Town Crier Articles

Posted on October 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Kathy Mullins
Categories: General, NTRA Business
Among many attributes that make New Town unique are the handsome streetlights that adorn our residential neighborhoods. Myriad factors were considered when these fixtures were selected: compliance with local and state regulations; design attributes that would enhance the character and mood of the streetscape; illumination appropriate for ambience and safety concerns; satisfactory environmental criteria; capacity to add utility (adding signage or seasonal decoration); and, costs - installation and maintenance ... and more.  
 
This article will focus on the last factor, the one that generates the most questions: maintenance.  What’s involved and how can homeowners help keep the lights on?
 
Here are some enlightening facts about our streetlight assets.
 
There are approximately 225 residential streetlights in New Town.
 
The NTRA is responsible for maintaining and repairing the streetlights in New Town. In the main, this includes those on streets and alleys, in parks and within many, but not all, parking lots. Since some lines of responsibility are difficult to delineate (as in “many, but not all”), the most efficient way for oversight to function at present, is for all problem reports to be submitted through the STREETLIGHT PROBLEM reporting system on the website. (See below). Town Management will receive and review all reports, and redirect any that should be handled by the Commercial Association or another entity. 
 
Neither V-DOT nor Dominion Power is involved with maintaining or repairing streetlights in New Town. 
 
Around 2013 NTRA initiated a program to retrofit the existing decorative streetlamps for the use of energy-efficient LED bulbs. The intent was to lower costs associated with frequent bulb replacement and to conserve energy. The changeovers occurred gradually, usually when bulb replacement or other maintenance was needed. To date about 50% of the residential streetlamps have been retrofit for LED usage (lighting for the new construction in Shirley Park is LED.) The remainder continue to use older-style bulbs, such as Mercury-Halide or CFL. Other types of exterior street lighting can be found in the commercial areas and parking lots.  
 
There are regular inspections of assets requiring maintenance (dog waste bins, street lights, walking paths, etc. Town Management personnel, maintenance staff, and NTRA committees, such as the Asset Maintenance Committee, assist. Because lighting problems are more easily detected at night, residents can be extremely helpful by reporting any issues seen in a timely fashion. 
 
What should residents do when they notice a streetlight problem?
 
All homeowners should become familiar with the NTRA website which provides a simple means of reporting problems.  From the MENU, under the RESIDENTS tab, select “REPORT AN ISSUE.”  From 11 options (e.g., Pool & Playgrounds, Finance, etc.) choose the newest tab, “STREETLIGHT PROBLEM.” 
 
Fill in requested information to help speed the repair:
  • Your name and email address (in case more specific details are needed) 
  • Pole Number. An I.D. plate is attached near the base of every streetlight pole (see photo) with coded information that conveys information to the electrician. The label in this photo indicates that the street light is attached to the Phase 2 electrical panel, it is located on Casey Blvd and is the first pole in the sequence of that group. Copy this information down to include with a problem report. Tim Grueter of Town Management, says that including this number is a huge help, as is noting the address of the nearest home or intersection.
  • Describe details. For example, only one bulb is unlit, the lamp has become very dim, the light remains on all day, or several lamps are out along the street. If an outage occurred after a shovel cut a wire or a sign was inserted near the pole, include that possibility so the electrician arrives with the necessary tools. 
  • Be specific with details if you are reporting something other than an electrical issue; for example, physical damage to the light pole, broken glass in the globe or a disconnected armature. The situation may require someone other than an electrician.
Town Management works with a roster of local electricians who are familiar with our streetlights and prepared with necessary parts to service them. At least once a month, and more frequently when indicated, an electrician is dispatched to deal with repairs/LED replacement (in a batch). There have been problems that hampered repairs during this pandemic period with shortages of certain supplies, particularly retrofit units, and of personnel at distributor facilities. These issues seem to be resolving.
 
Note that this article concerns Streetlight Issues, not major power outages that might occur due to a storm or hurricane. In those circumstances, residents would report outages to Dominion Virginia Power. Report the outage using a cell phone: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
 
We can all help keep the lights on. 
 
Tag at bottom of pole shows coded information needed when submitting a "STREETLIGHT PROBLEM" report
 
Streetlights were carefully selected to enhance the design elements of New Town residential neighborhoods. 
Posted on October 1, 2020 6:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
IT’S VOTING SEASON!
June Dawkins
 
Did you know that you do not have to wait until Tuesday, November 3rd to vote in this year’s elections? And that there are several ways for you to cast your vote?  Early voting began on September 18th.  Any registered voter can request an Absentee Ballot or vote Early-In-Person at a designated polling place.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, James City County is encouraging all voters to vote from home or vote early to avoid the lines and crowding on Election Day. Here are the details:
 
STEP 1:  Check the Accuracy of Your Voter Registration or Register to Vote
You can check the accuracy of your current voter registration or register to vote for the first time online at the Virginia Department of Elections website:  https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation
The final day to register/update your information is Tuesday, October 13th.  Your registration must be received by the Registration/Elections Main Office at 5300 Palmer Lane (across from New Town off Ironbound Road) by that date.  
 
STEP 2:  Request Your Absentee Ballot
Virginia allows all registered voters to request online a vote-by-mail ballot with no excuse needed. Your request must be received by the Registrar by Friday, October 23rd and must be signed and dated.
 
STEP 3:  Cast Your Vote
 
Mail-In:  While your completed and signed Absentee Ballot must be postmarked to the Registrar by Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd, it must be received by the Registrar by Friday, November 6th.  Given that the USPS is currently seeing service curtailed in some places and is expected to experience heavy mail volumes in advance of the election, mailing your ballot two weeks in advance is recommended. 
 
Drop Off:  Completed ballots can also be dropped off in the Ballot Box at the James City County (JCC) Recreation Center at 5301 Longhill Road through Saturday, October 31st.
 
Early-In-Person:  JCC Supervisors have also designated the JCC Rec Center as an Early-In-Person Voting location, also through Saturday, October 31st.  Hours are: 
Monday-Friday 8am until 5pm and
Saturday 9am to 5pm (October 24th and 31st only)
 
Election Day:  Cast your In-Person Vote on Tuesday, November 3rd at the JCC Rec Center, which is the regular polling place for New Town voters. Polls will be open from 6am to 7pm that day with curbside voting available.
 
STEP 4:  Track your vote at the JCC website:  
 
More Virginia General Election information can be found at:
https://www.elections.virginia.gov    
https://www.vote411.org va   
Youtube: JCC County Podcast on Elections https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzPDqyZJNQA&feature=youtu.be
 
New “Opt Out” Option for Your Landscaping Services
Landscape Advisory Committee
“If anyone asks what a first-class community looks like, it is well maintained property with healthy plantings and grass.” This is what drove Kelly Mihalcoe of the Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) to investigate options to more clearly communicate to our landscape crews when a homeowner has chosen to do their own yard work.  
 
In the past, tracking of requests to stop landscape services has been sporadic. While Town Management collects official notifications from homeowners, the landscape company might not have the latest list. Some residents have communicated directly with landscape staff.  This created confusion for all parties. Complaints have followed from both homeowners and the contractor if the activity was or was not done. 
 
The LAC wants to minimize these difficulties in meeting residents’ landscape needs. Kelly explored a variety of approaches to the situation, including posting signs for different actions, e.g. no mowing, no pruning, etc. and determined that painting symbols on the curb was the most cost-effective option for the Association. There are four different symbols that will be used depending upon what service a homeowner is declining. Kelly has volunteered to lead the painting of these symbols. 
 
The Board of Directors approved an initial trial of the system at its August meeting, to begin in 2021. (Note: the form is no required for the remainder of 2020.) The Board can revisit the program next year once some experience is gained.
 
What is involved to “opt out?”
  • Complete the opt out form and submit it to Town Management.
  • When a group of forms has been submitted, Kelly’s crew will come to paint the appropriate symbol on your home’s front/back curb. (In order to minimize workload, this painting party will be done periodically.)
  • All homeowners are asked to submit a form by December 5th for the 2021 landscape season. 
What if I change my mind or am traveling so I can’t maintain my property?
Once you opt out, you are responsible for whatever action you asked to be stopped. Town Management will no longer ask a crew to mow a home “just once” for a vacation week. By opting out, you are making a commitment to the New Town community to do this work for the rest of the year. Kelly gave the example of a recent medical incapacitation, where knowing that she was obligated to maintain her lawn, she took the responsibility to hire or ask someone else to do the tasks for several months when she was unable to do them. 
 
The LAC is hopeful that the painted symbols approach will be more effective than current practices. “This may or may not be the perfect system, but we need to implement it and adjust it as we go, if needed”, remarked Kelly.
 
For more information on this new opt-out program and to obtain a form, log into the NTRA website for a variety of resources (see Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions - Landscaping).
 
Navigating the World of Virtual Schooling!
Alison Douglas
 
A new term has started and kids are back at school, but it looks very different to this time last year - classrooms are virtual; schools are online and Zoom is the way forward.  Technology is amazing, but with the quirks of zoom calls; printer fails; Canvass assignments failing to load; navigating the myriad of different systems; as well as children missing their friends and comfort of familiar school routine, teachers, students, parents and grandparents are navigating a complicated and sometimes frustrating new way of online learning.  
 
For those parents out there reaching for the ‘help’ button at the start of a new school week, here are some thoughts from other parents and a New Town teacher to help you navigate the new way of schooling!  
 
It may not seem like it sometimes, but we should remember to congratulate ourselves on how adaptable, resilient and patient we all are.  New Town resident, Susan Schlimme is an ex-educator with three girls going through education.  She says that when it’s frustrating, don’t forget to ‘take a breath’ and remember ‘these are different times with different expectations’.  We are all learning that our expectations can change – these are strange times.  She also says that there is no right or wrong way of learning and teaching – be good to yourself! We are all doing what we can!  Easy things that she says we can do to make a difference to the school day include having easy access to the supplies your children need; and read, read, read!
 
Another New Town resident and parent, Sarah Yeneza, says that as you help your children to support the online learning and support them to understand what they are being taught, it can be fun to trawl your memory and re-learn what you think you have forgotten.  
 
Although some children feel more comfortable in a remote world, some need the interactions to build confidence and independence.  It is not the same, but Susan and Sarah’s advice both say make sure you build in lots of ‘active’ breaks (such as being outside or playing a game) to a consistent schedule (consistency should stretch to a familiar and consistent place to learn).   
 
Don’t forget that our children are learning from us as well as the teacher and the biggest lesson they are learning is how to deal with challenging times.  
 
Tips from the teacher
A final word from D.J. Montague Elementary teacher, Mrs Ford…
First of all, give yourself and your teacher some grace. Glitches happen and you are not going to mess up your child’s education or future just because you can’t get onto Zoom every so often!
 
Secondly, keep in touch.  If you are having any issues, let the teacher know – communication is key!
 
Thirdly, use the provided schedule as a guide so make the day work according to your schedule – it is not meant to mimic the hours your child would be in a classroom.  If your child works better in the morning, set aside time then to complete assignments.
 
Fourthly, read aloud with your child to help them enjoy reading.
 
Finally, although this is frustrating at times, please remember it will end.  Teachers want to be in the classroom – it’s what they do best and they’re giving it everything they have to make this work, while keeping everyone safe.  
 
Communication Helps It Happen! Part One: Communicating with Your Homeowners Association
Mary Cheston, Communications Committee Chair
 
Now that we homeowners control the Board of Directors, many residents have ideas (and complaints) to share, and share we have!  Perhaps we were just waiting for a changing of the guard to see if things could improve? Perhaps Covid-19 restrictions have given us more time to walk through neighborhoods and observe. Whatever the reason, Town Management and individual Directors on the Board have received a deluge of emails and calls about a variety of issues, some of which are outside the NTRA’s control. 
 
So let’s focus on COMMUNICATIONS to the NTRA – how, when, who and what. 
 
1) How? The primary vehicle for reporting a problem or concern to the Association is the NTRA website “Report an Issue” feature (See Residents page dropdown box https://www.ntrawilliamsburg.org/submit-a-request/ All NTRA Committees including the Board of Directors receive the comments submitted in their subject area.
 
  • Why is this the first place residents should go? It creates a ticket, similar to an HOA work order, where both the Board and Town Management, as well as the resident, can track issues. If we send something privately to an individual, there is no traceability. Help us to improve accountability on the part of the Association by using this website system.
  •   “I have not had timely or satisfactory responses from using this feature.” We feel your pain. Know that the delays are not due to any lack of responsiveness by the website team. Town Management controls this system.  Sometimes it takes time for a Committee or the Board to provide Town Management with a reply.
Unfortunately, the ticketing system is a work in progress. Some Board members recently met with Town Management to review and expedite open tickets. Several status categories were added to clarify what is happening with each ticket. Town Management has committed to improve its transparency in replying helpfully to every resident. (Residents can also close out tickets if they know the issue has been addressed.)
 
2) When? If there is a true emergency situation requiring immediate attention, e.g. the recent overflow of the pool after hours, then a call to Town Management is best. 
 
3) Who? The Board of Directors are volunteers, as are all NTRA Committee members. Their time is their own, not ours. The new Board has been looking at a wide range of issues – in just the past 90 days, they have officially met 11 times, with individual Directors also meeting separately with their assigned Committees. Distractions from calls and emails only add to this workload. Remember that the Board acts collectively, not individually, so while it may feel good to vent on our favorite Director, there is not likely to be resolution within her/his power. Send your comments to the Board through the website, and let the system work. 
 
4) What? Finally, some things that may be annoying to us are not within the Association’s purview. Complaints about median strips, trails, construction crews, and US Post Office practices should be redirected. If you contact the appropriate source and learn something about New Town that you weren’t aware of, chances are your neighbor isn’t either. Share what you learned with the Communications Committee to add to the website’s Frequently Asked Questions. Contact ntrawebsitecommittee@gmail.com We all benefit when we communicate precisely.
 
So let me take a page from “Miss Manners” book, and encourage all of us to follow communication chains. Although your friend/neighbor may now be on the Board, there is a protocol to follow to ensure that concerns from the community are shared in a timely and respectful manner.  
 
Next month, I’ll focus on communications from the NTRA. What have we been doing to keep you informed of New Town matters?
 
Tenants: Bring Your Energy and Ideas to the NTRA!
Town Crier Staff
 
At its September 24th meeting, the Board of Directors approved changes to five New Town Committee charters permitting the addition of New Town tenants as non-voting members of NTRA Committees. Previously, only homeowners--full Members of the Association--could serve on all Committees.
 
Tenants now join homeowners in the New Town Commercial Association as auxiliary members in a nonvoting capacity. If you are renting in New Town, you may volunteer for the Activities, Communications, Emergency Preparedness, Landscape Advisory Committee or the Pool Committee.  We’d love to have your enthusiasm working for our community. 
 
A New Town Streetlight Primer
Kathy Mullins
 
Among many attributes that make New Town unique are the handsome streetlights that adorn our residential neighborhoods. Myriad factors were considered when these fixtures were selected: compliance with local and state regulations; design attributes that would enhance the character and mood of the streetscape; illumination appropriate for ambience and safety concerns; satisfactory environmental criteria; capacity to add utility (adding signage or seasonal decoration); and, costs - installation and maintenance ... and more.  
 
This article will focus on the last factor, the one that generates the most questions: maintenance.  What’s involved and how can homeowners help keep the lights on?
 
Here are some enlightening facts about our streetlight assets.
 
There are approximately 225 residential streetlights in New Town.
 
The NTRA is responsible for maintaining and repairing the streetlights in New Town. In the main, this includes those on streets and alleys, in parks and within many, but not all, parking lots. Since some lines of responsibility are difficult to delineate (as in “many, but not all”), the most efficient way for oversight to function at present, is for all problem reports to be submitted through the STREETLIGHT PROBLEM reporting system on the website. (See below). Town Management will receive and review all reports, and redirect any that should be handled by the Commercial Association or another entity. 
 
Neither V-DOT nor Dominion Power is involved with maintaining or repairing streetlights in New Town. 
 
Around 2013 NTRA initiated a program to retrofit the existing decorative streetlamps for the use of energy-efficient LED bulbs. The intent was to lower costs associated with frequent bulb replacement and to conserve energy. The changeovers occurred gradually, usually when bulb replacement or other maintenance was needed. To date about 50% of the residential streetlamps have been retrofit for LED usage (lighting for the new construction in Shirley Park is LED.) The remainder continue to use older-style bulbs, such as Mercury-Halide or CFL. Other types of exterior street lighting can be found in the commercial areas and parking lots.  
 
There are regular inspections of assets requiring maintenance (dog waste bins, street lights, walking paths, etc. Town Management personnel, maintenance staff, and NTRA committees, such as the Asset Maintenance Committee, assist. Because lighting problems are more easily detected at night, residents can be extremely helpful by reporting any issues seen in a timely fashion. 
 
What should residents do when they notice a streetlight problem?
 
All homeowners should become familiar with the NTRA website which provides a simple means of reporting problems.  From the MENU, under the RESIDENTS tab, select “REPORT AN ISSUE.”  From 11 options (e.g., Pool & Playgrounds, Finance, etc.) choose the newest tab, “STREETLIGHT PROBLEM.” 
 
Fill in requested information to help speed the repair:
 
  • Your name and email address (in case more specific details are needed) 
 
  • Pole Number. An I.D. plate is attached near the base of every streetlight pole (see photo) with coded information that conveys information to the electrician. The label in this photo indicates that the street light is attached to the Phase 2 electrical panel, it is located on Casey Blvd and is the first pole in the sequence of that group. Copy this information down to include with a problem report. Tim Grueter of Town Management, says that including this number is a huge help, as is noting the address of the nearest home or intersection.
 
  • Describe details. For example, only one bulb is unlit, the lamp has become very dim, the light remains on all day, or several lamps are out along the street. If an outage occurred after a shovel cut a wire or a sign was inserted near the pole, include that possibility so the electrician arrives with the necessary tools. 
 
  • Be specific with details if you are reporting something other than an electrical issue; for example, physical damage to the light pole, broken glass in the globe or a disconnected armature. The situation may require someone other than an electrician.
 
Town Management works with a roster of local electricians who are familiar with our streetlights and prepared with necessary parts to service them. At least once a month, and more frequently when indicated, an electrician is dispatched to deal with repairs/LED replacement (in a batch). There have been problems that hampered repairs during this pandemic period with shortages of certain supplies, particularly retrofit units, and of personnel at distributor facilities. These issues seem to be resolving.
 
Note that this article concerns Streetlight Issues, not major power outages that might occur due to a storm or hurricane. In those circumstances, residents would report outages to Dominion Virginia Power. Report the outage using a cell phone: 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
 
We can all help keep the lights on. 
 
Enhancements Are on Their Way through the Volunteer Efforts of Our Community
Mary Cheston
 
Notice anything new in Elizabeth Davis park? Well, it’s not really new, but refinishing has brought new life to one of New Town’s 24 wooden benches. Thanks to the efforts of Charlotte Park residents Mike Reilly and Bob Dennis, refurbishing our aging teak benches has begun. 
 
New Town’s benches were identified as an upcoming capital expense item on the Asset Maintenance Committee’s recent inspection of New Town common area property. Given an estimated replacement cost of between $24,000 to $30,000, President Chuck Stetler asked avid woodworkers Mike and Bob to look at what might be done to salvage the benches. After recruiting other neighbors with trucks to move the benches, Mike and Bob power washed, sanded and applied a special protective coating and shield which returned the bench to its natural teak color. They presented the refinished bench as a prototype for the Board’s consideration. (See photos) As an alternative to purchasing new benches, on September 14th the Board of Directors approved Mike and Bob’s proposal to refurbish all 24 of the NTRA’s wooden benches. A few benches have deteriorated to the point that they will require replacement of slats in the bench backs. Supplies for their entire project will run about $3,000.   
 
While this work has started, their efforts will largely be a winter garage project, explained Mike, since both the Reillys and the Dennises are new grandfathers. Mike and Bob are donating their labor as a service to the New Town community. (If you’d like to be considered as backup or support for these grandpas, contact Mike at mjr1947@yahoo.com or 843 450-5665).
 
Kudos to Mike and Bob for stepping up and demonstrating that New Town residents are willing to be part of the solution! Their efforts are saving the Association about $25,000. 
 
By mid-October the long-awaited expansion of the pool playground will also be starting. The Board of Directors has approved the purchase and installation of a “Whistle Stop” play structure similar to the one pictured. This equipment addition is possible through a payment by the developer, New Town Associates, to the NTRA to satisfy James City County proffers.  Many thanks to Bill Voliva and all the members of the Playground Work Group who can finally see the fruition of their 2017 deliberations.  (See the March 2020 Town Crier for the full background on this playground project).
 
The Board has also approved the installation of a birdhouse on the greens of Magnolia Park. This architectural treat is currently under construction by another New Town resident. Stay tuned for the full story in our November Town Crier issue!
 
Taking a Fall Stroll? Discover the Best Local Spots
Max Pfannebecker
 
Here we are…it’s Fall already and social distancing is still front and center in every interaction and activity. Who would have guessed?
 
Whether you’re looking to recover from the last six months of Covid-induced cabin fever or stave it off for the months to come, most would agree that a stroll outdoors, a bike ride, or a paddle on one of our many scenic blue ways is a great cure.
 
By land and by sea (or river or lake), here’s everything you could need to get socially distanced fresh air this fall, courtesy of our area Parks & Rec departments and Visit Williamsburg:
 
Local Hiking Trails
In addition to New Town’s own conveniently located hiking trails that encircle most of the residential area of our neighborhoods, here are some links to some other beautiful and SOLE-ful spots to stretch your legs.
 
Visit Williamsburg - https://www.visitwilliamsburg.com/outdoor-activities-williamsburg-va/hiking?f%5B0%5D=field_categories%3A33#find-listings
Williamsburg Parks & Rec - https://www.williamsburgva.gov/government/department-i-z/parks-recreation
James City County Parks & Rec Trail Guide - https://jamescitycountyva.gov/756/Parks-Trails
York County Parks & Rec - https://www.yorkcounty.gov/1647/Walking-Trails
 
Kayaking / Canoeing / Boating
Rental Information:
James City County Kayak Rentals (JCC Marina, Chickahominy Riverfront Park) - https://jamescitycountyva.gov/2768/Park-Fees
City of Williamsburg Rentals (Waller Mill)  - https://www.williamsburgva.gov/government/department-i-z/parks-recreation/waller-mill-park/boat-rentals
Best Spots:
Visit Williamsburg's Popular Spots - https://www.visitwilliamsburg.com/outdoor-activities-williamsburg-va/hiking?f%5B0%5D=field_categories%3A29#find-listings
Go Paddling Map - Go Paddling is a smartphone app that shows popular (and some less known) launch sites for Kayakers
 
Biking
Visit Williamsburg - https://www.visitwilliamsburg.com/outdoor-activities-williamsburg-va/hiking?f%5B0%5D=field_categories%3A27#find-listings
 
BOARD BUZZ October 2020
Jean Brown, Vice President - Board of Directors
 
Conversation: #HARDATWORK
 
You can find this phrase in my bio which is a supporting statement that this Board of Director (BOD) member has vision. Your BOD has been hard at work since day one. We began with the training for new board members, an exploration of what Town Management (TM) does for New Town Residential Association (NTRA); a review of  assets, insurance coverage, governing documents, and a check-in with committees to name a few undertakings. 
Let me highlight some of the above endeavors:
 
  • Susan Tarley of Tarley Robinson, PLC as the NTRA attorney provided instructions on the roles and responsibilities of board members.
  • TM provides management services to the NTRA. TM is hired by the NTRA Board specifically to assist the Board to fulfill its responsibilities as defined in the Association documents, including assisting the Board to educate, encourage, and enforce owner compliance with NTRA rules. Helps the Board to manage the assets, funds, and common properties and interests of the NTRA. Supports the efforts of the Board to nurture a lively, healthy, and vital community. NTRA going from a Developer’s board to a Residential board needs a management company that can provide continuity, history, an abundance of experience and professionalism in addition to the services mentioned above. TM brings that to the table for us.
  • Committee support in governance is a treasure to a thriving community. We foster good working relationships and saw the need to formulize Roles and Responsibilities of the Board of Director with Committees.
 
When it comes to transitioning everything is not wrapped in a tidy package with a pretty bow upon it. Such is the case when the Developer’s Board turned NTRA over to the residents.
 
It had come to all attention that Savannah Square neighborhood due to a clerical error resulted in the neighborhood being part of the New Town COMMERCIAL Association instead of the New Town RESIDENTIAL Association. This led to a Ballot: Approval of the first amendment to the NTRA Master Declaration and Covenants to be included during the voting of NTRA first residential board. The Association needed about 100 more votes to pass the Declaration Amendment for Savannah Square so that Savannah Square could be fully and promptly restored into the New Town Residential Association. The goal was not met.
 
Formula: NTRA has approximately 500 properties. A 2/3 vote (334 votes) is needed to pass the Amendment. Voting time, 247 votes had been cast in favor of the Amendment.  
 
The newly elected board had to put a plan into action to gain the remaining votes which was led by Angela Lesnett since electronic reminders did not gain the required number of votes.
 
  • Plan: provide each non-voting homeowner with a paper ballot and a stamped envelope to return to NTRA . New Town residents would get a doorknob bag that included the ballot.  Addresses outside of New Town (approximately 158 of the 500 New Town properties) would have the ballots mailed to them.
 
Savannah Square neighborhood is officially part of NTRA because the action taken by the BOD was successful; however, several homeowners did not sign the Savannah Square neighborhood Supplemental Declaration showing their desire to be part of the Association. To date, there are about a dozen who have not signed, so they are still part of the Commercial Association.
 
In summation, much work has been done and there is much work to do, but with the support of both our committees and residents, the BOD is very confident and engaged in making our community work!
Posted on September 18, 2020 9:21 PM by June Dawkins
Did you know that you do not have to wait until Tuesday, November 3rd to vote in this year’s elections? And that there are several ways for you to cast your vote?  Early voting began on September 18th.  Any registered voter can request an Absentee Ballot or vote Early-In-Person at a designated polling place.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, James City County is encouraging all voters to vote from home or vote early to avoid the lines and crowding on Election Day. Here are the details:
 
STEP 1:  Check the Accuracy of Your Voter Registration or Register to Vote
You can check the accuracy of your current voter registration or register to vote for the first time online at the Virginia Department of Elections website:  https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation
The final day to register/update your information is Tuesday, October 13th.  Your registration must be received by the Registration/Elections Main Office at 5300 Palmer Lane (across from New Town off Ironbound Road) by that date.  
 
STEP 2:  Request Your Absentee Ballot
Virginia allows all registered voters to request online a vote-by-mail ballot with no excuse needed. Your request must be received by the Registrar by Friday, October 23rd and must be signed and dated.
 
STEP 3:  Cast Your Vote
 
Mail-In:  While your completed and signed Absentee Ballot must be postmarked to the Registrar by Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd, it must be received by the Registrar by Friday, November 6th.  Given that the USPS is currently seeing service curtailed in some places and is expected to experience heavy mail volumes in advance of the election, mailing your ballot two weeks in advance is recommended. 
 
Drop Off:  Completed ballots can also be dropped off in the Ballot Box at the James City County (JCC) Recreation Center at 5301 Longhill Road through Saturday, October 31st.
 
Early-In-Person:  JCC Supervisors have also designated the JCC Rec Center as an Early-In-Person Voting location, also through Saturday, October 31st.  Hours are: 
Monday-Friday 8am until 5pm and
Saturday 9am to 5pm (October 24th and 31st only)
 
Election Day:  Cast your In-Person Vote on Tuesday, November 3rd at the JCC Rec Center, which is the regular polling place for New Town voters. Polls will be open from 6am to 7pm that day with curbside voting available.
 
STEP 4:  Track your vote at the JCC website:  
 
More Virginia General Election information can be found at:
  • https://www.elections.virginia.gov    
  • https://www.vote411.org va   
Posted on September 1, 2020 7:01 AM by Town Crier Staff
submitted by June Dawkins and Mary Cheston
 
Looking for some new educational challenges now that fall is approaching?  Here are some great opportunities for mental exercise without leaving the comfort of your home.  Many are offered by our local treasures:
 
Williamsburg Regional Library (wrl.org)
Do you have a library card? Check out the library’s website to find a wide selection of virtual programs through various platforms, such as their YouTube channel, WebEx or Zoom, and wrl.kanopy.com for movie access. The Library has its own lifelong learning online page https://www.wrl.org/find-it-online/lifelong-learning/ Informational programs range from travel to finance, even puppet shows for the youngsters. They offer links to 15 non-English language classes if you’d like to learn a new skill while housebound.
 
College of William and Mary (wm.edu)
• Osher Lifelong Learning
If you have not attended an Osher class in a while, or you would like to know more, now is the time to investigate. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute https://www.wm.edu/offices/auxiliary/osher/coursecatalog.pdf  (formerly Christopher Wren Association) now offers virtual classes at a set time.  Even though initial enrollment is over for the fall semester, many classes are still open!  Choose from one-class activities and lectures, and 3 to 6 session classes in a wide range of topics from the local history to world affairs, or self-improvement and wealth management and personal hobbies.
 
• Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance
William and Mary’s virtual fall season begins this month, with ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ from September 17th through the 20thand continues with other performances through October and November at set dates and times. Check out their website for details and instructions for digital access. https://www.wm.edu/as/tsd/_documents/new-2020-brochure-updated.pdf
 
Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center
Perhaps you are interested in pursuing a new hobby or improving your artistic talent. The WCAC has virtual classes for adults that promise to be “just as interactive and to see each other’s work as if we were in the classroom at the Art Center.” August’s focus was on watercolor painting, but more Zoom offerings will be coming. https://visitwcac.net/classes_gen_info.cfm
 
RESOURCES BEYOND WILLIAMSBURG
 
Looking for more diverse or unusual pursuits? Among the resources to check out for intellectual stimulation that aren’t locally based are:
 
• The Great Courses thegreatcoursesplus.com
The Great Courses website has a diversity of classes that you can see online or request in catalog form.  These classes can be viewed on your schedule and cover a wide range of topics such as Economics to Food and Wine, Health and Fitness, Travel and programs for young people.
 
Wide variety of challenging topics are covered through free online courses from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale.
 
Thinking about your next Covid-free trip or reminiscing about past adventures, this site has a variety of one-time seminars on museums, culture, art and other international historical events.
 
• Goldstar.com https://www.goldstar.com/ 
Find some fun! Break out of your shell and try something at home without the embarrassment of having to keep up with others in a classroom setting. Need some inspiration? How about: 
**Online comedy classes – both Improv and Stand-up Comedy (for all ages) 
**Piano (or another instrument like guitar)
**Ballet or Salsa dancing
**Cooking  
 
Minimize what may seem like a long, lonely fall and winter season by exploring what the internet has to offer and finding your niche. Happy Learning!
Posted on September 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
Ramping Up for Some Fall Fun
Activities Committee
Recently we held a Riddle Trail activity for New Town highlighting our wonderful trails. Did you notice the signs? There were riddles that had to be solved, easier on the front with harder riddles on the back of the sign for the older kids. You could pick up an answer sheet at the pool and after it was filled in, you could turn it in (virtually) for a gift card of your choice for any New Town business. It was a great way for kids to participate in a COVID safe activity while getting outside and enjoying our community! We had 12 participants with representation from each of the neighborhoods! Didn’t get in on the action? No worry, there will be more fun to come! Stay informed through the NTRA website, email reminders or on Facebook. 
 
Prior to COVID-19, we were able to gather for Noon Talks to learn something new while enjoying lunch and socializing with our neighbors. In our new safety focused world, we are still participating, but now through Zoom! Our most recent talk was with Officer McDowell from the James City County Police Department on Saturday, Aug. 29th.. (See related Crier story.) Two other talks are being planned for later this year. Check the NTRA website calendar to find details as well as all Zoom IDs and passwords.  
 
Finally, we are happy to announce a much needed, COVID aware, outdoor event! Dust off your best costume and plan to participate by walking, riding or watching the Halloween parade on Saturday October 31 in the afternoon. Dogs, bicycles, unicycles, wagons, children, adults - all are welcome! Look for further information about the Halloween Parade on the NTRA Facebook page and the NTRA website. We want to give you time to plan so further details are coming soon...

We the Activities Committee welcome comments, suggestions, questions – please contact the Activities Chair - Kimberly Kearney at OTKimberly@gmail.com or by phone at 574 360-3859
 
Planning is Key to Maintaining Safety in Our Community
A summary of New Town’s first virtual talk
Patti Vaticano
 
Saturday, August 29th, a New Town Virtual Talk sponsored by the NTRA Activities Committee took place, well attended and overflowing with expert advice and safety information. Speaker Alan McDowell, James City County’s Mid-County Safety Officer, has been with the Community Services Unit of James City County as a Crime Prevention Officer for nearly 30 years.  A native of Richmond, his career has been remarkably comprehensive with positions ranging from patrol officer and firearms instructor to S.W.A.T. and Defensive Tactics instructor, to name only a few.  Little wonder his virtual talk was filled will eye-opening information and useful tips to safeguard life in New Town. 
 
Officer McDowell began the talk by reminding attendees of the county’s free alert app, James City County Alert, whereby county officials are able to deliver emergency alerts and notifications to those who have signed up for the service.  All residents need do is search for the app online by its name and sign up as directed.  
 
Office McDowell encouraged residents to create a safer home environment for themselves and for their families by using a Personal Safety Risk Reduction Plan. This risk reduction plan consists of 6 key areas that, once assessed and addressed, significantly reduces a resident’s susceptibility to becoming a victim of crime.  Those areas are as follows:
• Drapes and Shades:  While light-weight drapes may be fine for during the day, heavy drapes will better conceal interior activities in the home during the evening hours;
• Lighting:  Lighting deters crime.  Strategically place exterior lighting and assess lighting regularly.  Keep lights clean and free of bugs, making certain lights are in clear view and not obstructed by greenery or equipment of any kind.  Install motion-sensor lights for evening and nighttime.  Sensor lights, once activated, draw attention to an activity taking place—and are far more cost-effective than leaving exterior lights on until morning;
• Landscaping:  Keep bushes and tree canopies trimmed, the latter at least 6 feet from the ground.  This is especially necessary for bushes and trees near windows or close to doorways to prevent criminals from hiding from sight.  “Natural surveillance,” is a great deterrent.  Your neighbors or people walking by will be able to alert you or the police of suspicious activity and the potential for a crime taking place.
• Spare Keys:  Keep spare keys well hidden. Using ceramics (a bunny, frog, faux-rock, etc.) made specifically to hide door keys is not advised. Criminals shop in the same stores as residents do.  They know what these ceramics hold.  It is better to bury spare keys in the ground and mark the area for quick retrieval.  If ceramics are desired, ask your neighbor to use the same –and switch keys.  The criminal may retrieve the key in your ceramic but will fail at gaining access to your home;
• Timers:  Use timers for your lights, TV, and radio while you are away from your home, but time them according to what your living schedule has been. Criminals survey homes to see what a person or family’s habits are.  Timing patterns should mimic your habits when you are at home—and remember to keep timers in working condition.  Test batteries often.; and
• Keeping Friends and Families Informed of Your Whereabouts:  Always let a family member or a friend know where you are going and when you will be returning.  A phone call or text upon leaving and returning is strongly advised.
 
In addition to the individualized safety plan above, Officer McDowell spoke at length about the importance of residents working together to make for a community undesirable to criminals.  Report suspicious behavior of individuals as soon as possible; do not wait for others to do so.  Question the appearance of strangers you have not seen in the neighborhood before. Loitering is difficult to prevent—but suspicious behavior can always be called in, regardless.  Call 757-566-0112 to do so.  Do not wait for someone else to report a street lamp that has died out. (Note: A simple phone call to Town Management or submitting an issue report on the NTRA website to report the street lamp number, clearly visible on every light in New Town, is all it will take.) In addition, work to maintain your property, keeping doors, windows, and locks in sound working order and making every effort to see that your property is well cared for.  A neighborhood with broken or compromised windows and doors, property looking neglected or rundown, or with residents who fail to challenge unusual behavior or individuals will be sure to attract criminals and become targets for crime.  Working with your neighbors in all these areas will make for a strong community where little crime occurs.
 
Some time was spent during the talk on the recent vehicle break-ins in New Town.  Officer McDowell greatly emphasized the importance of cultivating the habit of (1) keeping car windows up, (2) car doors locked, and (3) things of value out of sight—all the time.  Valuables in plain sight will draw criminals to your car, whether your car is open or not.  The best place for valuables, i. e. laptops, purses, and cell phones, is in your trunk.  In addition to keeping your car and valuables safe, Officer McDowell also stressed the importance of keeping yourself safe by observing your car as you approach it to enter.  Is a window broken?  Do you see sneakers underneath the car, indicating someone is crouching on the other side?  Try to park in well-lighted areas and keep your keys in your hand as you near your vehicle—being careful, if you have a remote access key, not to unlock all your doors.  And have a plan in mind for a potential attack as you are walking towards your car, wherever it is parked. “Advance Techniques” are key to keeping you safe.  A plan will keep you from panicking.  Without a plan, panic may make you a victim of crime.  A wise preventative is storing an old, inactive cell phone in a glove compartment as it will enable you to call 911 for an emergency you may suddenly find yourself in.  In addition, if you suspect your car or home has been broken into, call the police immediately—and refrain from destroying the crime scene by entering and touching evidence.  Call the police and keep yourself safe. It is a county service we are all paying for. Note:  Most residents do not know that 911 may be called for non-emergency issues.
 
In response to concerns voiced by participants during Q&A period, Officer McDowell also committed to ask the JCC police to monitor speeds on Casey Boulevard and watch whether drivers are heeding the stop signs at the intersection of New Town Avenue and Discovery Boulevard.
 
Free County Crime Prevention Resources
Officer McDowell shared several of the free crime prevention services available to residents through the county—and two, national data bases for conducting crime and offender searches at any local:
 
James City County Services:
Project Life Saver—free location devices for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia;
Citizen Police Academy—a once a week, 2-hour session for 13 weeks offering citizens insight into how our police department functions;
Child ID Services;
Crime and Safety Prevention Assessments—free home assessment programs;
Rape, Aggression, and Defense (RAD) Classes--training people in the use of force to prevent abduction (www.rad-systems.com); and
RAD for Kids
 
National Crime and Offender Databases:
LexisNexis Community Crime Map (www.communitycrimemap.com)  --a national data base of crimes by their nature, date, time, and location anywhere in the United States.  Just enter your street address, and the information will appear charted on a map of your area.  Useful for trips and relocation.  Data reloads every Friday night; and
Victim Information and Notification Everyday—VINE Link  (www.vinelink.com)-- a national data base of offenders which allows victims of crime and the general public to track the movements of prisoners held by various states and territories. Notifications can be set-up to inform the public of prisoner release dates.  (VINEmobile is the app version of VINE)
 
Please feel free to contact Office Alan McDowell if you have further questions about New Town safety or would like more information about any of the programs or services listed above.  His phone number is    757-603-6026, and his email address is alan.mcdowell@jamescitycountyva.gov.
 
Board Buzz
Angela Lesnett, Director
 
This has been an unusual year, so I’m going to forego the standard September essay topic (What I did on my summer vacation) and, instead, focus on NTRA’s budget. In September, the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) will start to prepare its 2021 budget. This is important to each of us because the budget establishes the annual assessment (sometimes called HOA dues) that each owner will pay in 2021. The 2021 budget is especially significant because, as the first budget adopted by NTRA’s homeowner-elected Board, it will start to determine what kind of community we will become, as we move from being a new development to one that is aging.
 
To develop a budget, NTRA’s Finance Committee takes into account all financial aspects of the association, including both sides of the income/expense equation. On the expense side, the Finance Committee asks NTRA’s Committees to submit estimates of the funds needed to accomplish that Committee’s particular objectives in the following year. Working with Town Management, the Finance Committee considers these requests, along with the known and forecasted expenses that NTRA must incur to continue operations and maintain its assets in a manner that meets owners’ expectations for the development. In other words, the Finance Committee considers what it will cost to accomplish the things it must do plus the things it wants to do.
 
On the income side, by far the largest source of income is the annual assessment or HOA dues that each owner pays. The NTRA assesses a fee for each home based on the home type: detached homes, townhomes, and cottages. The other significant source of income is fees collected at closing on sales of both new homes and resales. As discussed at the November 2019 Budget Town Hall Meeting, the addition of new homes in NTRA will slow in the upcoming years as the development nears final build-out. This will result in a decline in income from closing fees and that income will have to be replaced with income from HOA dues.
 
If NTRA’s expenses (for both needs and wants) outweigh its income, the Finance Committee must re-evaluate and prioritize the association’s expenses and also consider what increase in the annual assessment is warranted to fund those expenditures required bring the development up to a level that the owners expect. In prior years this has resulted in an increase in HOA dues. In large part that increase was necessary just to pay for the needs of the association.
 
A new development’s assets require little maintenance at first, but more maintenance (and expense) is to be expected over time. Our pool is just one example: the NTRA pool was new in 2012 and required little maintenance. Now however, after a number of years of normal wear and tear, the NTRA must incur some expense to maintain that important asset to a standard consistent with the development.  
 
The final steps in NTRA’s budget process are the Finance Committee’s submission of the proposed budget to the Board of Directors for review, presentation of the proposed budget to homeowners at the Annual Budget Meeting (usually in late November), and the Board’s adoption of the budget which includes the annual assessment for the upcoming year. 
 
In my application for the Board election I stressed the importance of balancing current needs/expenses with expenses that are projected for the future.  I believe that balance is essential to building a strong community and maintaining property values. Thank you for the opportunity to serve on your Board and to maintain NTRA’s secure financial position.
 
As the September weather cools, I hope we can all find time to enjoy a stroll in the beautiful neighborhood that we call home and to think about what it takes to preserve it. I hope to see you (socially-distanced, of course) outside this fall.  
 
Isaias Makes His Presence Felt in New Town
Mary Cheston
Although Tropical Storm Isaias did not produce the widespread damage done to other Williamsburg communities, it did leave its imprint on Charlotte Park in New Town. According to Senior Community Manager, Tim Grueter, there were leaves and bark debris in the pool area and a few sidewalk median strip oak trees snapped and had to be removed. 
 
The most dramatic aftershock of Isaias was the felling of a 50-year old tulip tree on the property of Alice Mountjoy. This 85-foot tree clipped the deck of neighbors Chuck and Susan Stetler but luckily the damage was minor. According to Chuck, the crash came around 8 AM several hours after the tornado warnings when there was just rain in the area. The tree’s root structure had obviously weakened from the storm. This experience was also the Stetlers’ first involvement with Virginia’s homeowner’s insurance, i.e, damage to your property is your problem – even if caused by a tree from your neighbor!  
 
All the debris has now been cleared and both Alice and Chuck know the outcome could have been a lot worse. Good (landing) trees make good neighbors! 
 
Back to School From the Comfort of Your Home
June Dawkins & Mary Cheston
 
submitted by June Dawkins and Mary Cheston
 
Looking for some new educational challenges now that fall is approaching?  Here are some great opportunities for mental exercise without leaving the comfort of your home.  Many are offered by our local treasures:
 
Williamsburg Regional Library (wrl.org)
Do you have a library card? Check out the library’s website to find a wide selection of virtual programs through various platforms, such as their YouTube channel, WebEx or Zoom, and wrl.kanopy.com for movie access. The Library has its own lifelong learning online page https://www.wrl.org/find-it-online/lifelong-learning/ Informational programs range from travel to finance, even puppet shows for the youngsters. They offer links to 15 non-English language classes if you’d like to learn a new skill while housebound.
 
College of William and Mary (wm.edu)
• Osher Lifelong Learning
If you have not attended an Osher class in a while, or you would like to know more, now is the time to investigate. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute https://www.wm.edu/offices/auxiliary/osher/coursecatalog.pdf  (formerly Christopher Wren Association) now offers virtual classes at a set time.  Even though initial enrollment is over for the fall semester, many classes are still open!  Choose from one-class activities and lectures, and 3 to 6 session classes in a wide range of topics from the local history to world affairs, or self-improvement and wealth management and personal hobbies.
 
• Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance
William and Mary’s virtual fall season begins this month, with ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ from September 17th through the 20thand continues with other performances through October and November at set dates and times. Check out their website for details and instructions for digital access. https://www.wm.edu/as/tsd/_documents/new-2020-brochure-updated.pdf
 
Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center
Perhaps you are interested in pursuing a new hobby or improving your artistic talent. The WCAC has virtual classes for adults that promise to be “just as interactive and to see each other’s work as if we were in the classroom at the Art Center.” August’s focus was on watercolor painting, but more Zoom offerings will be coming. https://visitwcac.net/classes_gen_info.cfm
 
RESOURCES BEYOND WILLIAMSBURG
 
Looking for more diverse or unusual pursuits? Among the resources to check out for intellectual stimulation that aren’t locally based are:
 
• The Great Courses thegreatcoursesplus.com
The Great Courses website has a diversity of classes that you can see online or request in catalog form.  These classes can be viewed on your schedule and cover a wide range of topics such as Economics to Food and Wine, Health and Fitness, Travel and programs for young people.
 
Wide variety of challenging topics are covered through free online courses from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale.
 
Thinking about your next Covid-free trip or reminiscing about past adventures, this site has a variety of one-time seminars on museums, culture, art and other international historical events.
 
• Goldstar.com https://www.goldstar.com/ 
Find some fun! Break out of your shell and try something at home without the embarrassment of having to keep up with others in a classroom setting. Need some inspiration? How about: 
**Online comedy classes – both Improv and Stand-up Comedy (for all ages) 
**Piano (or another instrument like guitar)
**Ballet or Salsa dancing
**Cooking  
 
Minimize what may seem like a long, lonely fall and winter season by exploring what the internet has to offer and finding your niche. Happy Learning!
 
Ironbound Gym Restarts Community Walking Group While New Town Clubs Cope with COVID-19 
June Dawkins

With summer ending and the pool closing, many New Town residents will be making changes in how to spend their free time.  The neighborhood clubs and groups have been adapting to the COVID-19 environment, some by meeting virtually, some social distancing, others suspending activities until better times arrive, or just meeting when the mood strikes them. The two most active groups have been the Women’s Lunch Club and the Women Who Read Book Club, both of which meet virtually using Zoom until the weather improves a bit for an outside session. You can find their contacts on the NTRA website Clubs and Activities page https://www.ntrawilliamsburg.org/clubs-activities/
 
In the meantime, do you like to walk? While the weather is still favorable for outdoor exercise, Ironbound Gym is reviving its Walking Club. The Club started up again in mid-August and meets on Saturdays behind the gym, leaving at 8:22am sharp for a slow jog to Veterans Tower where they stop for some stretches.  Then it is onward to whatever part of the approximately 3-mile course you want to complete through the New Town trails and streets. 
 
Better yet, after your 10th check-in, you will receive a free t-shirt!  There may be other rewards for even greater participation, but you will have to keep coming back to find out. Check out the Ironbound Gym Facebook page for more information.
---------------------------
Do YOU have a hobby or interest that you would like to share?  Want to start a new club dedicated to exploring this activity with your New Town neighbors?  Contact the Town Crier with your ideas and we can help you find like-minded residents. Email: ntratown.crier@gmail.com. (New Town Clubs operated independently of the NTRA.)
 
Asset Maintenance Committee's 2020 Review of NTRA's Assets
Fred Lesnett, Chair
 
The Asset Maintenance Committee (AMC) is tasked by the New Town Residential Association’s (NTRA) Board of Directors (BOD) to conduct an annual inspection of common property (such as the pool and its amenities, playground equipment, streetlights, signs, streets), in addition to the Committee’s supervision of the annual review of homeowners’ properties.  In the first year under homeowner control, rather than developer control, the AMC has recently completed its 2020 year review of the association’s physical assets.  Results of the committee’s findings on which assets should be considered for maintenance or replacement is scheduled to be presented to the NTRA’s BOD.  After the BOD has identified an initial list of maintenance projects for consideration, Town Management will develop cost estimates for completing the work on each project.  The cost estimate for each project will be reviewed by the BOD and approval will be given on which projects will be included in the 2021 budget.  
 
Many of us feel New Town is a relatively young community with expectations that its assets have some time to go before maintenance or replacement is needed. However, the weather (sun, rain, along with the freezing in the winter) negatively impacts the stain, paint, construction materials and exposed surfaces on our buildings, fences, park benches, light posts, signs, fire hydrants, streets, pool equipment, etc.  In general, as we ride or walk around in New Town, perceptions are that our community assets are in good condition. However, a closer inspection reveals that some of these assets have become tired and weathered in their appearance. When under developer control, rather than the current homeowner control, the association’s assets were not always maintained at a level most optimal for extending their length of service and appearance. 
 
The AMC prioritized the list of assets requiring repair and restorative work by the significance of the projects and the sense of urgency to complete them. Funding has been requested of the BOD for the repair, restorative work, or replacement of identified assets in 2021 and later years. Immediate action in 2020 and 2021 is being requested for some items, like the pergola at the pool where we see significant rot and deterioration in the beams supporting the roof. Other items, such as the weathered wood benches in the park areas of New Town, have been recommended to be restored over several years as the budget permits. Recommended cleaning of the playground equipment does not have to take place immediately, but freshening up their appearance will make them more attractive to children and will ensure they last longer.   
 
It is understandable that some of the assets will not be identified as important to our community’s ongoing functioning, as others. But if their deterioration is allowed to continue, the condition of the unmaintained fences, benches, light posts, and fire hydrants will cast a perception over New Town as being weathered and tired. A program of routine maintenance of assets typically extends their life and costs our association less money over the long run. On-going maintenance of these assets instills a positive image of our community in residents and outsiders when they drive through or walk around New Town. A well-maintained community is more attractive to future home buyers when they are ready to consider purchasing a home in one of our neighborhoods. Over the next several years, work and funding will need to be at a higher level than planned if New Town’s assets are going to catch-up to the standards we have come to expect for our community.
 
Meet Your Pool Staff (part two)
Maxwell Pfannebecker
As the summer draw to a close, we'd like to take another opportunity to recognize and show appreciation for the attendants and lifeguards who made a summer at the pool possible, even in the Covid-19 era.
 
Dominique Arthur - Lifeguard
While he originally hails from Newport News, Dominique has been a world traveler since graduating from Liberty University in 2015. Though he spends his summers on the peninsula with family working as a lifeguard, Dominique spends the majority of his year living in Istanbul, where he plays American football, teaching English as a second language (ESL), and enjoying Kokorec, his favorite Turkish dish. You'll have to look it up! 
 
Dominique works as a lifeguard at several pools, but says New Town is the busiest of them. He shared that while he loves the water, he isn't a recreations swimmer and add with a laugh "if you see me in the water, something is very wrong." 
 
Jon Rochford - Attendant
Jon is a rising junior student at Providence Classical School in James City County and has just returned to the area after he and his family lived in the Shenandoah Valley for several years. Jon is a musician and plays trumpet in marching band and has interests in pursuing drama and theater. Jon's summer plans to travel were derailed by COVID outbreak. In addition to his summer gig at the New Town Community Pool, Jon is passing his time this summer by taking art classes in pursuit of a future career in graphic design. 
 
Foundation Square Children's Garden Blossoms 
Maxwell Pfannebecker
 
For most of the spring and summer leading up to the phased reopening of gyms, the parking lot behind Ironbound Gym on New Town Avenue has been quiet, but for the Foundation Square Landscaping Committee, a group of nearly 20 members, the summer has been a bit of hustle and bustle. The group made some significant expansions and improvements to their Children's Garden.
 
The Foundation Square Landscaping Committee, led by resident, Master Gardener, and Committee President Jim Kavitz, were honored earlier this year for their notable contributions to the aesthetic of the neighborhood. The Arbor Day 2020 Award of Excellence, presented by the Williamsburg Area Council of Garden Clubs was awarded to the group in the beginning of the year FULL STORY HERE
 
The expansion includes some improvements to the existing garden as a covered seating area complete with tables and a few socially distanced chairs (undoubtedly a great spot for a small afternoon book club) as well as new planter boxes in the median areas in the parking lot and underground irrigation. The expansion was greenlighted by the New Town Commercial Association. Kavitz noted that the empty median space often ended up being littered by cans and food wrappers and felt expanding their garden would add to the beautification of the area. 
 
The existing garden, home to herbs, artichokes, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, has yielded a bountiful harvest this year so far. Kavitz reports the fig trees have yielded hundreds of ripe figs with more on the way. In the newly planted garden area the residents grew corn, squash, carrots, okra, eggplants, and beets. Unfortunately, says Kavitz, a wiregrass encroachment threatened the health of the new planters late this summer and the plants had to be removed.
 
Undiscouraged and determined, Kavitz and his band of willful and skillful gardeners have flipped the planters, acquired new quality soil and will soon be replanting cooler weather crops to include lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and more. 
 
The Committee is supported by a line in the budget, but has also raised about $900 in unsolicited donations from local residents who are enthusiastic about the garden but may be unavailable to contribute sweat equity to its success. If are interested in contributing financially to the future of the Children's Garden, we will be happy to connect you with Jim Kavitz. Send us an email at NTRA.town.crier@gmail.com
Posted on September 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Mary Cheston, Chair, Communications Committee
Although Tropical Storm Isaias did not produce the widespread damage done to other Williamsburg communities, it did leave its imprint on Charlotte Park in New Town. According to Senior Community Manager, Tim Grueter, there were leaves and bark debris in the pool area and a few sidewalk median strip oak trees snapped and had to be removed. 
 
The most dramatic aftershock of Isaias was the felling of a 50-year old tulip tree on the property of Alice Mountjoy. This 85-foot tree clipped the deck of neighbors Chuck and Susan Stetler but luckily the damage was minor. According to Chuck, the crash came around 8 AM several hours after the tornado warnings when there was just rain in the area. The tree’s root structure had obviously weakened from the storm. This experience was also the Stetlers’ first involvement with Virginia’s homeowner’s insurance, i.e, damage to your property is your problem – even if caused by a tree from your neighbor!  
 
All the debris has now been cleared and both Alice and Chuck know the outcome could have been a lot worse. Good (landing) trees make good neighbors! 
 
Alice Mountjoy and Chuck Stetler admiring the tulip tree’s root system. 
 
Posted on September 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Maxwell Pfannebecker
For most of the spring and summer leading up to the phased reopening of gyms, the parking lot behind Ironbound Gym on New Town Avenue has been quiet, but for the Foundation Square Landscaping Committee, a group of nearly 20 members, the summer has been a bit of hustle and bustle. The group made some significant expansions and improvements to their Children's Garden.
 
  
 
The Foundation Square Landscaping Committee, led by resident, Master Gardener, and Committee President Jim Kavitz, were honored earlier this year for their notable contributions to the aesthetic of the neighborhood. The Arbor Day 2020 Award of Excellence, presented by the Williamsburg Area Council of Garden Clubs was awarded to the group in the beginning of the year FULL STORY HERE
 
Don warmke, Janice Kavitz, and Janice Simmons take a break from planting day back in May for a quick photo
 
The expansion includes some improvements to the existing garden as a covered seating area complete with tables and a few socially distanced chairs (undoubtedly a great spot for a small afternoon book club) as well as new planter boxes in the median areas in the parking lot and underground irrigation. The expansion was greenlighted by the New Town Commercial Association. Kavitz noted that the empty median space often ended up being littered by cans and food wrappers and felt expanding their garden would add to the beautification of the area. 
 
The existing garden, home to herbs, artichokes, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, has yielded a bountiful harvest this year so far. Kavitz reports the fig trees have yielded hundreds of ripe figs with more on the way. In the newly planted garden area the residents grew corn, squash, carrots, okra, eggplants, and beets. Unfortunately, says Kavitz, a wiregrass encroachment threatened the health of the new planters late this summer and the plants had to be removed.
 
 
Undiscouraged and determined, Kavitz and his band of willful and skillful gardeners have flipped the planters, acquired new quality soil and will soon be replanting cooler weather crops to include lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and more. 
 
The Committee is supported by a line in the budget, but has also raised about $900 in unsolicited donations from local residents who are enthusiastic about the garden but may be unavailable to contribute sweat equity to its success. If are interested in contributing financially to the future of the Children's Garden, we will be happy to connect you with Jim Kavitz. Send us an email st NTRA.town.crier@gmail.com
 
New planter boxes nearly ready for cool weather crops to include lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and more
 
New seating area in existing garden
 
green figs will soon be grown, ripe, and ready to harvest
 
Posted on August 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
Board Buzz
Dave Holtgrieve, Secretary
 
I was appointed Secretary (Non-voting) at the Board of Directors (BOD) Organizational Meeting on June 19th. I have some experience for the secretary position as I served as secretary for the Transition Committee and a fill in for the Residential Advisory Board (RAB).
 
My responsibilities include preparing the agenda, board minutes, board meeting packet, and general administrative assistance to the board.  I will prepare the minutes for publication on the residential website seven days before the meeting for residents to review.  Meetings are scheduled for the Fourth Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. via Zoom.  The Zoom address can be obtained by viewing the website calendar and clicking on the board meeting 
 
The agenda will include a “Public Comment” period for residents to weigh in if they wish.  This will be held at the beginning of the meeting to allow individuals to speak, but not having to sit through the entire meeting if they are limited by time.
 
To provide early transparency of each meeting, the board decided to approve the minutes via email so to allow posting on the website before the next meeting.  My goal is to try to get the minutes published approximately two weeks after the meeting.  Of course, if the board goes into Executive Session (the meeting is not adjourned with this action), it may be a longer period.  
 
On a final note due to this appointment, I resigned as chair of the Asset Maintenance Committee (AMC) of which Fred Lesnett was elected to that position.  The board has also decided based on the recommendation of the AMC to postpone the AMC program of Third-party Residential Inspections to 2021.  I encourage each Owner to conduct a self-inspection this year to review the maintenance status of their property (mostly power washing and painting), and to lessen the probability of incurring maintenance problems in the future. This action will maintain our property values as a first quality neighborhood.
 
We’re listening!  
The latest from the Landscape Advisory Committee
 
Thank you to the 123 homeowners who responded to the annual landscaping survey.  Results are being compiled and will be summarized in next month’s newsletter.  This annual survey is your opportunity to provide input into the landscaping services funded by your HOA dues.  Your responses are critical in providing guidance to the Landscaping Advisory Committee.
 
Weekly landscaping services scheduled for August include mowing, string trimming, power edging, and routine cleanup.  Re-pruning where growth is the greatest will occur two days a week.
 
As a reminder, property owners have an opportunity each year to opt out of pruning and shearing by notifying Town Management of your intent to do so. Town Management maintains a list of properties opting out and notifies Virginia Lawn and Landscaping.  Virginia Lawn and Landscaping then posts temporary signs on designated properties prior to the initiation of pruning services and removes them once the service is completed.  The list of properties opting out is good for one year.  Property owners must renew their request annually.
 
Thank you to pet owners who are making an effort to direct your pets to the Pet Relief Areas in Village Green, Abbey Commons, Savannah Square, and Chelsea Green. This is a pilot project to encourage dogs to respect the turf and utilize designated areas to do their business. Thank you for helping to keep New Town green!
 
Highlights from BOD Meeting, July 23
Kathy Mullins
The first meeting of the newly elected Board of Directors ran two full hours.  Even so, the Board was not able to address all business matters. The meeting ended without adjournment and will continue in Executive Session on Wednesday, July 29, at 6 pm.
 
Here are some points of interest from the July 23 session. 
 
Tim Grueter of Town Management reported that there are presently 502 homes in New Town, very close to the 505 homes projected by this time.
 
Tim was asked to set up a Zoom Acct to be managed by the Communications Committee chair.  The account will be used for committee meetings and other Zoom activities. These will be scheduled and announced on the NTRA calendar to encourage community participation.  
 
The BOD is seeking updated guidance on the display of political signs by homeowners.  Reminders of display rules will be sent out to homeowners in August.
 
Activities. The annual Pool Party will not be held this summer.  The Activities Committee plans a more Covid-friendly Frozen Yogurt event for the community in August.  The committee is exploring other ideas for community interaction that comply with Covid guidelines, for instance, Noon Talks conducted over Zoom.  Seven children participated in the Riddle Trail during the first week.  The committee feels that gaining some information about the number and ages of New Town children would help them plan family  activities.
Pool. Residents were pleased that the pool was able to open over the July 4th weekend.  Usage has averaged about 40 persons per day.  Highest usage, 121 persons, was recorded on July 4th.
  
Asset Management. The committee’s review of NTRA assets revealed that many are in need of maintenance. AMC was advised to prepare a prioritized list of these maintenance needs and costs for discussion with BOD. 
 
Walking Trails. The Landscape Company is under contract to provide specific routine maintenance of the trails. Other needs or amenities are considered projects and should be factored into budgeting.  AMC will consult with Jim Barnes and Town Management and prepare a report of Trail needs differentiated by maintenance or project, with estimated costs.  
             
Savannah Square Amendment: 47 affirmative votes are still needed to reach the required number to pass the amendment.  BOD will mount a campaign to reach all potential voters by mail. Any homeowner that has not already voted is asked to affirm the amendment. 
 
Intro to ARC (Architectural Review Committee)
Libby Flowers, ARC Chairperson
 
There are lots of new homeowners in New Town.  What do all homeowners need to know about making exterior changes to homes? The most important advice to pass along to homeowners is this:  Always make an application to ARC BEFORE making an exterior change.  
 
ARC is charged with reviewing and approving or disapproving all applications made by homeowners for exterior changes to homes or property. This is not a difficult process. Use the ARC Application Form available on the NTRA website. Submit completed form and ALL required support documents to ARC c/o Town Management.  Each committee member will review the project documents and visit the site.  ARC discusses and votes on applications at meetings, held on the second Tuesday of each month at 4 pm. 
 
While sheltering in place during this time of Covid- 19 precautions, the committee has continued to work electronically.  Sixteen homeowner applications have been processed.  When working electronically, the committee’s vote on a project must be unanimous.
 
Your homeowner documents are the best reference for allowed changes and details about rules.  ARC offers a condensed set of GUIDELINES on the NTRA website.  Projects that are specifically prohibited will not be approved.  
 
The purpose of ARC is to maintain a cohesive, attractive appearance in our neighborhoods.  This is what attracted most residents to live in New Town.
 
Governor's Latest Restrictions to Impact NTRA Pool
NTRA Pool Coommittee
 
The Governor of Virginia recently enacted new restrictions on gatherings to be limited to less than 50 people.  The new restrictions include the New Town Residential Association Pool. 
 
At the direction of the New Town Residential Association Board of Directors, in the event pool usage approaches the allowed capacity the pool will operate on a block schedule with two-hour time periods.  Between periods the pool will be cleared, and the area will be sanitized.  In the event the pool area has reached capacity, at the end of the block time the pool the area will be cleared. Upon re-opening, entry into the pool area will be on a first-come-first-served basis until capacity is reached.  Upon re-opening priority will be given to newly arrived homeowners.  All homeowners are expected to comply with this process so that all those who want to swim will have the opportunity.  This policy will be monitored by the pool committee and may be adjusted to accommodate need.
 
Pool Schedule
Sunday thru Friday (Closed Tuesday)             Saturday
11:30 am to 1:15 pm                                      10:00 am to 11:45 am
1:30 pm to 3:15 pm                                        12:00 pm to 1:45 pm
3:30 pm to 5:15 pm                                        2:00 pm to 3:45 pm
5:30 pm to 7:15 pm                                        4:00 pm to 5:45 pm
                                                                        6:00 pm to 7:45 pm
                                                                        8:00 pm to 8:30 pm
 
There will be a short break halfway through each session in order to check the chemical levels of the pool.
Homeowners are reminded that the steps outlined above have been developed in order to open the pool in the safest way possible.  The Board of Directors and Pool Committee respectfully request your full compliance with the rules set forth as well as your cooperation with the pool staff.
 
Questions or concerns should be directed to Town Management 757-565-6200
 
Meet Your Pool Staff
Max Pfannebecker
 
If you're hitting the pool regularly to beat the summer heat, you've probably made acquaintance with the summer staff at the NTRA Pool. 
 
Kail Wade - Lifeguard
Kail is a 2019 graduate of Bruton High School and will be returning to Boston for his second year at Berklee College of Music where he's studying sound engineering. It should come, then, as no surprise that Kail's favorite hobby is music. He also enjoys reading, running, and weightlifting when he's not working at the pool. You can see Kail Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday keeping watch over the pool and its guests. 
 
William Adams - Attendant
When you first enter the pool you're sure to be greeted with a great smile, a pleasant demeanor, and a covid questionnaire from William, one of NTRA's pool attendants who helps keep the pool safe, secure, and clean. William is a rising Junior who is very much looking to get back to school and getting out on the football field at Lafayette High School where is plays left tackle (Go Rams!). Adams is a bit soft-spoken and admits he's a little on the shy side until you get to know him, so make sure to give him a warm welcome when you see him!
 
With new pool restrictions enacted due to Governor Northam's orders, the pool staff is working harder than ever to maintain a safe environment for you and your families. Please make sure to thank them for being here and be patient and courteous with the new processes as we move forward!
Posted on August 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Landscape Advisory Committee
Categories: General, NTRA Business
Thank you to the 123 homeowners who responded to the annual landscaping survey.  Results are being compiled and will be summarized in next month’s newsletter.  This annual survey is your opportunity to provide input into the landscaping services funded by your HOA dues.  Your responses are critical in providing guidance to the Landscaping Advisory Committee.
 
Weekly landscaping services scheduled for August include mowing, string trimming, power edging, and routine cleanup.  Re-pruning where growth is the greatest will occur two days a week.
 
As a reminder, property owners have an opportunity each year to opt out of pruning and shearing by notifying Town Management of your intent to do so. Town Management maintains a list of properties opting out and notifies Virginia Lawn and Landscaping.  Virginia Lawn and Landscaping then posts temporary signs on designated properties prior to the initiation of pruning services and removes them once the service is completed.  The list of properties opting out is good for one year.  Property owners must renew their request annually.
 
Thank you to pet owners who are making an effort to direct your pets to the Pet Relief Areas in Village Green, Abbey Commons, Savannah Square, and Chelsea Green. This is a pilot project to encourage dogs to respect the turf and utilize designated areas to do their business. Thank you for helping to keep New Town green!
Posted on August 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
Categories: General, NTRA Business
Submitted by Libby Flowers, ARC Chairperson
 
There are lots of new homeowners in New Town.  What do all homeowners need to know about making exterior changes to homes? The most important advice to pass along to homeowners is this:  Always make an application to ARC BEFORE making an exterior change.  
 
ARC is charged with reviewing and approving or disapproving all applications made by homeowners for exterior changes to homes or property. This is not a difficult process. Use the ARC Application Form available on the NTRA website. Submit completed form and ALL required support documents to ARC c/o Town Management.  Each committee member will review the project documents and visit the site.  ARC discusses and votes on applications at meetings, held on the second Tuesday of each month at 4 pm. 
 
While sheltering in place during this time of Covid-19 precautions, the committee has continued to work electronically.  Sixteen homeowner applications have been processed.  When working electronically, the committee’s vote on a project must be unanimous.
 
Your homeowner documents are the best reference for allowed changes and details about rules.  ARC offers a condensed set of GUIDELINES on the NTRA website.  Projects that are specifically prohibited will not be approved.  
 
The purpose of ARC is to maintain a cohesive, attractive appearance in our neighborhoods.  This is what attracted most residents to live in New Town.
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