Town Crier Articles

Posted on February 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
Town Talks
Kimberly Kearney
 
New Town Talks
Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7pm
Topic – March Madness
 
Speaker: Sean Kearney, Associate Commissioner, Men’s Basketball, Atlantic 10 Conference
 
Bio: Sean has worked in Division 1 College Athletics since 1986 (35 years). He has coached at Providence College, Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science), Northwestern University, University of Delaware, University of Notre Dame, Holy Cross, and University of Colorado in Boulder. He has worked at all levels from volunteer through Head Coach. He has worked in broadcasting as well, doing color for ESPN Sports and local radio in South Bend, IN. He played at the University of Scranton.
 
Sean will speak about the upcoming Atlantic 10 Conference tournament and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. He will also take questions during this informal discussion.
 
So What Harm Could It Do?
Landscape Advisory Committee
 
So you decided it’s time to clean your yard or patio, and now you have a pile of clippings and maybe some potted plants or shrubs you want to dispose of and so you follow James City County’s recommendations and dispose of them properly. But there are some who just don’t feel like you, and want to dispose of them differently. What to do? So maybe they haul it down the street to the neighborhood woods and dump it there. They figure that it’s natural, so what harm could it do? The answer is, it is not exactly natural, and therefore, it is likely to be harmful to the environment and, therefore, also illegal. Now certainly not everyone takes the approach to dispose of plant materials in the woods, sometimes it’s someone driving through our neighborhood that may be doing it. Our woods and BMP areas are important features and amenities for us to enjoy and a naturalistic area for abundant wildlife here.
 
Discarded materials often contain pesticides and fertilizers that were applied to the yard. Pesticides intended for lawn grubs and other pests can also kill beneficial insects, fish and other wildlife if the contaminated grass or soil is moved to their habitat. Chemicals used on commercially purchased Christmas trees to keep them looking fresh longer may sicken deer and rabbits if the trees are dumped after the holiday. Lawn fertilizer may seem beneficial for a natural area, but even small amounts will disrupt the natural balance of nutrients in the environment. Any materials that are dumped can wash downhill into local waterways, carrying poisonous chemicals and excess nutrients to aquatic life.
 
Ornamental plantings can become invasive if moved to a new area. A natural area should support only native plant species. It can become a constant battle and an expensive one, to keep nonnative species out of the woods. If people dump house and yard plants (even broken pieces) in the woods, the new species may start growing out of control.
 
Organic waste may contain plant diseases or insects that can destroy native life. Pet wastes may contain bacteria, such as E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria that can sicken wild animals and people. Often the wastes wash downhill into streams and ponds during heavy rain falls and contaminate the water.
 
Piles of excess rotting vegetation in water bodies use oxygen normally found in the water, stealing it from aquatic life, which then die. Piles of some yard debris eliminate natural homes for wildlife. Furthermore, the dumped piles are unsightly. For these reasons, it is illegal to dispose of plant and animal materials on public lands that are not specifically designated for this purpose. Some areas have signs posted that say “No Dumping.” This includes yard debris. Our woods actually have signs that say not to remove plant materials, so it makes sense not to add anything to it either.
 
Take a Stroll on Newly Enhanced Trails
Sarah Carey
 
Add steps to your daily walk and check out the improved trail section from Blythe Lane/Casey Boulevard at Roper Park to the Shirley Park Bridge behind the pool! It is nice and wide with the brush and trees cut way back and a new surface has been put down.
 
The black base material on the trail is recycled road base material which will compact and become
firmer over time.  The pebbles were left mainly down the middle of the path but over time, with 
pedestrian traffic, they will spread and level out.  Halfway down the trail a culvert pipe was added to
help prevent erosion washout from the outflow pipe from Roper Park area.   
 
Routine maintenance will be easier now that some of the wetness has been diverted. Gravel trails 
only need to be regraded every few years.
 
In Memoriam – Larry Burian 
Mary Cheston, Board of Directors
 
New Town resident and former Board of Directors member Larry Burian passed away in late December.  Although he had only lived in Village Walk since 2017, Larry stepped up to run for the Board and was elected in June 2020.
 
In his own words: “I don’t want to just stand by and “let the other person” carry the burden of volunteer work. Now that the NTRA will be out from under the builder’s thumb, I see this as an opportunity to serve on the Board alongside fellow residents who share the like-minded goal of making our community a place that we can all truly call home.”
 
When he resigned from the Board in September for health reasons, Larry sent me this saying which he had used with many small group seminar participants: 
Communications Problem: “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
Larry was unfailingly positive about the work of the NTRA Communications Committee while serving as our Board liaison.
 
Larry had an illustrious professional career and was warmly remembered by those who knew him.
 
Our condolences to his family at their loss.
 
Quick Getaways: Nauticus and the Battleship Wisconsin
Jim Ducibella (first in a series)
 
About an hour’s drive down I-64 East is berthed one of the largest – and last – battleships ever built by the United States Navy. And the good news is that there are several types of tours of the Wisconsin available to the public.
 
General admission to the Nauticus The National Maritime Center on Waterside Drive in Norfolk ($15.95 for adults, $11.50 for children comes with access to the battleship’s outdoor decks, the wardroom and Officer’s Country. 
 
Nauticus is open Wednesday through Sunday and has re-opened several exhibits. One is focused on the U.S. Navy’s sustainment efforts to protect the environment. Another, titled Living Seashore & Aquarium, allows visitors to “get up close with the plants and animals that inhabit the Chesapeake Bay.” 
 
From January 30 to April 25, a National Geographic photo and video exhibition, Planet or Plastic, will lend insight into the “global plastic pollution crisis.” Access to this exhibit is included with general admission.
 
But it’s the Wisconsin that is the big deal in this complex – literally. The last battleship to fire its guns in combat, the Wisconsin is 887-feet, 3-inches long, has a full displacement (weight) of 57,500 tons and was served by nearly 2,000 officers and men. Her 16-inch guns are capable of hitting targets up to 24 miles away, meaning they could easily send a shell over the Virginia Beach oceanfront and five miles or so into the Atlantic Ocean.
 
One of the most decorated ships in Navy history, the Wisconsin fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Gulf War, earning five battle stars for her World War II service and one for her service in the Korean War. Launched two years to the day after Pearl Harbor, visitors can explore its deck through a self-guided tour or, for an additional charge, go on a guided Topside Tour that promoters promise “will take you back in time.”
 
For more information, please click here https://nauticus.org/battleship-wisconsin/
 
Board Buzz 
Rick Fisher, Treasurer
 
During the first six months following the transition from a Developer Board to a Homeowner Board, the new Board got to work and accomplished a great deal by the end of 2020:
  • Incorporation of Savannah Square Into the Association
  • Updating/Re-writing Committee Charters
  • Identify and Documenting Key Operating Policies and Procedures
  • Reviewing Existing Association Contracts
  • Developing and Adopting the 2021 Budget
 
During January, the Board’s focus has been on:
 
* Working with Town Management (TM) to revise it’s contract with the Association
The TM contract must be aligned with the goals of the Association, and TM’s performance must be measureable.  The Board believes that homeowners deserve to receive outstanding customer service.  For example, concerns that are raised by members, and documented through the website ticketing process, should be addressed in a timely manner with follow-up until the issue is resolved. TM is an integral part of this process.
 
* Continuing to develop and document policies and procedures:
  • Ticketing System on the Web (Finalized)
  • Collection oi Delinquent Assessments
  • Conduct of BOD Virtual Meetings (Finalized)
  • Filling a Board of Directors Position Vacancy (Finalized)
  • Investment of Replacement Reserves (Finalized)
  • Turnover of Assets From the Developer to the Association
  • Managing the Expenditure of Replacement Reserves
 
*Working with the Association Attorney to begin to review the governing documents with the intent of bringing them up-to-date and consolidating information (multiple supplements) in a logical and simple to understand manner.  The assessment calculation issue will receive significant focus.  Any changes to the governing documents will require a two thirds vote by members.
 
Beginning with the January meeting, the normal Board monthly meetings will be held from 3-5PM, generally on the fourth Thursday of the month. This is a change from the 6-8PM time.  Although evening meetings will be held when necessary, the Association must pay TM an after-hours charge which we would like to avoid unless it is necessary. Members are still encouraged to participate via Zoom. All the planned monthly meetings as well as quarterly landscape reviews (new) are now available on the website calendar.
 
Chuck Stetler has announced his resignation from the Board for personal issues.  Over many years, Chuck has contributed to the Association in key leadership roles.  His wise counsel and considerable experience will be greatly missed.  We wish Chuck and Susan the very best.
 
Best Practices for Roof Maintenance
Patti Vaticano
 
Your roof is an integral part of your home, perhaps the most essential; and it may be fair to say that if your roof is healthy, your house is sound. Regular roof maintenance, therefore, is key to keeping the integrity of your roof intact, as leaving it to brave the elements, year after year, without periodic conservation checks will cause it to degrade over time, leak, and present you with long-term damage that could well be massive. Being proactive with regular and thorough maintenance checks will save your roof and spare your pocket book.  So, what should you be monitoring on a regular basis?
 
“The number one cause of roofing leaks is the deterioration of a roof’s pipe collars,” says Derek Worstell of Pyramid Roofing and a New Town resident.  It is key, therefore, to inspect these collars, annually.  Pipe collars secure vent pipes to your roof, vents that serve as conduits for gas and/or air escaping from your home. The base of the pipe vent is usually made of PVC and in some cases, iron.  The collar—or gasket—however is usually made of neoprene, a synthetic rubber, that will last roughly 12 to 15 years but can break down prematurely, especially in oppressive heat, year after year.  Inspecting pipe collars for deterioration regularly is wise, replacing your pipes with new neoprene collars when required.  Better still, replacing those worn collars with ones made of rot-resistant metal is wisest of all and takes the worry of your roof leaking from this source entirely off the table. The easiest way to check the condition of your pipe collars is to inspect your attic for daylight coming through from around the pipes.  Seeing daylight is evidence that the pipe collars have rotted. 
 
The second roofing condition for the home owner to monitor is for the presence of roofing debris and/or clogged gutters. With a clogged gutter system, rain water will be prevented from flowing through the system properly and will result in damage to your roof, fascia, soffits—and eventually, the foundation of your home. Many local roofing companies offer cost-effective gutter cleaning packages.  Pyramid Roofing, for example, offers a comprehensive service plan via a membership in their Yellow Truck Club.  For $179, the company, once a year, will blow a roof free of leaves and debris and offer a full written inspection of the roof at that time. In addition, members will receive 10% off all roof repairs.  While Pyramid does not offer annual gutter cleaning services, they offer the installation of gutter protection screens to help prevent leaf build-up and will do a one-time gutter cleaning at installation. Keeping your gutters flowing is a sure way of keeping your roof from leaking and consequently, keeping damaging water out of your home.
 
Similar to the second roof condition to assess is the third: algae growth. Algae thrives in dampness and shade where its spores can grow on wood shingles or shakes and even asphalt shingles if the roof fails to get enough sunlight in whole or in part.  Algae retains moisture which will cause the shingles in the areas of growth to deteriorate very quickly.  It spreads quickly and will cause shingles to lift and your roof to leak.  “Have your roof cleaned with a soft chemical wash as soon as you detect algae on your roof.  Do not wait 20 years to do so.  After 20 years, washing your roof can damage older, more brittle shingles.”  Power washing is never advisable as the force of the water may damage or remove shingles, entirely.
 
The fourth roofing condition to examine regularly is the state of your attic.  “Inspect your attic once a year, at the very least,” advises Worstell.  “Look for leaks and stains, especially after a heavy rain.” Discoloration, moisture, puddles, or mold in your attic are sure signs of roof damage.  If any of these are present, it’s time for a professional roof inspection and an assessment for repair to address the problem areas. 
 
Four periodic checks, uncomplicated and requiring just a little time and diligence, will go a long way in maintaining a sound and problem-free roof.  Tight-fitting pipe collars, clean gutters, algae-free roofs, and dry attics are the means to a roof that will last for years to come and with any luck, even out live its life expectancy.  
 
Kayak Safety Tips
Patricia McGrath, Parks Superintendent - City of Williamsburg, Kayak Instructor
 
Everyone is looking forward to the warmer weather and bright sunshine.  One of my all time favorite outdoor activities is kayaking.  I have been kayaking for over a decade and became a Level 2 kayak instructor in 2015.  I wanted to share with you some tips that will keep you safe on the water.
 
  • Plan your trip. It is very important to plan your trip before you even load up your kayak and gear.  You do not need any fancy gadgets or software to get all the information that you need.  Check the radar, weather report, & tides (if applicable).  It is useful to know the sunset in case you need to plan for extra gear. Take a look at a map, measure your route. If you are new to kayaking, start off with a short distance like a mile and work yourself up to longer paddles. See app suggestions at the bottom of page
  • Obtain a kayak tag from the US Coast Guard or make your own.  All you need is your name, your phone number, your emergency contacts name and their phone number.  Make sure your affix this to your kayak in a visible location. More info at U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary - Flotilla 6-7, District 5SR
  • Have an off the water contact.  Tell a friend where you are going and when you plan on being off the water.  This just ensures that if some problems arise that you would receive help sooner than later. Bring your cell phone.  They make dry boxes that will keep it secure and you can still have it for emergencies.
  • STRETCH.  Kayaking is a full body sport.  Your arms and core will be doing most of the work but your legs will be in the same position for the duration of the trip.  Make sure that you stretch all of your muscles before you get in the boat and plan for some time in the middle of your trip where you can get out and stretch your legs.
  • Bring a friend. The buddy system is critical for so many reasons.  You might just see something really cool and you want to share it with someone.  Or you might need some sort of assistance and a buddy can help. It can be as simple as gear failure or as complex as an illness. Either way, bringing your best adventure buddy will make sure that you have the best experience.
  • Make sure your have the right gear. Safety is key.  Wear your Life Jacket, put on sunscreen and dress for the season. Temperature fluctuations in the spring can be dramatic. Bring a dry bag with extra clothes.  Layers are perfect, you can always take things off.
  • Water and SNACKS!!!  Well, this might be the most important of all the tips.  Everyone loves snacks.  Make sure that you bring plenty of water and something to nosh on for your trip.  
  • HAVE FUN! Whether you like to fish, take pictures, or just enjoy some fresh air. Get OUTSIDE and EXPLORE!  
If you want more information or just need an adventure buddy send me an email at pmcg2003@gmail.com
OR come visit me at Waller Mill Park (a great spot for beginners with rentals available Spring - Fall).
 
FREE APP SUGGESTIONS
GO PADDLING - Well Known (and some less known) Launch Sites
 
Tide Charts (by 7th Gear) - Free Local Tide Charts
 
AccuWeather - Local Weather & Radar (with Alerts)
 
Radar X - Local Weather & Radar (with Alerts)
Posted on February 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Landscape Advisory Committee
Categories: NTRA Business
So you decided it’s time to clean your yard or patio, and now you have a pile of clippings and maybe some potted plants or shrubs you want to dispose of and so you follow James City County’s recommendations and dispose of them properly. But there are some who just don’t feel like you, and want to dispose of them differently. What to do? So maybe they haul it down the street to the neighborhood woods and dump it there. They figure that it’s natural, so what harm could it do? The answer is, it is not exactly natural, and therefore, it is likely to be harmful to the environment and, therefore, also illegal. Now certainly not everyone takes the approach to dispose of plant materials in the woods, sometimes it’s someone driving through our neighborhood that may be doing it. Our woods and BMP areas are important features and amenities for us to enjoy and a naturalistic area for abundant wildlife here.
 
Discarded materials often contain pesticides and fertilizers that were applied to the yard. Pesticides intended for lawn grubs and other pests can also kill beneficial insects, fish and other wildlife if the contaminated grass or soil is moved to their habitat. Chemicals used on commercially purchased Christmas trees to keep them looking fresh longer may sicken deer and rabbits if the trees are dumped after the holiday. Lawn fertilizer may seem beneficial for a natural area, but even small amounts will disrupt the natural balance of nutrients in the environment. Any materials that are dumped can wash downhill into local waterways, carrying poisonous chemicals and excess nutrients to aquatic life.
 
Ornamental plantings can become invasive if moved to a new area. A natural area should support only native plant species. It can become a constant battle and an expensive one, to keep nonnative species out of the woods. If people dump house and yard plants (even broken pieces) in the woods, the new species may start growing out of control.
 
Organic waste may contain plant diseases or insects that can destroy native life. Pet wastes may contain bacteria, such as E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria that can sicken wild animals and people. Often the wastes wash downhill into streams and ponds during heavy rain falls and contaminate the water.
 
Piles of excess rotting vegetation in water bodies use oxygen normally found in the water, stealing it from aquatic life, which then die. Piles of some yard debris eliminate natural homes for wildlife. Furthermore, the dumped piles are unsightly. For these reasons, it is illegal to dispose of plant and animal materials on public lands that are not specifically designated for this purpose. Some areas have signs posted that say “No Dumping.” This includes yard debris. Our woods actually have signs that say not to remove plant materials, so it makes sense not to add anything to it either.
 
Posted on December 14, 2020 6:00 PM by Mary Cheston, Board of Directors
 
On Thursday, December 10th the NTRA Board of Directors held the first Annual Members Meeting since homeowner control.  This Zoom meeting included reports from seven of the NTRA’s Committees and a message from the new Board of Directors.
 
Almost 90 residents (about 70 households) participated on the Zoom. The traditional annual meeting packet with financial reports was posted to the NTRA website for early review and use during the session. (See Annual Meeting Docs). Included in the financial report was a list of replacement projects for 2021 including the pool pergola and gravel path at Chelsea Green. 
 
The 2021 Budget and associated assessment fees have been adopted by the Board. Members voted through an electronic poll to approve the transfer of any surplus operating revenue to be applied to future assessments per IRS rules. It is estimated that $47,000 could be transferred to the NTRA replacement reserve and another $38,000 to Village Walk replacement reserve at the end of the year. In response to comments submitted earlier on the budget, the Board has agreed to examine whether a different approach to assessments may be warranted in the future to comply with community declarations.
 
The Board also presented its priorities for 2021 namely:
  • Institute quarterly inspections and evaluations of landscape contractor
  • Perform detailed review of Assessments to ensure compliance with governing documents
  • Improve responses/actions under Website Ticketing system 
  • Timely completion of the 2021 home inspection program for Abbey Commons and Savannah Square
  • Initiate Phase 1 of warm weather grass pilot project (Bermuda grass in select common areas)
The Board recognizes that services need to be improved and asked Members to recognize the significant challenges that the community is dealing with under homeowner control. Above all, the NTRA needs more volunteers who are willing to step up and work on these issues.
 
Tim Grueter of Town Management provided an update on buildings including 516 current homes in New Town. Work to refurbish the trails and to complete the storage building that is shared with the New Town Commercial Association is ongoing. 
 
The comment period that followed covered a range of topics. Besides requesting more details on the replacement reserves and assessment fees, owners asked about the condition of trails with several commentors complaining about the volume of trail trash, especially in areas near commercial establishments. The placement and security of the mailboxes in Roper Park was another concern. Board President Chuck Stetler committed to followup on both issues. 
 
One Member inquired about the possibility of having a Neighborhood Watch program in New Town. Several participants noted options for approaching this, including one resident who tried to initiate such a program in 2009 but found a lack of interest from the community. 
 
An update on the retention pond maintenance work in Village Walk was also provided (see related December Crier article – BMPS and BRBs in New Town). One Member asked how owners could provide ideas for governing documents that should be revised, and the President encouraged all to submit comments through the website or directly to a Board member. The placement of the playground slide generated a question for Town Management who advised that the New Town Design Review Board is reviewing this decision. Libby Flowers of the ARC advised owners to anticipate delays in finding suitable building materials for any repairs and refurbishments, which generated several comments related to roof tiles and repairing leaks. Finally, our ever-vigilant community wondered about a damaged Honda that has now been removed from Casey Boulevard and RVs parked on the public side of Casey Boulevard (beyond the speed bump) as well as reporting that landscape crews had blown leaves into the BMP on Casey Boulevard rather than using a vacuum truck to remove them. 
 
On a personal note, I attended this meeting as one of my last official functions as Chair of the Communications Committee. I also participated as a brand new Board member. From both perspectives, given the challenges of this unusual year, my sense is that the Board’s points and the Members’ contributions were sincere and well-received. Perhaps Zoom also helped us to remain calm and respectful of differing views, more than during past in-person sessions. Our Association goal: “We know 2021 will be even better than 2020.”
 
Posted on December 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Kathy Mullins
Categories: NTRA Business
In case you were unable, or chose not to attend the NTRA Budget Presentations held on two consecutive evenings via ZOOM, the take-away was this:   NTRA financial matters are in good hands.
 
The purpose of the two ZOOM meetings was to inform NTRA members about the challenges, deliberations and decisions that were involved as the Finance Committee (FC) drafted the Proposed NTRA 2021 Budget. The Board of Directors (BOD) weighed in, made suggestions and ultimately agreed to present the Proposed 2021 Budgets that were the subjects of these meetings. One very important reason to pay attention -- the final 2021 NTRA Budget becomes the basis for 2021 homeowner assessments.
 
Session I, convened on November 18 at 6:00 PM focused on Village Walk (VW), with 14 residents and 8 panelists from the Finance Committee (FC), Board of Directors (BOD) and Town Management in attendance.  Session II opened at 6:05 PM on November 19, with 21 NTRA members and 10 panelists from the above groups present. This meeting dealt with the overall NTRA 2021 Budget.  
 
Information presented at both sessions was detailed, clearly laid out and delivered in a logical sequence that drew those attending into the budgeting process. The FC posted the proposed budget for each session, with commentary, in advance on the NTRA website.  This seemed to boost member interest in and understanding of issues. Both sessions allowed ample time for questions.  
 
The two meetings followed the same format.  First, Jim Carey, FC Secretary, reviewed how Zoom tools could be utilized during the meeting and laid out the overall timetable for budget review.  Then Everett Lunsford, FC Chair, walked attendees through the proposed budget, page by page, adding further detail as needed. Questions were held until he finished.
 
Exterior Maintenance issues at VW have significantly impacted expenses.  During Session I, there was clarification that VW homeowners receive additional services that are not part of the standard NTRA home maintenance plan, including for example, exterior painting, irrigation, maintenance, repair and replacement of roofing and more.  These additional costs are reflected in the assessments of VW homeowners. 
 
One of the challenges in 2020 was the discovery that amounts budgeted for VW maintenance were in some cases, inadequate. In some instances, needs were overlooked; in others, costs were underestimated.
 
Lunsford noted that $1.5K was budgeted for 2020 irrigation system repairs. Actual costs, however, are now approaching $12K. Lack of mapping of the 130-zone irrigation system has made it extremely difficult to obtain accurate estimates for repairs and maintenance. An outside contractor will begin mapping the system in 2021. 
 
Exterior painting of VW homes is a Replacement Reserve expense, but painting was not included in the 2019 Replacement Reserve Study. A quote has been received for roughly $240K to repaint the exteriors of all VW residences over a five (5) year period beginning in 2023.
 
At times, while reviewing the proposed budget, Lunsford stated that the FC had changed spending projections or altered long-range budget recommendations. He would then continue with a description of the rationale that led the FC to reach those decisions.  This likely reduced the number of questions raised during the Q & A, all of which were answered thoroughly. 
 
Session II reviewed the overall budget for the whole of NTRA, presented in a 30-page report. The FC and BOD have been immersed in budget issues and decisions since early October. The 2021 Proposed NTRA Budget was presented with year-to-year comparative figures clearly indicating shifts in spending.  
 
The FC has identified several areas that need to be carefully managed to ensure smooth sailing in the years ahead.  Some that were mentioned include:  funding the maintenance requirements of VW homes; monitoring Capital Contribution and Administrative Fees generated from home sales; managing the Replacement Reserve of VW and NTRA; and increased awareness of long-term maintenance and community needs. 
 
Everett Lunsford noted that the budget includes a financial audit of the managing agent, Town Management, which is industry practice when an HOA is turned over to owners. This will be a one-time expense of $7 – 9K.
 
With limited sources of funding, unexpected expenditures are difficult to handle. In 2020, Covid-19 necessitated approximately $10K in expenditures for extra pool personnel, new signage, additional cleaning supplies and services. This expense is likely to continue in the coming year. Money previously earmarked for major landscape projects and 2020 seasonal Activities were redirected to cover these costs and safe, socially distanced activities, Zoom account, etc.
 
In addition to considering the maintenance timetables recommended for HOA communities, the FC is keeping an eye on actual New Town maintenance requirements. Lunsford again used the VW situation as an example. The NTRA is required to repaint VW exteriors on a periodic basis as part of their exterior maintenance fee.  Based on contractor estimates and recommendations, the NTRA expects to begin a five-year repainting program in 2023. Since these homes are mostly clad with factory-painted cement board siding, the recommendation is to repaint every 7 years. However, some homeowners are reporting issues, such as exterior mold problems, that might alter maintenance or repainting schedules. 
 
The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) researched and planned projects to replace dead trees and upgrade the appearance of New Town’s common areas. Funding for these Special Projects was originally approved for 2020 but the money was diverted to cover unexpected expenses. NTRA members that have been asking about the status of those projects were pleased to hear Lunsford say that the LAC plans have been prioritized and are detailed in the 2021 PROPOSED NTRA BUDGET REPORT
 
The two meetings were an opportunity for NTRA members to dig into the details of NTRA 2020 spending, and ask questions about the details of the 2021 budget on which 2021 homeowner assessments are based. 
 
At the close of the meeting several people recognized the enormous amount of time these committee members have spent on this task and praised the excellent result of their efforts. Comments are welcome through December 3rd. The final BOD-approved budget will be presented at the Annual Members Meeting December 10 on Zoom.
Posted on December 1, 2020 6:59 AM by Town Crier Staff
How Are You Celebrating New Year?
Alison Douglas

Twelve months ago, I was celebrating Christmas and New Year in the U.K. and as Brits this is our biggest celebration (unless you are Scottish and then it is all about ‘Hogmanay’).  On Christmas Eve, the kids will leave out a traditional British mince pie, a glass of sherry for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer.  This year, my boys are also leaving him a bottle of hand sanitizer to stop Santa turning into a one-man super spreader.  Christmas Day includes serving turkey with ‘pigs in blankets’ (sausages wrapped in bacon), pulling crackers (the tiny explosive devices that contain a paper hat, a joke, and an awful plastic toy) and watching the Queens speech at 3pm.  Traditionally celebrated with family and close friends, Christmas day rolls into Boxing Day, which is a national holiday in the U.K. and we continue our celebrations by visiting those we did not see on Christmas Day.   No sooner is that complete, and our thoughts turn to New Year, including what we should eat (it’s all about the food) and who we should celebrate with.  This year looks different for us with our family many miles away, so we thought we would take a look at how others are celebrating around the world.
 
Spain
One of the biggest Spanish (and Mexican) New Year’s traditions is to eat one grape on every chime of the last 12 seconds of the year so that by the time it strikes midnight, you will have stuffed a total of 12 grapes into your mouth. If you manage to chew and swallow them in time, it is said to bring you good luck for the entire year. 
 
Scotland
In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is known as ‘Hogmany’, is celebrated traditionally through ‘first-footing’, which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake), intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink (as the gifts) are then given to the guests.
 
Germany
New Year’s Eve is known as ‘Silvester’ in Germany and also marks the feast of St Sylvester.  Friends will wish each other ‘Prost Neujahr!’ or Guten Rausch, which literally means ‘good slide,’ and is said to wish someone good luck as the new year comes round. 
A little-known tradition in some parts of Germany is to melt small pieces of lead in a spoon over a candle, then pour the liquid into cold water. The bizarre shapes from the Bleigießen (lead pouring) are supposed to reveal what the year ahead will bring. If the lead forms a ball, luck will roll one’s way, while the shape of a crown means wealth; a cross signifies death and a star will bring happiness.
 
Ireland
In some parts of the south of Ireland there is a custom called the "New Year's Swim".  In the morning of the New Year many people dive into the cold sea, but only for a few minutes.
 
Mexico
In some areas of Mexico, it is traditional to leave lentils at your door on New Year’s eve or eat lentil soup before midnight, wear red (or yellow) underwear. 
If lentils are not appealing, then it is also traditional to wear brightly colored underwear.  Different colors symbolize different things, for example, red signifies love; white underwear brings peace and calm and attracts dignity; wear green for good health; and orange for wisdom.
You can also burn your negative thoughts – make a list and burn it (safely), and legend states that bad vibes won’t come back to haunt you.
 
Denmark
A Danish New Year’s Eve tradition is to throw plates and dishes against friend’s and neighbor’s front doors. The bigger the pile of broken china is the next morning, the more friends and good luck you’ll have in the coming year. Another custom in Denmark is the jumping off chairs at midnight, symbolizing the leap into the New Year.
 
Ecuador
In Ecuador, people build scarecrow-like to set them alight. Burning the año viejo (old year) is meant to destroy all the bad things from the last year and cleanse for the new.
 
Italy 
In Naples, people toss everything from toasters to fridges off their balconies. Getting rid of old possessions symbolizes a fresh start in the new year. It is worth knowing before you try this that most locals stick to small and soft objects to avoid injuries!
 
Japan
At midnight, Buddhist temples all over Japan ring their bells 108 times to dispell the 108 evil passions all human beings have, according to Buddhism. Japanese believe that joyanokane, the ringing of the bells, will cleanse them from their sins of the previous year. Traditionally, 107 bells are rung on the last day of the year and the 108th in the new year. In addition, many people eat buckwheat noodles called toshikoshi soba on New Year’s Eve to symbolize the wish for a long life.
 
Who Maintains Your Streets & Sidewalks - Reporting Issues
Max Pfannebecker
 
While there’s no hard and fast rule to figuring out what person or entity is responsible for maintaining those slabs of concrete, asphalt, or bricks upon which we walk and drive, there are some quick rules of thumb.
 
Streets
Most of the streets that run through New Town are maintained by VDOT, but several of the Alleyways and smaller side streets in our neighborhoods are not. A good method of determining whether or not a street is maintained by VDOT in New Town is by noting availability of street parking and presence of two travel lanes. Casey Blvd and New Town Avenue are both VDOT maintained streets with street parking and two lanes of travel. Alleyways in New Town, like Eleanors Way, Melanies Way, and Victorias Way are all alleyways with a narrowed path of travel and a lack of street parking. These would be maintained by a private entity like Town Management.
 
Sidewalks
As a general rule, the entity that owns the land on which the sidewalk sits bears responsibility for maintaining that sidewalk. These sidewalks would include a sidewalk leading from your residence or business to the street (running perpendicular to the street).
 
Sidewalks that run parallel to the street are typically the responsibility of the entity that maintains the street. For example, sidewalks that run parallel along Casey Boulevard would be the responsibility of VDOT because they maintain Casey Blvd and its respective right-of-way. The right-of-way in this case extends from the outer edge of the sidewalk across the street to the outer edge of the opposite sidewalk. Within that right-of-way, maintenance obligations fall to VDOT.
 
Sidewalks that run along alleyways (like the previously mentioned Melanies Way or Victorias Way) would not fall under VDOT because the alleyways themselves are not maintained by VDOT.
 
Additionally, VDOT usually will only maintain concrete and asphalt surfaces, meaning brick crosswalks are maintained by another association. One exception is the bumpy transition into crosswalks installed for ADA guidelines. VDOT will usually maintain those as a matter of public safety.
 
Who to Call, Where to Start
Town Management’s Randy Casey-Rutland notes that there are exceptions to every rule in knowing which entity is responsible, but the fastest way to make an issue known is to report to VDOT (to https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/) even when you’re not sure which entity is responsible. Even if the repair
 
Know Your Business: Award-winning Pet Sitting Service Moves to New Town:  Wagging Tails
Patti Vaticano
 
Seven years ago, Michelle Daikos, was an interior designer, until her then pet care provider, who was in need of some extra sitters, asked Michelle if she’d like to help out by walking a few dogs for her on the weekends.  Michelle did so--and loved the experience so much, she decided to start her own pet sitting company.  Wagging Tails has operated in the Greater Williamsburg Area since then, but Michelle, a brand-new resident in New Town, now manages Wagging Tails out of her new home in Chelsea Green.  Michelle “loves living in New Town,” where she can walk everywhere to services and entertainments and where “everyone is so friendly.”
 
And New Town is fortunate to have Wagging Tails in its midst.  Five-time winner of The Virginia Gazette’s Best Pet Sitting Business in Williamsburg and recently, the 2020 Neighborhood Favorite as the Best Pet Service in Williamsburg by Nextdoor, Wagging Tails is not the common variety pet sitting business that utilizes neighborhood amateurs.  “We are an elite service and have as many as 14 pet sitting professionals, throughout the year,” Michelle proudly declares.  “We strive, in every way, to excel in every category as the finest dog walking and pet sitting business in the Greater Williamsburg Area.  Many of New Town’s professionals who use our services tell us how much they value the care options we offer and the walking paths we make available.  We utilize New Town’s diversity of wooded trails and business routes to walk their dogs to not only address daily exercise needs but to enable their pets to socialize with their favorite four-legged neighbors.”  
 
Wagging Tails offers a variety of pet services to its clientele.  Besides pet walking, it offers a Pet Taxi service, transporting client pets to and from doggie day care or the vet and an overnight service which provides an overnight pet sitter in the client’s own home.  In addition, there is a “Bed and Biscuit” option that offers pet care in the sitter’s own home.
 
“We are expanding our services, currently,” says Michelle, “to include a new program called Nails and Trails which offers walking, nail trimming, and ear cleaning, as well.   We hope to offer a full line of pet grooming services in the very near future.”
 
In response to a question about the challenges of COVID for the business, Michelle replied, “Wagging Tails closely monitors the CDC and WHO recommendations in regards to containing the spread of COVID-19.  Our team members are committed to taking every health precaution possible and strictly abide by all the safety and health guidelines available.  In addition, we offer a no-contact service.  The safety of our clients and their pets and our own team members are, at all times, of utmost concern.  All our sitters wear facial masks and bring their own leashes.
 
Wagging Tails website can be found at https://waggingtailsdogwalker.com/ or just pick up the phone and call Michelle at 757-230-7960.  You can email Michelle, as well, at waggingtailsofwmbg@gmail.com.
When you are out and about in New Town, keep an eye out for the Wagging Tails’ Pet Mobile!
 
LIVING IN HARMONY IN NEW TOWN – The Rules About Renting Your New Town Property
Mary Cheston
 
Welcome to a new periodic Crier feature – Know Your Rules.  Are you aware of the requirements for NTRA homeowners who wish to rent their New Town homes?
 
Under the NTRA Master Declaration, only leases of an entire home for at least 12 months are permitted (Article VI, Section 7.1dd), and the lease must expressly state that the tenant will abide by the NTRA’s governing documents. (Thinking of adding an in-law unit or “granny flat?” An accessory apartment that is proposed to be added to a property must be approved by the Board of Directors after review by both the Architectural Review Committee and New Town’s Design Review Board.) 
 
Short-term rentals are not permitted, including any vacation, room rentals or Airbnb-type usage.
 
In addition, homeowners must notify Town Management of 1) their new address and contact information and 2) the contacts for their tenant and property management company (NTRA Rules, Section II, Para. 21). Any property management company acting on behalf of a homeowner must provide the NTRA with current information for your tenants. Frequently, when tenants turn over, Town Management is not aware of new occupants. If possible, providing the first page of the lease will help Town Management to understand the rental period.
 
Why does the NTRA have such rental requirements? New Town was designed around fostering community through homeownership and owner occupancy. Besides liability insurance benefits, rental restrictions are viewed as a way to serve the best interests of the community by helping to maintain community standards and keep property values high.
 
So if you have tenants or neighbors who are tenants, reach out to let them know about the NTRA website. Encourage them to learn more about our Association and its requirements. Suggest that they volunteer on an NTRA Committee. Let’s all get to know our neighbors and take a vested interest in the long-term success of our community.
 
SUMMING UP THE NTRA’s 2021 BUDGET MEETINGS
Kathy Mullins
 
In case you were unable, or chose not to attend the NTRA Budget Presentations held on two consecutive evenings via ZOOM, the take-away was this:   NTRA financial matters are in good hands.
 
The purpose of the two ZOOM meetings was to inform NTRA members about the challenges, deliberations and decisions that were involved as the Finance Committee (FC) drafted the Proposed NTRA 2021 Budget. The Board of Directors (BOD) weighed in, made suggestions and ultimately agreed to present the Proposed 2021 Budgets that were the subjects of these meetings. One very important reason to pay attention -- the final 2021 NTRA Budget becomes the basis for 2021 homeowner assessments.
 
Session I, convened on November 18 at 6:00 PM focused on Village Walk (VW), with 14 residents and 8 panelists from the Finance Committee (FC), Board of Directors (BOD) and Town Management in attendance.  Session II opened at 6:05 PM on November 19, with 21 NTRA members and 10 panelists from the above groups present. This meeting dealt with the overall NTRA 2021 Budget.  
Information presented at both sessions was detailed, clearly laid out and delivered in a logical sequence that drew those attending into the budgeting process. The FC posted the proposed budget for each session, with commentary, in advance on the NTRA website.  This seemed to boost member interest in and understanding of issues. Both sessions allowed ample time for questions.  
 
The two meetings followed the same format.  First, Jim Carey, FC Secretary, reviewed how Zoom tools could be utilized during the meeting and laid out the overall timetable for budget review.  Then Everett Lunsford, FC Chair, walked attendees through the proposed budget, page by page, adding further detail as needed. Questions were held until he finished.
 
Exterior Maintenance issues at VW have significantly impacted expenses.  During Session I, there was clarification that VW homeowners receive additional services that are not part of the standard NTRA home maintenance plan, including for example, exterior painting, irrigation, maintenance, repair and replacement of roofing and more.  These additional costs are reflected in the assessments of VW homeowners. 
 
One of the challenges in 2020 was the discovery that amounts budgeted for VW maintenance were in some cases, inadequate. In some instances, needs were overlooked; in others, costs were underestimated.
 
Lunsford noted that $1.5K was budgeted for 2020 irrigation system repairs. Actual costs, however, are now approaching $12K. Lack of mapping of the 130-zone irrigation system has made it extremely difficult to obtain accurate estimates for repairs and maintenance. An outside contractor will begin mapping the system in 2021. 
 
Exterior painting of VW homes is a Replacement Reserve expense, but painting was not included in the 2019 Replacement Reserve Study. A quote has been received for roughly $240K to repaint the exteriors of all VW residences over a five (5) year period beginning in 2023.
 
At times, while reviewing the proposed budget, Lunsford stated that the FC had changed spending projections or altered long-range budget recommendations. He would then continue with a description of the rationale that led the FC to reach those decisions.  This likely reduced the number of questions raised during the Q & A, all of which were answered thoroughly. 
 
Session II reviewed the overall budget for the whole of NTRA, presented in a 30-page report. The FC and BOD have been immersed in budget issues and decisions since early October. The 2021 Proposed NTRA Budget was presented with year-to-year comparative figures clearly indicating shifts in spending.  
The FC has identified several areas that need to be carefully managed to ensure smooth sailing in the years ahead.  Some that were mentioned include:  funding the maintenance requirements of VW homes; monitoring Capital Contribution and Administrative Fees generated from home sales; managing the Replacement Reserve of VW and NTRA; and increased awareness of long-term maintenance and community needs. 
 
Everett Lunsford noted that the budget includes a financial audit of the managing agent, Town Management, which is industry practice when an HOA is turned over to owners. This will be a one-time expense of $7 – 9K.
 
With limited sources of funding, unexpected expenditures are difficult to handle. In 2020, Covid-19 necessitated approximately $10K in expenditures for extra pool personnel, new signage, additional cleaning supplies and services. This expense is likely to continue in the coming year. Money previously earmarked for major landscape projects and 2020 seasonal Activities were redirected to cover these costs and safe, socially distanced activities, Zoom account, etc.
 
In addition to considering the maintenance timetables recommended for HOA communities, the FC is keeping an eye on actual New Town maintenance requirements. Lunsford again used the VW situation as an example. The NTRA is required to repaint VW exteriors on a periodic basis as part of their exterior maintenance fee.  Based on contractor estimates and recommendations, the NTRA expects to begin a five-year repainting program in 2023. Since these homes are mostly clad with factory-painted cement board siding, the recommendation is to repaint every 7 years. However, some homeowners are reporting issues, such as exterior mold problems, that might alter maintenance or repainting schedules. 
 
The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) researched and planned projects to replace dead trees and upgrade the appearance of New Town’s common areas. Funding for these Special Projects was originally approved for 2020 but the money was diverted to cover unexpected expenses. NTRA members that have been asking about the status of those projects were pleased to hear Lunsford say that the LAC plans have been prioritized and are detailed in the 2021 PROPOSED NTRA BUDGET REPORT
 
The two meetings were an opportunity for NTRA members to dig into the details of NTRA 2020 spending, and ask questions about the details of the 2021 budget on which 2021 homeowner assessments are based. 
 
At the close of the meeting several people recognized the enormous amount of time these committee members have spent on this task and praised the excellent result of their efforts. Comments are welcome through December 3rd. The final BOD-approved budget will be presented at the Annual Members Meeting December 10 on Zoom.
 
BMP and BRBs in New Town: A Retention Pond Primer
Patti Vaticano

Stormwater Management Facilities or Best Management Practices (BMPs)— “Stormwater BMPs”—are an integral part of any new construction or land development project, today, whether commercial or residential.  They are recognized by James City County as key components in improving water quality of all waterways in the Tidewater Area by removing pollutants from rainwater. As defined on the County’s website, rainwater falling on the ground and running across the earth’s surface as stormwater “collects leaves, grass clippings, pet waste, litter, lawn fertilizers, pesticides and more” into area streams, ponds, and rivers, and BMPs are key in minimizing the negative effects of these pollutants on our water ways. There are nearly 800 BMPs in the County, 27 of which are located in New Town, and all are inspected by the County every 5 years using industry standard reporting.  Owners of the properties upon which BMPs are located are legally responsible for providing basic annual maintenance to the structures and to make any repairs that may be needed. Typical BMP owners are homeowner associations (HOA), private communities, commercial retail properties, and business property owners.
 
Of the 27 BMPs in New Town, only three are true BMPs, retention ponds that contain water at all times, and are clearly visible to passersby.  The remaining structures are “bio-filters” or Bio Retention Basins (BRBs) that help with the maintenance of the BMPs. BRBs are water filters which syphon off stormwater impurities before reaching the BMPs. They do this through a layered system of gravel and mulch in an effort to maintain the integrity of the BMPs and to avoid expensive dredging costs more often than should be necessary for maintaining the BMPs according to County standards. James City County’s criteria for maintaining BMPs contains specific strategies.  Bi-annual mowing, generally in the spring and the fall, no more than 6-8 inches from the ground, repair of holes and bare areas in all concrete structures, and maintenance of flow pipes to make sure they are not broken or overgrown with vegetation.  
 
New Town employs two contractors to meet the County BMP criteria for structural maintenance.  Mowings are covered in our current landscaping contract and the structural and water treatment needs are contracted to Aquatic Resources Management (ARM) for which $3,200 is currently budgeted. ARM repairs broken concrete, treats for mosquitoes by adding an algaecide colorant dye to the water to inhibit larvae from hatching, and applies a herbicide preventative to the water to inhibit cattail growth.
 
Of the three BMPs, the large wet pond at the end of Olive Drive in Charlotte Park will be turned over to NTRA ownership in the very near future. The two remaining BMPs (located behind the Goddard School and adjacent to the SunTrust parking lot) are owned by the New Town Commercial Association.  New Town’s BRBs are more numerous.  Four are owned outright by the NTRA and are located at the corner of Casey and Town Creek Drive, the corner of Town Creek Drive and Lydias Drive, and in Magnolia Park (Rollison Drive and Luanne Way). Four BRBs are currently owned by Atlantic Homes but will similarly transfer to the NTRA in the very near future.  All are located in Charlotte Park: at the termination of Rollison Drive, behind the homes on Olive Drive, (most notably behind 4408 Olive) and at the termination of Christine Court. Two BRBs in Shirley Park are also owned by Atlantic Homes but will be turned over to the NTRA later.  As with the BMPs, the BRBs are also governed by JCC maintenance guidelines.  In 2018 for example, several BRBs, including the one at Christine Court, were cited for contaminating silt and in need of repair or replacement of special soil, mulch, and vegetation.
 
Village Walk has two BMPs, and their management and maintenance have not had smooth sailing.  Among other problems, they have had serious conservation issues such as damaged fencing and invasive vegetation that have threatened the integrity of their retainment walls, one 15 feet high and upon which the homes on Greenview are located, and another 30 feet high next to the homes on Trailview & Trailside. (See photos) Addressing the maintenance needs of these BMPs has been problematic, because their conservation has been compromised by the insolvency of AIG Baker the original developer of Settlers Market who once owned them.  Without clear ownership, meeting the County criteria for structural repairs and maintenance has not been possible. There has, however, been a recent breakthrough in the conundrum.   
 
An October walk-about with County representatives and interested Village Walk homeowners reviewed all the issues needing correction to meet County BMP maintenance criteria, such as the removal of vegetation growth, silt fencing repair, the cleaning out of basin trash and debris, and structural repairs and modifications of pipes and channels. With assistance from County staff, the Board of Directors was able to contact the current responsible party--Rosenthal, a property management company based in Northern Virginia. Rosenthal will be addressing the County concerns and has hired Triad Construction Company to begin maintenance of both BMPs soon.  All County conservation issues will be addressed on these BMPs, including the removal of invasive vegetation that can be very destructive to the retaining structures and repair of damaged fencing. Phase I, to include the clearing of the access roads to both ponds, the removal of old silt fencing, and the eradication of all brush between fence and retaining walls, begins this week. Crews working 10-hour days should be able to complete Phase I in 3 to 4 weeks. Larger repairs will be addressed in the new year.
 
BOARD BUZZ
Chuck Stetler, President
 
Happy Holidays! 
 
This has been a very unsettling year for our country and our little community. But we are all hoping for a healthy, prosperous New Year.
 
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our holiday party in December. Plus, the Covid virus impacted opening of the pool .. Despite the restrictions caused by the coronavirus, the Activities Committee carried out a successful and well attended Halloween party and parade at Sullivan Square.   
 
The Board of Directors is searching for a person to fill the non-voting position of Secretary.  This is such an important job, which was performed by Dave Holtgrieve who will be resigning in December.    
 
Recently we had informative Town Hall meetings to explain the proposed 2021 NTRA budget and the proposed exterior maintenance program for Village Walk. This assessment was increased because both painting and power washing the homes in Village Walk were not included in the 2019 Reserve study.
 
The transition to homeowner control of the NTRA has been challenging and demanding of the newly elected members of the Board of Directors. Thanks to these volunteers who have contributed their time to work and resolve many issues.
 
Thank you to all volunteers who participated on our committees this past year. Your help was appreciated in carrying out the necessary activities that benefit our HOA.
 
This coming year we will need new volunteers to participate on both the Landscape and Communication committees. Consider joining one of these important groups.
 
The 2020 Annual Members Meeting has been scheduled for December 10th. Please watch for the Zoom link to the virtual meeting.
 
Welcome to the New Year....2021!!!!
 
DECEMBER TALKS
Kimberly Kearney
 
Mariellynn Maurer is the Director of Conference & Event Services and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at William & Mary.  She is an alumna of William & Mary and her field of studies were English and Secondary Education.  She is an active member of several professional associations within the tourism, hospitality, events, and continuing education sectors.  Mariellynn is an active member in the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance and an alumna of the LEAD Historic Triangle Program.  She is the President of the Professional and Professional Staff Assembly of W&M and sits on the university’s Strategic Planning Committee.  Mariellynn’s experience is not limited to the world of higher education, she also spent more than 11 years working in hotel sales and marketing.  She is a strong believer that you never stop learning and is honored to be able to speak with you about opportunities available for lifelong learning and volunteering with the Osher Lifelong Institute at William & Mary.  
 
Mariellynn and Carrie will share information about Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at William & Mary.  They will share program highlights, areas of study, volunteer opportunities, membership information, upcoming key dates for your calendars, and the current mode of delivery given the pandemic circumstances we are currently working, living, and learning under.   Time will be reserved during the presentation for questions and answers as well.
Posted on November 1, 2020 7:03 AM by Rick Fisher, Treasurer & Board Representative to Finance Committee
Categories: NTRA Business
The Finance Committee (FC) has been meeting since early August to address the 2021 New Town Residential Association (NTRA) Budget. Committees have provided input which has been evaluated and incorporated in budget reviews with the Board of Directors (BOD) during October. Forecasted 2020 year-end actuals have guided the recommendations by expense line item for 2021. 
 
The purpose of this article is to share with Owners the focus areas and the discussion that has occurred as background and preparation for the 2021 Budget Town Hall Meeting (via Zoom this year) scheduled for November 19th at 6:00PM. In light of the exterior maintenance challenges in Village Walk (see discussion below), a special Zoom presentation for Village Walk owners is scheduled for November 18th at 6PM. The BOD wishes to be completely transparent with the community.
 
Covid-19: While we don’t know when a vaccine will be widely available, we have assumed that Covid-19 will have an impact on Pool Operations in 2021, and that the NTRA will need to institute similar processes to 2020 for much, if not all, of the pool season. This comes with an incremental cost. In 2020, this cost was approximately $10K which funded a full time Pool Attendant and paid for signage and cleaning. In 2020, landscape projects and Activities Committee events, although funded, were not undertaken largely because of incremental, unanticipated Covid-19 expenses and, in the case of activities, the need for social distancing. We are investigating whether the pool contractor can provide Covid-19 services as part of their 2021 contract. Activities will, undoubtedly, continue to be impacted in 2021. However, the NTRA should be able to proceed with landscaping projects. We are assuming Covid-19 related expenses will be around $9K and will be funded from Operating Reserves.  
 
Managing Agent Audit: Industry practice is to conduct a financial audit when a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is turned over from the Developer to the Owners.  The FC believes that an audit is prudent. This would be a one-time cost to the NTRA on the order of $7-9K. We have identified two CPA firms in Virginia Beach that are associated with the Communities Association Institute (CAI).  In order to get a firm quote, financial statements and tax returns must be provided.  Our numbers are an estimate.
 
Landscaping: The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) has submitted $40K of priority one projects.  The projects include: tree removal, planting new trees, tree pruning (the current landscape contract covers pruning up to 12 feet), and plantings around the pool and in the clock tower garden at Village Walk (VW). In addition, as we all know, the turf in New Town is not conducive to warm weather. The LAC has proposed that we develop a Five Year Turf Plan using a phased approach, to evaluate whether it makes sense to install warm weather grass (Bermuda) in New Town’s common areas.  A breakout of these costs is as follows:
  • Tree Removal, Pruning and Root Drenching: $15K (Quote from Arbol Tree Service)
  • New Trees and Planting: $15K (a new tree and installation is typically in the $1-$2K range)
  • First Phase of Turf Plan: $5K (Consultant and test section)
  • Planting of Perennials at Pool and in VW Clock Tower: $5K
  • The BOD is evaluating these costs in light of their impact on assessments. However, we have fallen behind in this area. Landscaping funds were budgeted for 2020 but no activity took place because of Covid-19 as explained above.
Capital Contributions and Administrative Fees: At closing, when buying a new home, the buyer or seller (if negotiated with the buyer) pays a capital contribution fee and an administrative fee. The capital contribution goes directly into the NTRA’s replacement reserves. The administrative fee goes into the operating checking account. VW has an additional capital contribution for exterior maintenance. These fee amounts have to be set in a prudent way in that they impact buyers, sellers and owners. We have surveyed other local HOAs (Ford’s Colony, Governor’s Land, Kingsmill) and believe that our fees are in line with other Associations in the area. The fees incorporated in the 2021 Budget are:
  • NTRA Capital Contribution: $700 (+$50 From 2020)
  • NTRA Administrative Contribution: $250 (+$50 From 2020)
  • VW Additional Capital Contribution: $450 (+$50 From 2020)
    • Covers replacement of roofs, painting, gutters and downspouts, railings, brick veneer, fascia. (Note: VW home buyers pay all three fees: NTRA Capital Contribution, NTRA Administrative Contribution and the VW Capital Contribution.)
In 2021, fees will total $1,400 for new VW buyers and $950 for NTRA buyers.
 
Village Walk Irrigation: The irrigation system installed by the Developer, Eagle Homes, has been a source of dissatisfaction to owners for several years. VW irrigation and maintenance is an expense that VW owners pay for in their neighborhood assessment. The VW neighborhood assessment is paid by VW owners in addition to the NTRA assessment for townhomes and cottages. The dollar amount budgeted for 2020 maintenance and repair of the irrigation system was woefully inadequate at $1,500. Actuals for 2020 are projected at $12,000. The 2021 Budget will reflect $12,000. Focus on understanding and mapping this irrigation system will be a priority for the first quarter of 2021.  Although there are over 130 zones, no map of heads and pipes currently exists. Town Management, at the direction of the BOD, will hire an outside contractor to do this work.
 
Village Walk Painting: A quote has been received for roughly $240K to repaint all of the VW residences over a five (5) year period beginning in 2023. The painter, after inspecting the buildings, is recommending that this project begin in 2023. This is a Replacement Reserve expense which was not included in the latest 2019 Reserve Study (it should have been) and now must be included as an “add-on.” This expenditure from VW Replacement Reserves needs immediate focus.
 
Village Walk Miscellaneous Maintenance and Repair: Nothing was budgeted in 2020 for this. We have incurred actual expenses of $4.5K year to date and are forecasting that $6K will be spent in 2020.  The 2021 Budget reflects $12K for this expense. A recent needed roof repair was quoted at $3.6K. The cost of miscellaneous maintenance and repair is covered by the VW neighborhood assessment.
 
Replacement Reserve:  In 2021 we will begin to closely manage the Replacement Reserve Fund per a documented Replacement Reserve Policy and Procedure. The BOD will be involved in semi-annual reviews as we define a Five-Year Project List and gradually build up our Replacement Reserves. 
  • Background:  Two NTRA Replacement Reserve Studies have been conducted. The 2015 Replacement Reserve Study called for a 2019 end-of-year balance of $440,196 with annual contributions of $68,492. Our actual balance was $483,079, right in line. However, the 2019 Reserve Study added the Shirley Park neighborhood as well as new assets like the bridges along the walking trail.  The 2019 Study therefore recommended a Replacement Reserve balance of $563,091 at the end of 2019 or $122,895 higher than what was recommend by the 2015 Study. The 2019 Study also calls for a much higher annual contribution of $94,576. This is not unusual since each time a Reserve Study is done, there is a fresh look at the Association assets.
  • Current situation: Our projected ending balance for 2020 is $562,000 or $92,497 below the 2019 Study recommendation of $654,497. It’s important, however, to understand that the Replacement Reserve Study is still very much a projection. The 2019 Study’s total funding goal over 40 years is $4,245,382.  This number represents the replacement of 176 assets over 40 years to include each item’s replacement cost and useful life.  
We believe that our projected 2020 ending balance, only 15 percent below the 2019 Study recommendation, does not represent a problem at this time for the Association. From this point forward we will build the Replacement Reserve Fund over time rather than approaching it as if we need to contribute $94,576 every year for 40 years. Our focus will be to fund to the 40-year goal of $4,245,382 with small annual but increasing replacement reserve contributions that will compound over time. This is a more reasonable approach.  Our major focus will be on needs for the next five to ten years. A Replacement Reserve Study is done every five (5) years with our next one planned for 2024. Things will change again and the 2024 Study will provide us with another recalibration point.
Posted on November 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Kathy Mullins
Categories: General, NTRA Business
Trees connect us with our past and our future.  Their roots are often far deeper than our own; their growth will yield leaves and flowers that bring pleasure to future generations. 
 
The 600-acre property beneath New Town was once farmland, with heavily forested areas, apple orchards, pecan groves, and fields of grain. Most of it belonged to the Carl Casey family. Think of the personalities, organizations, interested parties, and visionaries that came together to create New Town.
 
The late Susan Ford’s excellent summation of the design and development of New Town is recounted in archived issues of The Crier (also summarized on this website’s History of New Town). Susan described the Design Competition that attracted 99 entrants from around the world. Entry packets called for an “innovative, mixed-use planned community” that integrated pleasing environmental assets. Designers were challenged to embrace the vision of a “new urbanism-style design, with shops and businesses, restaurants and homes, all within walking distance of each other. There would be tree-lined sidewalks and bike paths, civic spaces and open spaces, cultural buildings and churches – just as towns like Williamsburg used to have.” 
 
They wanted this new community to become “a landmark development and a national model of the highest quality of the visual, social and economic aspects of town planning.” 
 
From the start, trees were important, carefully selected and strategically placed with the future in mind.  Planners learned about Native trees, visited other communities to appreciate how streetscapes and building design worked together to define neighborhoods.
 
Those residents who moved here in the early years threw their efforts and talent into preserving that bold vision. Homebuyers were attracted to the concept of this livable community, where outdoor amenities were as important as interior style. As the community continues to grow and mature it is helpful to keep that concept in the forefront.
 
Trees are a shared responsibility in New Town-accountability for caring for those on your property differs from park or sidewalk trees. For trees in common areas, think of reporting tree issues as helping, rather than complaining. The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) carries out many time-consuming tasks. Having residents take the time to pay attention to needs and issues really can help. Between Covid delays and weather issues, the landscape company fell behind in tree prunings this year. If residents can serve as the “eyes and ears” of the LAC, problems can be identified and hopefully resolved more quickly. Using the Report an Issue ticket system allows for issues to be directed to the proper entity. 
 
Once a ticket is submitted, what happens next depends on a number of factors and requires a great deal of communication between the parties. There are multiple entities involved in some locations. For instance, New Town’s trails have not yet turned over from the developer, New Town Associates to NTRA. Some maintenance is worked out between the NTRA and the New Town Commercial Association. Roper Park, on the other hand, has been turned over but the developer failed to remove many dead trees that NTRA must now budget for.
 
After notification, an LAC member, or in some instances, a Town Management employee, will visit the site, evaluate the situation, then recommend whether to consult the landscape company or solicit bids from vendors. Budgeting for the removal and replacement of trees is the next step, which can delay fixes especially if a tree falls unexpectedly. Trees are a budget priority for 2021.
 
As important as it is to respond quickly to reported “issues,” HOA communities are urged to keep up a regular program of maintenance for tree and landscape features. Specific New Town trees have been identified as being in need of professional attention, but in general the LAC found in April 2020 that most of the residential area trees are in good health.
 
Trees need to be pruned correctly in order to withstand heavy winds and storms. To grow and flower they will require nourishment. Insecticide treatments, protection from freezing temperatures, and mulching are all important. Removing, repurchasing and replanting a tree is more costly by far than maintaining existing ones.
 
There is a downside to calling a tree “dead” and removing it too quickly. Often the soil must be treated. The group of trees planted at the same time will no longer be the same size or age. It takes 5 to 7 years for a tree to mature and that wait may be hard for some residents.  There may be times when the ticket suggests, “tree is dead, needs to be removed” but involving a specialist can actually save the tree and money. That was evident in 2017. An arborist from Bartlett Trees with a great deal of expertise in saving trees recommended pruning and fertilizing 36 failing trees at a total cost of $500 rather than replacing all 36 trees at $500 per tree.
 
Patience, accumulated knowledge and experience, good will and an appreciation for those “roots” that bind our community to a grand vision, will go a long way to dealing with most issues.
 
*Look for next month’s article about choosing, planting and maintaining trees on your property.
 
***********************
 
TIPS FOR SUBMITTING A TREE TICKET
 
How to submit a ticket: Go to the NTRA website: www.ntrawilliamsburg.org. Explore the main MENU. Under the RESIDENTS tab you will find REPORT AN ISSUE.  Select LANDSCAPE ISSUES in the dropdown box.
 
Identify yourself, using the form provided, and include phone or email contact info in case additional information is needed. 
 
Note tree location. Is it on your property/ other private property/NTRA common area/commercial/ JCC/ developer/ unknown)? You can specify the nearest street address, intersection or other identifying landmarks.
 
What is your concern?  Here are some typical concerns about trees.
1)  Tree looks diseased or dead.  (Describe what you see or take a photo) Are there visible bugs; signs of insect infestation; mounds of sawdust at tree base; discoloration of bark or leaves; fungus, mushrooms or mold at base or trunk; dropping large branches with no new growth. If possible take a photo and include with report.
2) Tree unstable.  (roots lifting above ground, roots causing sidewalk to heave, main trunk is now leaning; tree injured by vehicle, landscape equipment; tree struck by lightning or windburst).  Did you witness injury? Specify date if possible.
3) Tree presents danger to persons or property:  Added risk because:  tree planted too close to a home or play yard; tree leaning into parking area , walking path, roof, or home exterior; tree (or large branch) has fallen across walking path; large branches rubbing on roof or home exterior
4) Tree unsightly:  State visual observations (needs pruning, has dead sections, misshapen canopy, too large for space). If cause is known, please state.  Degradation of tree appearance can result from situations already mentioned, as well as: under- or over-watering; improper pruning; sustained high wind or heavy rain; incorrect fertilization or feeding; bad or insufficient soil; infestations.
 
When should a resident initiate a ticket?   If you see something that seems wrong, submit a ticket.  Problems that continue just make the situation worse.  Early intervention may save a tree.
 
Posted on November 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Mary Cheston, Board of Directors
Categories: General, NTRA Business
Two overarching objectives govern our work on the NTRA Communications Committee – providing transparency and timeliness of information to the New Town community. 
 
The NTRA website is now 18 months old and is the primary vehicle for all Association communications. Hopefully, you have noticed the ways in which our new Board of Directors (BOD) is getting the word out.
 
How are we demonstrating transparency? CHECK OUT THE NTRA WEBSITE!
  • Adding documents to the website that the previous BOD had not made available, e.g. 
    • NTRA Financial Reports
    • Replacement Reserves Study
  • Sharing BOD meeting agendas well in advance of monthly meetings
  • Website Calendar: posting Zoom links to all public NTRA meetings (If you find a broken link, please use the meeting number and password to log in.)
  • Hosting a new dedicated Board of Directors page – all homeowner-controlled BOD bios, meeting agendas, minutes, etc. are in one location. No need to hunt for relevant decisions.
  • Providing opportunities for residents to comment: through the website ticketing system or beneath Town Crier articles.
  • Building and reorganizing our FAQs to cover common questions.
How are we promoting timeliness?
  • "Notices" page of website – putting the latest NTRA news immediately on the first page after you log into the site
  • Monthly Crier articles on Board actions – to provide some context/background and explanation for important topics (e.g. this month’s Budget Challenges piece, Opt-out landscaping, bench refurbishment)
  • Eblasts
  • Facebook posts, e.g. security situation in Charlotte Park
  • Monitoring all “Report an Issue” website entries and reporting to the BOD (e.g. we added a new “streetlight problem” category to correct confusion on which Committee/group to select)
  • Pursuing Committees’ obligations under the NTRA’s governing documents to share meeting records in a timely manner.
Where is information shared?  
 
To stay informed of the information most important to homeowners, be sure you are registered on the NTRA website:  www.ntrawilliamsburg.org. Not only is the website the source for documents, but registered users also receive eblasts from the Association. All New Town residents, including tenants and New Town Commercial Association members, may register on the site. Be sure your contact information is current or you may miss important news!
 
Public information is available through the NTRA’s Town Crier articles and Facebook pages (https://www.facebook.com/NewTownResidentialAssociation). Have you “liked” our Facebook page? These public pages also mean that anything you comment on there is seen by the general public. 
 
How can you help? The information we publish is only as good as the information that we are aware of. We are not mind readers.
  • Share photos and information about your Committee’s work or your neighborhood events. 
  • Send in ideas for topics you might want to learn more about, either directly in an email (ntrawebsitecommittee@gmail.com) or via the “Report an Issue” website ticketing feature.
Per Randy Casey-Rutland of Town Management, “Good communications via the website relies on NTRA Committees, the NTRA Board, and Town Management working well and working together.”
Posted on November 1, 2020 6:57 AM by Town Crier Staff
2021 Budget Challenges
Rick Fisher, Treasurer & Board Representative to Finance Committee
 
The Finance Committee (FC) has been meeting since early August to address the 2021 New Town Residential Association (NTRA) Budget. Committees have provided input which has been evaluated and incorporated in budget reviews with the Board of Directors (BOD) during October. Forecasted 2020 year-end actuals have guided the recommendations by expense line item for 2021. 
 
The purpose of this article is to share with Owners the focus areas and the discussion that has occurred as background and preparation for the 2021 Budget Town Hall Meeting (via Zoom this year) scheduled for November 19th at 6:00PM. In light of the exterior maintenance challenges in Village Walk (see discussion below), a special Zoom presentation for Village Walk owners is scheduled for November 18th at 6PM. The BOD wishes to be completely transparent with the community.
 
Covid-19: While we don’t know when a vaccine will be widely available, we have assumed that Covid-19 will have an impact on Pool Operations in 2021, and that the NTRA will need to institute similar processes to 2020 for much, if not all, of the pool season. This comes with an incremental cost. In 2020, this cost was approximately $10K which funded a full time Pool Attendant and paid for signage and cleaning. In 2020, landscape projects and Activities Committee events, although funded, were not undertaken largely because of incremental, unanticipated Covid-19 expenses and, in the case of activities, the need for social distancing. We are investigating whether the pool contractor can provide Covid-19 services as part of their 2021 contract. Activities will, undoubtedly, continue to be impacted in 2021. However, the NTRA should be able to proceed with landscaping projects. We are assuming Covid-19 related expenses will be around $9K and will be funded from Operating Reserves.  
 
Managing Agent Audit: Industry practice is to conduct a financial audit when a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is turned over from the Developer to the Owners.  The FC believes that an audit is prudent. This would be a one-time cost to the NTRA on the order of $7-9K. We have identified two CPA firms in Virginia Beach that are associated with the Communities Association Institute (CAI).  In order to get a firm quote, financial statements and tax returns must be provided.  Our numbers are an estimate.
 
Landscaping: The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) has submitted $40K of priority one projects.  The projects include: tree removal, planting new trees, tree pruning (the current landscape contract covers pruning up to 12 feet), and plantings around the pool and in the clock tower garden at Village Walk (VW). In addition, as we all know, the turf in New Town is not conducive to warm weather. The LAC has proposed that we develop a Five Year Turf Plan using a phased approach, to evaluate whether it makes sense to install warm weather grass (Bermuda) in New Town’s common areas.  A breakout of these costs is as follows:
  • Tree Removal, Pruning and Root Drenching: $15K (Quote from Arbol Tree Service)
  • New Trees and Planting: $15K (a new tree and installation is typically in the $1-$2K range)
  • First Phase of Turf Plan: $5K (Consultant and test section)
  • Planting of Perennials at Pool and in VW Clock Tower: $5K
The BOD is evaluating these costs in light of their impact on assessments. However, we have fallen behind in this area. Landscaping funds were budgeted for 2020 but no activity took place because of Covid-19 as explained above.
 
Capital Contributions and Administrative Fees: At closing, when buying a new home, the buyer or seller (if negotiated with the buyer) pays a capital contribution fee and an administrative fee. The capital contribution goes directly into the NTRA’s replacement reserves. The administrative fee goes into the operating checking account. VW has an additional capital contribution for exterior maintenance. These fee amounts have to be set in a prudent way in that they impact buyers, sellers and owners. We have surveyed other local HOAs (Ford’s Colony, Governor’s Land, Kingsmill) and believe that our fees are in line with other Associations in the area. The fees incorporated in the 2021 Budget are:
  • NTRA Capital Contribution: $700 (+$50 From 2020)
  • NTRA Administrative Contribution: $250 (+$50 From 2020)
  • VW Additional Capital Contribution: $450 (+$50 From 2020)
    • *Covers replacement of roofs, painting, gutters and downspouts, railings, brick veneer, fascia. (Note: VW home buyers pay all three fees: NTRA Capital Contribution, NTRA Administrative Contribution and the VW Capital Contribution.)
In 2021, fees will total $1,400 for new VW buyers and $950 for NTRA buyers.
 
Village Walk Irrigation: The irrigation system installed by the Developer, Eagle Homes, has been a source of dissatisfaction to owners for several years. VW irrigation and maintenance is an expense that VW owners pay for in their neighborhood assessment. The VW neighborhood assessment is paid by VW owners in addition to the NTRA assessment for townhomes and cottages. The dollar amount budgeted for 2020 maintenance and repair of the irrigation system was woefully inadequate at $1,500. Actuals for 2020 are projected at $12,000. The 2021 Budget will reflect $12,000. Focus on understanding and mapping this irrigation system will be a priority for the first quarter of 2021.  Although there are over 130 zones, no map of heads and pipes currently exists. Town Management, at the direction of the BOD, will hire an outside contractor to do this work.
 
Village Walk Painting: A quote has been received for roughly $240K to repaint all of the VW residences over a five (5) year period beginning in 2023. The painter, after inspecting the buildings, is recommending that this project begin in 2023. This is a Replacement Reserve expense which was not included in the latest 2019 Reserve Study (it should have been) and now must be included as an “add-on.” This expenditure from VW Replacement Reserves needs immediate focus.
 
Village Walk Miscellaneous Maintenance and Repair: Nothing was budgeted in 2020 for this. We have incurred actual expenses of $4.5K year to date and are forecasting that $6K will be spent in 2020.  The 2021 Budget reflects $12K for this expense. A recent needed roof repair was quoted at $3.6K. The cost of miscellaneous maintenance and repair is covered by the VW neighborhood assessment.
 
Replacement Reserve:  In 2021 we will begin to closely manage the Replacement Reserve Fund per a documented Replacement Reserve Policy and Procedure. The BOD will be involved in semi-annual reviews as we define a Five-Year Project List and gradually build up our Replacement Reserves. 
  • Background:  Two NTRA Replacement Reserve Studies have been conducted. The 2015 Replacement Reserve Study called for a 2019 end-of-year balance of $440,196 with annual contributions of $68,492. Our actual balance was $483,079, right in line. However, the 2019 Reserve Study added the Shirley Park neighborhood as well as new assets like the bridges along the walking trail.  The 2019 Study therefore recommended a Replacement Reserve balance of $563,091 at the end of 2019 or $122,895 higher than what was recommend by the 2015 Study. The 2019 Study also calls for a much higher annual contribution of $94,576. This is not unusual since each time a Reserve Study is done, there is a fresh look at the Association assets.
 
  •  Current situation: Our projected ending balance for 2020 is $562,000 or $92,497 below the 2019 Study recommendation of $654,497. It’s important, however, to understand that the Replacement Reserve Study is still very much a projection. The 2019 Study’s total funding goal over 40 years is $4,245,382.  This number represents the replacement of 176 assets over 40 years to include each item’s replacement cost and useful life.    
We believe that our projected 2020 ending balance, only 15 percent below the 2019 Study recommendation, does not represent a problem at this time for the Association. From this point forward we will build the Replacement Reserve Fund over time rather than approaching it as if we need to contribute $94,576 every year for 40 years. Our focus will be to fund to the 40-year goal of $4,245,382 with small annual but increasing replacement reserve contributions that will compound over time. This is a more reasonable approach.  Our major focus will be on needs for the next five to ten years. A Replacement Reserve Study is done every five (5) years with our next one planned for 2024. Things will change again and the 2024 Study will provide us with another recalibration point.
 
Classy New Home for Birds in Magnolia Park
Patti Vaticano
 
Charlotte Park resident, Len Scharf, has always enjoyed re-purposing things for uses other than what they were made for.  Since moving to New Town, and with the permission from building supervisors, a favorite pastime of Len's has been reclaiming pieces of house columns, here in our community, for the creation of a variety of household items from tables to decorative pedestals for ornamental items. Inspired by the book, From Bauhause to Birdhouse:  Imaginative Housing for the Feathered Community, by Leslie Garisto, Len deemed a column would make the perfect birdhouse stand for local birds.  
 
From there, Len shared his idea with neighbors, applied to the Architectural Review Committee and then the Board of Directors for approval to install it in the common area of Magnolia Park. Among the issues to be addressed was ensuring that the long-term maintenance of the birdhouse would not be expensed to the NTRA.
 
After obtaining the NTRA’s approval, Len built a double-decker birdhouse of distinction. On the foggy morning of October 19th, Len and Dave Holtgrieve dug a hole for it--and installed it in Magnolia Park. The structure, a true “house” and not a feeder, will be maintained by Len and his wife Blanche in the future. It's not only a sweet haven for feathered friends but a lovely garden focal point for we earth-pound creatures to enjoy, as well.  Thank you, Len!  
 
 
Pandemic Weekend (or Daytrip) Getaways
Crier Staff, Resident Submissions
Do you have cabin fever? As we enjoy cooler Fall weather, more people have been venturing out by driving to a local retreat or getaway destination for a break. Here are a few recent excursions from some New Town residents. Live vicariously through your neighbors or try one of these locations yourself!
 
Virginia Mountains with the Kavitz Family
Jim, Janice & Lisa Kavitz recently ventured to the Virginia mountains for a brief getaway trip. Their trip included stops in Roanoke, Va and the Peaks of Otter Lodge located by the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Beautiful!
 
They also visited Bedford, Virginia and toured the National D-Day Memorial honoring those who fought and died on D-Day in June, 1945.  Bedford hosts this memorial because Bedford lost more soldiers per capita than any other town or city in the USA during the D-Day invasion of occupied France.
 
Besides sightseeing the Kavitzes loaded up on fruit and honey from a local orchard. Then on to Blacksburg, VA and Jim’s alma mater Virginia Tech. Per Jim, “We also viewed the small duplex we rented while we were there.  Every place we have lived, Janice has planted a tree. In the yard of this duplex was the now 50-foot tall tree Janice planted some 50 years ago.”
 
Their final stop was Abington, VA and the Martha Washington Inn which is over 180 years old and served as a women’s college during the Civil War. Abington is also the home of the Barter Theater, the longest operating equity theater in the United States. This theater was started during the depression by unemployed New York City actors and was based on a “barter” system of trading crops or a hot dinner for a ticket. The Kavitzes enjoyed a varied trip well worth the 6-hour drive back to Williamsburg.
 
New Bern, North Carolina – Mary and Ric Cheston
A 3-hour drive away through rural North Carolina on the banks of the Neuse River lies the city of New Bern – city of bears and the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. Although the ability to visit Atlantic Beach motivated our getaway, New Bern proved to be a charming mix of quaint shops and local restaurants. For history buffs, Tryon Palace in New Bern was the first capitol of North Carolina and home to their general assembly after the American Revolution. New Bern’s historic district features an array of architectural styles including Victorian mansions, Georgian and Greek revival homes. 
 
Eating fresh local seafood was definitely a highlight for us. As part of its Covid-response, the city of New Bern closes two main streets on Friday and Saturday evenings for outdoor dining, adding to the festive Fall scene. Their Covid protections even included this cow at the Cow Café (see photo) known for its homemade ice cream and bovine themed gifts. 
 
The New Bern area displays a variety of lifesize fiberglass bears designed by local artists and initially installed for the city’s 300th anniversary in 2010. This attraction was so popular that about 50 bears remain and you can find them using a Bear Tracks hunt map from the Visitors Bureau. Saturday morning New Bern hosts a Farmers Market with produce and crafts from throughout Craven County. Although smaller than Williamsburg’s, it is a popular market and provided some great butter beans and tomatoes for us to enjoy on our return to New Town.
 
Getaway.house – Standardsville, VA/Shenandoah National Park - Bobbie & Alan Falquet
An article in the Washington Post about getting away during this crazy time peaked our interest.  We certainly were feeling the need for a change of scenery. Someplace not too far away, within driving distance, private, safe, close to pursuits that offer a change of place and pace….we found that through Getaway.house. Their location near Shenandoah National Park in Standardsville, VA, only 30 minutes from Charlottesville, was perfect for our mini-break.  The Scandinavian style cabins are nestled in the woods. Ours was cozy, spotless, and private and the amenities were fantastic.  We took our own food, cooking steaks on a grate over an open fire, and heated up chili on the two-burner stove. 
 
We spent our days exploring and hiking.  The trail along the Mooreman River (see photos) was beautiful and the view after reaching the summit of High Top Mountain was spectacular.  Evenings sitting around the campfire, sipping wine, and making s’mores was the perfect way to end the day. It is pricey but well worth it, plus it was an excuse to stop at Carter’s Orchard in Charlottesville for cider donuts! 
 
Berkley Spring, West Virginia – Kay Grady and Cary Garnet
On Sunday, October 4th, after being in sequestration for 206 days, Kay Grady and Cary Garnet took a "brave" pill and hit the road to Berkeley Springs, WV with a car full of household items and childhood memorabilia to give to their daughter and her spouse who had purchased their first home in Pittsburgh, PA earlier this year. 
 
It was a pleasant and easy 4 hour drive from Williamsburg, with scenic views of leaves just beginning to change, beautiful farmland in Fauquier Co. and roadside Pumpkin Patches filled with families searching for that perfect Halloween pumpkin. 
 
Upon arrival around noon in Berkeley Springs, we met up with our daughter in a bank parking lot to unload our car and load theirs up. The hardest part for all of us was that we could not HUG! Then we took a stroll through the historic downtown area looking into the many store's windows displaying lots of treasures like artwork, jewelry, blown glass, crafts and clothes. In addition to being a historic spa town, Berkeley Springs is an art town!
 
We also decided to have lunch there and chose Tari's Cafe since we could eat outside on the sidewalk. It was the first outside restaurant meal we "retirees" had experienced since March, so we were taught by the younger generation how to eat and have a conversation while dealing with a mask! It was fun to people watch (a guy with a parrot on his shoulder), see the traffic flowing by (lots of motorcycles in and out of town), eat good food and of course, to have a conversation in person with our young'uns!  (We Zoom every Sunday afternoon.)
 
After lunch, we parted ways and headed home. On the way back, we stayed on Highway 17 past Fredericksburg instead of taking I-95 and it added another 45 minutes or so to the trip. Berkeley Springs turned out to be a good day trip meet up spot for our family and we hope to go back again to see more things this charming town has to offer that we didn't have time for this trip - the Ice House Gallery, the Cat Cafe, Cacapon State Park, the list goes on...... 

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

Smart Reasons for Leashing Your Dog in New Town
Patti Vaticano
 
New Town loves its pets, but they are also a frequent source of neighbor complaints – pet droppings, noise, unleashed dogs, etc. All of these situations are addressed in the NTRA Master Declaration Protective Covenants (Section 7.1(x)) and Bylaws (Section 11.1 – Animals). New Town pet owners should familiarize themselves with these requirements including those for use of the common areas in New Town.
 
In the spirit of being good pet neighbors (and avoiding all those complaints and possible penalties), here are some personal considerations for why you should keep your dog leashed and under your control.
 
  • Cars – It’s a devastating moment for all involved when a dog gets hit by a moving vehicle. Even well-behaved dogs may suddenly run in the path of a moving car or not be seen by someone backing up in a parking lot. Parking lots, sidewalks, and roadside excursions are safer with a leash. A leash is your pet’s “Life Line.”
  • Greetings and Salutations – When your pup is leashed and greets another leashed pup, the dogs are usually on good behavior. They know their people are close, and they’ll sniff to say “hi.” If there’s a hint of aggression, you can quickly pull your dog away and defuse the situation.
  • Staying Cleaner – If you’ve ever let your dog run loose in a park or other open space, only to watch in pain as they chased ducks into the muddy lake, then you know what we mean. No one really wants the extra chore of spontaneous bath time with their pooch.
  • Preventing Jumping on Others – Have you ever been at a park (not a dog park, a regular people park) and someone’s off-leash dog terrorizes a toddler eating an ice cream? It’s not that the dog is trying to scare the kid, but can you see how a 3-foot-tall person waving about a popsicle just out of reach of the dog’s face can seem like a game to the one with the wagging tail? No one is making friends with this.
  • Loss Prevention – Dogs who accompany their people on leashes are less likely to get lost. For example, you can stop your dog from chasing after a cat. They won’t go on solo exploratory missions, and you’ll know exactly where they are and what they’re doing.
  • Preventing Them from Eating Something They Shouldn’t – Garbage, offerings from strangers, and non-edibles: we all know dogs explore the world with their mouths, and some of them are very food-oriented. Eating things they shouldn’t can lead to upset tummies and worse.
  • No Accidental Puppies - Not every animal is spayed or neutered, and if a pup gets out of the house and meets up with another animal in heat, well, it doesn’t take long for new puppies to be on the way.
  • Prevents the Spread of Disease – Some dogs like to eat other animals’ “leavings,” and those can carry disease. Such dining is less likely to happen if your pet is leashed.
  • Marks Them as a Pet – Well-trained dogs are a pleasure to walk on the leash, and it identifies them as your pet. Well-behaved dogs with identification are easier to reunite if you somehow get separated.
Source: Courtesy of The Bill Foundation, Beverly Hills, California and The Valley West and Elk Valley Veterinary Hospital, Charleston, West Virginia.
 
Trees Still Grow In New Town
Kathy Mullins
 
Trees connect us with our past and our future.  Their roots are often far deeper than our own; their growth will yield leaves and flowers that bring pleasure to future generations. 
 
The 600-acre property beneath New Town was once farmland, with heavily forested areas, apple orchards, pecan groves, and fields of grain. Most of it belonged to the Carl Casey family. Think of the personalities, organizations, interested parties, and visionaries that came together to create New Town.
 
The late Susan Ford’s excellent summation of the design and development of New Town is recounted in archived issues of The Crier (also summarized on this website’s History of New Town). Susan described the Design Competition that attracted 99 entrants from around the world. Entry packets called for an “innovative, mixed-use planned community” that integrated pleasing environmental assets. Designers were challenged to embrace the vision of a “new urbanism-style design, with shops and businesses, restaurants and homes, all within walking distance of each other. There would be tree-lined sidewalks and bike paths, civic spaces and open spaces, cultural buildings and churches – just as towns like Williamsburg used to have.” 
 
They wanted this new community to become “a landmark development and a national model of the highest quality of the visual, social and economic aspects of town planning.” 
 
From the start, trees were important, carefully selected and strategically placed with the future in mind.  Planners learned about Native trees, visited other communities to appreciate how streetscapes and building design worked together to define neighborhoods.
 
Those residents who moved here in the early years threw their efforts and talent into preserving that bold vision. Homebuyers were attracted to the concept of this livable community, where outdoor amenities were as important as interior style. As the community continues to grow and mature it is helpful to keep that concept in the forefront.
 
Trees are a shared responsibility in New Town-accountability for caring for those on your property differs from park or sidewalk trees. For trees in common areas, think of reporting tree issues as helping, rather than complaining. The Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC) carries out many time-consuming tasks. Having residents take the time to pay attention to needs and issues really can help. Between Covid delays and weather issues, the landscape company fell behind in tree prunings this year. If residents can serve as the “eyes and ears” of the LAC, problems can be identified and hopefully resolved more quickly. Using the Report an Issue ticket system allows for issues to be directed to the proper entity. 
 
Once a ticket is submitted, what happens next depends on a number of factors and requires a great deal of communication between the parties. There are multiple entities involved in some locations. For instance, New Town’s trails have not yet turned over from the developer, New Town Associates to NTRA. Some maintenance is worked out between the NTRA and the New Town Commercial Association. Roper Park, on the other hand, has been turned over but the developer failed to remove many dead trees that NTRA must now budget for.
 
After notification, an LAC member, or in some instances, a Town Management employee, will visit the site, evaluate the situation, then recommend whether to consult the landscape company or solicit bids from vendors. Budgeting for the removal and replacement of trees is the next step, which can delay fixes especially if a tree falls unexpectedly. Trees are a budget priority for 2021.
 
As important as it is to respond quickly to reported “issues,” HOA communities are urged to keep up a regular program of maintenance for tree and landscape features. Specific New Town trees have been identified as being in need of professional attention, but in general the LAC found in April 2020 that most of the residential area trees are in good health.
 
Trees need to be pruned correctly in order to withstand heavy winds and storms. To grow and flower they will require nourishment. Insecticide treatments, protection from freezing temperatures, and mulching are all important. Removing, repurchasing and replanting a tree is more costly by far than maintaining existing ones.
 
There is a downside to calling a tree “dead” and removing it too quickly. Often the soil must be treated. The group of trees planted at the same time will no longer be the same size or age. It takes 5 to 7 years for a tree to mature and that wait may be hard for some residents.  There may be times when the ticket suggests, “tree is dead, needs to be removed” but involving a specialist can actually save the tree and money. That was evident in 2017. An arborist from Bartlett Trees with a great deal of expertise in saving trees recommended pruning and fertilizing 36 failing trees at a total cost of $500 rather than replacing all 36 trees at $500 per tree.
 
Patience, accumulated knowledge and experience, good will and an appreciation for those “roots” that bind our community to a grand vision, will go a long way to dealing with most issues.
 
*Look for next month’s article about choosing, planting and maintaining trees on your property.
 
***********************
TIPS FOR SUBMITTING A TREE TICKET
 
How to submit a ticket: Go to the NTRA website: www.ntrawilliamsburg.org. Explore the main MENU. Under the RESIDENTS tab you will find REPORT AN ISSUE.  Select LANDSCAPE ISSUES in the dropdown box.
 
Identify yourself, using the form provided, and include phone or email contact info in case additional information is needed. 
 
Note tree location. Is it on your property/ other private property/NTRA common area/commercial/ JCC/ developer/ unknown)? You can specify the nearest street address, intersection or other identifying landmarks.
 
What is your concern?  Here are some typical concerns about trees.
1)  Tree looks diseased or dead.  (Describe what you see or take a photo) Are there visible bugs; signs of insect infestation; mounds of sawdust at tree base; discoloration of bark or leaves; fungus, mushrooms or mold at base or trunk; dropping large branches with no new growth. If possible take a photo and include with report.
2) Tree unstable.  (roots lifting above ground, roots causing sidewalk to heave, main trunk is now leaning; tree injured by vehicle, landscape equipment; tree struck by lightning or windburst).  Did you witness injury? Specify date if possible.
3) Tree presents danger to persons or property:  Added risk because:  tree planted too close to a home or play yard; tree leaning into parking area , walking path, roof, or home exterior; tree (or large branch) has fallen across walking path; large branches rubbing on roof or home exterior
4) Tree unsightly:  State visual observations (needs pruning, has dead sections, misshapen canopy, too large for space). If cause is known, please state.  Degradation of tree appearance can result from situations already mentioned, as well as: under- or over-watering; improper pruning; sustained high wind or heavy rain; incorrect fertilization or feeding; bad or insufficient soil; infestations.
 
When should a resident initiate a ticket?   If you see something that seems wrong, submit a ticket.  Problems that continue just make the situation worse.  Early intervention may save a tree.
Board Buzz November 2020
Dick Durst, Director
 
This is called “bath by fire…”  I am the newest member of the Board of Directors for the New Town Residential Association, having been appointed to the seat vacated by Larry Burian’s resignation.  Chuck Stetler, Chairman of the Board, asked me to write this November article based on my experience working with two committees, Activities and Asset Maintenance, since we moved to New Town two and a half years ago.  
 
Community service and participation is very important—not just to me, personally, but to the long-term success of our neighborhood.  We very much enjoy the location and atmosphere we’ve found here, after having had a home in the Williamsburg area for more than 20 years.  The volunteer committees ensure that the quality of life we all enjoy will be maintained; even though the two committee charges (our “charters”) are vastly different.  That has appealed to me, since the Activities Committee is all about the “social” aspects of New Town; providing a way to enjoy the company and camaraderie of our neighbors and friends.  Together we’ve planned pool parties, Kentucky Derby celebrations, Oktoberfest, billiards, Halloween parades, the great Noon-time Talks, and several other events, all designed to bring us together as a community.  It’s a lot of work and the committee needs help to maintain (and expand) those social interactions.  COVID 19 has forced us to rethink the kinds of events we’ve done and I assume that in the future (when life returns to some semblance of social interaction in addition to social distancing) we will discover the “right” blend of those opportunities. 
 
The Asset Maintenance committee charter couldn’t be more different—our charge is to annually coordinate the “inspection” of all of the “built” assets of the New Town Residential Association, including residences of our homeowners and the shared community assets (like the pool buildings, our white fences, and our green spaces), to ensure that all those remain of a quality that is representative of a first-class community and reflect positively on our neighborhoods. 
 
As you are well-aware, many of our homes, beyond those newly constructed in Village Walk, Roper Park, and Shirley Park, are beginning to “come of age.”  Karen and I live in Abbey Commons and our home was built in 2006.  Unfortunately, in developments like ours, builders don’t always use top of the line, first-class materials and equipment, which means for all of us our own personal assets are beginning to need attention.  We’ve just replaced one of our air conditioning units, both inside and outside.  We’ve replaced the flooring in the first floor, had shingles replaced and gutter systems redone.  The paint on many of our homes are beginning to show their age.  I’ve noticed as I walk around New Town that even some of the brickwork is beginning to need attention.  My point is that the volunteer work on the Asset Maintenance committee will become increasingly important as our homes and community assets continue to age. As our committee members reach the end of their terms, it is gratifying to see others step forward to help, but we always need more.
 
There are six additional committees, all staffed by volunteers, that cover most of the aspects of our community, in addition to the Board of Directors (also, all volunteers), so there are so many ways you can contribute.  Those of us who are retired (and seem to have more time to give) also need the balance of younger residents, so that we benefit from all perspectives.  Please think about how you might help?
 
I, along with all Board members, welcome your questions and comments.  See you around the neighborhood!
 
Music Fills the Garden in Foundation Square
Max Pfannebecker
 
Continuing a budding tradition that began a year ago, residents of Foundation Square quietly held a Music in the Garden Event last month in the Children's Garden, tucked behind the Foundation Square building on New Town Ave. Joe's Day Off, led by Jim Duggan, performed in the Garden for a small crowd of just under 30 residents and neighbors.
 
"We just started a year ago before the COVID issue," says Foundation Square resident Jim Kavitz. "Last fall, for the first time, we had Phil Casey (local musician and, coincidentally, former Crier editor) in our lobby, and we all had a great time...and got in several dances. This past June, we had Phil back for another session, outside in our garden, and about 21 of our residents."
 
The event is hosted and funded by residents of Foundation Square and is not a function of the New Town Commercial Association, but Kavitz adds that they are considering inviting all New Town residents who wish to attend to their next event, likely to be held this Spring. Jocelyn Oldham, a solo singer and guitarist, has been lined up to perform at the spring event. 
 
Stay tuned for further announcements on this upcoming happening. 
Posted on October 1, 2020 7:00 AM by 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. 
« previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 next »