Town Crier Articles

Posted on July 1, 2022 5:11 AM by Mary Cheston, President, Board of Directors
Categories: NTRA Business
At its July meeting the Board of Directors will be chartering a working group to examine the condition of the Common Areas in Roper Park/Charlotte Park Phase 11. The developer, Atlantic Homes, expects to have James City County conduct its initial inspection of these areas in a month or two.
 
This Board action is consistent with Policy 5.1 Turnover or Acceptance of Assets. The group will be led by Roper Park resident and Landscape Advisory Committee Secretary Cathy Forestell, and we need 2 or 3 other owners to support her. The group’s role is to “compile and maintain a master record/list of all items and concerns to include such things as damaged concrete sidewalks, aprons and curbing, lamp posts, etc” as well as any items approved on site plans but not installed. Essentially these volunteers are the “eyes and ears” of the Association. 
 
The team's work would be intermittent – an initial inspection and effort to compile the inventory and then followup checks whenever Atlantic Homes completes some corrective action or conditions change in the neighborhood. (It can be several years from the start of the James City County acceptance process to the actual turnover of property to the Association.) As the focal point for the group, Cathy will work with Board liaison Everett Lunsford to communicate concerns to the County.  Any Roper Park owner who is interested in participating should contact Everett at eplunsfo@gmail.com
 
Similar working groups have been used for Charlotte Park Phase 10 and Village Walk to best represent those living and using these areas every day. Our independent engineering firm Giles & Flythe will also review the area especially its bioretention features. Hopefully, these viewpoints will better prepare us for the day when the Association must own and manage this acreage.
 
Posted on July 1, 2022 4:59 AM by Town Crier Staff
Board Buzz—July 2022, By Mary Cheston, President
 
Welcome to the heat of summer! A song from the musical Oklahoma says “June is bustin out all over” and June definitely “busted out” the Board’s work plan as we tackled a variety of new challenges and actions.  
 
Two long-awaited projects have been completed. The Lydias Park Zoysia grass has been installed and the gutters in Village Walk have been cleaned.  A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been issued for a new 3-year landscape contract, and RFPs will be released shortly for the first phase of siding repairs and power washing/painting in Village Walk.
 
The Board completed its review of the November 2021 Member comments on the proposed draft revisions to our NTRA Governing Documents. In late July we expect to receive a revised set of documents from our legal counsel incorporating our agreed changes, and will be moving forward towards a Member vote likely starting sometime in August.
 
Upcoming this month, the final round of home exterior inspections will take place in mid-July in Village Walk. You will also see orange warning cones being installed where sidewalk trip hazards exist, until we have some repair action from VDOT. A VDOT concrete contractor assessed the condition of the sidewalks about 2 weeks ago and we are awaiting VDOT’s decision. Marking the most severe areas is the best we can offer at this time. Please continue to be mindful when walking. 
We are bringing back “tags” for trash can violations as part of our enforcement process. (This approach was last used in 2019.) If you see a yellow tag on your trash can, please take action to appropriately store your can inside your garage or trash enclosure to avoid a fine. Better yet, get in the habit of storing your trash can properly now and avoid seeing it tagged!
 
This month the Board responded to a request from Eagle of VA on behalf of ME Settlers LLC to start the conveyance process for the Common Areas in Village Walk to transfer to the NTRA. The Board has advised ME Settlers that there are numerous corrective actions that remain to be made in Village Walk, and we cannot accept the property in its current condition.  A photo inventory of the deficiencies has been sent to Eagle as well. Much of the information we have compiled is due to the hard work of Village Walk volunteers who served on a Village Walk Asset Acceptance work group in 2020. Many thanks to them for laying the groundwork for the Association’s position.
 
The County acceptance inspection process for Roper Park (Charlotte Park Phase 11) will likely start in the a few months. To help us assess areas needing improvement, the Board will task a working group of Roper Park residents to collect information on site plan discrepancies and needed improvements. Everett Lunsford will be our Board liaison for this group. Any Roper Park Owner interested in volunteering should contact Everett at eplunsfo@gmail.com. We also plan to hire Giles & Flythe for an independent engineering inspection of the Roper Park area.  
 
The Board has initiated a series of neighborhood listening sessions to provide Owners an opportunity to ask questions and share ideas. Our newest communities of Roper Park and Shirley Park were our first audience and although lightly attended, the evening was an opportunity for the Board to get input from some happy Owners – always a nice thing. Look for an email invitation when it is your neighborhood’s turn to chat!
If you can’t make your scheduled listening session, come to a monthly Board meeting. Members are always welcome to attend – see the NTRA website calendar for dates, generally the third Thursday of the month. 
 
So lots and lots of things are going on…What we did not accomplish in June is that we did not welcome a new Board member. There were no applications to fill the advertised vacancy on the Board for someone to serve until December 2023. I cannot stress strongly enough that the next 18 months are critical for setting the future path of the Association. Two more Board seats will open for election in December.  Joining the Board now will help put you ahead on the learning curve.
 
Please seriously consider helping us to tackle these challenges together by sending an application to the Board Secretary, Monique Stevens at ntra.secretary@gmail.com.
 
 
July Activities in the 'Hood
 
From the NTRA Activities Committee:
 
New Town residents enjoyed the first social by the pool this year! On Tuesday June 14, the Activities Committee hosted its first New Town Social at the community pool to celebrate the new season. The evening weather cooperated over old friends meeting new friends, and a good time was had by all. 
 
Our next event at the community pool will take place on Saturday July 16 at noon, and we hope all will join us to enjoy a slice of pizza. 
 
From the New Town Commercial Association (NTCA):
 
Summer Pop-Up Events Continue - 1st Saturdays of the month-- https://newtownwilliamsburg.com/events-news/
 
Join us on Saturday, July 2nd, for New Town's FREE, Ice Cream Social!
12-2pm
 
 
Beat the Heat with a Sweet Treat on us! Located by the Fountain in front of Regal New Town Cinemas.
 
Summer Gardening: Tips and Tricks
by Patty Hancock
 
 
It’s July in Williamsburg, the hottest month of the year with average daily temperatures of 90 plus degrees; August is only a few degrees cooler.  With this hot, humid, sub-tropical climate the beating rays of the summer sun can scorch, burn, and ravage spring plantings.
 
What can be done to beat the unrelenting heat and its toll on gardens?  One easy answer is container gardening.  Containers can be picked up and moved to a shady spot on your porch, patio, or balcony when the sun is baking them.  Fill the planters up with sun-loving annuals that are prolific bloomers and with a little TLC they’ll bloom until the first frost (around Oct. 25).  We live in zone 7b, a gardener’s dream, since it’s easy to grow all but the most tropical plants here.  The trick is to choose plants suitable for this southeastern region.
 
I’m not an expert – only an enthusiast who is sold on big, full, container gardens.  These gardens bring nature to your front door with colorful flowers that attract butterflies, bees (for pollination), and nectar loving hummingbirds.  What a show!
 
After constant experimentation, along with living in New Town for a decade, I’ve discovered tips and tricks to keep full sun annuals blooming in this summer southern oven we love to call home. 
 
~ 5 Tips to Get Started ~
 
1.  Don’t skimp on the container.  The more soil the better the results.  Go Big!
2.  Provide adequate drainage – try small rocks, gravel, or packing Styrofoam peanuts to help keep drainage holes open.
3.  Fill the planter with good soil for big blooms.  My favorite is “Miracle Gro Potting Mix”. 
4.  Choose the right plants for our zone and location.  Full sun (6 hours) or shade?  Heat tolerant?  
5.  Slow and steady fertilizing.  Water with weaker doses of a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks.  I use “Miracle Gro Soluble Plant Food”.   
 
~ Tips and Tricks/ My Top Sun-Loving Container Annuals ~
 
1.  Petunias - look for the Wave variety.  Showy blooms – trim back a little every week for continuous full blooms.
2.  Verbena – pretty clusters of color, a trailer.  They are pollinator friendly plants.
3.  Geraniums – my favorites!  (Along with Thomas Jefferson who helped these beauties gain popularity with his love of their blooms).  Tip; when it gets really hot move them to afternoon shade and pinch back spent blooms daily. Remember, moderate watering-hydrated not saturated… geraniums do not like wet feet. 
4.  Dipladenia – plop it in a container and walk away.  It’s that easy.
5.  Zinnias – attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  Easy to grow in the sun.
6.  Calibrachoa – little trumpets, look like tiny petunias on steroids. 
7.  Dragon Wing Begonia - just one suggestion for a SHADE container, it’s that special.  One and done!
 
There you have it.  Growing a lush, beautiful, sun-drenched planter until fall heads our way is not difficult.  Annuals are on sale just waiting for your green thumb; be creative, experiment, nurture, and most of all delight in your addition to nature’s bounty. 
 
 
Rose Infestations – Please Remove Your Infected Bushes!
By Landscape Advisory Committee
 
Last year Virginia Lawn and Landscape published a newsletter advising Owners that Rose Rosette disease was present in New Town and infecting numerous knockout rose bushes. Owners were asked to remove these plants as soon as possible, however, the Landscape Advisory Committee has found several infected bushes still within the community. This disease travels through the air by mites, so your disease is threatening your neighbors’ shrubbery. 
VLL’s explanation is provided below. 
 
Per Penn State Extension, here is how to remove your infected bushes safely:
“If symptoms such as those described above are seen on ornamental roses, the entire plant, including the roots, should be removed and destroyed. Either burn or bag for disposal. Take steps to reduce spreading mites during the disposal process. It is recommended that a bag be placed over the entire plant before removal. Cut the plant at ground level and tie the bag. Then dig out the entire root system and bag and dispose of it, too. Leaving any roots in the soil can keep the virus alive.”
 
Here are some photos (see original article on NTRA website for photos) of what the rosette disease looks like. If you are not sure whether your bushes are infected, submit a ticket through the NTRA website “Report an Issue” and ask one of our Committee members to drop by and advise you. Let us help you identify and eradicate this problem. 
                        
You may receive a “friendly” notice from us if we see this condition on your property. So spread the word and not the disease, and help us to root out this situation in New Town!
 
Meet Your Lifeguards
By Sarah Carey
 
Please welcome and introduce yourselves to our lifeguard at the pool.  Tahje Tulloch is from Kingston Jamaica.  He is your lifeguard every day except Friday, his day off. 
 
Tahje finds the community very friendly and nice. He enjoys listening to music and reading. His favorite dish from Jamaica is one his brother, who is a chef, created. It is a type of sweet and sour chicken and very delicious.
 
When the pool is  closed on Tuesday for cleaning and on Friday Tahje’s day off, you may see Kristoff Virgo or Ricardo Mowatt.
 
Answers to most resident questions about the pool can be found on our website:
Other FAQs (Scroll down to "Pool FAQs")
 
Twenty Reasons Why We LOVE New Town!
By, New Town Commercial Association
In Celebration of 20 Years in James City County, we’re celebrating 20 Reasons Why We LOVE New Town! And don't miss the the New Town Promotional Video... you may see several of your neighbors!
 
20 Reasons Why We LOVE New Town
 
  1. Public Events (most of which are FREE!) - concerts, outdoor markets, family friendly pop-up events, community walks and runs, and lots more! 
  2. A variety of walking and biking trails linking the entire community, inclusive of parks and inviting green space
  3. The variety of restaurants and food types available 
  4. Convenience to Busch Gardens, Water Country, Jamestown & Yorktown Parks and attractions 
  5. Open-air Main Street Shopping Mall
  6. The combination of residential options -  traditional homes, garden apartments, town & carriage homes, condominiums, live-work loft apartments all designed within a street grid pattern to foster community interaction
  7. Lots of Entertainment - Axe throwing, a movie theater, billiards room, sports & live music at restaurants 
  8. The ease of access to City & County Courthouse, US Post Office & other Government offices right across the street
  9. A wide variety of salons, fitness centers, day spas and other personal services
  10. The perfect setting for your private events - The ability to book a private event/wedding right at Legacy Hall & Sullivan Square for an indoor/outdoor celebration, or reserve a space at one of the many restaurants!
  11. A nationally recognized pre-school in the community
  12. Santa Claus comes to New Town for Free Visits & Pictures
  13. The ease and access to so many medical and dental offices
  14. 3 miles to Colonial Williamsburg 
  15. Banks, Credit Unions and other financial institutions all within the community
  16. FREE & Convenient Parking; Park in one place and do all of the above and more. If you live here you can do it all, and walk home on a well lit street with sidewalks.
  17. Adjacent to the campus of The College of William & Mary
  18. Electric Car Charging Station x2
  19. The beauty and sound of the iconic fountain
  20. Life Happens Here - A Welcoming Community for ALL TO GATHER!
 
Quick getaways: Wing a Ding Ding festival, Richmond
By, Jim Ducibella
 
From our files of useless information, Americans ate 1.3 billion – yes, billion – chicken wings during this past Super Bowl.
 
If you missed your chance to join the party, fear not. The original Wing a Ding Ding Festival is coming to our state capital on July 16 at Richmond Raceway on East Labernum Street. And you don’t have to sit through hours and hours of football and (mostly) lousy commercials to enjoy the goodies.
 
Event organizers promise they’ll provide more than 30 kinds if wings – Hot Nashville, Cajun Spicy, Crunchy, Southern Fried, Crispy Korean, Mild, Medium, Hot, XXXtra Hot, I-Been-To-Hell-and-Back Hot.
 
And that’s not all. There will be fried chicken aplenty, all of which can be washed down with your choice of craft beers, hard cider, wine or good ol’ fashioned soda pop. They might even have water. They say the food is prepared by top chefs and food vendors.
 
The festivities begin at 11:30 a.m. and run until 9 p.m. There are six different levels of tickets, ranging from $15 to $45.
 
Some finger-lickin’ history: Fried chicken wings have been a Southern staple for years and years. But the idea of smothering them in peppery hot sauce was born in Buffalo, N.Y., at the Anchor Bar, an establishment still going strong. In 1964, bar owner Teressa Bellisimo began cooking chicken wings as a late-night snack for her son and his friends.
 
How did she come by the wings? She ordered them by mistake, thinking she was getting chicken necks, which her husband used in making his spaghetti sauce. Trying to make the best of a bad situation, she began frying them after coating them in pepper sauce.
 
Hopefully, all of her mistakes turned out so well.
 
For more information on Wing a Ding Ding Festival, visit this website https://allevents.in/richmond/cajun.
 
Working Group Forming for Future Roper Park Transition
By, Mary Cheston
 
At its July meeting the Board of Directors will be chartering a working group to examine the condition of the Common Areas in Roper Park/Charlotte Park Phase 11. The developer, Atlantic Homes, expects to have James City County conduct its initial inspection of these areas in a month or two.
 
This Board action is consistent with Policy 5.1 Turnover or Acceptance of Assets. The group will be led by Roper Park resident and Landscape Advisory Committee Secretary Cathy Forestell, and we need 2 or 3 other owners to support her. The group’s role is to “compile and maintain a master record/list of all items and concerns to include such things as damaged concrete sidewalks, aprons and curbing, lamp posts, etc” as well as any items approved on site plans but not installed. Essentially these volunteers are the “eyes and ears” of the Association. 
 
The team's work would be intermittent – an initial inspection and effort to compile the inventory and then followup checks whenever Atlantic Homes completes some corrective action or conditions change in the neighborhood. (It can be several years from the start of the James City County acceptance process to the actual turnover of property to the Association.) As the focal point for the group, Cathy will work with Board liaison Everett Lunsford to communicate concerns to the County.  Any Roper Park owner who is interested in participating should contact Everett at eplunsfo@gmail.com
 
Similar working groups have been used for Charlotte Park Phase 10 and Village Walk to best represent those living and using these areas every day. Our independent engineering firm Giles & Flythe will also review the area especially its bioretention features. Hopefully, these viewpoints will better prepare us for the day when the Association must own and manage this acreage.
 
Front Porch Chat: A New Crier Feature
By, Patti Vaticano
 
Hello, New Town Neighbors!  This is a brand-new Crier column for our readers that I hope will be a fun and entertaining collaborative effort between us.  Emphasis on collaboration, as most importantly, it is a column intended to bring us closer as neighbors of New Town and fellow-residents of James City County, the second oldest county in the country, by the way, trailing by only 2 years after Eastville, Virginia in 1634.  
 
Before I introduce you to the concept of this feature, I need to write that its launching is a harbinger, of sorts, for NNO—National Night Out— which will take place throughout the country on August 2nd.  On that date, our local Police Department has invited all neighborhoods to join them in an evening outdoors to encourage community relations between neighbors and neighborhoods. Their direction is to turn off your TVs and “turn on your porch light.” You can read more about it at https://jamescitycountyva.gov/civicalerts.aspx?AID=5257.
 
As you can see, the column’s title is, “Front Porch Chat,” and that is what it intends to be:  a chat between neighbors sitting on their front porches of a summer’s evening or on a crisp autumn day when skies are tri-colored and the trees the same. It's that perfect front-porch setting in your mind where one can share neighborhood news, curious facts (current and historical, like the county fact above), recipes, household, auto and PC hacks, poems, funny stories, even songs with others--all geared to generate laughter, good-natured fun, and a sense of well-being and peace with one’s neighbors. Think small town America—‘cause that is what New Town really is, all of us neighbors, all of us connected, all of us “in it,” together.
 
A little hokey, you’re thinking?  Perhaps.  But if hokey, according to its definition, means “sentimental,” “good-natured,” “old-fashioned,” and even “corny,” well, why not? Harmless silliness that makes people smile or chuckle, or makes them think fondly of someone or something, imparts to them new knowledge perhaps sorely needed—or simply makes them grateful for what they have.   I think we can all do with a little of that.  I’m hoping you do, too. 
 
So, what can you contribute to our “chats” for this feature?  For the most part, anything well-meaning and sent with the best of intentions to impart knowledge, to inform, to give curious pause to thought, or simply to delight or entertain will be most welcome. 
 
Each month, I’ll be rocking on the front porch waiting for you to begin our “chat.”  Please send your contributions, big or small, to ntratown.crier@gmail.com for inclusion in next month’s Front Porch Chat! Be well!
 
Your neighbor,
Patti Vaticano
 
Please enjoy this selection of "chats" to get us started! 
 
Jokes:  What is Forrest Gump’s email password?   1forrest1
 
Poems:                                                     
EARLY BIRD
by Shel Silverstein 
 Oh, if you're a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you're a bird, be an early, early bird—
But if you're a worm, sleep late.
 
 
Historical Fact:   Ketchup was sold in the 1830s as medicine. Fifteen years later, it was sold as a cure for an upset stomach by an Ohio physician named John Cook. It wasn’t popularized as a condiment until late in the 19th century.
 
Curious Happening:  In 2014, Australian native Ben McMahon spent a week in a coma following a car accident. When he awoke, the English speaker instead spoke fluent Mandarin.  He had studied the language previous to his accident, but not with any serious intent.
 
Household Hacks:  Coffee grounds mixed with dish soap and boiling water will unclog drains. 
 
PC Hacks:  To fix a flashing battery light on your laptop, press Fn+H on your keyboard.  VIOLA!  No more flashing light!
 
Recipes:  Watermelon Ice Tea--Watermelon is a popular fruit of summer, and this tea recipe is a nice way to use up any extra melon you may have left over. It's very easy to make and requires that you blend the melon with a little mint and lemon to create a watermelon “aqua fresca (cooling waters)”.  From there, it's as simple as adding freshly brewed black tea.
 
Pet Care:  
 
To keep pets safe during firework demonstrations:
Keep license, microchip, and tags up to date
Secure and double check gates and entrances
Close windows and play calming music or white noise
Stay with pets during fireworks to comfort them
Ask your vet about calming medication when needed
 
 
Volunteer Spotlight: Ken Fones-Wolf
By, Jim Ducibella
 
We found Ken Fones-Wolf minding the pot of gold at the Spring potluck gathering at Chelsea Green Park.
 
OK, so the reality was he was minding hot dogs sizzling on a kettle grill. But he was helping his wife, Elizabeth, with the affair, underscoring Fones-Wolf’s desire to meet people in New Town – or elsewhere – via a variety of volunteer activities.
 
But first, some background on Ken and Elizabeth, both originally from the D.C. area.
 
They came to Williamsburg following 30-year careers in the History department at West Virginia University. Ken specialized in labor and social history, particularly the intersection of religious belief and working-class activism. Elizabeth, a former department chair, focused on different aspects of 20th century political, economic, and social history, especially the struggle between organized labor and business to shape the ideas and images that constituted America’s political culture.
 
Their co-authored work, Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South: White Evangelical Protestants and Operation Dixie won the Organization of American Historians David Montgomery Book Prize, and was among numerous articles, books and editing works in which both were engaged.
 
In retirement, they were looking to settle in a place conveniently located to their daughter in Virginia Beach and their son in Northern Virginia. Having come from a college town, coupled with their interest in history and proximity to Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary, made New Town an appealing option.
 
“We came down, and it just seemed like the perfect place for us,” he said.
 
Ken believes there is value in volunteering – for several reasons. There’s the obvious, contributing to the community in which you live. But it is also an excellent way to meet new people.
 
“We’ve always felt very fortunate in our professional lives,” he said. “But it made us aware that we wanted to give back – and (volunteering) helps us stay active, keep our minds going.”
 
In the past he has volunteered at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation as a gallery docent and done archival work for the Yorktown branch of the operation. Last winter he traveled twice a week to Virginia Beach to help his daughter coach his grandson’s basketball team.
 
“That was a great chance to do something with my daughter,” he said. “I’d (previously) coached her in basketball, and she called and asked if I wanted to do this. I wasn’t crazy about driving to Virginia Beach twice a week, but it was a great experience.”
 
He’s also an avid participant in a senior softball league that plays twice a week, and once that season concludes he plans to volunteer at a local food bank.
 
“One of the guys I play softball with is involved in the House of Mercy,” he said. “His wife is, too. I’ve thought about that because there’s a real need. That was one of the things that surprised me because you walk around, and you don’t see much evidence of need.”
 
“You ask people what they do, and they say they play pickleball or they play golf. I love to play softball, but if that was the extent of what I did, I’d feel like I wasn’t giving much back. That would be hard for me.”
Posted on June 1, 2022 7:00 AM by Mary Cheston, President, Board of Directors
Categories: NTRA Business
 
The NTRA Board of Directors (BOD) has accepted the resignation of Director Laura Loda who has stepped down due to personal circumstances. Laura wrote, “During my all too-brief tenure, I have found the Board to be an effective and dedicated group. I believe we have made some significant progress during the first half of the year, and I have no doubt that the group will continue to do so in the months to come. This is a simple case of competing priorities and limited time.”
 
I am personally very grateful to Laura for her calming presence and ability to cut to the chase. Laura took on the challenge of rolling out the new pool entry system for our 2022 swim season and our community is in her debt. Even with Laura’s departure the NTRA enjoyed 5 months of consecutive leadership since last December’s Board election - a record since the transition to homeowner control!
 
VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT
 
The Board is now seeking a volunteer to fill Laura’s remaining term which expires December 31, 2023 (18 months). If interested, please submit an application by email to:  Monique Stevens, Board Secretary - ntrasecretary@gmail.com 
 
Your application need not exceed one page and should include your: 
  • Name, address, contact information 
  • NTRA neighborhood (see below), and 
  • Qualifications for Board membership (for example: prior NTRA Committee service or other relevant experience), any biographical or other information you wish to include.
  • A short statement of why you are interested in serving on the Board of Directors.  
(See NTRA policy 1.0 “Vacancy in the Board of Directors”.) 
 
All applications received by June 22, 2022 will be considered for appointment.
 
As a reminder, our Bylaws (Article IV, Section 4.1) state “No more than two directors may be owners in the same neighborhood.” Current directors are Mary Cheston (Charlotte Park), Jack Espinal (Abbey Commons), Everett Lunsford and Glen Mitchell (Village Walk). However, as of mid-June, Glen is relocating to a home in Charlotte Park. So the Board can consider applicants from any neighborhood except Charlotte Park.
 
The Board is currently addressing a variety of significant issues and will be moving forward towards a vote on the Governing Documents revisions. Each Board member serves as a Board Liaison to one or more of the eight standing NTRA committees.  As volunteers we take on the responsibility to govern, budget, enforce, mediate, supervise operations and maintain grounds by working with vendors and our management company. Most Board work is done by email and monthly meetings. Other questions on what is involved? Please email Monique. 
 
Serving on the Board is a challenging commitment for anyone, but it also gives you direct impact and influence on how Association business is handled. We hope each NTRA owner will seriously consider stepping up to serve. We are building a strong foundation for the future of our community - join us!
Posted on June 1, 2022 6:20 AM by Jack Espinal, NTRA Board Vice President
Categories: NTRA Business
 
NOTE: This article was originally written by NTRA Board Vice President Jack Espinal and includes responses from the Whitmore Company (Brennan Raab and McLean Gordon) who were provided an advance draft of the article for review. Responses have been slightly edited for clarity. 
 
The original James City County plan for the wooded lot behind Sullivan Square was for a fashionable, boutique hotel. For 19 years this property has remained vacant, and the New Town community was built up all around it. The lack of investors and a downturn of the hotel market in Williamsburg has forced the property owner to revise the planned use for this area. Instead of a hotel, the Whitmore Company plans to develop the property into a one- and two- bedroom apartment complex. These upscale, luxury apartment units and associated amenities will be designed to appeal to young professionals.
 
The Planned Apartment Complex. The Whitmore Company plans to construct four buildings on the site. Their plan places a four-story building with 54 apartments on Shannon Place adjacent to Sullivan Square. This building will house a lobby, administrative office, clubhouse, billiards room, pool, and fitness center for the use by Manor on the Green residents. 
 
Two additional three-story buildings will be constructed on the sides of the property. One of them will be located on Center Street and the other will be on Foundation Street. Each of these buildings will have 24 single-bedroom apartments. The fourth building, a two-story carriage house, will be constructed along Lydias Drive. It will contain four large, two-bedroom apartments built over multiple enclosed private garages. According to the developer, the luxury units in the apartment complex will provide an amenity-rich place for young, upwardly mobile professionals as well as for people opting to downsize from larger homes. 
All of the buildings in the complex will have elevators for access to the upper floors. One hundred and twelve parking spaces, “screened from public view,” for their residents’ use will be located in the center area between the four apartment buildings. The complex will be served by three entrances: one on Center Street another on Lydias Drive and a third on Foundation Street.
 
The Developer. The Whitmore Company has experience in building and managing high-quality, multi-unit housing in the Portsmouth and Hampton areas. They have specialized in both new construction and adapting older historic buildings for residential use. Once constructed, the Whitmore Company stays on to manage the properties for its investors. This business plan makes it less likely that the surrounding community will be left with unsolved problems after construction is completed. The Whitmore company has a good reputation for the management of its rental properties. They also provide on-site management availability 24 hours a day and include a daily valet trash pickup service for their renters.
 
Whitmore Company perspective
 
In addition to Hampton and Portsmouth, members of the Whitmore Company were also the original developers of High Street in Williamsburg. With High Street being a local property, the members of the association will be able to appreciate the level of quality of construction and architectural design that was put forth and evident in the retail buildings and the Sterling Manor Apartments. We also developed and manage properties in Norfolk and Newport News that are considered to be Class A, market-rate apartments. They achieve some of the highest rents in Hampton Roads due to the exceptional level of services from our management staff and the amenities we provide. 
 
Community Concerns 
 
The New Town Residential Association (NTRA) Board of Directors has several major concerns regarding the development of this property. Board representatives recently met with Whitmore Company management and have raised the following issues with the developer. 
 
Insufficient Parking. Parking for the residents is a major concern for New Town. As planned, the apartment complex will have a negative impact on parking in the surrounding community.  Street parking in this area is already in short supply. The current Manor on the Green plan provides only 112 parking spaces for the planned 106 residential units. It does not consider or address tenant families that will have more than one automobile, visitor parking, parking for development employees, and delivery/services parking. 
 
The plan also mentions the use of 36 street parking spaces located around the perimeter of the site as well as the use of other parking spaces in New Town for use by its apartment residents. Parking in the area around the proposed construction site is already scarce, especially at night, and will only be made appreciably worse when the apartment complex is occupied. While this plan may meet the James City County parking requirements for New Town, it would not be prudent to build this apartment complex without including additional dedicated parking for its residents. 
 
Whitmore Company perspective
 
We will refer to the Amended and Restated NEW TOWN SECTION 2 AND 4 DESIGN GUIDELINES, James City Counth, Virginia, dated July 31, 2003. These design guidelines state:
 
“Primarily this town should ‘encompass a more urban and humanistic approach to the design of buildings and public spaces’ than the more common suburban patterns which have resulted in an alienating environment in many areas, thus serving as an ‘enduring model for growing American communities.’”
 
The guidelines go on to say:
 
“Throughout these guidelines, references to a ‘village character’ are used to describe various elements and conditions of the new town… A village is primarily residential but contains other uses and services to provide for the daily needs of its residents. A village has a center with a mix of uses (including residential) and is organized about a system of interconnecting streets and public open spaces. A village is a pedestrian environment. Uses orient toward streets and open spaces, avoiding enclave development, while parking is accommodated on the streets or behind the buildings. A village is walkable, with centers of activity of public space usually with a 10 minute walk from residential areas and consists of a density of development which encourages proximity of uses.“
 
This excerpt is quoted at length because it is a reminder that the guiding principle of New Town has always been to create a walkable community that embodies “village character”. In fact, these same guidelines go on to define the parking requirements for all future development within New Town by explicitly stating that the minimum parking requirement for residential is 1 space per unit, and the maximum is 1.5 spaces per unit, “in order to ensure a more urban level of development.” In our plan for the Manor on the Green development, we have stayed below that maximum while providing more than the minimum of 1 space per unit, as required by the guidelines and approved by James City County, which has reviewed the New Town parking requirements for this project and multiple previous projects. We are highly confident that 115 spaces is more than adequate, as we have tried to honor the village character that is so essential to New Town.
 
Stormwater Mitigation. Currently the stormwater that falls on the Manor on the Green site percolates through the soil where it is naturally filtered. However, this development will make the site largely impervious to water and create large amounts of runoff which will be directed into an already stressed stormwater management system.  The short- and long-term impact of this additional runoff has not been fully addressed in Whitmore’s conceptual plan.  Whitmore advised us that the current stormwater system was designed with a building in mind; however, they will research the condition of this existing infrastructure considering issues raised by the Board.
 
Sewer System Capacity. The sizing and capacity of the existing sewer system was developed to support a hotel and not apartments. Constructing an apartment complex in place of a hotel will bring two or three times more people into the area to use the existing underground infrastructure. The planned residential apartments will include 106 kitchens as well as 106 laundries that were not considered or included in the original plan for the construction of a hotel. This will create a significant increase in wastewater that must be handled by the existing sewer system. It is unclear whether the existing sewer capacity is sufficient to support the development of an apartment complex of this size given our community's current experience with sewer system problems. The Board has raised this concern with the developer. It should be addressed by the Whitmore Company and James City County prior to construction. 
 
Construction Impact on the Existing New Town Infrastructure. The tree clearing process, the site development, and the subsequent construction will create a large volume of traffic in and out of New Town.  Much of this additional traffic will include large trucks with very heavy loads. This heavy vehicle traffic will cause significant wear and tear on our roads, curbs, and walkways and has the potential for significant damage. The Whitmore Company monitors the before and after condition of their sites, in order to return any damaged roadway areas to good condition. However, this impact is not just immediately adjacent to the construction site but will also be along whatever arteries the construction traffic uses for access and egress. This wear and tear as well as any damage that may occur to our existing infrastructure during the construction phase will need further discussion among all parties.
 
Whitmore Company perspective
 
The original infrastructure for New Town was designed with the flexibility to accommodate the unknown nature of the future development of the community. While the use for this particular site was previously envisioned as a hotel, the currently proposed apartment building fits within the overall framework of the original development matrix. As is the case with all developments, the design civil engineer is working with James City County to ensure compliance with all state and local design requirements. 
 
According to AES Consulting Engineers, the licensed civil engineer for the project, the drainage systems and ponds within New Town were conservatively designed to accommodate the maximum impervious coverage for each parcel. In the case of the apartment parcel, the site was originally envisioned with a high amount of impervious surface and the apartment development has less impervious coverage than was anticipated in the original design. The drainage from the site discharges to two different retention ponds which were both designed to handle the flows from this parcel. 
 
Regarding the sewer, AES Consulting Engineers and JCSA both have confirmed that the present system has adequate capacity to handle the proposed sewer flows for the apartment community. 
 
Regarding the streets, almost all the roadways within New Town are public VDOT roads. Some of the roadways are still in a developer warranty period but are outside of the maintenance responsibility of the NTRA. The only items that are an exception are the paver sidewalks and crosswalks which are within maintenance easements. 
 
Time Frame
 
The Whitmore company is working on architectural renderings for the site.  The clearing of trees from the property will be an environmental loss to our community and we asked for their landscaping plans to consider maximizing greenery. Later this summer we expect that representatives will come to New Town to discuss their more detailed development plans with members of our community. We welcome this dialogue.
 
While we have always known that this property would eventually be developed, we must do everything we can to ensure that the development has a minimal impact on the quality of life for those currently living in New Town and reduce any negative impact on visitors who use the outstanding restaurants, retail stores, theater, and other facilities both during and after construction.  Having a vibrant rental option in our midst could help to keep our commercial businesses stable.  It is the Board’s hope that the Whitmore Company will work with us to satisfactorily resolve any issues that impact our community. 
Posted on June 1, 2022 6:00 AM by Rebekah Roberts
Categories: NTRA Business
 
In 2015 Phil and I retired to New Town and “village life” in Charlotte Park, specifically Ercil Way. It’s been wonderful. Alas, as in most neighborhoods there have been some problems. We have experienced the constant free flow of water down Ercil that causes slipping and sliding in the winter and some mushy yards in the summer. Drainage is a problem as are sink holes. Understanding what will happen when this section of New Town transitions from the Developer is very important to us.
 
The May 10th special meeting of the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) Board brought the community up to date on past concerns and the issues still needing repair in Charlotte Park Phase 10. There were about 20 residents in attendance. 
 
The Board had hired Giles and Flythe Engineering Company to assess the common areas. Zach Shephard, Regional Manager, presented open issues with recommendations from the January County and Giles and Flythe inspections. They were as follows:
  1. The continual problem of rushing water down Ercil Way. According to Board President Mary Cheston, James City County will have to approve an engineering fix to these foundation drain discharges which ABVA is preparing.
  2. Determine the cause of paint peeling on the Olive Drive fence along the wet pond. Recommendation: Secure a paint professional to evaluate proper surface type and paint the coating accordingly to maintain a coating on the Olive Drive fence with a one-year warranty. 
  3. Remove loose vegetation from wet pond along Olive Drive. 
  4. Repair cracked asphalt section at handicapped ramp at Olive Drive and Lucretia Way.
  5. Repair cracked curb sections along Lucretia Way and the curb inlet concrete section of Olive Drive and Ercil Way.
Permeability testing should also be considered by the Association. Zach noted that James City County had tested the bioretention basin at Christine Court and conducted some post-rainfall testing at the Olive Drive wet pond to ensure they were functioning properly. 
 
The Giles and Flythe report had estimated the cost of remaining repairs at approximately $59,000. ABVA, the Developer, reported via email that some of this work has been completed and the only two issues still needing attention are the Olive Drive fence along the wet pond and the seepage issue on Ercil Way.
 
From the community comments, there were other actions and/or recommendations for the Board:
  • Obtain a letter from James City County (JCC) indicating structures were built according to County specs.
  • Conduct camera imaging for the storm water system to see if the moving of water to BMP is functioning properly. It appears that JCC requires this for new areas, like Shirley Park, but not older developments. The Board will check into this.
  • Understand what NTRA must do to properly maintain assets, especially these stormwater systems (Chesapeake Bay Act).
  • Ask ABVA to sealcoat the alleys before turnover.
The Board is in the process of getting bids for the regular maintenance of all BMP/Bioretention ponds (including the Olive and Casey Blvd. wet ponds). Also, consideration of any sealcoating will await the resolution of the Ercil Way drainage situation since excavation may be required. 
 
Ultimately, the NTRA must make a determination that these areas are “in a condition acceptable to the Association.” (Section 4.9 of the Amended Master Declaration).
Posted on June 1, 2022 5:50 AM by NTRA Emergency Preparedness Committee
 
This year the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean and circulation patterns in the ocean look remarkably similar to the way they did in 2005 -- the year the category 5 Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.  Consequently, we may anticipate a similarly active and devastating hurricane season this year.  
 
Hurricane season is June 1 until November 30 with peak hurricane season from mid-August to late October.  
 
Now is the time to initiate planning and preparations to help ensure the safety of our community and that of our families.    
 
 
NOAA will provide several days advance notice as well as the projected track of each major storm in the Atlantic. This gives us time for a possible evacuation or to prepare to weather the storm in New Town. 
 
Here are some tips to consider:  
 
Advance Planning Preparations 
  • Photograph or video your home and belongings for possible future insurance claims.
  • Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes so you are ready to leave New Town, if necessary.
  • Plan to take your pet/s with you and identify where you will stay (friend, family, hotel) inland in case you evacuate -- the further you are from the ocean the slower the winds will be.  
  • Build a Hurricane Kit for use if you stay or evacuate.  
  • Keep your car’s gas tank filled.    
Immediate Preparations (as time permits)
  • Consider putting duct tape on windows to lessen flying glass.
  • Secure outside items -- windblown objects create damage. 
  • Fill your bathtub with water to use for toilet flushing.
  • Move important items to higher floor.  
  • Protect property from flooding and water damage by moving items to a second floor and protecting them with plastic bags.
  • Plan on taking your animals with you if you evacuate.
Hurricane Kit:  At a minimum consider including these items in your kit: 
  • Extra cash (ATMs may not be operable)
  • Keep batteries charged
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries (or a hand crank radio)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • First-aid kit 
  • Tool kit
  • Duct tape
  • Utility knife 
  • Medications (seven days or more)
  • Nonperishable food for seven days or more
  • Manual can opener
  • Drinking water (7 gallons per person / a seven-day supply)
  • Pet supplies to include food, water, medications, collar & leash, current photos, proof of vaccinations, etc.    
  • Important documents (IDs, lease, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.)
  • Toiletries and sanitation supplies
  • Change of clothes
  • Blankets
Prepare now and have peace of mind that you and your family are prepared when the weather forecast announces an approaching hurricane.  
Posted on June 1, 2022 5:45 AM by Town Crier Staff
 
On May 12, 2022, VDOT released the results of its traffic study of Casey Boulevard and Center Street.
“VDOT has reviewed the intersection for safety improvements needed and whether a four-way stop is appropriate for this intersection.  Based on the traffic volume disbursement between the two roads it was determined that a four-way stop is not recommended for this intersection.”
 
VDOT found that Center Street carries approximately 20% of the total volume of Casey Boulevard “which is not consistent with the guidance for a multi-way stop condition.”
 
The review did determine that the line of sight for northbound Center Street is obstructed.  As a result, “VDOT will be taking measures to help improve this situation by relocating the stop bar.” Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Lawn and Landscape have already taken steps to trim trees and/or remove shrubs blocking the line of sight in the intersection, per VDOT’s recommendations.  
 
In mid April, the Board of Directors also submitted to VDOT a detailed photo inventory of the damaged sidewalks throughout New Town in hopes of receiving repair attention in VDOT’s next budget cycle. Unfortunately, VDOT remains adamant, as reported at last year’s Annual Members Meeting, that their other traffic priorities will not permit it to address this situation now. Tracey Lassiter, VDOT’s Williamsburg Operations Manager responded:
“…Please understand that we currently have 550 outstanding work orders. That means that I have 550 current unsatisfied customers.  Immediate roadway safety concerns are our first priority.  These are things such as potholes, dead animals in the roadway/right of way, vegetation causing sight distance issues, missing or damaged roadway stop/yield signs, drainage issues that cause water to flood the roadway, etc.   I will have someone review the sidewalk concerns as time and priority allows.”
 
VDOT repeated that it will not take responsibility for sidewalks uplifted by tree roots.
“VDOT cannot be responsible for these types of repairs because it requires the removal of the existing sidewalk slab, the removal of the tree root (which may kill the tree), and the repouring of a new concrete slab.  If the tree is not removed, the roots will very quickly push up the sidewalk yet again.  Unfortunately VDOT does not have the resources for these types of potentially recurring problems.  Should the tree be cut down/removed, VDOT could provide a repair or slab-repour.” 
 
VDOT also believes based on previous visits that some sinking slabs are being caused by home drainage systems, e.g."the homeowner's downspout/black pipe which was draining at the sidewalk location causing voids and settling of the slab.  If the homeowner removes the pipe, VDOT can then consider a repair.  Sprinkler systems also cause sidewalks to settle/crack.  Again, VDOT cannot consider a repair until the sprinkler system is removed.”
 
We will continue to keep the community informed if any progress is made with VDOT in the coming months. New personnel are onboard at the Williamsburg Office and some corrective actions may be possible. Otherwise, expensive decisions may await the Association. Continue to watch your step when walking in our community!
Posted on June 1, 2022 5:40 AM by NTRA Landscape Advisory Committee
 
Dog owners, what would you do for a year of free dog treats? 
 
Would you encourage your pet to do his business on the mulch instead of grass?
 
Would you pick up after your pet and deposit in the designated dog stations?
 
Would you show respect for your neighbors by not letting your dog trespass into flower beds and private yards?
 
Well, fortunately most of you do these things already without needing to be rewarded. If, however, you are one of a growing number of dog owners who are letting your dog roam on private property, damage the grass and seasonal flowers with urine, and leave poop for someone else to pick up, then this plea is for you. Allowing your dog to do his business in your neighbor’s yard, even if you pick it up, is not OK.
 
Please consider your neighbor’s property and our community’s appearance when walking your dog. You won’t be getting free dog treats, but you will earn much gratitude from the rest of us!
 
Posted on June 1, 2022 5:20 AM by Kate Licastro
 
It's not you, it's me. You're great... really. I'm just not looking for a commitment right now. Have you thought this about volunteering on one of our many New Town Residential Association (NTRA) Committees? HAVE I GOT A DEAL FOR YOU?! 
 
First, the benefits. A recent post on Indeed.com, Benefits of Volunteering: 10 Reasons to Volunteer summarizes some of the mood-boosting, purpose-providing benefits of volunteering in your community. Beyond adding to your sense of purpose and community, volunteering can help you meet new people, improve self-esteem, get you out of your comfort zone, and be FUN! 
 
You may be thinking, "sure, but volunteering simply doesn't fit into my spontaneous lifestyle. I can't be tied down." Introducing, the NTRA short-term, one-time, if-I-am-in-town, sounds-like-fun, volunteer assembly! This exclusive assembly will be contacted in times of need (e.g. community events that need additional support, help getting the word out about important news, etc.) 
 
One immediate and ongoing opportunity is to be a guest-writer for the New Town Crier! Have you taken any fabulous or unusual trips? Do you have a favorite festival to visit? Do you want to share interesting news about the community? Do you have great New Town photographs to share? You can write one article or several throughout the year; it's up to you! 
 
Commitment is hard; volunteering doesn't have to be! Contact ntratown.crier@gmail.com if you're interested.
 
Posted on June 1, 2022 5:10 AM by Town Crier Staff
 
The New Town Community Pool is now open through Labor Day. The pool is closed on Tuesdays and daily hours are posted on the NTRA website calendar.
 
To use the pool, residents must have a new electronic pass. ALL users must review the 2022 pool rules and sign an acknowledgement form before being eligible to receive a pass. 
 
Many, many thanks to our volunteer Pool Committee and our community manager, Anne Ingram and her admin staff for their efforts to organize, label and distribute about 800 passes so far. 
 
If you are an owner in the New Town Residential Association and have not picked up your pass, contact Chesapeake Bay Management (757) 706-3019 for an appointment to do so.  Tenants - work through your property owner or property management/rental company to obtain a pass. New Town condo residents should reach out to their property management company for information.
 
With the Covid-19 virus still circulating, please be mindful of others and keep your distance while using the pool. Let’s all make the lifeguard’s job easier by following the pool rules. Happy swimming! 
 
Pictured below: Pool pass distribution 2022 with our amazing Pool Committee volunteers! 
                                    
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