Town Crier Articles

All April Articles (Text Only - No Photos)
Posted on April 1, 2021 6:59 AM by Town Crier Staff
DO YOU HAVE A HOME-BASED BUSINESS? TELL US ABOUT IT!
Crier Staff
 
If you are one of many New Town residents operating a home-based business, we'd like to hear from you? Drop is a line at ntratown.crier@gmail.com and tell us about you and your business. If you like send pics or a link to your website! We'd like to feature our local entrepreneurs in upcoming issues
 
 
NTRA to Host Annual Earth Day Cleanup
Activities Committee
 
Earth Day this year is scheduled for Thursday April 22 and NTRA Activities Committee will be conducting  a New Town Earth Day Cleanup in our neighborhoods.  The Activities Committee will have trash bags available for pick up to fill as well as guidance on areas that are accessible and those that are either not safe or not NTRA property where trespassing would be permitted. Safety for COVID purposes and use of gloves, grabbers, etc is recommended. Children should be supervised in this family friendly activity. More details will be communicated via email blast to all residents. 
 
Small Actions Add Up – Observing Earth Day
Alison Douglas
 
April may be our time to turn our focus to the environment with Earth day observed on 22 April.  It’s a good time to do your bit as well as to involve the family in how they can make a difference too.  Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world to demonstrate support for environmental protection.  Founded in 1970, it is the largest secular observance in the world and is marked by a billion people every year as a day of action.  
 
Here are 10 ideas for the difference you can make.  
 
Pick up some litter – James City County has a limited number of litter loan kits available.  Option 1 includes litter grabbers, trash collection bags, orange safety vests and gloves.  Option 2 includes all the above plus a should bags.  For more information, please contact Peg Boarman at (757) 565 0032 or the Office of Sustainability at (757) 259 5375.  
 
Buy a bag for Life – plastic bags are posing a huge threat to wildlife, especially marine wildlife.
 
Go meat-free for a day or a week and expand your cooking repertoire – our love of meat, especially beef, uses up a lot of land, water and produces greenhouse gases. Switching to a meat-free option for a short and frequent period may help.   
 
Go microbead-free – microbeads are tiny beads of plastic that are in many cosmetics, face washes and toothpaste that end up in the oceans and enter the foodchain. Next time you buy cosmetics, check the label first.
 
Walk or ride a bike rather than take the car. Walking and cycling is good for your health as well as the environment.  
 
Give up chewing gum – It is made from synthetic rubber and 100,000 tonnes of this plastic is thrown away every year.  Reducing or cutting out chewing gum altogether will make a difference.  
 
Shop at local farmers markets – it’s a great way to support local businesses and support the environment.  They tend to use less packaging and products are grown or made locally so transport distances are short.
 
Buy a reusable water bottle– billions of plastic bottles are sold every year, so re-using a bottle means we can reduce the amount of plastic we throw away.
 
Make the switch from using plastic straws – bamboo, silicone or even metal straws are a good alternative to the plastic option.  
 
Spread the word – These are just some starter ideas, so if you have good suggestions, why not share them in the comments section.
 
 
Maintaining Your Garage Doors
Sarah Carey
 
Most of us have a Lift Master system or Wayne Dalton system installed by Virginia Door.  Life expectancy of the system is 10 years but more likely 5 to 6. The owner’s manual has limited DIY maintenance suggestions. Does your garage door (doors) make a lot of grinding or squeaking noise when you open or close the door? It may be time for some DIY maintenance or a call to a reliable garage door service business.  Speaking from experience, don’t wait until its too late and that large spring cable can break. But thankfully there are a lot of safety features built in so the cable doesn’t spin off the bar. It makes a very loud noise and then of course your door won’t close. 
 
Rollers and the spring (photos below) should be sprayed once a year with a silicone spray that is especially for use on garage doors. This is available at Home Depot and Lowes. The rollers and spring are easy to reach when the door is closed – no need for a ladder. Other maintenance should be done by a professional garage door technician. If the loud noise upon opening the door doesn’t go away after lubricating, it may be a motor problem.
 
We have had excellent service from a local business Lion Garage Door.  Quick service and helpful friendly employees.  A service call is $89 or a $120/year membership that includes 2 service calls.
 
Quick Getaways – Virginia Air and Space Science Center, Hampton
Jim Ducibella
 
Ever stand so close to an Apollo space capsule that you can envision opening its hatch in 1969 and joining astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean on the surface of the moon?
 
You can at the Virginia Air and Space Science Center in downtown Hampton, home to the original Apollo 12 capsule.
 
In 1986, the NASA Langley Research Center informed the City of Hampton that it was willing to move its visitor center downtown, giving people access to explore the past, present and future of air and space. As the birthplace of the nation’s air and space technology – think of the film “Hidden Figures” -- the city was only too happy to cooperate on the project.
 
The initial construction cost $30 million and was funded through a combination of city funds, state grants, and private philanthropy. The facility is 110,000 square feet and nine-stories high, situated on 2.2 acres in downtown.
 
Thirty-five years later, the Virginia Air and Space Science Center features interactive aviation exhibits spanning 100 years of flight, more than 30 historic aircraft, a hands-on space exploration gallery, unique space flight artifacts, and more.
 
Last fall, the Center began a $1.5 million update that resulted in dozens of new interactive displays and cutting-edge exhibits. Foremost among the project was a renovation of the Center’s IMAX Theater, including new seating, projection, flooring, and lighting. Improving on an already spectacular sensory experience, the finished product offers a more immersive IMAX experience than ever before.
 
A private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Center is located at 600 Settlers Landing Road. Admission for adults is $20, seniors pay $18, children under 18 are $16.50. Active military pay $17. All admission tickets include entrance to the IMAX theater. Currently, two films are being shown.
 
The Center is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., noon to 5 on Sunday. Covid-19 precautions are in effect. For more information, visit this website vasc.org or phone 757 727 0900.
 

Mailbox Maintenance: Latest Board Resolution Returns Responsibility to Homeowners
Mary Cheston, Director
 
At its March 2021 meeting the Board of Directors revisited the convoluted history of mailbox maintenance in New Town. Since the last policy on maintenance was adopted in 2019 (see May 2019 Crier article), the Association obtained cost information for repairs but had not funded this maintenance. Given the anticipated expense of this work, the Board has returned to the original 2011 NTRA policy position on mailboxes.
 
The rationale for this decision is that mailboxes are an exterior feature of a home provided as an improvement by the builder (per our Master Declaration). Owners are required to keep all improvements to lots “in good order and repair.” 
 
Further, mailboxes are a part of the NTRA’s home Exterior Maintenance inspection process and deficiencies are identified during inspection reports.  Such deficiencies in any part of the mailbox assembly (metal box, post/support, post cap and newspaper tube) must be corrected by the homeowner, in accordance with the Exterior Maintenance policy. All costs are to be borne by the owner of the mailbox, even for multi-family boxes where owners are expected to share costs.
 
In other words, get your paint brushes out! The March 25th resolution supersedes all previous policies. For a copy of the full resolution click here
 
 
Vegan Dining in New Town and Beyond
Patti Vaticano
 
This past January and for the 8th year in a row, a UK nonprofit organization begun by Jane Land and Matthew Glover promoted veganism, a lifestyle which refrains from eating animals and animal products for humane and environmental reasons, by encouraging people to follow a vegan lifestyle just for the month of January. They term the event Veganuary, a portmanteau of “vegan” and “January,” and more than 1 million people have completed the challenge since the campaign began in 2014. Harvard statistics deem the impact to be 103,840 tons of CO2eq negated and more than 3.4 million animals spared.  Whether or not the environment or animal suffering is your concern or living a cleaner health style is your desire, veganism is becoming a force in today’s world.  Stock in plant-based companies, like Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger, and Follow Your Heart, is skyrocketing, and the younger generation has made the causes behind these enterprises their own, especially the call for the end of Speciesism, the assumption of human superiority leading to the exploitation of animals.
 
Vegan restaurants and vegan fare are not new to New Town or Williamsburg, but the trend is picking up momentum and now includes even fast food chains that are offering vegan options on their menus. Veganism may once have had an eccentric reputation, suffering the onslaught of jokes and angry protestations—but the times they are a changin’.  Here’s a modest vegan travel log of restaurants in and around New Town with a brief sample of vegan fare at each eatery. Internet menus will offer greater detail and a quick call to each establishment will give you up-to-date info on additions and specials.
 
Did we miss one of your local favorites? Add it in the comments section below, let's share those healthy and tasty tips!
 
You Can't Predict, But You Can Prepare!
Jack Espinal, Chair, Emergency Preparedness Committee
 
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program of James City County (JCC) educates citizens about emergency preparedness and trains them in basic emergency response skills that can be used at home, in the community, at work or anyplace an emergency may occur. 
 
There is no charge for CERT training and it is and open to residents of JCC 18 years and older. The training is given in a lecture and hands-on format of nine 3-hour sessions. During the pandemic, face-to-face evening CERT training is being conducted at the JCC Fire Department Training Center on John Tyler Highway. Classes are limited to twelve students and are conducted following COVID-19 protocols.
 
Do you know how to survive man-made and natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and cold weather emergencies) on your own for up to three weeks before the arrival of first responders?    
 
CERT training will give you the skills to:   
  • Locate and turn off natural gas and propane supplies for homes and businesses,
  • Locate and disconnect electrical power from buildings,
  • Locate and disconnect water to prevent damage to homes.
  • Administer first aid and basic medical assistance, 
  • Take action to survive an active shooter situation,
  • Plan for living outside your home for a length of time if the structure is compromised and must be evacuated,
  • Develop an emergency kit that contain supplies (including food, water, and medicine) to sustain family and pets for up to 3 weeks in the event of a major emergency, and 
  • Develop emergency survival kits for work and car/truck.      
Upon completion of training program graduates indicate if they would like to become CERT members assisting community members in the event of an emergency or to graduate with the intention of applying their skills for their personal and family use. There is no pressure or obligation to become a CERT member. Whichever path is chosen those completing training are assets to the community through being better informed and prepared.      
 
New Town formed its first CERT in 2019.  We are a small team. Additional helping hands are badly needed. The most important prerequisite is a desire to be of assistance.  If you have questions, please call me at 703.946.5787.         
 
For additional information on emergency preparedness and/or to register for CERT training please go to:  https://jamescitycountyva.gov/2661/Community-Emergency-Response-Team .   CERT training is conducted throughout the year.   
 
The Grass Will Soon be Greener in New Town
Landscape Advisory Committee
 
New Town's neighborhoods comprise 350 acres. That's a lot of ground to cover! This year, the Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) is working to improve the appearance of the turf that comprises a large portion of our community landscape. The New Town Residential Association Board of Directors approved a request from the committee to conduct a pilot of warm weather grasses, or WWGP for short. Varieties of these grasses, which are better suited to this environment, can be found in nearby communities, including the historic area in Colonial Williamsburg.
 
This pilot will test three types of grasses: Bermuda seed, Zoysia seed, and Zoysia sod. A 70’ x 25‘ marked area located opposite the Village Walk Clock Tower along Casey Boulevard will be designated for this purpose. Village Walk was selected as the location for this pilot because of its elevation, sun exposure, and availability of irrigation. Planting will commence in May with the observation period extending through the summer and fall.  The LAC, Town Management, and Virginia Lawn and Landscape will monitor the performance of each selection.  A five-year turf restoration plan will be developed based on the results of this study.
Community members are encouraged to observe the progress throughout the course of this pilot.  Comments or suggestions may be submitted to the LAC through the Report an Issue ticket process on the NTRA website.
 
Work is underway over several days in the historic Roper Park area. Limbing,trimming,and removing trees and debris will make for a more enjoyable experience when walking this park that we are so fortunate to have in our back yard. Or front yard as the case may be.
 
Board Buzz - April 2021
Dick Durst, President
 
“And This Job Was to be Easy…” - When Chuck Stetler called me late last year and invited me to join the Board to fill an empty seat, my wife, Karen, and I talked through this and I said, “how difficult can this be?  It’s a small group of people making sure our neighborhood looks good and that we are all trying to follow the guidelines to keep it that way.”  Well, the latter sentence is certainly correct….
 
This article is about the evolution of that “job” and, more importantly, about the assessments we all pay.  Those assessments are used, among a myriad things, to pay for landscaping, garbage collection, maintaining street lights and keeping our walking trails and built resources in good shape for the future.  The determination of the amount of our assessments was established several years ago by the original Developer Board; that process has been followed for the last 15 or so years.
 
Last year, as we concluded the budget preparation for 2021, the Board received concerns from a few homeowners who suggested that the methodology that had been used for years to determine homeowner assessments might not be following the methodologies laid out in the NTRA governing documents.  Our Finance Committee shared some of those beliefs and we sought advice from our legal counsel.  After a lengthy review and evaluation she confirmed that we needed to revise our assessment methodology.  
 
As New Town was built in phases over more than a decade, the Supplemental Declarations for each of our neighborhoods became more inconsistent and, in some cases, contradictory.  Just to cite one example, some Supplementals list non-VDOT streets in the Neighborhood Assessments, section IV of your documents, indicating those must be taken care of by neighborhood assessments for the people living in that area of New Town, while other Supplementals do not, leaving it to the whole of NTRA to maintain.  There are several such inconsistencies.  Charlotte Park, alone, has TEN (10) Supplemental Declarations, since it was built in several stages and even within those there are various discrepancies.
 
People who live in some of our smaller homes (the term “cottages” has been used in our assessment lingo, even though that doesn’t appear in our Declarations) have been charged somewhat smaller assessments, but that option does not appear in any governing documents, except for three homes in Village Walk (assessed at 70% of their Neighborhood Assessment only). Parcel Developers for New Town have paid much lower assessments during the time they were building homes or units on those vacant lots—again, that reduction seems contrary to our Governing Documents.
 
We are now consulting with experts on options and approaches to rectifying this complex situation, but we are committed to resolve this.  Therefore, we announced at the March board meeting: 
 
"NTRA will revise our governing documents, particularly the Master Declaration and Supplemental Declarations, to address the assessment methodology and update their provisions. Our goal is to have easily understood and enforceable documents with a transparent assessment method. To the maximum extent possible, the Association’s governing documents should reflect New Town as a community with common areas and amenities shared by all homeowners."
 
Governing document changes require a vote of the members (homeowners) and need a 2/3 majority to pass.  You will see much more about this over the upcoming months.
 
We will build our 2022 budget based more closely on our current governing documents as we work through this process.  The Board of Directors are committed to transparency in this development and will schedule a Town Hall meeting to discuss our processes as we move forward.
 
All this has resulted in many, many hours of work for your “volunteer” Board of Directors and will probably remain so for several months, but these good people are resolved to do what’s right.
 
 
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