior (this is the origin of their common name). They will not hesitate to bite if molested though.
A Cottonmouth Snake
Harmless snakes are far more common in our area.  Trevor Long lists the following as among those you are most likely to encounter in New Town.
Snakes play a crucial role in our local ecosystem and are a valuable asset. Snakes get rid of many of the nuisance rodents we find in our yards.  Take the Eastern Ratsnake, the most commonly seen snake in Virginia, for example.  It has been documented to prey on mice, voles, squirrels, skinks, and rabbits (plus a bunch of birds you kind of like so I won’t list those.)
So if you see a snake on your property, what should you do?  A. Grab a shovel and have it out.  B.  Go inside and refuse to come out until somebody removes it.  C.  Give it space.  More often than not, answering C is sufficient, but if you lean towards B, be aware that it is not a county or state responsibility.  The state website advises as follows:  “Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries staff do not come to your home or property to remove snakes. ....the only other alternative is to contact a pest control company that advertises handling snakes.”
Have you ever killed two 6 foot black snakes on the same day you killed five crows?  Yeah.  Neither have I.  But Dave Burket reports his great great grandfather did in 1890.  
Posted on August 1, 2019 7:00 AM by Mike Reilly, Activities
Categories: Life in New Town
NTRA’s popular series of Noon Talks will be starting again in September. The Activities Committee has already lined up most of the speakers for the series.  Noon Talks are presented at 12:00 noon at Center Street Grille on the second Wednesday of September, November, January, March and May each year. For your long term planning, the known speakers are listed below.  Be sure to also watch the calendar on the NTRA website to stay current.    
Wednesday, Sept 11, 2019 - Joan Peterson, Executive Director, Literacy for Life.  See additional information below.
Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019 - Mark Henneman, Director of Marketing & Community Relations, ReStore, Habitat for Humanity.
Wednesday, Jan 8, 2020 - Randy Flood, Chief Executive Officer and co-Founder of the American Revolution Consortium for Civic Education talking about Busting Myths of the American Revolution.
Wednesday, Mar 11, 2020 open at this time.
Wednesday, May 13, 2020 - Joe Jones, Director, W&M Center for Archaeological Research  talking about The Archeological History of Our Own Roper Park.
The speaker in September, Joan Peterson, has served as the executive director of Literacy for Life since 2008. As the agency’s first full time employee, Peterson developed the small struggling organization into a nationally recognized, award-winning, 1000+ person operation. Under her leadership three programs have been developed to meet critically important community needs: a health literacy program (HEAL Program), a work skills program (EmployEd), and a school based program for parents who struggle with English literacy (Empowering Parents Program).
Peterson has served on numerous state level and local boards and was recently appointed by Governor Northam to the Virginia Board of Workforce Development. She was the 2016 recipient of the Nancy E. Jiranek Award for Outstanding Executive Director and has accepted awards for Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year by the Greater Williamsburg Area Chamber and Tourism Alliance and the Award for Innovation and Collaboration for the HEAL program from ProLiteracy, a thousand member international association. 
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