Town Crier Articles

Posted on May 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Jim Ducibella
If you are a golfer – or maybe just someone with an interest in sports history – the Golf Museum at James River Country Club has just what you’re looking for.
 
Among hundreds of other artifacts detailing the game’s earliest days are a Simon Cossar putter from 1790, the world’s oldest identifiable club.
 
One of the oldest golf balls? It’s there behind glass. So is a long-nosed putter made by Old Tom Morris, the putter used by Horace Rawlins to win the first U.S. Open in 1895, and the clubs and bag used by Harry Vardon when he won our Open five years later.
 
The best part: it costs nothing – repeat, nothing -- to see them.
 
How did this Museum come to be in Newport News, hardly a golf mecca?
 
Around 1930, philanthropist Archer M. Huntington, then principal owner of Newport News Shipyard, worked with Homer L. Ferguson to build the city’s Mariners Museum. At the same time. Huntington offered to build a country club for some local businessmen.
 
They declined.
 
Undaunted, Huntington then offered to build a Museum at the club. Once approved, Huntington dispatched an employee of Scottish descent back to his home country, tasking him to return with as many items as he could purchase. At that time, people didn’t collect golf artifacts, so Huntington’s man brought back a treasure chest that the Museum added to when items fit its mission to display items from about 1860 to the early 1930s.
 
The Museum owns the “brassie” (2-wood) used by the legendary Bobby Jones to win golf’s Grand Slam. It also has in its possession the oldest book referencing golf, a 1556 volume of Scottish laws called The Black Arts. That’s one of more than 1,000 volumes in the collection.
 
While spacious, the room housing the Museum is intimate enough that it is a popular venue for wedding receptions, meetings and other events. That being said, it is imperative that visitors call first to ascertain that the museum is not in use. The phone number is (757) 595-3327 (clubhouse).
 
The Museum is located at 1500 Country Club Road in Newport News, not far from Christopher Newport University. For more information on the Golf Museum and James River Country Club, visit this website https://www.jamesrivercountryclub.com/Default.aspx?p=DynamicModule&pageid=320702&ssid=213212&vnf=1.  

 
 
Photo courtesy of the Golf Museum at James River Country Club.

 
Posted on May 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Alison Douglas
Categories: Life in New Town
School may not be over, but planning for summer camps has started and programs are filling up fast.  Not to fear, there are still a lot of choice available across Williamsburg if you are interested in taking part.  Last summer it felt a bit like choices were limited, but this year feel different with in-person and virtual options available.  
 
I’m from the U.K. where Summer camps are still in their infancy, so this is reasonably new for us.  While we are here and so long COVID restrictions allow us, we are keen to experience the Summer camp experience.  My kids are 4 and 6 and are looking forward to activities at WISC including gymnastics and Junior Ninja Warrior.  We see it as a chance to try something new as well as giving the children to meet new people.  
 
If you are still trying to decide what would be right for your children, Williamsburg Summer Camp Fair 2021 will be held on Saturday, May 15, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Chickahominy Riverfront Park and hosted by Williamsburg Families. This year’s fair will be held outdoors and in conjunction with another County event, known for this year only as ‘See-A-Truck’.  To find out more, please visit https://www.williamsburgfamilies.com/williamsburg-summer-camp-fair/
Posted on May 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Jim Ducibella
There are big changes ahead for the swimming pool -- but most will occur after the 2021 swim season has concluded in September.
 
In the meantime, the pool is scheduled to open on Saturday May 29, Memorial Day weekend. Hours will be Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday and holidays from, 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. On Saturdays, the pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
 
Again this year there are numerous Covid-19 stipulations, outlined by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), that will be enforced similar to last season. Among other requirements, updated by the State on April 8, 2021, is that there be 10 feet of separation between households, and that occupancy is limited to 75 percent of capacity. Swimmers should maintain 10 feet of distance between other swimmers who are not family members.
 
Two lifeguards will be on duty each shift, one specifically focused on Covid-19 requirements: sign-in, ensuring forms are signed, maintaining documentation, and disinfecting areas. Although lifeguards will not take the temperature of pool guests, they will collect and review screening forms from guests unless it interferes with the lifeguard’s primary responsibilities.
 
Among the screening questions asked: 
  • Have you had a positive test for the virus that causes Covid-19 in the prior 10 days, or known exposure to a Covid-19 case in the previous 14 days?
  • Are you currently experiencing a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, or a sense of having a fever? 
  • Do you have a new cough, shortness of breath or chills that cannot be connected to another health condition? 
  • Do you have any muscle aches that cannot be attributed to another health condition or specific activity such as physical exercise?
 
As far as the pool’s physical plant is concerned, you may have noticed that the water has been emptied. In preparation for the 2021 season, half of the frames and grates will be replaced as required by law. The remaining grates and frames won’t be done until after the season. 
 
The pool pergola is also being repaired. This involves power washing the structure and replacing some rotted joists. Most of the structure will be repainted, except for the new wood that must season. So if you see a half-painted pergola, don’t worry. In the Fall after the wood has seasoned, it will also be repainted.
 
Concrete is being added to replace the plantings closest to Roper Park within the pool area. The Landscape Advisory Committee recommended expanding the hardscape to provide more access for chairs and eliminate dying vegetation.  
 
After the upcoming season, a major pool renovation will be undertaken. Bids and contractor discussions are underway. The job is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $50,000. It includes, but is not restricted to, the resurfacing of the pool, recharging filters, cleaning and lubricating of push-pull valves, replacing four skimmers and recaulking the pool perimeter.
 
Finally, a contract will be signed with a pool company to do a winter servicing, including regular checks. This servicing will preclude the pool from being emptied and completely refilled at the beginning of each season, normally about a $3,000 expenditure.
 
Most of these expenses are covered by the NTRA Replacement Reserves. Originally planned for 2023, the pool renovation timetable was moved up based on inspections that revealed faster deterioration than predicted. Our community pool first opened in 2012 and hopefully its refurbishment will keep us swimming safely for years to come. 
 
 
Posted on May 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Patti Vaticano
Categories: Life in New Town
Contracting with a home warranty company can be a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it is tremendous peace of mind to know that when an appliance or home system fails, the repair will only cost you the designated co-pay you have contracted for with the home warranty company. On the other hand, warranty insurance for the full replacement of big ticket-items, like the replacement of your home’s HVAC system, may fail you in the end.  Home warranty contracts often have small print in place that may leave you holding the bag for the entire replacement—and often, you don’t see that contract until you’ve signed up for your plan.  A questionable practice and a bait-n-switch, of sorts, as the online plans you are able to read through when selecting a company are mere outlines of the actual plan you will be buying into. There is currently a sizable class action suit in progress, spearheaded in one place by the Attorney General’s Office of Arizona, against a high-profile home warranty company for regularly evading the replacement of spent appliances and home systems by using contractual loopholes and technicalities to evade their commitment to their insured homeowners.  In researching the suit for this maintenance article, it was learned that even the top-rated home warranty company in the country has only a B- rating with the Better Business Bureau.  In comparison with the other companies out there, however, it shines.  Not very encouraging, making it all too likely that the peace of mind you are paying for will fail you in the end.  And the letdown will be a sizable hit to your pocket.  The cost to replace an HVAC system, on average, is $7,000, with a range between $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the size of your system and where your home is located.
 
So, what is a homeowner’s option?  Well, regular maintenance of your HVAC system to give it the longest life possible may buy you the time you need to bank those home warranty premiums so the replacement cost is at hand and under your own control when the inevitable happens.  A simple checklist, followed faithfully every year and pared with diligent saving, may be the best solution to this home warranty dilemma.
 
Change Your Filters
Changing your air filters every 1-3 months is an easy task and a tremendous aid in keeping your HVAC system performing at its optimum level. If you have allergies or pets in your home, you may consider replacing your filters more often. A filter rated MERV 7-11 is recommended.  A filter offering more resistance will reduce airflow and put unnecessary strain on your system, negatively affecting its efficiency. Filters to an air purification system should be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and ductless systems require their filters be cleaned or changed, as well. 
 
Clean Your Condensing Unit
Most air conditioners have an outdoor condensing unit/heat pump sitting outside with a fan on top to disperse heat in the summer. The metal fins on the condensing unit frequently get clogged with dirt, pollen, and yard debris. Once each season, spray the outside of the unit with a water hose to clean it. Pressure washing is not advised as it will permanently damage your unit.
 
Create Clearance Around Your Outdoor Unit
Clear away all build-up of leaves and vegetation that will interfere with the air flow of your outdoor unit. Trim bushes or trees around your unit, giving the unit a clearance of 2 feet on every side. Monitor cottonwood trees, especially, as they give off excessive pollen and can seriously clog condensing units.
 
Check the Drainpipe and Drain Pan to Your Evaporator Coil
Check your HVAC system’s drainage pipe and pan often and clear away any blockages of algae or mold that sometimes build up within the system. You can vacuum out any clogs and clean all surfaces with bleach. Failure to maintain your drainage system may result in severe water damage inside your home, especially if your system is in your attic.  If this is the case, there are “ceiling savers,” the homeowner can install, devices that will switch the system off if a blockage is detected. 
 
Call in a Professional for Regular Maintenance
Contract with a licensed professional to perform preventative maintenance on your system twice a year to flush coils, check the drain pan and drainage system, vacuum the blower compartments, check voltage and refrigerant levels, assess furnace operation, and look for loose or worn-out wiring. Spring and fall are the best times for these service checks to take place.
 
If you have had a positive experience with a home warranty company who replaced your HVAC system without any contention, please share it with your New Town neighbors, if you would.
Posted on May 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Maxwell Pfannebecker
Nope. It's not just me. It's those pesky sinkholes that pop up here and there near streets and sidewalks. We've all seen them, so let's review what to do and how to report, and why it is taking so long for their repair.
 
What we can tell you is that the Board of Directors has been in contact with supervisors at VDOT over the past three months, each time a new hole appears. According to VDOT, several Williamsburg area communities built in the last 15 years are experiencing similar sinkhole issues from stormwater runoff and construction designs for underground utility tunnels which exacerbate erosion. As a result, each new hole goes on a waiting list for investigation and repair. The holes near Foundation Street and Casey Blvd took many months to be filled, but other holes in New Town are even farther down VDOT's list. Budget constraints are causing long VDOT delays, but the key point is to report what you see. 

This isn't a new issue, so we're going to revisit an article posted a few months ago in the December Crier by reprinting it below.
 
New Notes
Report issues to VDOT at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/ even when you’re not sure which entity is responsible. In the event that the the repair isn’t theirs to make they will typically respond quickly and let you know the status or let you know that the repair does not fall under their maintenance obligation.
 
The sinkhole near the intersection of Casey Blvd and Settler's Market was reported to VDOT in January & a response was received within a few hours directing us to contact JCC Public Works and included contact info. The report to JCC was directed to Settlers Market management, and the hole was roped off until it was filled. When in doubt, report to VDOT and they will direct you to a solution. Remember, the more frequently an issue is reported to VDOT or JCC, the faster it tends to get attention. 
 
 
(REPRINT)
 
Who Maintains Your Streets & Sidewalks - Reporting Issues 
Crier Article from December 2020
 
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 the New Town Residential Association.
 
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 isn’t theirs to make they will typically respond quickly and let you know the status or let you know that the repair does not fall under their maintenance obligation.
 
Casey-Rutland adds that more residents reporting an issue with streets or sidewalks usually leads to a more timely repair.
Posted on May 1, 2021 6:59 AM by Town Crier Staff
BOARD BUZZ May 2021
Mike Reilly, Director
 
Smorgasbord: 1. a buffet offering a variety of hot and cold meats, salads, hors d'oeuvres, etc.
2. a wide range of something; a variety.
 
This is the official definition but for this Board Buzz article, you can throw out the culinary definition. This article will focus on a smorgasbord of updates from your Board of Directors. 
 
Inspection: careful examination or scrutiny.
 
And that’s what is taking place in our annual AMC Exterior Inspection, for 2021, of the Savannah Square and Abbey Commons neighborhoods. The 2021 inspection process commenced on March 1st with the first inspection of townhomes and notification of violations were sent out so that homeowners could begin planning for their action on the necessary corrections. On April 5th, the second inspection was conducted and after these two inspections and notifications, 75% to 80% of homeowners have responded by taking care of the issue or providing their plan of correction. The final inspection will be conducted on May 3rd and those items that have not been acted upon, either by correcting the issue or by providing a corrective action plan, will be cited for non-compliance and face potential penalties. 
 
This is a busy time for contractors so actual completion of work may not take place until much later, into the summer months. Some homeowners facing the need for shutter painting are trying to coordinate, with adjoining townhome owners, the timing of painting of all shutters. This will maintain a uniform appearance and a much better “curb appeal”. So, remember that the important thing to do is respond and not remain silent.
 
Aqua Zumba: the performance of aerobic exercise in water such as in a swimming pool. Done mostly vertically and without swimming typically in waist deep or deeper water, it is a type of resistance training.
 
The Board has approved a contract to open the pool for the 2021 season on Memorial Day weekend; we will be following Virginia’s Covid requirements.
 
Back by popular demand, the 2021 summer season will, once again, include Ironbound Gym’s ever-popular Aqua Zumba classes at our community pool. The classes will be conducted on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s beginning Tuesday, June 15th and continuing through September 2nd. A couple of major details about timing are yet to be determined. If there are no Covid space limitations, then there will be one class starting at 9:30 AM. If Covid space limitations are in effect, then there will be two separate classes: 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM. Stay tuned!
 
Volunteer: a person who works for an organization without being paid.
 
April was “National Volunteer Month”, and we wouldn’t want this to pass without expressing our heartfelt thanks for all that our New Town Residential Association Volunteers do to help make our community the special place that it is. Did you know that this community is primarily governed and run by the volunteer homeowners who call this wonderful place home? New Town needs support in so many ways and luckily, we are able to find the talent from the members who live here. Let’s take a look at the scope of work that our volunteers generously provide to their neighbors.
 
Activities Committee: These neighbors work diligently to bring the community together in fun and meaningful ways by providing events and activities that allow us to gather and celebrate our diverse backgrounds and interests. Due to Covid, many events have been brought to a screeching halt. Finally, the committee will be able to plan events that bring us together as our society begins to open up under our States relaxed guidelines.
 
Architectural Review Committee (ARC): These volunteers review all architectural requests for improvements by homeowners to ensure that modifications are in keeping with the special look of our neighborhoods and that they are in compliance with our NTRA documents.
 
Asset Maintenance Committee (AMC): This committee oversees the annual home inspection process so that maintenance needs are highlighted as a reminder to homeowners of work needed to bring their home back into compliance. Like individual homeowners, the HOA must ensure that common areas that are in need of repair are held to the same standard. These volunteers conduct an annual community inspection of all Neighborhood Common Areas so that repair needs are noted, and repairs can be scheduled. 
 
Communications Committee: When I was in business, the number one issue that was always highlighted as a problem was “communication” – the need for more and better. Communications encompasses so much and is almost impossible to fully get your arms around. The dedicated neighbors who serve on this committee do a tremendous job in managing the communication necessary to keep all informed.
 
Emergency Preparedness Committee: Often we are caught off guard when an emergency occurs. There are plenty of things that homeowners can do to mitigate loss and harm by being prepared in emergency situations. Luckily, we have neighbors who help us to keep the idea of “being prepared” in the forefront of our minds when emergencies are on the horizon or surprise us. Thankfully, this committee outlines the precautions and steps that we can take to protect ourselves in times of emergencies.
 
Finance Committee: This committee does much of the number crunching and analysis work required to ensure that our assessments (income) meet the operational and long-term needs (expenses) of our community. Some might view this service as “too much like work” but I assure you that it provides volunteers a unique insight into the nuts and bolts of the NTRA organization
 
Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC): Our biggest single expense is landscaping. Additionally, landscaping touches each of us in a very personal way. Our real estate investments are enhanced by what I like to call “curb appeal”. Landscaping, along with the work of the ARC and AMC help to keep New Town crisp and our investments more secure.
 
Pool Committee: Memorial Day is around the corner and the members of this committee have spent time preparing for a smooth opening. They look to enhance the pool experience for all, and they do much to ensure the safety, especially, with meeting or exceeding Covid protocols. 
 
Ad Hoc Volunteers: There are times when work needs to get done and our homeowners step up and volunteer to take on the task. 
 
Board of Directors: This group of Members serve to provide direction to the Management Company, Legal Counsel and our Committees so that all of the needs of the community are being met. Members are voted into this body and when positions open before their tenure ends, they are filled by a vote of the incumbent Board of Directors. 
 
There is always a need for members on these committees. Being on a committee allows you an opportunity to use your skills to serve your neighbors. The New Town Residential Association is dependent on our volunteers, past, present and future!!! 
 
Our community relies on your dedication and diligence and we say, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all that you do in the service of others. You are the UNSUNG HEROES!!
 
 
Our Governing Documents - Dust Off Those NTRA Binders, Changes Are In the Works
Stuart Dopp
 
Remember the big fat notebook? The one you received when you bought your home in New Town? Or perhaps you received e-files or a link to the NTRA disclosure packet? Did you find it so fascinating that you read each and every page? In the midst of buying, building, selling, clearing, and traveling from out of town, I felt good that I scanned the developer’s documents, reviewed the salient points with the realtor, and then found a place on the bookshelf for the notebook.
 
Fast forward to 2021, when responsibility and control has shifted from the developer to the New Town Residential Association. As I sift through the old documents, I realize how outmoded most of our Declarations have become. They were written, of course, for the developers, so must be revisited with an eye to owners’ governance. The overarching Master Declaration defines and details the terms used in the documents, and many sections start with statements such as, “The developer reserves the right….” Section II is devoted entirely to the Developers’ rights regarding not-yet-developed additional areas that they owned as Class B members, which ended in April, 2020. In a minor example of the inefficient documents now in use, the Master Declaration expounds at length on “Limited Common Areas,” exclusively for the use of a small group of homes. Actually, there are none, but the verbiage creates confusion. The Master Declaration also sets up general purposes and terms for assessments that are carried into some but not all Supplemental Declarations, so there is great need for clarity. 
 
Our governing documents clearly need an upgrade to reflect our new status and needs. Thanks go to our diligent NTRA Board, who are in fact reading every page and will be undertaking the needed revisions with the help of an attorney. We can all look forward to a set of documents that accurately reflect our policies and situations with consistency, transparency, and fairness. Changing these documents ultimately requires a vote —- including yours. More information will be forthcoming, so stay tuned…
 
Know Your Business: Spotlight on Home-Based Businesses in New Town
It was great to get submissions from our local entrepreneurs! Please keep them coming as we will extend our spotlight into New Town's home-based businesses to our June issue CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR BUSINESS
 
Little Foxes - Gina Marquis
My husband and I recently moved to New Town this year and love it so far! Along with us, we’ve also brought my home-based yarn dyeing business: The Little Foxes. ️
I am originally from NJ, but met my husband in college - he grew up in Williamsburg and his family still lives here as well. We’ve lived in northern NJ/ NYC for the past 5 years and recently bought our first home in New Town! I have been dyeing and selling yarn for almost 3 years now, along with designing knit and crochet patterns, sewing project bags, and recently started creating related accessories with resin!
 
Sweet Ellie Photography & Wagging Tails - Nicole Moyer & Michelle Daikos
These two businesses are collaborating as two women-owned small businesses to offer a fun package for a walk/groom/photos. I am a pet photographer (new to the area) and have purchased a townhouse in Pogonia Towns (can't wait for it to be done)! Michelle is a homeowner already living in New Town.
 
Triangle Skateboard Alliance 510(c)(3) - Max Pfannebecker
Triangle Skateboard Alliance (TSA) is a New Town based 501(c)(3) created with the mission to build and improve skate parks in and around Virginia's Historic Triangle and create a culture of service in the skateboarding community. The group is currently building a new skate park in Middlesex County slated to open this June and is working with James City County on a future expansion of the skate park located on Longhill Road at the JCC Rec Center.
 
Additionally, TSA is hosting their first youth skate camp at James City County Rec Park this June 21-15 - signup link HERE
 
The Bright Solutions - Sarah Bright Yaneza
Sarah Bright Yaneza operates a consulting firm that provides accounting and financial management support to not for profit organizations. I started this business in the DC area in 2008 and carried it to Williamsburg when we moved here in 2018. 
 
Becky's Basket Shop - Rebecca Butler
Becky’s Baskets Shop is my new ETSY business, started during the pandemic.  Before Covid, I had been selling my handmade pine needle baskets at street fairs and teaching classes at the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center.  All of this came to a halt when the pandemic hit, so I had to reinvent my business for the online world.  Based on my experience teaching classes, I developed kits for those who wanted to learn pine needle coiling.  I opened a small shop on ETSY in June 2020 and started selling the kits as well as some of my own completed baskets.  Eventually I added prepared pine needles and exotic wood basket centers for those who wanted to move beyond kits and design their own baskets.  I was surprised by the popularity of my little shop and now think of it as a major part of my home-based business.  I am looking forward to participating in craft fairs again this spring and summer.
 
3- Day Bike About, LLC - Deana Sun
My home-based business is 3 Day Bike About, LLC. My business partner, Cynthia Bashton, and I organize small, 3 day bicycle tours in small towns in Virginia to support a local charity and the local economy. The events are limited to 400 participants and take place over a 3 day weekend (Friday/Saturday/Sunday). Cynthia lives in Richmond so we do a lot of planning remotely.
 
This year’s tour will be here in Williamsburg on June 18-20 at Chickahominy Riverfront Park. On Friday, the riders will take the Virginia Capital towards Richmond. On Saturday they will take the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry to Chippokes Plantation State Park and ride in Surry. On Sunday the routes visit various parks in the area, such as Freedom Park, York River State Park and Waller Mill Park. We offer both short and long routes in order to accommodate all cyclists.
 
10% of all registrations and 50% of all sponsorship money will be donated to The Arc of Greater Williamsburg this year.
 
Quick Getaways -- Golf Museum, James River CC, Newport News
Jim Ducibella
 
If you are a golfer – or maybe just someone with an interest in sports history – the Golf Museum at James River Country Club has just what you’re looking for.
 
Among hundreds of other artifacts detailing the game’s earliest days are a Simon Cossar putter from 1790, the world’s oldest identifiable club.
 
One of the oldest golf balls? It’s there behind glass. So is a long-nosed putter made by Old Tom Morris, the putter used by Horace Rawlins to win the first U.S. Open in 1895, and the clubs and bag used by Harry Vardon when he won our Open five years later.
 
The best part: it costs nothing – repeat, nothing -- to see them.
 
How did this Museum come to be in Newport News, hardly a golf mecca?
 
Around 1930, philanthropist Archer M. Huntington, then principal owner of Newport News Shipyard, worked with Homer L. Ferguson to build the city’s Mariners Museum. At the same time. Huntington offered to build a country club for some local businessmen.
 
They declined.
 
Undaunted, Huntington then offered to build a Museum at the club. Once approved, Huntington dispatched an employee of Scottish descent back to his home country, tasking him to return with as many items as he could purchase. At that time, people didn’t collect golf artifacts, so Huntington’s man brought back a treasure chest that the Museum added to when items fit its mission to display items from about 1860 to the early 1930s.
 
The Museum owns the “brassie” (2-wood) used by the legendary Bobby Jones to win golf’s Grand Slam. It also has in its possession the oldest book referencing golf, a 1556 volume of Scottish laws called The Black Arts. That’s one of more than 1,000 volumes in the collection.
 
While spacious, the room housing the Museum is intimate enough that it is a popular venue for wedding receptions, meetings and other events. That being said, it is imperative that visitors call first to ascertain that the museum is not in use. The phone number is (757) 595-3327 (clubhouse).
 
The Museum is located at 1500 Country Club Road in Newport News, not far from Christopher Newport University. For more information on the Golf Museum and James River Country Club, visit this website https://www.jamesrivercountryclub.com/Default.aspx?p=DynamicModule&pageid=320702&ssid=213212&vnf=1.  

Know Your Rules: Fences and the Quandary They Create for Our Community
Mary Cheston, Board of Directors and David Carter, Chair, Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC)
 
The Rules – Mary Cheston
 
Did you know that under our governing documents no routine landscape services (mowing, edging and trimming of grass or trimming of shrubs, trees and bushes) are to be provided within any fenced area in New Town? This is the standard language contained in 17 of the 21 Supplemental Declarations* for the neighborhoods of our residential community. All homeowners acknowledged receipt of this information when their homes were purchased.  Yet since New Town’s early days, the Association has been acting in violation of its requirements and maintaining the entire yards of its residents, fenced or not. 
 
Why was this limitation put into the governing documents? Perhaps it was seen as a cost saving measure or a way to limit the number of fences in our community, the rationale is not apparent. But regardless of its origins, we have provisions in our documents that should be enforced. The courts have ruled that failure to enforce a covenant does not waive it. In fact, Article 9.3 of our Master Declaration includes a statement that failure to enforce any provision of the Declaration or its Supplemental Declarations does not constitute a waiver. Since early 2020, the Association has been advised by counsel that the services should be discontinued until our governing documents are changed.
 
Changing this language to accommodate the existing practice is not within the power of the Board of Directors. Why can’t the Board of Directors just pass a resolution with a new policy? The only way that our Association’s highest level governing documents (Master Declaration, Supplemental Declarations and Bylaws) can be amended is through a 2/3 vote of the Members of the Association. So to continue with landscaping, these fence provisions must be reconsidered during our future NTRA governing document revisions. 
 
The Landscape Perspective – David Carter
 
In 2021 New Town’s landscape services are again being provided by Virginia Lawn and Landscape. In an effort to balance homeowners’ expectations for services and to provide efficient and quality service to all, it's important to understand a few basic principles of the services rendered. To begin, services are provided for the benefit of all homeowners in New Town, for single family homes with larger lot sizes, townhomes which share contiguous lots and townhomes with only common areas that are maintained along with all of the other common areas. The cost basis and time constraints required to provide services is always a challenge.
 
The landscape crew's time is allotted to accommodate all of New Town's over 350 acres, and this requires managing a variety of environments. One of these is fences. Depending on the fence type, trimming takes a lot of time and precision and slows crews, which often impacts the work schedule. Mow too close and you create wear patterns in the turf and the blades of grass, and even the fence posts can be problematic. Homeowners have experienced damage to fence posts from mowing equipment. They expect the landscaper to repair them. Uneven ground also makes it difficult to mow and trim grass at a consistent height and increases the risk of cutting into the ground. Because our landscaper follows recommended heights for optimum turf, and to avoid the up and down adjustment of multiple pieces of equipment, a standard setting for mowers is utilized. Trimming around flower beds and tree rings in smaller fenced areas is also time consuming and labor intensive. Oftentimes hardscape inside or adjacent to fenced areas may include rocks, boulders, or pavers with knee walls, all of these take additional time and care. Crews are trained how to handle these situations, but there's no question, this takes considerable time and effort which was not factored into the VLL contract with the NTRA. 
 
The Quandary
 
So, the NTRA is providing services that are not permitted in our governing documents and are creating problems for both the homeowner and the contractor, what should be done?
 
The most direct and legal resolution of this issue is to stop providing these mowing and pruning services within fenced areas. Homeowners would still be entitled to landscaping maintenance outside the fenced areas, but would be responsible for their own landscaping within their fences. The Board of Directors may need to correct this situation soon. It is certainly not an easy decision and will create turmoil. We recognize this is painful, and therefore, want to build awareness and consider options prior to strict enforcement.
 
How long should we give owners to make other arrangements for their fenced area landscaping? Can we provide the service as an extra amenity with conditions? One option might be to provide landscape maintenance service at an extra fee (a limited common expense assessment) to those with fenced yards. Perhaps the Association should require fences to have mulch under the fence posts so that grass is distanced from the fence in order to qualify for landscaping and reduce potential damage (currently this practice is recommended by the LAC and Architectural Review Committee for construction of any new fences.)
 
The ultimate solution is to consider what our policy as a community should be, and fix our documents accordingly.  What should we say about fences and landscaping in our revision to our governing documents that the Board is starting? 
______________
* Four of 11 Charlotte Park Supplementals are missing the applicable section relating to services. These omissions are administrative errors that need to be fixed during the NTRA governing documents revision.
 
 
Planning for Summer Camps
Alison Douglas
 
School may not be over, but planning for summer camps has started and programs are filling up fast.  Not to fear, there are still a lot of choice available across Williamsburg if you are interested in taking part.  Last summer it felt a bit like choices were limited, but this year feel different with in-person and virtual options available.  
 
I’m from the U.K. where Summer camps are still in their infancy, so this is reasonably new for us.  While we are here and so long COVID restrictions allow us, we are keen to experience the Summer camp experience.  My kids are 4 and 6 and are looking forward to activities at WISC including gymnastics and Junior Ninja Warrior.  We see it as a chance to try something new as well as giving the children to meet new people.  
 
If you are still trying to decide what would be right for your children, Williamsburg Summer Camp Fair 2021 will be held on Saturday, May 15, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Chickahominy Riverfront Park and hosted by Williamsburg Families. This year’s fair will be held outdoors and in conjunction with another County event, known for this year only as ‘See-A-Truck’.  To find out more, please visit https://www.williamsburgfamilies.com/williamsburg-summer-camp-fair/
 
Pool News for This Season – and Beyond
Jim Ducibella
 
There are big changes ahead for the swimming pool -- but most will occur after the 2021 swim season has concluded in September.
 
In the meantime, the pool is scheduled to open on Saturday May 29, Memorial Day weekend. Hours will be Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday and holidays from, 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. On Saturdays, the pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
 
Again this year there are numerous Covid-19 stipulations, outlined by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), that will be enforced similar to last season. Among other requirements, updated by the State on April 8, 2021, is that there be 10 feet of separation between households, and that occupancy is limited to 75 percent of capacity. Swimmers should maintain 10 feet of distance between other swimmers who are not family members.
 
Two lifeguards will be on duty each shift, one specifically focused on Covid-19 requirements: sign-in, ensuring forms are signed, maintaining documentation, and disinfecting areas. Although lifeguards will not take the temperature of pool guests, they will collect and review screening forms from guests unless it interferes with the lifeguard’s primary responsibilities.
 
Among the screening questions asked: 
  • Have you had a positive test for the virus that causes Covid-19 in the prior 10 days, or known exposure to a Covid-19 case in the previous 14 days?
  • Are you currently experiencing a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, or a sense of having a fever? 
  • Do you have a new cough, shortness of breath or chills that cannot be connected to another health condition? 
  • Do you have any muscle aches that cannot be attributed to another health condition or specific activity such as physical exercise?
 
As far as the pool’s physical plant is concerned, you may have noticed that the water has been emptied. In preparation for the 2021 season, half of the frames and grates will be replaced as required by law. The remaining grates and frames won’t be done until after the season. 
 
The pool pergola is also being repaired. This involves power washing the structure and replacing some rotted joists. Most of the structure will be repainted, except for the new wood that must season. So if you see a half-painted pergola, don’t worry. In the Fall after the wood has seasoned, it will also be repainted.
 
Concrete is being added to replace the plantings closest to Roper Park within the pool area. The Landscape Advisory Committee recommended expanding the hardscape to provide more access for chairs and eliminate dying vegetation.  
 
After the upcoming season, a major pool renovation will be undertaken. Bids and contractor discussions are underway. The job is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $50,000. It includes, but is not restricted to, the resurfacing of the pool, recharging filters, cleaning and lubricating of push-pull valves, replacing four skimmers and recaulking the pool perimeter.
 
Finally, a contract will be signed with a pool company to do a winter servicing, including regular checks. This servicing will preclude the pool from being emptied and completely refilled at the beginning of each season, normally about a $3,000 expenditure.
 
Most of these expenses are covered by the NTRA Replacement Reserves. Originally planned for 2023, the pool renovation timetable was moved up based on inspections that revealed faster deterioration than predicted. Our community pool first opened in 2012 and hopefully its refurbishment will keep us swimming safely for years to come. 
 
Opening of New Town Maintenance Building Expected This Month
Crier Staff
 
The joint maintenance building at 5585 Discovery Park Boulevard is nearing its final approval for occupancy. The concept of having a storage building in New Town for supplies, decorations, and maintenance equipment was first discussed in November 2014. Various alternatives were explored over the years including a “community building” until the New Town Residential Association (NTRA) Board of Directors and the New Town Commercial Association (NTCA) Board agreed to focus on storage, especially a location for the gators and equipment used to maintain the community. A variety of delays, including Covid-related interruptions, affected the building’s originally projected July 2020 completion – electrical work, landscaping installation and JCC permitting were the final steps. According to Tim Grueter of Town Management, “Once the builder receives the certificate of occupancy, the building will be turned over to the NTCA and the NTRA can start to move things in.” The Discovery Park Boulevard site was purchased by the NTCA and the NTRA will pay a user fee for storing materials in the building under the terms of the 2015 Amenities Use Easement and Agreement (aka Shared Amenities Agreement.) 
 
Home Maintenance Series: Maintaining a Healthy HVAC System
Patti Vaticano
 
Contracting with a home warranty company can be a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it is tremendous peace of mind to know that when an appliance or home system fails, the repair will only cost you the designated co-pay you have contracted for with the home warranty company. On the other hand, warranty insurance for the full replacement of big ticket-items, like the replacement of your home’s HVAC system, may fail you in the end.  Home warranty contracts often have small print in place that may leave you holding the bag for the entire replacement—and often, you don’t see that contract until you’ve signed up for your plan.  A questionable practice and a bait-n-switch, of sorts, as the online plans you are able to read through when selecting a company are mere outlines of the actual plan you will be buying into.  There is currently a sizable class action suit in progress, spearheaded in one place by the Attorney General’s Office of Arizona, against a high-profile home warranty company for regularly evading the replacement of spent appliances and home systems by using contractual loopholes and technicalities to evade their commitment to their insured homeowners.  In researching the suit for this maintenance article, it was learned that even the top-rated home warranty company in the country has only a B-rating with the Better Business Bureau.  In comparison with the other companies out there, however, it shines.  Not very encouraging, making it all too likely that the peace of mind you are paying for will fail you in the end.  And the letdown will be a sizable hit to your pocket.  The cost to replace an HVAC system, on average, is $7,000, with a range between $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the size of your system and where your home is located.
 
So, what is a homeowner’s option?  Well, regular maintenance of your HVAC system to give it the longest life possible may buy you the time you need to bank those home warranty premiums so the replacement cost is at hand and under your own control when the inevitable happens.  A simple checklist, followed faithfully every year and pared with diligent saving, may be the best solution to this home warranty dilemma.
 
Change Your Filters
Changing your air filters every 1-3 months is an easy task and a tremendous aid in keeping your HVAC system performing at its optimum level. If you have allergies or pets in your home, you may consider replacing your filters more often. A filter rated MERV 7-11 is recommended.  A filter offering more resistance will reduce airflow and put unnecessary strain on your system, negatively affecting its efficiency. Filters to an air purification system should be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and ductless systems require their filters be cleaned or changed, as well. 
 
Clean Your Condensing Unit
Most air conditioners have an outdoor condensing unit/heat pump sitting outside with a fan on top to disperse heat in the summer. The metal fins on the condensing unit frequently get clogged with dirt, pollen, and yard debris. Once each season, spray the outside of the unit with a water hose to clean it. Pressure washing is not advised as it will permanently damage your unit.
 
Create Clearance Around Your Outdoor Unit
Clear away all build-up of leaves and vegetation that will interfere with the air flow of your outdoor unit. Trim bushes or trees around your unit, giving the unit a clearance of 2 feet on every side. Monitor cottonwood trees, especially, as they give off excessive pollen and can seriously clog condensing units.
 
Check the Drainpipe and Drain Pan to Your Evaporator Coil
Check your HVAC system’s drainage pipe and pan often and clear away any blockages of algae or mold that sometimes build up within the system. You can vacuum out any clogs and clean all surfaces with bleach. Failure to maintain your drainage system may result in severe water damage inside your home, especially if your system is in your attic.  If this is the case, there are “ceiling savers,” the homeowner can install, devices that will switch the system off if a blockage is detected. 
 
Call in a Professional for Regular Maintenance
Contract with a licensed professional to perform preventative maintenance on your system twice a year to flush coils, check the drain pan and drainage system, vacuum the blower compartments, check voltage and refrigerant levels, assess furnace operation, and look for loose or worn-out wiring. Spring and fall are the best times for these service checks to take place.
 
If you have had a positive experience with a home warranty company who replaced your HVAC system without any contention, please share it with your New Town neighbors, if you would.
 
I've Got a Sinking Feeling...
Max Pfannebecker
 
Nope. It's not just me. It's those pesky sinkholes that pop up here and there near streets and sidewalks. We've all seen them, so let's review what to do and how to report, and why it is taking so long for their repair.
 
What we can tell you is that the Board of Directors has been in contact with supervisors at VDOT over the past three months, each time a new hole appears. According to VDOT, several Williamsburg area communities built in the last 15 years are experiencing similar sinkhole issues from stormwater runoff and construction designs for underground utility tunnels which exacerbate erosion. As a result, each new hole goes on a waiting list for investigation and repair. The holes near Foundation Street and Casey Blvd took many months to be filled, but other holes in New Town are even farther down VDOT's list. Budget constraints are causing long VDOT delays, but the key point is to report what you see. 
 
This isn't a new issue, so we're going to revisit an article posted a few months ago in the December Crier which is reprinted below.
 
New Notes
Report issues to VDOT at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/ even when you’re not sure which entity is responsible. In the event that the the repair isn’t theirs to make they will typically respond quickly and let you know the status or let you know that the repair does not fall under their maintenance obligation.
 
The sinkhole near the intersection of Casey Blvd and Settler's Market was reported to VDOT in January & a response was received within a few hours directing us to contact JCC Public Works and included contact info. The report to JCC was directed to Settlers Market management, and the hole was roped off until it was filled. When in doubt, report to VDOT and they will direct you to a solution. Remember, the more an issue is reported to VDOT or JCC, the faster it tends to get attention. 
 
(REPRINT)
Who Maintains Your Streets & Sidewalks - Reporting Issues 
Crier Article from December 2020
 
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 the New Town Residential Association.
 
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 isn’t theirs to make they will typically respond quickly and let you know the status or let you know that the repair does not fall under their maintenance obligation.
 
Casey-Rutland adds that more residents reporting an issue with streets or sidewalks usually leads to a more timely repair.
Posted on April 1, 2021 7:04 AM by Town Crier Staff
If you are one of many New Town residents operating a home-based business, we'd like to hear from you? Drop is a line at NTRATown.crier@gmail.com and tell us about you and your business. If you like send pics or a link to your website! We'd like to feature our local entrepreneurs in upcoming issues.
Posted on April 1, 2021 7:03 AM by Activities Committee
Earth Day this year is scheduled for Thursday April 22 and the NTRA Activities Committee will be conducting a New Town Earth Day Cleanup in our neighborhoods.  The Activities Committee will have trash bags available for pick up to fill as well as guidance on areas that are accessible and those that are either not safe or not NTRA property where trespassing would be permitted. Safety for COVID purposes and use of gloves, grabbers, etc is recommended. Children should be supervised in this family friendly activity. More details will be communicated via email blast to all residents. 
 
Posted on April 1, 2021 7:02 AM by Alison Douglas
Categories: Life in New Town
April may be our time to turn our focus to the environment with Earth day observed on 22 April.  It’s a good time to do your bit as well as to involve the family in how they can make a difference too.  Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world to demonstrate support for environmental protection.  Founded in 1970, it is the largest secular observance in the world and is marked by a billion people every year as a day of action.  

 
Here are 10 ideas for the difference you can make.  
 
Pick up some litter – James City County has a limited number of litter loan kits available.  Option 1 includes litter grabbers, trash collection bags, orange safety vests and gloves.  Option 2 includes all the above plus a should bags.  For more information, please contact Peg Boarman at (757) 565 0032 or the Office of Sustainability at (757) 259 5375.  
 
Buy a bag for Life – plastic bags are posing a huge threat to wildlife, especially marine wildlife.
 
Go meat-free for a day or a week and expand your cooking repertoire – our love of meat, especially beef, uses up a lot of land, water and produces greenhouse gases. Switching to a meat-free option for a short and frequent period may help.   
 
Go microbead-free – microbeads are tiny beads of plastic that are in many cosmetics, face washes and toothpaste that end up in the oceans and enter the foodchain. Next time you buy cosmetics, check the label first.
 
Walk or ride a bike rather than take the car. Walking and cycling is good for your health as well as the environment.  
 
Give up chewing gum – It is made from synthetic rubber and 100,000 tonnes of this plastic is thrown away every year.  Reducing or cutting out chewing gum altogether will make a difference.  
 
Shop at local farmers markets – it’s a great way to support local businesses and support the environment.  They tend to use less packaging and products are grown or made locally so transport distances are short.
 
Buy a reusable water bottle– billions of plastic bottles are sold every year, so re-using a bottle means we can reduce the amount of plastic we throw away.
 
Make the switch from using plastic straws – bamboo, silicone or even metal straws are a good alternative to the plastic option.  
 
Spread the word – These are just some starter ideas, so if you have good suggestions, why not share them in the comments section.
 
Posted on April 1, 2021 7:00 AM by Sarah Carey
Most of us have a Lift Master garage door system or Wayne Dalton system installed by Virginia Door.  Life expectancy of the system is 10 years but more likely 5 to 6. The owner’s manual has limited DIY maintenance suggestions. Does your garage door (doors) make a lot of grinding or squeaking noise when you open or close the door? It may be time for some DIY maintenance or a call to a reliable garage door service business.  Speaking from experience, don’t wait until its too late and that large spring cable can break. But thankfully there are a lot of safety features built in so the cable doesn’t spin off the bar. It makes a very loud noise and then of course your door won’t close. 
 
Rollers and the spring (photos below) should be sprayed once a year with a silicone spray that is especially for use on garage doors. This is available at Home Depot and Lowes. The rollers and spring are easy to reach when the door is closed – no need for a ladder. Other maintenance should be done by a professional garage door technician. If the loud noise upon opening the door doesn’t go away after lubricating, it may be a motor problem.
 
We have had excellent service from a local business Lion Garage Door.  Quick service and helpful friendly employees.  A service call is $89 or a $120/year membership that includes 2 service calls.