Town Crier Articles

April 2022 Town Crier Articles - TEXT ONLY
Posted on April 1, 2022 7:49 AM by Town Crier Staff
BOARD BUZZ - April 2022, by Laura Loda, Board Member
Happy Spring!  Isn’t it great to be able to enjoy the weather and to be outdoors?  It won’t be that much longer before summer is upon us and there are things in progress now to prepare for that.
Community Pool
Those of you who frequent the pool will be happy to learn that at its March meeting, the Board approved the installation of a new entry system to replace the outdated and not-always-functional one currently in place.  The new system will be web-based so it will interface with a resident database.  So, for instance, if an owner were to sell their property (why would you want to leave New Town?) their pass would be inactivated.  The new system will also allow us to track usage of the facility by time and day.  That will help with planning future expenditures and maintenance items.  In addition, if there were to be inclement weather necessitating closure of the facility, this could be done remotely so no one’s pass would open the gate.  This would protect everyone who might not see emails or webpage notices.  Stay tuned for more information about distribution of new passes.  It will be done in conjunction with owner signing of the updated 2022 Pool Policies and Rules document. The Pool Committee is busy planning all of this with Chesapeake Bay Management as well as all of the other tasks that precede opening of the pool on Saturday, May 28.
Stormwater Management
A term you may have heard tossed around and not really known what it is — BMPs.  Stormwater Management Facilities or Best Management Practices (BMPs) are a key component in the effort to control stormwater runoff and protect our streams.  There are numerous BMPs throughout New Town, some of which are owned by the NTRA and some of which are owned by other parties.  BMPs owned by the NTRA have all been inspected, an activity planned for in this year’s budget.  Two locations need immediate repair and sediment cleaning.  The Board has approved contracts for this work at the Lydias playground detention basin and the Casey Boulevard BMP (the wet pond next to Abbey Commons).  
More significant non-routine maintenance is required at the Casey Blvd BMP and will include vegetation removal, debris excavation and site improvement to provide proper stormwater management.  This work would be replacement reserve funded.  Chesapeake Bay has proposed that the Association apply for a James City County Clean Water Heritage Grant (matching funds) for the work. The Board authorized our Managing Agent to pursue this grant application that is due at the end of September.  Additionally, the Board has requested a routine maintenance proposal to mitigate future significant repairs.
Casey Boulevard Traffic
I presented to Jim Icenhour, our Supervisor on the James City County Board of Supervisors, comments submitted from a number of residents expressing concerns about different traffic and parking issues on Casey Boulevard.  By far the largest number of comments concerned the intersection with Center Street where there is a school bus stop.  There is no means to slow or stop traffic at that intersection which poses safety issues for the children going to and from the bus stop.  Mr. Icenhour presented the issue at the March 8 Board of Supervisors meeting and has met with the local representative of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).  The VDOT representative contacted me to let us know that a traffic study of Casey Boulevard will be conducted by VDOT.  Unfortunately, I can’t give you an estimate of when this will happen.  Apparently, there is a queue of requests and we’re now in the queue.  I’ll follow up with VDOT regularly and let you know when I learn something more definite.  But, we’re on the list!   And patience is a virtue.
In the last week from public information on the JCC website, the Board has learned about two possible developer projects that could impact our community (See related Crier article). Owners should pay attention to what is being proposed and as we learn more, we will update you.
More Proposed Development in and around New Town, by Jim Ducibella
There may be a new neighborhood – or two – in New Town’s future, pending James City County (JCC) approval of two new areas.
Manor on the Green
In late January, The Whitmore Company, a commercial real estate, development, and investment firm responsible for various Tidewater area developments, including Williamsburg’s High Street complex, submitted a conceptual proposal for “Manor on the Green.” It would be a residential development of three buildings containing 106 one- and two-bedroom units, with its own pool and fitness center. (An initial conceptual layout has been included in the application) This conceptual plan is currently under County review.
The project, which would encompass two- three- and four-story buildings, would be located on the wooded land north of Sullivan Square in the heart of New Town. As proposed, parking would be provided for 112 vehicles, screened from the Center Street right of way. The land has already been zoned as “Mixed Use,” and does not require any additional legislative changes or public hearings.
Based on the comments provided by the JCC specialists, the developer would then work on its site plan. At that point, adjacent property owners, including the New Town Residential Association, would be officially notified that the project is proceeding.
New Town Associates (NTA) is the current owner of this parcel. According to James City County’s Senior Planner, NTA has been examining the best mix of density for the land to stay within the New Town Master Plan limits and the allowed ratio of commercial and residential space (Sections 2 and 4). These discussions have been ongoing since 2020. The proposed 106 residence figure would be within this ratio.
Whitmore Company would be the developer and owner of Manor on the Green. While the loss of any green space would be disappointing, the land was always expected to be developed. The NTRA Board of Directors hopes to obtain more information directly from this developer soon. 
Eastern State Hospital Land Use Redesignation
Meanwhile, a new opportunity exists for residents to let the JCC Board of Supervisors know their feelings about the two previously submitted land use proposals: LU-20-0002 proposed by Atlantic Builders of Virginia (ABVA) and LU-20-0003 to develop a combined total of 540-plus acres of Eastern State Hospital land.
The public hearing notice for April 12 states that the Board will consider “the previously postponed application to change the Comprehensive Plan land use from Federal, State or County land to Mixed Use-Eastern State and include new Mixed Use-Eastern State designation description text to address this application.” (The full agenda packet for the Supervisors meeting will be available online on April 5th.)
Jim Icenhour, the Supervisor for New Town’s district, has indicated that no new information or revised application has been provided by either applicant since July 2021, making it likely that the Board will further delay any action on the land-use situation. This means that the verbal ABVA commitments regarding the name of the “New Town” tract and removing any potential cut-through in Charlotte Park have not been incorporated into the proposal.
In the meantime, the State of Virginia's Department of General Services (realty office) has submitted a conceptual plan for the ABVA parcel that has been reviewed by all JCC offices. This plan  defines the boundaries of the two parcels and areas that must remain protected.  The State remains highly motivated to sell the property. The data in the plan should help prospective buyers with their bids as well as assist with defining subdivisions.
The development of either Eastern State parcel will be a years’ long process, as shown in the graphic below. There are only three opportunities -- land use, zoning, and site-plan processes -- for New Town residents and the public to express its opinion and, perhaps, influence the final decision on Eastern State. Mr. Icenhour recommended that the community continue to express its views each time the subject is raised through the JCC approval process.
In a pair of question-and-answer sessions with New Town residents last July, Supervisor Icenhour challenged the audience to strongly consider what the community wants, and to make sure that it is in our best interest. Do we want to limit growth so that the area doesn’t resemble the sprawl that characterizes Northern Virginia? Do we want to share amenities? Do we want the potential development to include “New Town” in its name?
Please call (757) 253-6762 or write to our Board of Supervisors to let them know how you feel about the Eastern State proposals.  You can also attend the hearing on April 12 at 5PM at 101 Mounts Bay Road or follow the hearing on the JCC website.
New Town Nights are Heating Up, by Kate Licastro
New Town nights are heating up, both literally and figuratively. After noticing an uptick in advertisements for evening events, I reached out to the owners of Pisco 51, a locally-owned restaurant specializing in Peruvian Cuisine. Pisco 51 is located at 4917 Courthouse St., sharing a patio with the beloved fountain, and is owned and operated by some of our New Town neighbors! 
Mariela Renee Becerra Harrell and her husband, John Harrel, moved to Williamsburg in 2016, returning to John’s hometown of Hampton Roads and desiring to be closer to family. The pair have an entrepreneurial spirit and immediately began building a local cleaning business from their own personal investment of money and sweat. The company, Renee’s 757 Cleaning, has continued to grow and thrive, and paved the way for what they describe as their “passion project,” opening Pisco 51. Mariela Renee is of Peruvian descent, her family hailing from Lima Independencia, and she has always dreamed of opening a restaurant that highlights authentic, fresh, Peruvian recipes, both to eat and imbibe. 
Pisco 51 is in the midst of transformation, first evolving from the Mexican-food focused El Patio, and now into two individual, though affiliated, dining and entertainment options. By the end of April, Pisco 51 and the adjacent performance and event space, Coliseo @ Pisco 51, will show off a new facelift, including new floors, paint, decorations, and even additional Soundproofing infrastructure.  
Thankfully, we don’t have to wait for the finishing touches on the restaurant or event space to start enjoying all they have to offer. While the schedule below won’t be in full effect until the second full week of April, every Wednesday already features Drag Bingo hosted by Queen Naomi Black, and the first live musical performance will occur next Thursday, April 7 by featured vocalist of “The Deloreans” Missy G and Meshell as “Mad Kitty.” For dates, times, and updates to the schedule, you can “like” and “follow” the business on Facebook and Instagram, as well as visit the Pisco 51 website. As a bonus, if you check-in and post pictures of your dining experience on social media, you’ll be treated to a free appetizer or dessert! 
Monday: Open Mic Night
Tuesday: Service Industry Night** featuring Latin/Bachata Music
**Special discounts for anyone in the service industry!**
Wednesday: Drag Bingo Night with Naomi Black
Thursday: Live Music Night
April will feature solo artists, May will bring duos and trios, and expect full bands to perform in June. 
Friday: Karaoke Night
Saturday: Club/College Demographic Nights with Various Dance Music as well as full-on drag shows featured on some Saturdays 
Sunday: Sip & Paint events with local artists 
Perhaps no one is more invested in the success of New Town businesses than those of us that call New Town home. Not only does our support stay ultra-local, with a New Town business owned by a New Town family, our proximity to Pisco51 and Coliseo @ Pisco 51 also affords us the unique opportunity to enjoy their signature Pisco Sours, an authentic Peruvian cocktail, with only a short walk home afterwards.
Kate Licastro: the New Editor-in-Chief of The New Town Crier, By Patti Vaticano 
Kate Licastro has learned that the grass is not always greener in someone else’s yard, a realization she came to when the prospect of moving out of her then-rental home in New Town became a possibility. A Metro Detroit native who has experienced residential life in a variety of places from Cincinnati to Washington State and Charlotte, North Carolina, she knows a thing or two about what makes a great community. Kate, a licensed clinical psychologist with a PhD from Miami University, moved to Williamsburg just short of the Covid tsunami with husband, Nick, whose work in the hospitality field led him to a new position at Great Wolf Lodge. In tow were their children, Liam (now 8) and Hannah (now 6), the family relocating for the third time in under 2 years. The family took the relocation in stride, in part thanks to Kate already working remotely from home in a position for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). During her 13 year tenure with VA, she first offered psychological services specializing in trauma and anxiety before moving into an organization development role, and culminating in working on the modernization of the organization’s electronic health record. Her work with leaders and teams in the throes of development and change was multi-faceted and rewarding, and she enjoyed the opportunity to travel a good deal to visit VA Medical Centers around the country and VA Central Offices in Washington DC.  
A city family who enjoys walking to their favorite haunts, the Licastros gravitated towards life in New Town and initially rented a home in Charlotte Park in September of 2019.  By March the following year, Covid hit and by April, the home’s owner chose to sell. “My husband and I looked at properties in Ford’s Colony and Powhatan Secondary, not wanting our children to change schools, but we came to the realization that we loved our home in New Town, a community that was perfect for us and where we wanted to live and raise our children. It was logical to buy our rental and stay where we were.”  Loving the outdoors and hiking, New Town’s trails afforded the family the enjoyment of one of their penchants and would keep them all in shape for extended jaunts, such as a visit to Acadia National Park in Maine where the family plans to spend some time this summer. “Our doctors and dentist are in New Town, I shop at Trader Joes, I sweat at Club Pilates, my favorite comfort food is a grilled cheese and fries from Paul’s Deli, I get my hair done at Silk Salon (where I have run into my next-door neighbor), and I could go on. I love it here.” 
So how did Kate become the New Town Crier’s Editor-in-Chief?  “As is often the case, the timing was right.” When the Committee’s need presented itself, Kate had just left her VA role where she was leading a team of government employees and contractors on change management communications to support the transition to the Cerner Electronic Health Record. Ironically, it was now time for a change for Kate, and the Communications Committee’s grave need of assistance spoke to her.  “I guess I’m a bit of a bleeding heart when there is a need! Having moved three times in under 2 years meant I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to feel ingrained in the community in our past two homes. Given that my schedule had just become more flexible, and I was able to help, it seemed like the right thing to do.”  
Besides having an activist mentality, Kate is a true mover and shaker.  Leaving her role with VA did not leave her stagnant.  She is now using her expertise and years of experience as an organizational consultant and change manager to man her own consulting firm, True Orbit Consulting, LLC, at The company believes “healthy organizational dynamics and practices require authenticity, foresight, skilled execution, and a healthy dose of grit,” and guides companies with services that include leadership and team development, leadership coaching, fostering emotional intelligence, navigating corporate and team changes, including advancing the practices of virtual and blended teams (teams that work both in-person and virtually). Kate notes that she is a clinician at heart and works collaboratively with her clients to identify only what will truly be of benefit to them and their teams/organizations.
In addition to building a new, pioneering company, while also prioritizing being available for her children outside of school, Kate still found time to pitch in and help her New Town community on one of its most important committees.  We hope Kate’s willingness to share her time and talent (in addition to everything she does as a wife, a mother, a psychologist, and a full-time entrepreneur) inspires others to give back to the community.  Volunteerism is the cherished institution of giving back to the community in which you live and thrive.  We appreciate your future consideration of opportunities to contribute your time and expertise to one of the many committees and organizations that help make New Town a wonderful place to live.
Quick Getaways, April – Daffodil Festival, Gloucester, by Jim Ducibella
A few years ago, my wife and I were out for a Sunday drive, and we decided to go to Gloucester for a simple reason: We had never been there before. Imagine our (welcomed) surprise to discover that it was Daffodil Festival weekend.
The streets were fille with locals and tourists. There were beautiful daffodils everywhere the eye could see. Shops on Main Street were open and looked to be doing a robust business. There were food trucks, music, lots of little kids and their parents – we ever purchased a new tag for our dog from a street vendor.
The festival returns this year for one weekend, April 2 and 3. Things get started with a parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday. On the Main Street stage, the group Whiskey Rebellion will play from noon to 5. Sunday’s featured musical group is Soul Expression, which will perform from 12:45 to 5.
Since there is very limited parking in town, you can drive to Gloucester High School and ride the shuttle into town for $5.
The history of daffodils in Gloucester, wrote Carol Ray in 1991, a work that was updated by Denise Rhea Carter 19 years later, is “almost as old as Gloucester County itself.” Early settlers brought with them daffodil bulbs that they planted in what turned out to be ideal weather and soil for them to flourish.
Around 1890, a woman named Eleanor Linthicum Smith first saw the commercial potential of daffodils. She developed a bed of the flowers and paid children 10 cents per hundred to pick them. The flowers were packed and shipped to Baltimore.
At its peak, Gloucester was known as “the Daffodil Capital of America.” After a decline, in1938 the first daffodil tour was proposed by the Gloucester Rotary Club and the local newspaper, the Gazette-Journal. It was such a success that a year later a festival was added to the tour, along with a queen and her court.
Most, if not all, of the events attached to the festival are free and open to the public. For more information, visit this website
Portals, Payments And All Things Administrative - An Interview with Dana Neff, President of Chesapeake Bay Management Company, by Mary Cheston
We are 4 months into our new management company’s tenure, and big changes are coming in their accounting systems and technology. Who better to explain these administrative innovations then the President of Chesapeake Bay Management, Dana Neff.
For years, Chesapeake has used an online administrative system for most of their other associations, but this will be a first time for New Town Residential Association owners. What can owners expect from the new CBM online portal system?
Dana: The online portal is a real communication tool both for our company and for owners. Once an owner logs into their screen, they will have access to their account balances, payment history and will be able to track any requests that they have made to management “real time.” For example, if an application for the Architectural Review Committee is submitted, it’s status will be readily visible to the owner.  Email and other inquiries will be logged as well.               
We hope that the community will find it a useful tool, and Vantaca, our new software vendor, has interfaces that improve our flexibility in customizing association financial accounts and other information.
This sounds like it would ease the daily workload for our community manager as well - hopefully fewer phone calls and distractions. What do owners need to do to use their portal?
Dana: Owners have received a letter with their coupon books explaining the May 1 activation of the system. They will receive an email message, sent to their primary email of record, containing their portal username and temporary password. Once they receive this information, log in and start to use the system is my recommendation!
Owners were concerned that the NTRA assessment coupon books were mailed very late. Can you explain why this was delayed?
Dana: The transition of owner account information has been difficult. In some cases the owner mailing addresses for non-resident owners were not current. Lots of updating has been needed. The new NTRA assessment methodology by neighborhood also caused us to proceed cautiously to ensure that we were matching the right assessment with each property. Then there was a delay over whether new account numbers will be required by Vantaca in their new software. It turns out that there will be new account numbers, but we have found an interface so that existing account numbers can be recognized for some period. 
For those who may wish to switch to electronic payments, the new portal system also provides an easy link for owners who wish to set up a recurring payment or even pay just one time via credit card. There is no change for owners who have already done this electronically with CBM. 
The transition to new accounting software and new portal technology sounds like a major headache. Any lessons learned you’d like to share?
Dana: It has been a real challenge - and one I hope to never do again! But I learned that we have phenomenal staff members who put extra effort and time into ensuring that the system will have user friendly and meaningful info for owners. They dedicated themselves to training our staff and getting it up and running smoothly. 
Speaking of dedicated staff members, NTRA has the distinction of having you as the lead for our financial recordkeeping. How did you, as President, end up taking on the challenge of transferring the NTRA Quickbooks system into your accounting practices? 
Dana: I love working with accounts and like to “keep my pencil sharp.”  The timing of this contract was a challenge for our Accounting Department and I offered to help. There are differences from Town Management in our fund balance accounting practices that are still being worked through.
I was “over the moon” to have Chesapeake Bay awarded the management contract for New Town Residential. I have watched the community’s development since it was farmland, visit its businesses, and I feel a real attachment to New Town. Certainly, the complexity of New Town’s neighborhoods and governing documents created a real learning curve for us, but we are getting ahead of the curve now. We are thrilled to be associated with the New Town community. 
Finding What You Need Online, By Town Crier Staff
Whether you are a resident or a tenant, the NTRA website is a treasure chest of information. People who say they don’t know that we even have a website don’t know what they are missing. It is the vehicle for all Association official communications. The website address is:
To stay informed of the information most important to homeowners and tenants, be sure you are registered on the NTRA website. It’s the source for documents, and 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. Please be sure your contact information is current, or you may miss important news!
In late 2021, Chesapeake Bay Management Company became the managing agent for the New Town Residential Association. For emergencies, or to schedule an appointment, call 757 706-3019. (Chesapeake's office is located at 337 McLaws Circle in the Busch Corporate Center.) Chesapeake will soon have a new online owner portal that will replace the website ticketing system, so be sure that your single/primary email address is on file with Chesapeake Bay’s headquarters (
New to New Town?
On the website, there is a drop-down box of info titled “Newcomers info.” It can be found under the “About“ heading at the top of the home page. There is also a list of clubs to join and pool information under the “Residents” tab.
Additional information. Did you know?
We put the latest NTRA news on the first page that pops up after you log into the site. Check the “News and Reminders” page.
The monthly Town Crier articles on BOD actions are intended to provide some context/background and explanation for important topics. When warranted, we send out e-blasts, another reason to have your contact info accurately portrayed on the website.
·      We have a Facebook page. The address is below.
·      We monitor all “Report an Issue” and “Contact Us” website entries.
·      We are committed to pursuing committees’ obligations under the NTRA’s governing documents to share meeting records in a timely manner.
Where is information shared?  
Public information is available through the NTRA’s Town Crier articles and Facebook pages ( Please “like” our Facebook page. Please keep comments respectful. These are public pages, meaning anything commented on 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. Share photos and information about your committee’s work or your neighborhood events. Send in ideas for topics you want to learn more about, directly in an email to (
Moving Forward With Village Walk Preventive Maintenance - Part One, by Mary Cheston
The Board of Directors has laid out a plan for preventive maintenance to begin this year in Village Walk. Previously all exterior maintenance has been handled as one-off events. 
With the assistance of Chesapeake Bay’s VW Maintenance Responsibility tool, the Board has identified how we will handle each exterior home item that the Association is responsible for maintaining. For example, gutter cleaning will be done annually. “What, you mean my gutters have never been cleaned?” Correct. Unless a ticket identifying a problem was submitted, the Association had no routine exterior maintenance service to the Village Walk community. An RFP has now gone out requesting gutter cleaning services to be provided to all Village Walk homes by August 1.
What are the other big items in the preventive maintenance program? Siding repairs and power washing will be done in conjunction with an annual painting schedule by age of each building complex. Painting of two of the oldest Village Walk buildings (2015) is planned for later this year. 
Some owners may find that a repair to a problem will be deferred to coincide with the new maintenance schedule.  Urgent issues, such as leaks, will still be handled through the website tickets or new Chesapeake Bay portal service request system.
These are small but important steps to improve how the Association fulfills its responsibilities to homeowners in Village Walk. 
Protect Your Trees, Shrubs, and Our Community! By The Landscape Advisory Committee 
Trees in New Town are suffering from two infestations that need owner attention and care before more damage is done to our green space.
1) Crepe Myrtle White scale. This insect infestation will develop into black sooty mold.  These insects spend most of their life cycle imbedded to one tree, the exception is a phase we are probably entering into now when they hatch into walkers and can become airborne.  
Some immediate intervention of scrubbing these trees with soap and water and applying a root drench may put a stop to the infection. The root drench would be a Bayer or Safari product that can be purchased easily, mixed with water and poured around the base of the tree.  Here is a video to help you deal with the infection:
Monitoring for continued improvement and re-application next season may be warranted. There is evidence of some infection in our common area trees that the Association will need to deal with as well, so homeowners should do their part now to protect their property. 
Getting white scale under control will help stop them from migrating to other areas of the community.  They are largely known to infest Crepe Myrtle - but have been found in other species of trees and shrubs across the Southeast US.  
2) Bagworms on Leyland Cypress trees.  If bagworms have infected your Leland Cypress trees to this extent (see photo 2) you may have to replace the whole tree.  These trees are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.  Spraying can be an expensive procedure (do in late spring) and could cost more than replacing the tree(s).  
Arborvitae can also be infected with bagworms. On evergreens, they’ll eat lots of the buds and foliage, causing branch tips to turn brown and then die. Bagworms can be removed if caught early. You have to cut off the bagworms, and all their silk, and destroy them. Otherwise, bagworms wrap silk around the twigs that they build their bags on, which could kill the tree twigs a few years from now. And bagworms can use this silk to leap to other trees and shrubs or even property. On Casey Boulevard, some bagworms have spread from foliage to house exteriors. So if you see them, remove them immediately! Help us to keep these infestations from spreading and becoming a much larger problem for the community as a whole.     
April 18: Chelsea Green
April 25: Charlotte Park Townhomes
May 16: Charlotte Park Detached Homes
June 13: Shirley Park
June 20: Abbey Commons
June 27: Savannah Square
Village Walk inspections will be conducted with a separate team. These dates will be announced once the above inspection program is underway in April. 
Followup inspections for any locations with identified deficiencies will be conducted in each neighborhood after a 30 day period to allow for repair.
The Asset Maintenance Committee has also collected an updated list of neighbor-recommended contractors to assist with your home projects. Download the 2022 list here.  
Note: These dates are all weather dependent. 
New Town Tunes - FREE After-Hours Concert Series, by New Town Commercial Association (NTCA)
Can you even believe it? New Town has been a proud fixture in the Williamsburg community for TWENTY years! In the day and age where businesses come and go and developments get bulldozed almost daily, we are so thrilled to celebrate being part of this wonderful neighborhood since 2002.
One of the (many) ways we plan to celebrate is with an after-hours concert series right here in New Town. These events will be free and open to the public. James City County Parks & Recreation in partnership with CultureFix went above and beyond booking some of the most exciting cover bands to go along with our “tribute” theme. This three-night concert series is our tribute to this community. We look forward to celebrating with you on the dates listed below and for many other parts of our 20-year anniversary celebration.
When: Wednesday, April 27th, May 4th & May 11th
Time: 5:30pm; Gates open at 5:00pm
Location: Sullivan Square
FREE, Outdoor Event 
Food & beverage will be available for purchase
April 27- Trial by Fire - Journey Tribute Band
May 4 - Rapjack - The Grateful Dead Cover 
May 11 - Full Moon Fever - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tribute band
No Comments