Town Crier Articles

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Posted on November 1, 2020 6:57 AM by Town Crier Staff
2021 Budget Challenges
Rick Fisher, Treasurer & Board Representative to Finance Committee
 
The Finance Committee (FC) has been meeting since early August to address the 2021 New Town Residential Association (NTRA) Budget. Committees have provided input which has been evaluated and incorporated in budget reviews with the Board of Directors (BOD) during October. Forecasted 2020 year-end actuals have guided the recommendations by expense line item for 2021. 
 
The purpose of this article is to share with Owners the focus areas and the discussion that has occurred as background and preparation for the 2021 Budget Town Hall Meeting (via Zoom this year) scheduled for November 19th at 6:00PM. In light of the exterior maintenance challenges in Village Walk (see discussion below), a special Zoom presentation for Village Walk owners is scheduled for November 18th at 6PM. The BOD wishes to be completely transparent with the community.
 
Covid-19: While we don’t know when a vaccine will be widely available, we have assumed that Covid-19 will have an impact on Pool Operations in 2021, and that the NTRA will need to institute similar processes to 2020 for much, if not all, of the pool season. This comes with an incremental cost. In 2020, this cost was approximately $10K which funded a full time Pool Attendant and paid for signage and cleaning. In 2020, landscape projects and Activities Committee events, although funded, were not undertaken largely because of incremental, unanticipated Covid-19 expenses and, in the case of activities, the need for social distancing. We are investigating whether the pool contractor can provide Covid-19 services as part of their 2021 contract. Activities will, undoubtedly, continue to be impacted in 2021. However, the NTRA should be able to proceed with landscaping projects. We are assuming Covid-19 related expenses will be around $9K and will be funded from Operating Reserves.  
 
Managing Agent Audit: Industry practice is to conduct a financial audit when a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is turned over from the Developer to the Owners.  The FC believes that an audit is prudent. This would be a one-time cost to the NTRA on the order of $7-9K. We have identified two CPA firms in Virginia Beach that are associated with the Communities Association Institute (CAI).  In order to get a firm quote, financial statements and tax returns must be provided.  Our numbers are an estimate.
 
Landscaping: The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) has submitted $40K of priority one projects.  The projects include: tree removal, planting new trees, tree pruning (the current landscape contract covers pruning up to 12 feet), and plantings around the pool and in the clock tower garden at Village Walk (VW). In addition, as we all know, the turf in New Town is not conducive to warm weather. The LAC has proposed that we develop a Five Year Turf Plan using a phased approach, to evaluate whether it makes sense to install warm weather grass (Bermuda) in New Town’s common areas.  A breakout of these costs is as follows:
  • Tree Removal, Pruning and Root Drenching: $15K (Quote from Arbol Tree Service)
  • New Trees and Planting: $15K (a new tree and installation is typically in the $1-$2K range)
  • First Phase of Turf Plan: $5K (Consultant and test section)
  • Planting of Perennials at Pool and in VW Clock Tower: $5K
The BOD is evaluating these costs in light of their impact on assessments. However, we have fallen behind in this area. Landscaping funds were budgeted for 2020 but no activity took place because of Covid-19 as explained above.
 
Capital Contributions and Administrative Fees: At closing, when buying a new home, the buyer or seller (if negotiated with the buyer) pays a capital contribution fee and an administrative fee. The capital contribution goes directly into the NTRA’s replacement reserves. The administrative fee goes into the operating checking account. VW has an additional capital contribution for exterior maintenance. These fee amounts have to be set in a prudent way in that they impact buyers, sellers and owners. We have surveyed other local HOAs (Ford’s Colony, Governor’s Land, Kingsmill) and believe that our fees are in line with other Associations in the area. The fees incorporated in the 2021 Budget are:
  • NTRA Capital Contribution: $700 (+$50 From 2020)
  • NTRA Administrative Contribution: $250 (+$50 From 2020)
  • VW Additional Capital Contribution: $450 (+$50 From 2020)
    • *Covers replacement of roofs, painting, gutters and downspouts, railings, brick veneer, fascia. (Note: VW home buyers pay all three fees: NTRA Capital Contribution, NTRA Administrative Contribution and the VW Capital Contribution.)
In 2021, fees will total $1,400 for new VW buyers and $950 for NTRA buyers.
 
Village Walk Irrigation: The irrigation system installed by the Developer, Eagle Homes, has been a source of dissatisfaction to owners for several years. VW irrigation and maintenance is an expense that VW owners pay for in their neighborhood assessment. The VW neighborhood assessment is paid by VW owners in addition to the NTRA assessment for townhomes and cottages. The dollar amount budgeted for 2020 maintenance and repair of the irrigation system was woefully inadequate at $1,500. Actuals for 2020 are projected at $12,000. The 2021 Budget will reflect $12,000. Focus on understanding and mapping this irrigation system will be a priority for the first quarter of 2021.  Although there are over 130 zones, no map of heads and pipes currently exists. Town Management, at the direction of the BOD, will hire an outside contractor to do this work.
 
Village Walk Painting: A quote has been received for roughly $240K to repaint all of the VW residences over a five (5) year period beginning in 2023. The painter, after inspecting the buildings, is recommending that this project begin in 2023. This is a Replacement Reserve expense which was not included in the latest 2019 Reserve Study (it should have been) and now must be included as an “add-on.” This expenditure from VW Replacement Reserves needs immediate focus.
 
Village Walk Miscellaneous Maintenance and Repair: Nothing was budgeted in 2020 for this. We have incurred actual expenses of $4.5K year to date and are forecasting that $6K will be spent in 2020.  The 2021 Budget reflects $12K for this expense. A recent needed roof repair was quoted at $3.6K. The cost of miscellaneous maintenance and repair is covered by the VW neighborhood assessment.
 
Replacement Reserve:  In 2021 we will begin to closely manage the Replacement Reserve Fund per a documented Replacement Reserve Policy and Procedure. The BOD will be involved in semi-annual reviews as we define a Five-Year Project List and gradually build up our Replacement Reserves. 
  • Background:  Two NTRA Replacement Reserve Studies have been conducted. The 2015 Replacement Reserve Study called for a 2019 end-of-year balance of $440,196 with annual contributions of $68,492. Our actual balance was $483,079, right in line. However, the 2019 Reserve Study added the Shirley Park neighborhood as well as new assets like the bridges along the walking trail.  The 2019 Study therefore recommended a Replacement Reserve balance of $563,091 at the end of 2019 or $122,895 higher than what was recommend by the 2015 Study. The 2019 Study also calls for a much higher annual contribution of $94,576. This is not unusual since each time a Reserve Study is done, there is a fresh look at the Association assets.
 
  •  Current situation: Our projected ending balance for 2020 is $562,000 or $92,497 below the 2019 Study recommendation of $654,497. It’s important, however, to understand that the Replacement Reserve Study is still very much a projection. The 2019 Study’s total funding goal over 40 years is $4,245,382.  This number represents the replacement of 176 assets over 40 years to include each item’s replacement cost and useful life.    
We believe that our projected 2020 ending balance, only 15 percent below the 2019 Study recommendation, does not represent a problem at this time for the Association. From this point forward we will build the Replacement Reserve Fund over time rather than approaching it as if we need to contribute $94,576 every year for 40 years. Our focus will be to fund to the 40-year goal of $4,245,382 with small annual but increasing replacement reserve contributions that will compound over time. This is a more reasonable approach.  Our major focus will be on needs for the next five to ten years. A Replacement Reserve Study is done every five (5) years with our next one planned for 2024. Things will change again and the 2024 Study will provide us with another recalibration point.
 
Classy New Home for Birds in Magnolia Park
Patti Vaticano
 
Charlotte Park resident, Len Scharf, has always enjoyed re-purposing things for uses other than what they were made for.  Since moving to New Town, and with the permission from building supervisors, a favorite pastime of Len's has been reclaiming pieces of house columns, here in our community, for the creation of a variety of household items from tables to decorative pedestals for ornamental items. Inspired by the book, From Bauhause to Birdhouse:  Imaginative Housing for the Feathered Community, by Leslie Garisto, Len deemed a column would make the perfect birdhouse stand for local birds.  
 
From there, Len shared his idea with neighbors, applied to the Architectural Review Committee and then the Board of Directors for approval to install it in the common area of Magnolia Park. Among the issues to be addressed was ensuring that the long-term maintenance of the birdhouse would not be expensed to the NTRA.
 
After obtaining the NTRA’s approval, Len built a double-decker birdhouse of distinction. On the foggy morning of October 19th, Len and Dave Holtgrieve dug a hole for it--and installed it in Magnolia Park. The structure, a true “house” and not a feeder, will be maintained by Len and his wife Blanche in the future. It's not only a sweet haven for feathered friends but a lovely garden focal point for we earth-pound creatures to enjoy, as well.  Thank you, Len!  
 
 
Pandemic Weekend (or Daytrip) Getaways
Crier Staff, Resident Submissions
Do you have cabin fever? As we enjoy cooler Fall weather, more people have been venturing out by driving to a local retreat or getaway destination for a break. Here are a few recent excursions from some New Town residents. Live vicariously through your neighbors or try one of these locations yourself!
 
Virginia Mountains with the Kavitz Family
Jim, Janice & Lisa Kavitz recently ventured to the Virginia mountains for a brief getaway trip. Their trip included stops in Roanoke, Va and the Peaks of Otter Lodge located by the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Beautiful!
 
They also visited Bedford, Virginia and toured the National D-Day Memorial honoring those who fought and died on D-Day in June, 1945.  Bedford hosts this memorial because Bedford lost more soldiers per capita than any other town or city in the USA during the D-Day invasion of occupied France.
 
Besides sightseeing the Kavitzes loaded up on fruit and honey from a local orchard. Then on to Blacksburg, VA and Jim’s alma mater Virginia Tech. Per Jim, “We also viewed the small duplex we rented while we were there.  Every place we have lived, Janice has planted a tree. In the yard of this duplex was the now 50-foot tall tree Janice planted some 50 years ago.”
 
Their final stop was Abington, VA and the Martha Washington Inn which is over 180 years old and served as a women’s college during the Civil War. Abington is also the home of the Barter Theater, the longest operating equity theater in the United States. This theater was started during the depression by unemployed New York City actors and was based on a “barter” system of trading crops or a hot dinner for a ticket. The Kavitzes enjoyed a varied trip well worth the 6-hour drive back to Williamsburg.
 
New Bern, North Carolina – Mary and Ric Cheston
A 3-hour drive away through rural North Carolina on the banks of the Neuse River lies the city of New Bern – city of bears and the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. Although the ability to visit Atlantic Beach motivated our getaway, New Bern proved to be a charming mix of quaint shops and local restaurants. For history buffs, Tryon Palace in New Bern was the first capitol of North Carolina and home to their general assembly after the American Revolution. New Bern’s historic district features an array of architectural styles including Victorian mansions, Georgian and Greek revival homes. 
 
Eating fresh local seafood was definitely a highlight for us. As part of its Covid-response, the city of New Bern closes two main streets on Friday and Saturday evenings for outdoor dining, adding to the festive Fall scene. Their Covid protections even included this cow at the Cow Café (see photo) known for its homemade ice cream and bovine themed gifts. 
 
The New Bern area displays a variety of lifesize fiberglass bears designed by local artists and initially installed for the city’s 300th anniversary in 2010. This attraction was so popular that about 50 bears remain and you can find them using a Bear Tracks hunt map from the Visitors Bureau. Saturday morning New Bern hosts a Farmers Market with produce and crafts from throughout Craven County. Although smaller than Williamsburg’s, it is a popular market and provided some great butter beans and tomatoes for us to enjoy on our return to New Town.
 
Getaway.house – Standardsville, VA/Shenandoah National Park - Bobbie & Alan Falquet
An article in the Washington Post about getting away during this crazy time peaked our interest.  We certainly were feeling the need for a change of scenery. Someplace not too far away, within driving distance, private, safe, close to pursuits that offer a change of place and pace….we found that through Getaway.house. Their location near Shenandoah National Park in Standardsville, VA, only 30 minutes from Charlottesville, was perfect for our mini-break.  The Scandinavian style cabins are nestled in the woods. Ours was cozy, spotless, and private and the amenities were fantastic.  We took our own food, cooking steaks on a grate over an open fire, and heated up chili on the two-burner stove. 
 
We spent our days exploring and hiking.  The trail along the Mooreman River (see photos) was beautiful and the view after reaching the summit of High Top Mountain was spectacular.  Evenings sitting around the campfire, sipping wine, and making s’mores was the perfect way to end the day. It is pricey but well worth it, plus it was an excuse to stop at Carter’s Orchard in Charlottesville for cider donuts! 
 
Berkley Spring, West Virginia – Kay Grady and Cary Garnet
On Sunday, October 4th, after being in sequestration for 206 days, Kay Grady and Cary Garnet took a "brave" pill and hit the road to Berkeley Springs, WV with a car full of household items and childhood memorabilia to give to their daughter and her spouse who had purchased their first home in Pittsburgh, PA earlier this year. 
 
It was a pleasant and easy 4 hour drive from Williamsburg, with scenic views of leaves just beginning to change, beautiful farmland in Fauquier Co. and roadside Pumpkin Patches filled with families searching for that perfect Halloween pumpkin. 
 
Upon arrival around noon in Berkeley Springs, we met up with our daughter in a bank parking lot to unload our car and load theirs up. The hardest part for all of us was that we could not HUG! Then we took a stroll through the historic downtown area looking into the many store's windows displaying lots of treasures like artwork, jewelry, blown glass, crafts and clothes. In addition to being a historic spa town, Berkeley Springs is an art town!
 
We also decided to have lunch there and chose Tari's Cafe since we could eat outside on the sidewalk. It was the first outside restaurant meal we "retirees" had experienced since March, so we were taught by the younger generation how to eat and have a conversation while dealing with a mask! It was fun to people watch (a guy with a parrot on his shoulder), see the traffic flowing by (lots of motorcycles in and out of town), eat good food and of course, to have a conversation in person with our young'uns!  (We Zoom every Sunday afternoon.)
 
After lunch, we parted ways and headed home. On the way back, we stayed on Highway 17 past Fredericksburg instead of taking I-95 and it added another 45 minutes or so to the trip. Berkeley Springs turned out to be a good day trip meet up spot for our family and we hope to go back again to see more things this charming town has to offer that we didn't have time for this trip - the Ice House Gallery, the Cat Cafe, Cacapon State Park, the list goes on...... 

Communication Helps It Happen! Part Two - Communications FROM Your Association  
 Mary Cheston, Chair, Communications Committee
 
Two overarching objectives govern our work on the NTRA Communications Committee – providing transparency and timeliness of information to the New Town community. 
 
The NTRA website is now 18 months old and is the primary vehicle for all Association communications. Hopefully, you have noticed the ways in which our new Board of Directors (BOD) is getting the word out.
 
How are we demonstrating transparency? CHECK OUT THE NTRA WEBSITE!
  • Adding documents to the website that the previous BOD had not made available, e.g.  NTRA Financial Reports Replacement Reserves Study
  • Sharing BOD meeting agendas well in advance of monthly meetings
  • Website Calendar: posting Zoom links to all public NTRA meetings (If you find a broken link, please use the meeting number and password to log in.)
  • Hosting a new dedicated Board of Directors page – all homeowner-controlled BOD bios, meeting agendas, minutes, etc. are in one location. No need to hunt for relevant decisions.
  • Providing opportunities for residents to comment: through the website ticketing system or beneath Town Crier articles.
  • Building and reorganizing our FAQs to cover common questions.
How are we promoting timeliness?
  • Notices page of website – putting the latest NTRA news immediately on the first page after you log into the site
  • Monthly Crier articles on Board actions –to provide some context/background and explanation for important topics (e.g. this month’s Budget Challenges piece, Opt-out landscaping, bench refurbishment)
  • Eblasts
  • Facebook posts, e.g. security situation in Charlotte Park
  • Monitoring all “Report an Issue” website entries and reporting to the BOD (e.g. we added a new “streetlight problem” category to correct confusion on which Committee/group to select)
  • Pursuing Committees’ obligations under the NTRA’s governing documents to share meeting records in a timely manner.
Where is information shared?  
 
To stay informed of the information most important to homeowners, be sure you are registered on the NTRA website:  www.ntrawilliamsburg.org. Not only is the website the source for documents, but registered users also receive eblasts from the Association. All New Town residents, including tenants and New Town Commercial Association members, may register on the site. Be sure your contact information is current or you may miss important news!
 
Public information is available through the NTRA’s Town Crier articles and Facebook pages (https://www.facebook.com/NewTownResidentialAssociation). Have you “liked” our Facebook page? These public pages also mean that anything you comment on there is seen by the general public. 
 
How can you help? The information we publish is only as good as the information that we are aware of. We are not mind readers.
 
  • Share photos and information about your Committee’s work or your neighborhood events. 
  • Send in ideas for topics you might want to learn more about, either directly in an email (ntrawebsitecommittee@gmail.com) or via the “Report an Issue” website ticketing feature.
Per Randy Casey-Rutland of Town Management, “Good communications via the website relies on NTRA Committees, the NTRA Board, and Town Management working well and working together.”
 
More History of Roper Park
June Dawkins
 
On Saturday, October 17, the NTRA Activities Committee sponsored a Town Talk on ZOOM given by David Lewes, project manager at the William & Mary Center for Archeological Research. Lora Caputo introduced the speaker to more than two dozen virtual attendees. The central topic was the history of habitation at Roper Homestead Park, but the presentation broadened to include interesting facts about James City County and the Tidewater region of Virginia and beyond. 
 
Roper Park was examined on two occasions, first in 1990, and again in 2004, when New Town Associates, LLC, commissioned studies in anticipation of a US Army Corps of Engineers permit application for construction as part of their development of New Town. Mr. Lewes’ maps showed the location of archeological ‘hotspots’ and explained how the digs were conducted. Slides showed the location of building and farmstead remains, including a well-preserved brick foundation with brick hearth outline and a ‘robber hole,’ described as an area dug out to retrieve previously used and buried material. Types of household items found in the different dirt strata included nails and other building materials and ceramic fragments, largely pearlware and whiteware, which were in popular use in the first half of the 19th century. The sites have been covered up to preserve what remains underground and markers have been placed around Roper Park to provide some of its history. The items removed from the site are in storage at the William & Mary archeological lab.
 
While most of the findings in New Town are from the mid-19th century Roper farm, Mr. Lewes said that sites of prehistoric occupation on local stream valleys, some as old as 8000 years ago, have been documented, including in an area near the commercial parking lot east of New Town Avenue. Another site of interest is behind Legacy Hall. 
 
The period following the American Revolution was a time of decline in the Tidewater as the capital was moved to Richmond, the soil was depleted by overproduction of tobacco, plantations were divided and many people went west in search of better opportunity. Much information has been lost because James City County sent many records to a central warehouse near Richmond for safekeeping. These were destroyed during the southern retreat from Petersburg to Appomattox when the warehouse storing land records caught fire by mistake as the Confederates set fire to stores of tobacco and other valuable goods to keep them out of Union hands. 
 
Military mapping from the Civil War era shows a wooded site where the Roper farmstead had been. Other items of interest on the maps are the names of local property owners. On one Confederate map is an area marked as ‘Negro’ with no name attribution.  Mr. Lewes said there were many free blacks in the region, especially in the Centerville area. Confederate maps did not include names for these landholders, but many are believed to have come from Greensprings Plantation when its owner manumitted all his slaves for religious reasons and gave them property in the Jolly Pond area, where many descendants still reside.
 
Other information that was preserved through tax, census and court records show the changing ownership, make up and value of the Roper homestead, beginning with Randolph Roper in the early 1800’s. Only the owner’s name is provided in these records, the names of other residents, both free and enslaved, is not recorded. Records continue through a man named Tolliver (Taliaferro) who developed a plan for a residential subdivision in 1912 that never came to fruition. He then sold to the Caseys, owners of property near where Blair Middle School stands today.  The Casey family held the tract until the late 20th century, and the rest is New Town history.
 
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If you missed it, here is David Lewes’ presentation:  https://www.ntrawilliamsburg.org/admin2/adminfiles/filemanager.php
 
Also in response to questions about the prehistoric sites found in the New Town area, Mr. Lewes provided the following link to a report about nearby prehistoric sites that Center archeologists investigated as part of the planning process for the Route 199 project.
 
Additional information on Roper Homestead property ownership, occupation and the excavations can be found in a previous Town Crier article “History in Our Midst—Roper Park” from July 2019.

Smart Reasons for Leashing Your Dog in New Town
Patti Vaticano
 
New Town loves its pets, but they are also a frequent source of neighbor complaints – pet droppings, noise, unleashed dogs, etc. All of these situations are addressed in the NTRA Master Declaration Protective Covenants (Section 7.1(x)) and Bylaws (Section 11.1 – Animals). New Town pet owners should familiarize themselves with these requirements including those for use of the common areas in New Town.
 
In the spirit of being good pet neighbors (and avoiding all those complaints and possible penalties), here are some personal considerations for why you should keep your dog leashed and under your control.
 
  • Cars – It’s a devastating moment for all involved when a dog gets hit by a moving vehicle. Even well-behaved dogs may suddenly run in the path of a moving car or not be seen by someone backing up in a parking lot. Parking lots, sidewalks, and roadside excursions are safer with a leash. A leash is your pet’s “Life Line.”
  • Greetings and Salutations – When your pup is leashed and greets another leashed pup, the dogs are usually on good behavior. They know their people are close, and they’ll sniff to say “hi.” If there’s a hint of aggression, you can quickly pull your dog away and defuse the situation.
  • Staying Cleaner – If you’ve ever let your dog run loose in a park or other open space, only to watch in pain as they chased ducks into the muddy lake, then you know what we mean. No one really wants the extra chore of spontaneous bath time with their pooch.
  • Preventing Jumping on Others – Have you ever been at a park (not a dog park, a regular people park) and someone’s off-leash dog terrorizes a toddler eating an ice cream? It’s not that the dog is trying to scare the kid, but can you see how a 3-foot-tall person waving about a popsicle just out of reach of the dog’s face can seem like a game to the one with the wagging tail? No one is making friends with this.
  • Loss Prevention – Dogs who accompany their people on leashes are less likely to get lost. For example, you can stop your dog from chasing after a cat. They won’t go on solo exploratory missions, and you’ll know exactly where they are and what they’re doing.
  • Preventing Them from Eating Something They Shouldn’t – Garbage, offerings from strangers, and non-edibles: we all know dogs explore the world with their mouths, and some of them are very food-oriented. Eating things they shouldn’t can lead to upset tummies and worse.
  • No Accidental Puppies - Not every animal is spayed or neutered, and if a pup gets out of the house and meets up with another animal in heat, well, it doesn’t take long for new puppies to be on the way.
  • Prevents the Spread of Disease – Some dogs like to eat other animals’ “leavings,” and those can carry disease. Such dining is less likely to happen if your pet is leashed.
  • Marks Them as a Pet – Well-trained dogs are a pleasure to walk on the leash, and it identifies them as your pet. Well-behaved dogs with identification are easier to reunite if you somehow get separated.
Source: Courtesy of The Bill Foundation, Beverly Hills, California and The Valley West and Elk Valley Veterinary Hospital, Charleston, West Virginia.
 
Trees Still Grow In New Town
Kathy Mullins
 
Trees connect us with our past and our future.  Their roots are often far deeper than our own; their growth will yield leaves and flowers that bring pleasure to future generations. 
 
The 600-acre property beneath New Town was once farmland, with heavily forested areas, apple orchards, pecan groves, and fields of grain. Most of it belonged to the Carl Casey family. Think of the personalities, organizations, interested parties, and visionaries that came together to create New Town.
 
The late Susan Ford’s excellent summation of the design and development of New Town is recounted in archived issues of The Crier (also summarized on this website’s History of New Town). Susan described the Design Competition that attracted 99 entrants from around the world. Entry packets called for an “innovative, mixed-use planned community” that integrated pleasing environmental assets. Designers were challenged to embrace the vision of a “new urbanism-style design, with shops and businesses, restaurants and homes, all within walking distance of each other. There would be tree-lined sidewalks and bike paths, civic spaces and open spaces, cultural buildings and churches – just as towns like Williamsburg used to have.” 
 
They wanted this new community to become “a landmark development and a national model of the highest quality of the visual, social and economic aspects of town planning.” 
 
From the start, trees were important, carefully selected and strategically placed with the future in mind.  Planners learned about Native trees, visited other communities to appreciate how streetscapes and building design worked together to define neighborhoods.
 
Those residents who moved here in the early years threw their efforts and talent into preserving that bold vision. Homebuyers were attracted to the concept of this livable community, where outdoor amenities were as important as interior style. As the community continues to grow and mature it is helpful to keep that concept in the forefront.
 
Trees are a shared responsibility in New Town-accountability for caring for those on your property differs from park or sidewalk trees. For trees in common areas, think of reporting tree issues as helping, rather than complaining. The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) carries out many time-consuming tasks. Having residents take the time to pay attention to needs and issues really can help. Between Covid delays and weather issues, the landscape company fell behind in tree prunings this year. If residents can serve as the “eyes and ears” of the LAC, problems can be identified and hopefully resolved more quickly. Using the Report an Issue ticket system allows for issues to be directed to the proper entity. 
 
Once a ticket is submitted, what happens next depends on a number of factors and requires a great deal of communication between the parties. There are multiple entities involved in some locations. For instance, New Town’s trails have not yet turned over from the developer, New Town Associates to NTRA. Some maintenance is worked out between the NTRA and the New Town Commercial Association. Roper Park, on the other hand, has been turned over but the developer failed to remove many dead trees that NTRA must now budget for.
 
After notification, an LAC member, or in some instances, a Town Management employee, will visit the site, evaluate the situation, then recommend whether to consult the landscape company or solicit bids from vendors. Budgeting for the removal and replacement of trees is the next step, which can delay fixes especially if a tree falls unexpectedly. Trees are a budget priority for 2021.
 
As important as it is to respond quickly to reported “issues,” HOA communities are urged to keep up a regular program of maintenance for tree and landscape features. Specific New Town trees have been identified as being in need of professional attention, but in general the LAC found in April 2020 that most of the residential area trees are in good health.
 
Trees need to be pruned correctly in order to withstand heavy winds and storms. To grow and flower they will require nourishment. Insecticide treatments, protection from freezing temperatures, and mulching are all important. Removing, repurchasing and replanting a tree is more costly by far than maintaining existing ones.
 
There is a downside to calling a tree “dead” and removing it too quickly. Often the soil must be treated. The group of trees planted at the same time will no longer be the same size or age. It takes 5 to 7 years for a tree to mature and that wait may be hard for some residents.  There may be times when the ticket suggests, “tree is dead, needs to be removed” but involving a specialist can actually save the tree and money. That was evident in 2017. An arborist from Bartlett Trees with a great deal of expertise in saving trees recommended pruning and fertilizing 36 failing trees at a total cost of $500 rather than replacing all 36 trees at $500 per tree.
 
Patience, accumulated knowledge and experience, good will and an appreciation for those “roots” that bind our community to a grand vision, will go a long way to dealing with most issues.
 
*Look for next month’s article about choosing, planting and maintaining trees on your property.
 
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TIPS FOR SUBMITTING A TREE TICKET
 
How to submit a ticket: Go to the NTRA website: www.ntrawilliamsburg.org. Explore the main MENU. Under the RESIDENTS tab you will find REPORT AN ISSUE.  Select LANDSCAPE ISSUES in the dropdown box.
 
Identify yourself, using the form provided, and include phone or email contact info in case additional information is needed. 
 
Note tree location. Is it on your property/ other private property/NTRA common area/commercial/ JCC/ developer/ unknown)? You can specify the nearest street address, intersection or other identifying landmarks.
 
What is your concern?  Here are some typical concerns about trees.
1)  Tree looks diseased or dead.  (Describe what you see or take a photo) Are there visible bugs; signs of insect infestation; mounds of sawdust at tree base; discoloration of bark or leaves; fungus, mushrooms or mold at base or trunk; dropping large branches with no new growth. If possible take a photo and include with report.
2) Tree unstable.  (roots lifting above ground, roots causing sidewalk to heave, main trunk is now leaning; tree injured by vehicle, landscape equipment; tree struck by lightning or windburst).  Did you witness injury? Specify date if possible.
3) Tree presents danger to persons or property:  Added risk because:  tree planted too close to a home or play yard; tree leaning into parking area , walking path, roof, or home exterior; tree (or large branch) has fallen across walking path; large branches rubbing on roof or home exterior
4) Tree unsightly:  State visual observations (needs pruning, has dead sections, misshapen canopy, too large for space). If cause is known, please state.  Degradation of tree appearance can result from situations already mentioned, as well as: under- or over-watering; improper pruning; sustained high wind or heavy rain; incorrect fertilization or feeding; bad or insufficient soil; infestations.
 
When should a resident initiate a ticket?   If you see something that seems wrong, submit a ticket.  Problems that continue just make the situation worse.  Early intervention may save a tree.
Board Buzz November 2020
Dick Durst, Director
 
This is called “bath by fire…”  I am the newest member of the Board of Directors for the New Town Residential Association, having been appointed to the seat vacated by Larry Burian’s resignation.  Chuck Stetler, Chairman of the Board, asked me to write this November article based on my experience working with two committees, Activities and Asset Maintenance, since we moved to New Town two and a half years ago.  
 
Community service and participation is very important—not just to me, personally, but to the long-term success of our neighborhood.  We very much enjoy the location and atmosphere we’ve found here, after having had a home in the Williamsburg area for more than 20 years.  The volunteer committees ensure that the quality of life we all enjoy will be maintained; even though the two committee charges (our “charters”) are vastly different.  That has appealed to me, since the Activities Committee is all about the “social” aspects of New Town; providing a way to enjoy the company and camaraderie of our neighbors and friends.  Together we’ve planned pool parties, Kentucky Derby celebrations, Oktoberfest, billiards, Halloween parades, the great Noon-time Talks, and several other events, all designed to bring us together as a community.  It’s a lot of work and the committee needs help to maintain (and expand) those social interactions.  COVID 19 has forced us to rethink the kinds of events we’ve done and I assume that in the future (when life returns to some semblance of social interaction in addition to social distancing) we will discover the “right” blend of those opportunities. 
 
The Asset Maintenance committee charter couldn’t be more different—our charge is to annually coordinate the “inspection” of all of the “built” assets of the New Town Residential Association, including residences of our homeowners and the shared community assets (like the pool buildings, our white fences, and our green spaces), to ensure that all those remain of a quality that is representative of a first-class community and reflect positively on our neighborhoods. 
 
As you are well-aware, many of our homes, beyond those newly constructed in Village Walk, Roper Park, and Shirley Park, are beginning to “come of age.”  Karen and I live in Abbey Commons and our home was built in 2006.  Unfortunately, in developments like ours, builders don’t always use top of the line, first-class materials and equipment, which means for all of us our own personal assets are beginning to need attention.  We’ve just replaced one of our air conditioning units, both inside and outside.  We’ve replaced the flooring in the first floor, had shingles replaced and gutter systems redone.  The paint on many of our homes are beginning to show their age.  I’ve noticed as I walk around New Town that even some of the brickwork is beginning to need attention.  My point is that the volunteer work on the Asset Maintenance committee will become increasingly important as our homes and community assets continue to age. As our committee members reach the end of their terms, it is gratifying to see others step forward to help, but we always need more.
 
There are six additional committees, all staffed by volunteers, that cover most of the aspects of our community, in addition to the Board of Directors (also, all volunteers), so there are so many ways you can contribute.  Those of us who are retired (and seem to have more time to give) also need the balance of younger residents, so that we benefit from all perspectives.  Please think about how you might help?
 
I, along with all Board members, welcome your questions and comments.  See you around the neighborhood!
 
Music Fills the Garden in Foundation Square
Max Pfannebecker
 
Continuing a budding tradition that began a year ago, residents of Foundation Square quietly held a Music in the Garden Event last month in the Children's Garden, tucked behind the Foundation Square building on New Town Ave. Joe's Day Off, led by Jim Duggan, performed in the Garden for a small crowd of just under 30 residents and neighbors.
 
"We just started a year ago before the COVID issue," says Foundation Square resident Jim Kavitz. "Last fall, for the first time, we had Phil Casey (local musician and, coincidentally, former Crier editor) in our lobby, and we all had a great time...and got in several dances. This past June, we had Phil back for another session, outside in our garden, and about 21 of our residents."
 
The event is hosted and funded by residents of Foundation Square and is not a function of the New Town Commercial Association, but Kavitz adds that they are considering inviting all New Town residents who wish to attend to their next event, likely to be held this Spring. Jocelyn Oldham, a solo singer and guitarist, has been lined up to perform at the spring event. 
 
Stay tuned for further announcements on this upcoming happening. 
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