More Love for Maiden Trail

After_01a (Large)Residents who have been working to improve the condition of the alleyway that runs east of Barnett between Ponce and St. Charles – which they’ve dubbed Maiden Trail – have organized another clean-up event for Saturday May 3.

Anyone who wants to help remove trash and overgrown brush from the alley is invited to meet at the Barnett St. entrance to Maiden Trail at 8 AM, or just show up and join the group whenever you can. Volunteers should wear work clothes and bring gloves. Trash bags, other supplies and bottled water will be provided.

The group’s commitment to caring for the alleyway was rewarded this week when they were told they are the recipient of a City of Atlanta ‘Love Your Block’ grant to fund continued improvements. The award – which could be as much as $1,000 – will be used to purchase gravel to fill in ruts and plant native trees along the improved alleyway, according to organizers.

To aid police in responding to 911 calls, the group is also working on a plan to post St. Charles Ave. street numbers on the back fences along the alleyway.

“The Maiden Trail project for improving this particular alley continues to evolve thanks to the hard work of dedicated residents,” says organizer Christopher Juckins.

“Several conversations are in progress with various civic groups and city officials,” Juckins says. “I’m excited to see so much interest in making this neighborhood sore spot a future asset for the community as it becomes a pedestrian-friendly access path.”

Trees Atlanta and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition Host Tour of Trees by Bike

ABC LogotreesatlantalogoTrees Atlanta and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition presents a “Tree Tour on Bikes”, led by ISA Certified Arborist Linc Weis and experienced ride leaders from ABC. The tour will take place on Sunday April 27 from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM.

This family-oriented ride visits the Virginia-Highland Neighborhood Arboretum along quiet neighborhood streets as well as a stretch of the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine while showcasing diverse ornamental and flowering trees. This easy ride has options for 2 or 4 miles of touring and can be managed by most elementary school children. Younger children and cyclists who have yet to develop street skills are welcome as passengers in bike seats and trailers driven by adults. Frequent stops and interesting stories accommodate all ages. Feel free to bring your own refreshments and refillable water bottle for a water stop at John Howell Park. Also, join the group for an optional lunch stop afterward at a favorite Virginia-Highland restaurant.

DSC05064Meet at John Howell Park at 9:30 AM for a 10:00 AM departure. Arriving at 9:30 will allow organizers to sign you in, check equipment and brief riders on the route and safety rules. Whereas light mechanical problems can be handled by our ride leaders, our tour will be more pleasant if your bike arrives in good working order. Participants are expected to wear helmets. You are encouraged to bring a bike with gears as Atlanta can be hilly at times.

Participants are asked to pre-register for the event so organizers know how many riders to expect. Register at: http://treesatlanta.givezooks.com/events/tour-de-trees-biking-tree-tour-of-virginia-highland.

Special thanks to the City of Atlanta for help supporting this and other Trees Atlanta Tree Walks!

Virginia Highland Neighborhood Arboretum:
http://treesatlanta.org/wp/wp-content/files_mf/virginiahighlandbrochure.pdf.

Bike rental available here: Atlanta BeltLine Bicycle

Route options the group might take:
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/4058832

Legislative Fact Sheets Available for Review

VaHi-Logo-Horizontal-Small-RGBAttached are fact sheets for proposed legislation circulated to the NPUs for comment and forwarded to us from NPU-F yesterday. These proposed ordinances will be up for review at tonight’s NPU-F meeting. The meeting starts at 7 PM and will be held at the Hillside School, 690 Courtenay Drive.

The VHCA is particularly interested in Z-14-13, which relates to ‘structures’ constructed for non-school purposes on APS property. These are all citywide ordinances; the one cited seems likely to be enacted in some form, and we are examining it for any potential impacts it might have on the temporary stage used at Summerfest. Such very temporary issues, we are informed, were not contemplated in its drafting; what prompted it was the lease of school field fields for very frequent use over a long period by a soccer league in Buckhead.

Click on a title below to view a pdf of the legislative fact sheet.

Z-14-05: Urban Gardens

Z-14-07: Works of Art on Private Property

Z-14-13: Accessory Structures

14-O-1025: Keep Atlanta Beautiful

Z-13-46: Window Signs

Z-14-14: Sears District Signage Legislation

Turn eWaste Into Tuition for Atlanta’s Firefighters

FireFighterFlyerEcycle Atlanta has partnered with the Atlanta Fire Foundation to purchase
donated e-waste during Earth Week (April 21-26). Both businesses and
homeowners can drop off their old computers, laptops and cell phones at
any Atlanta fire station, and the Fire Foundation will receive full
credit. The funds that we pay to the Foundation will then be used to
reimburse tuition fees for the firefighters.

Beginning April 21 through the 26, Atlanta residents can donate any of the
following at their local fire station:

  • Business phones
  • Cable boxes
  • Cell phones
  • Computers
  • Laptops
  • Network equipment
  • Satellite receivers

Note: Large donations from corporations and other organizations can be
scheduled for pick up at the donor’s convenience and location.

The Atlanta Fire Foundation’s electronic recycling program is a “win-win”
for everyone, as it not only brings us a step closer to sustainability,
but it also helps Atlanta firefighters in reaching their educational
goals.

Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine

Beltline_logo_finalVolunteers to Remove Invasive Bamboo on the Northeast Hiking Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine

Registration is underway for the 2014 Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine on Saturday, April 19, 2014.

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Park Pride, Trees Atlanta, the Atlanta Community Tool Bank, Keep Atlanta Beautiful, and neighborhood partners are working together to clear invasive bamboo and debris along the Northeast Hiking Trail to celebrate this year’s Earth Day on the Atlanta BeltLine.

With the popularity of the Eastside Trail, this stretch of interim hiking trail is getting more and more use. With your help, we will continue to improve the experience as people use the Atlanta BeltLine to connect between Piedmont Park and surrounding amenities. Additionally, removing invasive plant species will increase the area available for native plants to grow, helping to support the local wildlife food web.

Volunteers should wear sturdy, close-toed shoes, long sleeves and pants, work gloves (extra gloves will be available), and should bring a water bottle, bug spray, and sunscreen. Be prepared for moderate to heavy work. All ages are welcome; children must be accompanied by an adult.

When: Saturday, April 19, 2014

All volunteers should arrive at the site by 8:30 a.m. to check in and should bring a signed waiver, which can be accessed from the registration website. Activities begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude at noon.

Volunteer Registration: earthdayonatlbeltline14.eventbrite.com

Where: Atlanta BeltLine Northeast Hiking Trail

Volunteer check in will be near Park Tavern at the corner of 10th St. and Monroe.  Please look for the check in tables manned by Keep Atlanta Beautiful representatives.

VHCA Votes to Adopt Master Plan

VaHi-Logo-Horizontal-Small-RGBThe Virginia-Highland Civic Association voted unanimously at its Monday night meeting to adopt the Master Plan as currently posted on www.vahimasterplan.org. Click here to view a video of the board meeting in its entirety.

The Plan is a culmination of seven months of community outreach including a project website, continuous online input opportunities, public forums offered at various times of day and night, smaller focus group conversations, one-on-one conversations and a neighborhood steering committee. The Plan provides the community with a strategic vision in key areas like mobility, transportation, open space, recreation, safety, environmental issues, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development and education. As a whole, the Plan will serve as a dynamic roadmap to guide future improvement projects in VaHi, and will be a key document in securing funding from the City of Atlanta.

A team of urban planners from Market+Main, led by Aaron Fortner, guided the VHCA and residents through the process of gathering public input, drafting and developing the Plan.

The Plan will next be presented at the NPU-F meeting to be held Monday, May 19, at 7 PM at Hillside School, 690 Courtenay Drive. Interested residents are invited to attend.

On June 9 the Plan will be presented to the City Council Community Development Committee. On June 16th the full City Council will consider and vote on adopting the Plan as a recognized document by the City of Atlanta and incorporating it into the City Comprehensive Plan.

A group of residents has requested a special meeting of the VHCA to discuss issues related to the Master Plan. The VHCA intends to convene such a meeting at a TBD time and place. Details of the meeting will be announced as soon as they are available.

The VHCA would like to thank the Master Plan Steering Committee (see member list below) for the many hours of hard work they invested in working with Market+Main and residents to develop the Plan; Market+Main for their invaluable assistance in guiding the neighborhood through the process; and most importantly, the residents of VaHi who stepped up and took advantage of the many opportunities to provide valuable input into the creation of the Plan. We are a community of residents who care passionately about their neighborhood, and this project has been a true reflection of that reality.

Master Plan Steering Committee Members

Lola Carlisle

Frazier Dworet

Michael Elliott

Frank Fralick

Jenifer Keenan

Jett Marks

Stuart Meddin

Jack White

Jess Windham

 

 

 

 

 

On the Topic of Alleyways in Virginia-Highland

By: Jack White, VHCA Board President

After_01a (Large)A Bit of History

The use and ownership of alleys in our neighborhood has come up in several contexts over the years.  The alleys had two major purposes: utility access and garbage pick-up. It’s hard to envision now, but until 1975 (apologies for the uncertain date, but that’s close) the city picked up garbage twice a week from privately-owned trash cans supplied by the residents and left in the alley.  As you can imagine, those trashcans came in every possible condition, were often not well secured, could easily be tipped over, and were frequently scavenged by raccoons, dogs, and possums. The resulting debris was typically strewn up and down the length of the alley; in summertime, it was paradise for flies and yellow jackets, and it attracted a number of semi-wild and occasionally aggressive dogs.

Pickup was dangerous and physically daunting for sanitation workers. In some instances, small golf carts were used to access the alleys; in other cases – where spaces were constructed – individual workers filled larger bins and then muscled them out to the trucks on the street. All in all, it was hugely expensive, inefficient, unsanitary, and dangerous.

One of the signal accomplishments of Maynard Jackson’s first administration was the transition to once-a-week street side pickup, employing the now-ubiquitous green “Herby Curbie” containers, provided free of charge then (as they are now) to every household.

It was a huge capital investment – trucks had to be modified, too – but the improvements were immediately visible. Every one of the problems mentioned earlier was rapidly ameliorated. To my knowledge, Atlanta was the first city in the metro region to adopt the practice; in the intervening decades, almost every municipality has followed.

The original costs were amortized in the long run by a large reduction in labor cost; fewer workers could pick up more trash with less effort. Some workers were laid off too, and a resulting strike produced the first policy crisis of Jackson’s administration. The strike didn’t succeed.

The alleys suddenly got much less use, but access for utility functions was still maintained. New telephone wires were frequently strung from the rear, especially as the neighborhood’s population rebounded and demand for fax and phone lines increased. As wireless took over, even those uses have faded away.

There are other uses for the alleys, of course. Many have provided auto access to rear parking; some have not been used that way for a very long time and are overgrown. As petty theft became an issue in the 90’s, some property owners physically blocked alleys not otherwise in use to prevent their being escape routes.

A quick tour of the neighborhood will demonstrate all these conditons, as well as quite a few different levels of grading. A few of the alleys are asphalt, others neatly graded, and some are rutted and barely passable.

Who Owns the Alleys?

A memo from January of this year helped formalize the city’s position. It cited a 1996 city code provision that states the city has no property interest in any alley, except for three downtown. Barring other evidence, the city assumes the centerline of an alley to be the dividing line between adjacent property owners. A process is provided for the requirements an owner must meet if (s)he wishes to formally add one’s half of an alley to a property deed.

The memo goes on to note, however, that any property owner who wishes to add their part of an alley to their deed and exercise an undivided interest in their new property must have proof of permission of all adjacent priority owners. The memo specifically references the possibility of a “right of egress”, which (as mentioned) is exercised daily in many – but not all – VaHi alleys. It does not specify what happens when an alley has not been in such use.

In calculating setback and lot coverage for variance proposes, does an alley count?

The alley may be used for setback calculations; unless a formal re-platting has occurred, it does not count for coverage purposes.

May one build in the alley?

Such an action will at minimum require a building permit that includes a variance request for a setback; there may be other factors that come into play. (In an alley, restricting existing access might be one.) There are structures adjacent to alleys within setbacks all over the neighborhood that are legally grandfathered – i.e., they existed prior to the 1983 adoption of the current code – or that were built with variances.

What issue is before us now?

Property owners on Todd Road asked the City of Atlanta’s Office of Planning to approve a re-plat of the alley on the south edge of their property, abutting adjacent owners on Adair Avenue NE. Those owners provided a deed description of their property that pre-dated their ownership by several transactions indicating that they owned the entire alley in question. The city’s official plats did not agree; they showed the property as an open alley and therefore split in ownership down the middle between adjacent owners on both sides.

The Office of Planning instructed the applicants to acquire the signed consent of the neighbors along the alley. The applicants acquired the written approval of three of the neighbors; a fourth was not home when they called on a couple of occasions, and a fifth declined to give his approval.

The applicants submitted that document to the Office of Planning on January 13th; on January 23rd, the Office of Planning approved the re-platting.

A few days later, the absent neighbor returned to town and learned of the re-platting. She objected to the Office of Planning and requested a meeting with the Director of the Department of Planning and Community Affairs. That meeting – postponed once by the city’s closure due to weather – was held at City Hall on February 14, 2014. Present were the neighbor who was objecting, her agent, the applicants, myself from VHCA, and several staff members from the Office of Planning.

The planner reviewed his decision and the process that led up to it, including consulting with the City’s Department of Law. He cited the applicant’s deed description and an affidavit that cited a driveway in part of the alley dating back 30 years. The neighbor argued that the deed to her property had been in her family for decades, that she was unaware of any claim to her own ownership of half the alley, and that she did not believe this one to be accurate. She requested additional time to submit a response; the deadline for filing an appeal to the BZA was approaching.  The Director of Planning said she was powerless under law to grant the request.

On behalf of VHCA and all homeowners who abut an alley, I made the following procedural argument:  a minimum due process expectation in this type of case should include formal notification by the city of all adjacent property owners and a reasonable of time to respond. Among other methodologies, a registered letter to the owner of record providing 30-day notice to comment (if desired) would be sufficient. Other standards might also suffice, but relying on an applicant who initiated the process and was its beneficiary is insufficient for an outcome that involves the transfer of ownership of real property.

Nor was there any reason for a rushed or expedited decision in this instance, and no such reason was offered. Purchasers of property abutting an alley – who number in the hundreds in VaHi – rely on the city’s plats as accurate and legal; no owner or purchaser could reasonably be expected to search every adjacent alley owner’s property deed and bear no responsibility to conduct such searches in search of potential conflicts.

Additionally, the city routinely provides impacted owners formal written notice of potential variances; it is easily well within their ability to do so in a re-platting. In acting so precipitately, the Office of Planning had denied the objecting citizen her due process right to be heard on a very important issue.

I asked for a reversal of the approved re-platting, for reasonable time to allow the objecting citizen to respond, and for another planner to be assigned the issue for an independent decision. Those requests were denied; an appeal to the Bureau of Zing Adjustment (BZA) was the only option.

I then noted that the Legal Department typically provides consultation to the BZA in such matters and asked that – in the event of an such an appeal – there be no further discussion between that Department and the Office of Planning with the BZA about this case. Both the Office of Planning and Legal Department’s rulings and recommendations would be contested in an appeal, and it would be improper for those parties to independently consult or review them with the exact group – the BZA – that would then hear that appeal. The Planning Department termed this a ‘matter of philosophy’ and said the Legal Department would be representing only the BZA in such a consultation.

The neighbor’s ‘agent’ – retained because the citizen who is appealing has out-to-town employment – filed an appeal to the BZA. The case will be heard on May 1, 2014.

The VHCA Board passed the following motion last Monday: (1) VHCA supports this appeal as it relates to this appellant’s due process rights (and those of all other potentially impacted owners who abut alleys.)  This citizen was denied her opportunity to be heard by the Office of Planning and forced to incur the expense and inconvenience of filing an appeal. (2) We renew our objection to any further independent discussions on any aspect of this case between the BZA (which will hear the appeal) and the City of Atlanta’s Office of Planning and/or Legal Department (whose procedures and judgment are being appealed.)  Such interactions would not be merely an appearance of conflict of interest; they would be the very definition of such a conflict.

If the BZA needs specific legal counsel or advice on these matters – and it may – it cannot be provided by the very department whose legal advice is being challenged or the very office whose process and decision are in dispute. It should be provided by outside counsel. Further inquiry into this issue suggests that at least DeKalb County provides outside counsel to its citizen-member agencies in such instances.

To conclude:  We are not now suggesting nor have we ever thought or implied that the original applicants acted in bad faith in asking for the re-plat, and we leave arguments about the internal merits of the appeal to the body hearing it. We are asserting that transfers of real property cannot properly be made in an abrupt and arbitrary manner that does not respect the due process rights of adjacent neighbors to comment and be heard prior to decision.

This article mentions both the ‘Office of Planning’ and the ‘Department of Planning.’ Which is it?

The ‘Office of Planning’ sits administratively within the larger ‘Department of Planning and Community Development.’ The city changed its terminology a couple of years ago and dropped the use of the term ‘bureau’; the ‘Bureau of Buildings’ became the ‘Office of Buildings’, and so forth.

Historic Hex Pavers Available for Purchase from VHCA

VaHi-Logo-Horizontal-Small-RGBIt’s time for Spring gardening and outdoor improvements and, if fixing historic hex pavers in your sidewalk is on your to-do list, the VHCA has what you need.

The civic association has a good supply of historic Virginia-Highland hexagonal pavers for sale at $6 each. If you’re interested, email Peggy Berg at pberg1111@gmail.com and she’ll call you to set up your order.

If the pavers in front of your home are in bad shape and you’ve been thinking about fixing them up, now would be an excellent time to tackle the project. Not only will you improve the curb value of your home, but your pedestrian neighbors will thank you, as well.

photo 2 photo 1

 

 

 

 

Bridging Cultures by Opening Our Doors to Atlanta’s International Students

By: Sam Casto

marks_logo_fbAtlanta opens its doors every year to thousands of international visitors who work, play, and study in our cosmopolitan metropolis. International students occupy one of the fastest-growing economic sectors and population groups in our city as indicated by the more than 12,000 foreign exchange students who studied at Metro-Atlanta universities in 2013.

Who is welcoming these students? Where do they live? Many students consider living with a host a very integral part of their educational experience.

_MG_2957“I don’t know what I would have done without my host family. They have helped me with all kinds of things, from finding my way around, to helping me find where to purchase things I need. They are really like my second family, I love them,” said, Karim, an Atlanta homestay student from Saudi Arabia.

A “homestay” is a cultural exchange between a local individual or family (called a “homestay host”) and an international student. The homestay host provides a basic furnished room, private or shared bath, internet and meals. In return, the student pays a monthly “homestay fee,” which is used to reimburse his or her host’s daily expenses.

_MG_2688Gustavo and Willa Machado have been hosting students for several months. Gustavo, an immigrant himself, says it’s been great helping others who are going through the same orientation process he went through. He says he really enjoys the mutual cultural exchange with his students.

“It has been a very easy task for us. We’ve been able to maintain our own lives and not had to dedicate more time than we have. They get out and are independent and explore using the language, and then come back and ask us questions. It has been really fun for us. And it’s not a chore but rather something joyous. It’s a mutual learning experience,” says, Gustavo

_MG_2934Metro Atlanta homestay host Evelyn Paul and her neighbor both host students. She says that all of their students have been respectful guests and dedicated students, and that the experience has been fun and easy.

“They’re coming here very serious and focused. I love to travel, I like interesting people from different countries, and having the extra money always helps. My first student was from Brazil, and now I have a Turkish student that I love. Just having that real, up-close interaction with the culture is really fun and really interesting,” says, Evelyn. “I have a very small house, and I thought we would step over each other and get in each other’s way. But it has been such a seamless transition.”

For more information on becoming a homestay host, visit www.markshomestay.com/host, email info@markshomestay.com, or call (404) 822 – 0071. Also, follow our homestay stories on social media at www.facebook.com/markshomestay.

VHCA to Consider Master Plan at Monday Meeting

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-Hypen-RGBThe VHCA will have adoption of the Master Plan on its meeting agenda this Monday April 14. The meeting will be held at the Ponce de Leon Ave. library meeting room at 7 PM. The board will discuss the plan and very likely consider a motion regarding sending the Plan on to the next steps toward formal adoption. The meeting is open to the public and interested parties are encouraged to attend. As we wrap up the process, it’s worth a look back at what the goals of the process were.

The Master Plan was undertaken for several reasons. Part of the reasoning was to give this community (and its various sub-neighborhoods) a better voice in decisions regarding allocations of funding resources that may become available if a bond proposal anticipated for next year is approved. A second reason was to involve citizens in a more conscious and deliberative way in thinking about the interrelated challenges – large and small – that we face in urban design, the environment, development, aesthetics, transportation, planning, parks, schools, and other issues. Decisions in such areas are made continually by local and regional planning agencies, often with very little neighborhood input. The Master Plan was designed as an interactive approach that aspired to both inform citizens about many existing (and overlapping) polices and processes and then invite them to weigh in and suggest new outcomes.

Many months and revisions later, a plan exists that reflects dozens of ideas and arguments (broad and specific) voiced by a wide variety of citizens. Iterative processes sometimes produce surprising outcomes; this one has had its share.  Consensus and broad support was achieved in many areas, but not in all areas.  That, too, should not be a surprise; a community with the width and breadth of ideas found in Virginia-Highland will occasionally disagree.

One part that all citizens might agree on is this: while community-based master plans have both direct and indirect value, they do not have the weight of law.  Whatever values you support and whatever visions you have for this neighborhood – and however many times you voiced them during this process – this plan is not an end in itself.  All current public processes and decision-making opportunities will continue to operate and will need our ongoing participation.   The inclusion or exclusion of a concept in a master plan has little value if its supporters do not continue to advocate for it (or against it, as preferred).

In the course of discussing the plan and in other ongoing contexts – the approaching expansion of Inman Middle School, development along Highland, and residents on Monroe – it has been a pleasure to meet and review these issues with many, many citizens.  Without exception, they have all been courteous, inquisitive, concerned about the neighborhood, thoughtful, and attentive. This specifically includes a number of people who disagreed – sometimes very strongly and very articulately – with some parts of the plan or of city polices that they learned of during the process.

If a secondary by-product of this plan is involving new volunteers in committee and association activities, then that may be the best outcome of all.  Most VHCA work is done at the committee level. Three new board members this year came from a background of other association projects; there is always an opportunity to be involved, and there is no better way to be effective than by being informed, and no better way to be informed and impactful than being involved. We invite and welcome your participation.

Lifeline Animal Project Invites You to ‘Spring Into Adoption’

LifeLine Logo (2)Passing along the following from our friends at Fulton County Animal Services:

Springtime in Atlanta brings sunshine, Dogwood blooms and, sadly, skyrocketing intake levels at Fulton County Animal Services (FCAS) due to the high number of puppies and kittens being born. To encourage the public to adopt, LifeLine Animal Project is offering a great deal on pet adoptions with their ‘Spring Into Adoption’ promotion at FCAS. During April, all adoptable dogs and cats are only $25. Standard adoption screening criteria still applies. Adopted pets will be spayed or neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, heartworm or combo tested and dewormed – a $200 value!

DCASRenoirAccording to FCAS Director Lara Hudson, a staggering number of unwanted pets enter the shelter during warmer months. “Beginning in the spring, we receive an influx of unwanted litters due to people not getting their pets fixed.” she says. “We hope this promotion will bring adopters in quickly, so many wonderful pets can be adopted and lives can be saved.”

cute catTo see pictures of the wonderful animals available at FCAS, or for the shelter’s address or adoption hours, please visit www.fultonanimalservices.com.

About Fulton County Animal Services

Managed by LifeLine Animal Project, Fulton County Animal Service’s mission is to provide a humane environment for Fulton County’s homeless pets while placing them into loving, permanent homes, and to end pet overpopulation by promoting spay/neuter, advocating for life-saving public policy, increasing public awareness of homeless pets and educating the community about responsible pet ownership. For more information, please visit www.fultonanimalservices.com.

Emory Point to Host Free Family-Friendly Outdoor Music and Movie Events This Spring and Summer

423163_258492057571225_1330816859_aPassing this along from our friends at Emory Point:

WHAT:
Enjoy complimentary live music and movies at Emory Point, every other Thursday beginning April 17 through August 21. Music and activities start at 6 p.m. in The Park at Emory Point, and movies begin at sundown. Bring a blanket to enjoy lawn seating, and arrive early to enjoy games, trivia, photo booth, popcorn, and for the chance to win special giveaways and deals from Emory Point’s shops and restaurants. Check www.emory-point.com/special-events for additional movie showings information prior to each event.

WHEN:
Every other Thursday
Begins April 17, ends August 21
6-10 p.m.
6 p.m. – Live Music and Activities begin
Sundown – Movie begins

In case of inclement weather cancellation information will be posted on Emory Point’s social media sites: www.facebook.com/emorypoint and www.twitter.com/emorypoint.

MOVIE SCHEDULE:
April 17 – Hunger Games: Catching Fire
May 1 – Gravity
May 15 – The Great Gatsby
May 29 – Mystery Movie!*

*During the month of April, visit www.facebook.com/emorypoint for clues to which movie will show on May 29. Four correct guesses on Facebook will be eligible to win “Dinner and a Movie” – a $25 gift card to BurgerFi.

WHERE:
Emory Point on Clifton Rd., across from the CDC and a short walk from Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Local and national shops and restaurants comprise the 80,000 square foot destination complete with a 1-acre green space, The Park at Emory Point.

1727 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
(678) 686-3106

April Activities at Woodlands Garden

woodlandsgarden_logoOur friend Kate Baltzell at Trees Atlanta notified us of some fun events taking place this month at Woodlands Garden, the 7-acre sanctuary of majestic Georgia Piedmont forest near downtown Decatur.

  • April 6 – 27: Birdhouse Auction, bidding on line – bid early & often!
  • Every Sunday in April, 2 – 4pm: Live Music & Birdhouse Displays
  • April 6, 2 – 4pm: Atlanta Audubon Society – learn to attract birds to your yard
  • April 19, 10 – 11:30am: Stories in the Woods – story reading & craft project about birds
  • April 26: Youth Artist Market, 11am – 3pm; Live Music; Decatur Garden Tour, 10am – 5pm
  • April 27: Closing of the Birdhouse Auction, 4pm; Live Music; Decatur Garden Tour, 12 – 5pm

For more information on the above activities and to bid on a wonderful collection of birdhouses, click here.

If you’re not familiar with Woodlands Garden, click here to visit their website.

Spring into Atlanta Festival Season at the Third Annual Spring Festival on Ponce

Festival on Ponce LogoAtlanta Foundation for Public Spaces LogoThe Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces is proud to announce the 3rd Annual Spring Festival on Ponce on April 5 – 6, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. This event will feature over 150 local and regional artists with the beautiful backdrop of historic Olmsted Linear Park.

Visitors will enjoy fine art and crafts, children’s area, live acoustic entertainment and local food and beverage concessions including “gourmet” food trucks.  This event is organized by the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces and volunteer artists to benefit the local community. This event will be very conservative, with sensitivity to the park and neighborhood. Best of all, its free to attend.

Spring Ponce 2014“We hope that neighbors and visitors will come see the extraordinary gardens of the Olmsted Linear Park and stay to peruse the 150 local artists who will take up residence there for the weekend!  We are very proud that our local artists will be able to draw attention to both the historic parks and the Druid Hills community in a positive way,” says Patrick Dennis, President of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces.

These beautiful chains of parks have lovely trees and paths and great visibility from one of Atlanta’s truly historic avenues.  This is a unique and wonderful opportunity for locals and visitors to appreciate the vision and legacy of one of America’s most celebrated landscape architects, Fredrick Olmsted, Sr. as well as the achievements in restoration by the Olmsted Linear Park Alliance.

Location: Olmsted Linear Park, 1451 Ponce de Leon Avenue, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30307

Times: Saturday, April 5, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 6, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Music: Acoustic music only

Admission: Free to attend

For more information, please visit www.festivalonponce.com.

Catching Up with Tom Murphy, Dean of VaHi Restaurateurs

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series by VaHi food blogger Denise Romeo spotlighting the ever-popular Virginia-Highland eating establishment, Murphy’s Restaurant, located at 997 Virginia Avenue. Murphy’s is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00am – 10:00pm; Friday from 11:00am – 11:00pm; Saturday from 8:00am – 11:00pm; and, Sunday from 8:00am – 10:00pm. Look for conversations with Murphy’s Chef Ian Winslade and Sommelier Michael Kunz in future issues of The Voice.

By: Denise Romeo

Murphys#1Most of us don’t remember a Virginia-Highland without Murphy’s, the venerated restaurant that is literally the cornerstone of the neighborhood. Those of us who have been here a bit longer recall the first location with its friendly and colorful mural, and its cozy, intimate dining. It was one of the first restaurants my husband and I went to when we were dating in the late 1980s, and was a driving force in the revival of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood over the following decade. I had an opportunity to sit down and chat with owner Tom Murphy at his neighborhood eatery. Looking as though he were seated in his own living room with a cup of fragrant tea, Tom reminisced about how he got his start in the restaurant business and his neighborhood.

Where did you get your start in the business of feeding people?

When I was eleven, my Dad bought a New York-style hotdog cart for my brother and me. We would sell hotdogs to neighbors at Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, to symphony goers at Woodruff Arts Center and at Georgia Tech on game days. During high school, I worked in a wine and cheese shop in Lenox Square which came in handy when my father opened a cheese shop in the Municipal Market (better known today as the Sweet Auburn Market.) So, while my college buddies were still eating Velveeta, I became known as “The Cheeseman.”

Tom-Murphy

Tom Murphy
Photo courtesy of The Saporta Report

During my junior year at Georgia State University, I was taking a management class and the professor asked us to do a feasibility study on opening a business. Since I was running the Cheese Shop, I decided to go with what I knew. So, with the help of a few classmates, I developed the concept of a neighborhood delicatessen. My professor and I actually took that feasibility study to the bank to get financing. Again, going with what I knew, I chose Virginia-Highland because that was where I was living at the time.

How has the Virginia-Highland neighborhood changed in the last 33 years?

Virginia-Highland is one of Atlanta’s oldest neighborhoods and it was around long before I arrived. In the 60s and early 70s, there was an exodus from the neighborhood to the suburbs. The original plans for Georgia 400 had the highway going directly through our neighborhood to connect to Freedom Parkway at the Carter Center. That threat resulted in a collaboration of Virginia-Highland residents – old and new – to stop the highway and “rebuild” the neighborhood. In 1979, when we were just getting started, Virginia-Highland was transitional. While the neighborhood had well-established Greek and Jewish communities, it was also cheap for college kids to find apartments and share houses in the neighborhood. It had an artsy, SoHo/Greenwich Village feel to it. About that same time, it was starting to be desirable to live “intown” again. We knew, or at least hoped, that we were on the ground floor of something that would be much bigger.

murphys-cookie-jar

Murphy’s cookies are legendary.

Our original location was in the basement of a house owned by John Capozolli (of Capo’s Café fame). In 1993, the house and property were sold and we were forced to find a new location. I didn’t move because I wanted to. I moved because I had to. Looking back, we had the right momentum and it was the right time, so we did. We were fortunate to be able to move to the corner of Virginia and Highland. We went from Murphy’s Round the Corner to Murphy’s On the Corner. We were very excited to be able to maintain an environment that felt as though customers were coming into our home and that we were creating sincere hospitality for them.

After one of this past winter's snowstorms, Murphy's used a snow-blower to clear a path for customers looking for a place to eat.

After one of this past winter’s snowstorms, Murphy’s used a snow-blower to clear a path for customers looking for a place to eat.

What is the most significant food trend that you have seen over the last 33 years?

The most noteworthy change in the food industry is the American diet. People generally seem to be more health conscious and want to live longer lives. Product origin, freshness, and sustainability are major elements of the food conversation today. We are excited to have embraced the Farm-to-Table concept at Murphy’s early on, way back in the Municipal Market days.

There is new dialogue about the need for businesses to be more socially aware in their treatment of the Earth, and also in their treatment of their communities. In fact, this was exactly the reason I started Good Measure Meals which is one of my greatest accomplishments. When my mom had ovarian cancer, I would take her food while she was undergoing chemo. That is when I noticed a gap in the availability of meal replacement services for middle-income families. I took my social entrepreneurial concept to Project Open Hand because they already had the capital assets (kitchens, dieticians, people, and distribution) in place. I invested in the business model and helped Project Open Hand launch it. Today, Good Measure Meals does over 4 million dollars of business, is a major contributor to a non-profit organization, and is a leader in its industry.

Lastly, what is the most important thing you want Virginia-Highland neighbors to know about Murphy’s?

We are STILL here! Come eat!

Earlier this year, we re-introduced our popular Meatless Monday dinners; a three-course, meatless dinner for $20 (or $25 when paired with a wonderful wine selection,) and our brunch has been recognized as one of the best in Atlanta, and in the country for that matter. Some of the most popular items on the huge brunch menu include Eggs T. Murphy, Crab Cake Benedict and Chilaquiles as well as our famous Bloody Mary, which has been praised as being the best in the country by USA Today and Jezebel Magazine. We even offer a wonderful loyalty program called “Friends of Murphy’s” that features a wide-range of benefits including cash rewards, a complimentary birthday meal and access to exclusive Murphy’s events.

Local food blogger Denise Romeo has lived in the Virginia-Highland area for 24 years. She and her husband, Dom, enjoy spending time together cooking and entertaining. You can read more from Denise on her award winning blog at We Like To Cook!

Special Help Needed With Summerfest

SummerfestKidsfest Chair Needed

Each year, Kidsfest is one of Summerfest’s most popular events. Featuring unique games, crafts, music and activities for kids of all ages, Kidsfest is a major destination for families with children attending the festival.

DSC01436The Summerfest leadership team has an opening for a fun, energetic and super-organized person to head up our Kidsfest area this year. If you love working with children and would enjoy coordinating a team of volunteers who feel the same, this opportunity is for you.

Our previous Kidsfest chairs have built a solid, repeatable model for this area of the festival. There are sponsors waiting to hear from us and many of the activities from previous years can be repeated this year (although we’ll welcome ideas for new activities, too). Volunteers who’ve previously managed this area will be available for consultation during the pre-festival planning period and other volunteers who’ve worked Kidsfest before will help staff the area during the festival. We just need someone to come in, take the reins, and run with them. Festival dates are June 7-8. 2014.

If you’re interested, reach out to Paige Hewell (paige.hewell@gmail.com) or John Becker (jnbecker@me.com) for more information.

Looking For Someone to Help Coordinate Volunteers

Are you someone who’s volunteered at Summerfest before but would like to get more involved? Are you passionate about the tremendous volunteer spirit that flows through the festival each year? If so, we have an opportunity for you.

DSC_0058Our current volunteer coordinator is taking on some additional responsibility this year and is looking for someone to help out on-site during the festival. This person will ideally be able to spend several hours in the Volunteer Check-In/General Information/Lost and Found booth during both days of the festival (Saturday, Sunday June 7-8) checking volunteers in and giving them their assignments, answering questions from festival goers and artists and keeping track of any lost items turned in.

We’d love to groom this person to take over Summerfest volunteer coordination at some point in the future so, if you can work with the coordinator during this year’s pre-festival volunteer solicitation period, that would be great, too.

If this is of interest, please contact John Becker at jnbecker@me.com.

See you at Summerfest 2014!

You Can Be the Chef with Garnish & Gather Meals

Garnish and Gather LogoWe’ve all been there – you’ve worked all day only to come home and realize you have no idea what you’re doing for dinner. You might just whip up the same old thing, go for a frozen meal or head back out into traffic in search of food.

Finished Meal 1Now picture another scenario – you arrive home to a bag full of all the raw ingredients, in exactly the right amounts, to make a locally sourced, home-cooked meal from a recipe written by an Atlanta chef. All you need at home is oil, salt and pepper. With Garnish & Gather, you can do just that!

Ingredients 1The ingredients in Garnish & Gather’s meals are all sourced from local farmers around the Atlanta area. The farms are even listed on the packaging, telling a story and reconnecting you with your food and your community. The ingredients are harvested within days of delivery, ensuring they are packed with flavor and nutrients.

A team of Atlanta chefs creates unique and delicious recipes for Garnish & Gather based on what’s in season. Each recipe is easy to follow and allows you to learn about new flavors and cooking techniques.

Finished Meal 2 “Our goal is to reconnect people with their food, their farms and their kitchens,” explains Emily Golub, founder of Garnish & Gather. “We want people to rediscover the art of cooking and spend more time reconnecting with friends and family over a shared meal.”

The meals even come with a table topic suggestion to get the conversation going at the dinner table.

BagGarnish & Gather doesn’t just offer a dinnertime solution – they will also deliver groceries! Their Local Market <www.garnishandgather.com/local-provisions> features the freshest local foods in Atlanta, like Carlton Farms eggs, H&F Bread, sweet treats from The Little Tart, pasture raised chicken and more! They even have locally made dog treats from Big Daddy Biscuits! You can get your groceries delivered with your meals each week.

Even better, they have pick up locations in our neck of the woods at Midtown Cook’s Warehouse and Highland Fine Wine. They post wine pairings before delivery every week so you can pick up the perfect bottle of wine to go with those delicious meals!

So whether you’re looking to eat healthier, support local farmers or get more variety in your weeknights, Garnish & Gather is here to make dinner simple again. Enjoy 20% off your first meal! Simply use the offer code “VaHi” at checkout at www.garnishandgather.com.

Initial Draft of VaHi Master Plan Available for Review; Open House Scheduled

DSC_0037The Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) is pleased to announce that, after six months of community input, the initial draft of the Virginia-Highland Master Plan is available. Click here to review the Plan draft. The VHCA will host an Open House on Sunday, March 23rd from 2:30 – 4:30 at the old Aurora Coffee location on N. Highland near Virginia (across from Yeah Burger) to answer questions from residents about the Plan.

The 142-page Plan draft is divided into the following sections:

Background (pgs. 5 – 32) Includes neighborhood demographics and summaries of other City Plans, including the North Highland Avenue Study, the Ponce-Moreland LCI Study, the Beltline Subarea 6 Master Plan, the City of Atlanta Comprehensive Development Plan, and the Connect Atlanta Plan.  All of these plans have sections that address areas in VaHi and all have already been adopted by City Council.

Neighborhood Engagement (pgs. 49 – 79) Includes detailed information on all comments that were received via the Master Plan website, the public meetings and focus groups.

Neighborhood Vision (pgs. 95 – 142) Contains the Plan’s proposed projects/proposals for VaHi.  These are the proposals that came out of the six-month public input process leading up to the Draft Plan.

Aaron Fortner, the professional planning consultant who prepared the Master Plan, gave an excellent presentation on the Plan at the March 10th VHCA board meeting.  Here is a link to a three-video YouTube playlist of Aaron’s presentation: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZ8Bju7IpCXqaf5HLSElch68uzQaTmbxy. Following are start/stop times for key portions of his presentation.

 

  1. Aaron’s Entire Presentation Including Q/A: This excerpt starts at 15:43 of Part 1 and ends at 16:18 of Part 3.
  2. Aaron’s Monroe Dr. Presentation: This excerpt starts at 33:48 of Part 1 and ends at 41:05 of Part 1.
  3. Aaron’s Accessory Dwelling Presentation: This excerpt starts at 54:11 of Part 1 and ends at 58:07 of Part 1.
  4. The Q/A Session Only: This excerpt starts at 10:23 of Part 2 and ends at 16:18 of Part 3.

 

If you have questions specifically about the Monroe Dr. Road Diet, the excerpt of Aaron’s presentation on Monroe is available at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8vga9fvBWI.

At 140+ pages, the document provides detailed information on all the public input that has been received over the past six months. As with all other phases of the Master Plan process, residents and business owners will continue to have an opportunity to provide input on the Plan through the Master Plan website.  We encourage everyone to submit comments on what they like and don’t like about the draft Plan on the “Feedback” page of the Master Plan websitehttp://www.vahimasterplan.org/master-plan-first-draft.html. A revised draft of the Plan reflecting the input received through the Website and at the Open House will be posted on April 4.

Traffic Advisory: Publix Georgia Full/Half Marathon Returns to VaHi on Sunday March 23

The Publix Georgia Full and Half Marathon will return to the streets of VaHi on March 23 and, as has been the case in past years, traffic in the neighborhood will be impacted.

Expect traffic delays and road closings along the course of the Publix Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon, Sunday, March 23, between 7 AM – 2 PM. More than 16,000 participants, 2,500 volunteers and 30,000 spectators will be along the course which runs from downtown Atlanta to Decatur and back, passing through Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia State, MLK Historic Site, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, The Carter Center, Candler Park, Agnes Scott, Emory, Druid Hills, Virginia-Highland, Midtown, and Georgia Tech along the way.

The following information is provided to help people who live, work, and worship near the Publix Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon course plan their drive during 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 23, 2014. With this information, you’ll be able to see which roads will be impacted by the race and plan an alternate driving route to your destination to minimize traffic delays.

Check out the following topics for detailed information about the race course, each street on the course, suggested driving directions to various sections of the course, and other useful information.

Traffic, Road Closure and No Parking Zones: 

http://www.usroadsports.com/emar/2014%20PGM%20Street%20List.pdf

Street List & Traffic Lanes:

http://www.usroadsports.com/emar/PublixGAMarathonStreetList2013.pdf

Course Map:

http://www.usroadsports.com/Signature/Georgia/PDF/GaPublix_CourseMap2013.pdf

Community Information FAQ’s:

http://www.usroadsports.com/Signature/Georgia/PDF/2013PGMCommunityFAQs.pdf

 

Trees Atlanta Seeks Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Tour Docents

treesatlantalogo

docent: volunteer educators who undergo intensive training to further the public’s understanding of cultural and historical collections 

Are you passionate about the Atlanta BeltLine and do you love sharing your passion with others? Are you an energetic and eager learner, and a lover of trees and plants? If so, Trees Atlanta has an awesome opportunity for you. Check out the following from TA’s Kate Baltzell:

As you may know Trees Atlanta is very involved in the Atlanta BeltLine and began planting the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum with trees, shrubs, and native grasses in fall of 2012.  We will continue to plant and maintain the horticulture collection as well as incorporate signage along the Eastside Trail, but the best way to communicate all of these exciting additions is through knowledgeable volunteers leading Walking Tours, or Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Docents.

We are actively recruiting for the third class of Docents to begin training on Thursday mornings in April and May.  During training, experts cover topics ranging from Atlanta BeltLine history & design to Arboretum horticulture collections.  Ideal applicants have experience with plants, an eagerness to learn, and the energy to lead tours/projects in the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum.  If you or anyone you know anyone who is interested  in this great opportunity, contact me at kateb@treesatlanta.org for more information.

Seats are limited so if you’re interested, better to apply sooner rather than later. You can apply here:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEY5RG02U0lIMllEY2pOejhSaEJhOGc6MQ#gid=0.

Editor’s Note: VaHi resident Kay Stephenson and I went through this training session last year and it’s incredible. The course is packed with lots of great information about the BeltLine, the Arboretum, history of the area surrounding the Eastside Trail, etc. Class members bring a tremendous diversity of backgrounds to the table and the exchange of information between attendees is another plus to the course. Kay is actively giving Arboretum tours – I haven’t been quite so dilligent in completing my studies yet – so if you know her and want to learn more, I’m sure she’d be glad to talk with you about it. I’d also be glad to answer any questions you may have about the course.

Docent_2014_flyer copy

VaHi Safety Team Report: March 13, 2014

By: John Wolfinger

Fulton County Sheriff’s Citizen’s Academy

Sheriff Ted Jackson has announced a new session of his Sheriff’s Citizen’s Academy starting on the evening of 4/23/14 and continuing on Wednesday evenings for 6 weeks. I was a graduate of the first of these sessions a couple of years ago and I highly recommend it. You will get to spend at least one evening behind bars at the Rice Street Jail and another evening inside the Fulton County Courthouse examining all of the security arrangements in place there. Most of the other sessions were held at the Fulton County training center in south Fulton County off Camp Creek Parkway. Hopefully you will get to enjoy a meal prepared by prisoners who are enrolled in the food prep course offered in the jail. Yes – the dinner we were served was very good and no, it was not typical of what is served to the general jail population. Further details can be had by sending an e-mail to Lieutenant Brian McGee at brian.mcgee@fultoncountyga..gov An overview of the Sheriff’s department at http://www.fultonsheriff.org/ – it is a big department responsible for a myriad of functions, and these are enlightening classes.

Another Room Service Lounge Report

This saga continues on, even after the Mayor has signed the punishment recommendations from the License Review Board – yes they are still pouring. The story at http://clatl.com/atlanta/room-service-lounge-slapped-with-alcohol-code-violations/Content?oid=10677929.

The following reports are taken from our APD Zone 6 (http://atlantapd.org/Zone6.aspx) VaHi Beat 601 crime reports for the 2014 weeks 7 and 8 (2/9-2/22). Again, I state as always, these reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to raise your level of laertness as to what happens around us everyday.

Aggravated Assault – No reported incidents from Beat 601

Auto Theft – An unsuccessful attempt was made on Drewry Street resulting in a damaged door lock and ignition. A 2005 Honda Accord was stolen from PDL Avenue along with a wallet and its usual contents. An unsuccessful attempt was made on Greenwood Avenue of a 1999 Dodge Caravan leaving a damaged door lock and ignition. Also on Greenwood Avenue, a 2000 Jeep Cherokee was stolen and later recovered in the Old 4th Ward on Highland Avenue, with the usual damaged door lock and ignition. A 2003 Cadillac Seville was stolen from Virginia Avenue and yielded a bonus to the thief of a revolver.

Commercial Burglary – No reported incidents from Beat 601.

The Liberty Tax Service on PDL Avenue near Kennesaw was entered via the same window used a few weeks earlier with drill bits and a bag of snacks taken, an unsuccessful attempt was made to take the flatscreen off the wall.Residential Burglary – No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Commercial Robbery – No reported incidents from Beat 601.

However, nearby, two shoplifting incidents became robberies when the suspects resisted arrest and fought with security guards – at the Edgewood Target and at the Dollar Store on North Avenue. Both of these guys would have gotten minimal sentences for shoplifting, but will now get stronger sentencing for robbery.

Residential Robbery – No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Pedestrian Robbery – No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Larceny From Vehicle – Vehicles were entered on Clemont Drive, Cooledge Avenue and two on North Highland Avenue. All around the Zone in this time period there were 40 such reported incidents.

Larceny Other – On St. Charles Avenue a chained front porch bicycle had the seat and tire pump stolen from it. Front porches are NOT safe places to keep bicycles – unfortunately your front porch is not as private as you may think it is. A stolen vehicle was used to try to open or dislodge the ATM next to the North Highland Avenue post office – as you probably saw, this attempt was unsuccessful. The slightly wrecked vehicle was left at the scene. Two cell phones were taken from MJQ Club patrons – but the perp was caught and the phones returned to the owners.

Elsewhere in the Zone the PDL Avenue Publix caught 3 shoplifters – one of whom had taken 5 boxes of laxatives and a box of wipes (you read into this whatever you want to). The Edgewood Target store caught a shoplifter who had items in his buggy covered by his jacket who went past the registers and went to the return desk for a refund. When that request was refused, he tried to wheel the buggy out of the store, but was nabbed. At a Moreland Avenue construction site – 3 dumpsters were stolen.

A nasty cold kept me from attending the safety meeting on Cascade Road called by Fulton County Commission chair John Eaves on 3/6 – but I hear there was nothing settled. If there will be another such meeting on this side of the city – I’ll let you know.

Budweiser Clydesdales Come to VaHi!

DSC_0146Virginia-Highland residents were treated to a mid-day surprise visit by the Budweiser Clydesdales yesterday.

The iconic horses are in town for an appearance in Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day parade this weekend. The massive steeds, their attendants and their magnificent beer-laden carriage assembled at Manuel’s Tavern around 3 PM, then headed north on N. Highland Avenue. Stops were made at the Chevron Station at the corner of N. Highland and Virginia, Limerick Junction, Atkins Park and Neighbor’s. At each stop a supply of Budweiser – freshly brewed yesterday morning at the Anheuser Busch plant in Cartersville – was delivered. Hundreds of VaHi residents lined N. Highland, cheering the beautiful horses on as they made their deliveries.

DSC_0128Click here to view a video of the Clydesdales arriving at the Chevron Station to the delight of the gathered crowd. Click here for an album of photos from yesterday’s visit.

Tentative Agenda for Tonight’s VHCA Monthly Board/General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board of Directors Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, March 10, 2014; Virginia-Highland Church 

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

Budget Committee – Peggy Berg

Planning Committee

V-13-265 – 976 Adair Ave NE

Applicant Patti Hinkle has amended her variance application to and now seeks to reduce the setback to 5’ from the rear property line,  a distance that will end any question as to whether her (already existing) accessory structure is appropriately distanced from the boundary.  (The measurement is difficult to make, as the line is behind a tall fence.)  The Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval and waived the applicant’s appearance.

Toscano @ Sons Italian Market Alcohol License Transfer – 1050 N. Highland Ave. NE

Applicant Kathy Boehmer of Toscano & Sons Italian Market is transferring this business’ alcohol license from its previous location. The application has not come to us from the NPU; the applicant furnished a copy of the application.  The applicants had no liquor violations at their previous location and conduct their own training program, carding everyone.  The Planning Committee unanimously recommends approval, contingent upon city’s paperwork reaching the NPU by its meeting on 3-17-14.

V-14-031 – 669 Elmwood Drive NE

Applicant Jennifer Hansen seeks a variance to reduce the front yard setback from required 35’ to 18’ 4” (existing) and the east side yard setback from required 7’ to 1’ 7” (existing) for a 2nd story addition.  The addition is entirely within the existing setbacks; a site visit on 3-2-14 revealed no tree or runoff issues; the applicant is nonetheless considering adding stormwater retention capacity.  The Planning Committee recommends approval conditioned on a site plan dated 2-14-14.

V-14-012 – 959 Todd Road NE

Applicant Marsha Scott seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the required rear yard setback from 15’ to 3’ (using half of the 10’ rear alley for credit toward setback).  The application required a re-platting of the (north) side yard property line, previously shown as an alley; the applicant’s request to that end was approved by the City of Atlanta Planning Department on 1-23-14, a decision that has been appealed by an adjacent neighbor.  The case will be heard by the BZA on 5-1-14.  The applicants wish to continue the variance process, averring that construction will not commence until the appeal is resolved.  At its meeting on 3-5, the Planning Committee solely addressed the variance issue and the applicant’s revised plan; at the applicant’s request, the application was deferred until the April Planning meeting.

Parks Committee – Lauren Wilkes Fralick, David Brandenburger

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle: New permanent site for VHCA Planning mtgs: Garrison Hall, Church of Our Saviour

Master Plan Presentation – Jenifer Keenan, Jess Windham, & Aaron Fortner of Market + Main

Adjournment

Understanding How the Virginia-Highland Master Plan Was Drafted

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadBy: Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board Member & Co-Chair, Master Plan Steering Committee

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) is pleased to announce that, after six months of community input, the initial draft of the Virginia-Highland Master Plan is being released today on the Master Plan website: http://www.vahimasterplan.org/.  At 140+ pages, the document provides detailed information on all the public input that has been received over the past six months.  As with all other phases of the Master Plan process, residents and business owners will continue to have an opportunity to provide input on the Plan through the Master Plan website.

Overview of the Community Input and Drafting Process

There seems to be confusion among some residents about how the VaHi Master Plan has been developed and drafted.  Some people assume that the VHCA Board has drafted the Plan.  That assumption, however, is incorrect.  The Plan was not drafted by the VHCA, and the VHCA has in no way dictated the Plan’s content.

To develop the Plan, the VHCA hired Aaron Fortner of Market + Main.  Aaron is a former City Planner and has served as the Planning Committee’s consultant on zoning and municipal issues for many years. He has led the Master Plan processes for a number of neighborhoods, including Edgewood, Brookwood Hills and Candler Park. To read Aaron’s biography, visit http://www.marketandmain.net/aaron.html.

Aaron and his team used the following process to develop the draft VaHi Master Plan:

  • Phase 1:   A Master Plan website was developed to allow residents to review concepts and provide input 24 hours a day.  The first phase of the website had a Survey and an Interactive Map where people could identify what they like most (and least) about VaHi.  The Interactive Map allowed people to make specific comments about specific locations in the neighborhood.
  • Phase 2:  Input from the Survey and Interactive Map was used to develop some Preliminary Planning Concepts for the neighborhood.  The Preliminary Concepts were presented at a public meeting and all-day design charette where people had an opportunity to talk to Aaron and his team and provide in-person input on the Preliminary Concepts.  The Preliminary Concepts were also presented on the Master Plan website so residents could provide input and comment on the Preliminary Concepts via the website as well.
  • Phase 3:  The Preliminary Concepts were modified based on the comments in Phase 2 and refined into some Proposed Concepts.  The Preliminary Concepts were presented at a January 22 public meeting and again on the website.  As in Phase 2, people had an opportunity to provide input both in person and on-line on the Preliminary Concepts.
  • Phase 4:  The Proposed Concepts were again modified based on public input and used to develop the initial draft of the Master Plan.  This draft of the Master Plan will be presented at the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board meeting on Monday, March 10th.  As with all stages of this process, people will continue to have an opportunity to provide comments on the concepts in the Plan.  The draft plan concepts will continue to be modified based on public input until the Final Master Plan is published.

In addition to the four phases noted above, five focus groups – consisting of residents and business owners in VaHi – were conducted throughout this process to obtain input on specific issues.  Aaron and his team also met with officials of the City of Atlanta’s Planning Department to provide updates on the Plan and discuss the feasibility of the concepts that were evolving from the public input process.

Examples of the Process in Action

In order to fully understand the process, it is helpful to look at a couple of small-scale examples of specific concepts and how they evolved during the Plan development process.  In Phase 1, residents of Cooledge, and several other streets, indicated that they would like to reduce cut-through traffic and speeding on their street.  In Phase 2, “bulb outs” were proposed for several streets that expressed these concerns, including Cooledge.  During the public input part of Phase 2, the residents of that street almost unanimously indicated they did not want bulb-outs on Cooledge, deciding that they were inconsistent with the historic character of their brick street.  Residents of other streets, however, embraced bulb-outs and other traffic calming measures for their specific streets.  In Phase 3, based on the input provided in Phase 2, bulb-outs were part of the Preliminary Concepts for some streets, but were no longer proposed for Cooledge. Also, bike lanes on North Highland Avenue were proposed and considered in the opening stages.  Based on an array of public comments – many supportive – and identified challenges, the Draft Master Plan does not recommend bike lanes for North Highland.

Where varying and multiple shades of opinions were expressed – which is in a number of areas – Aaron’s team looked first for overall impacts on the community, the goals and reasoning used in existing plans (where they applied – the city’s Connect Atlanta Transpiration Plan is such an example) and offered its best judgment of how to proceed for each subject.  In some cases – changing the code to allow accessory residential structures or design guidelines, for example – the plan recommends further study of the topic and monitoring the City’s anticipated revisions.  All transportation recommendations are based on existing municipal and state laws and standards, and none conflict with city policy; many ideas reflect insights gleaned from city staff about the municipality’s evolving approaches on many topics.

Moving Forward 

As with other phases of this process, there will be ongoing opportunities to provide input, including 24 hours a day at the Master Plan website.  Our residents and neighbors have made an extraordinary number of suggestions on both broad and specific topics, and Aaron and his team have expended a huge amount of work trying to filter and synthesize everyone’s comments and aspirations for this community. Many diverse ideas have been expressed, but there are a significant number of well-identified challenges and strongly expressed wishes.

I hope everyone will review all the draft’s concepts and recommendations and provide specific comments through the website.

Best regards,

Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board Member & VHCA Master Plan Steering Committee Co-Chair

 

 

Initial Draft of VaHi Master Plan To Be Presented at Tonight’s VHCA Board Meeting

VaHi CornerFor the past six months, Virginia-Highland residents have provided tremendous insight into the creation of the neighborhood’s first Master Plan. An initial draft of the Master Plan will be presented at tonight’s regular monthly VHCA board/general meeting. Again, this is a presentation of the Plan’s initial draft – there will still be ample time to review, reflect and comment on the Plan in the weeks to come. The initial draft of the Plan should be available for review sometime this afternoon at http://www.vahimasterplan.org/.

The meeting will be held in the downstairs meeting area of the Virginia-Highland Church located at 743 Virginia Ave. (across from Inman Middle School). The meeting will start at 7 PM with regular business expected to take 30-45 minutes, after which the Master Plan presentation will begin. Residents are invited to attend the full meeting, or come only for the Master Plan portion. There will be an opportunity for residents to ask questions about the Plan.

Click here to read an article from VHCA board member and Master Plan steering committee co-chair Jenifer Keenan that provides valuable insight into the process of creating a Master Plan for our neighborhood.

Recapping Tour of Homes 2013 Success

IMG_6360Over the past few weeks I’ve been asked several times how successful our 2013 Tour of Homes was. Well, you might want to sit down because I’ve got some great news for you.

For almost twenty years now, our Tour of Homes has showcased some incredible homes, restaurants, and sponsoring vendors. In no small way, TOH has helped put our neighborhood on the map as one of Atlanta’s most sought after places to live. Each year the TOH committee works hard starting in March to plan and execute a tour that will not only be fun and exciting, but, more importantly, raise money for our neighborhood. The money raised directly benefits our community parks, sidewalks, safety, beautification and many other important ongoing projects.

Financially, the last three years have been record breaking and the trend continued in 2013. In fact, this year we truly blew it out of the water, generating an amazing $51,000 in revenue ($16,000 more than in 2012)! About 60% of the revenue came from sponsorships, with about 40% coming from ticket sales. This is truly a testament to the hard work and dedication to teamwork invested by this year’s TOH committee.

I’d like to personally thank the gracious homeowners that allowed 1,700 people to come through their homes and admire their hard work and incredible style!

I’d also like to thank the neighborhood restaurants that provided amazingly tasty food to all our tour goers. And lastly I’d like to thank the businesses that directly support our Tour through the purchase of sponsorship packages – you guys were huge part of why the 2013 tour was so successful.

Last but NOT least, I want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to a Tour of Homes committee that was absolutely off the chain good! These people are incredible. They make it happen. Thank you so much for your volunteer time and expertise.

With that said, the TOH Committee is ready to gear up for this year’s tour which will be held on December 6th and 7th, 2014.

WE ARE LOOKING FOR HOUSES. If you’d like your home to be considered for this year’s tour, or if you’d like to suggest a home to be apart of the tour, please contact us me at angelikataylor@me.com.

We are also looking for committee members to fill in a few gaps we have on our team. Here are key position needs but anyone is welcome to join in the fun:

  • PR/Media Chair
  • Marketing Chair
  • Home Selection Chair

Please contact me at angelikataylor@me.com to find out more about these positions and other ways you can help. Tour of Homes is one of our neighborhood’s key fundraising events. Volunteering is a great way to get involved in Virginia-Highland and make a difference, all while re-connecting with old friends and meeting new ones.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. And, once again, here’s to a tremendously successful TOH 2013!

~ Angelika Taylor, Tour of Homes Chair

Choices

IMG_5835For those who didn’t see resident Jett Marks’ post on VHLIST about the great cycling Saturday his family had this weekend, we wanted to share it with you. We thought Jett did a great job describing why he and his family love living in the Virginia-Highland area so much. You don’t have to be an avid cyclist  - as Jett and his family are – to appreciate his narrative. If you have thoughts on why you love living in VaHi that you’d like to share with your neighbors, send them to us at editor@vahi.org. Here’s Jett’s post:

My wife, daughter and I ran some errands today by bicycle. We took the BeltLine from Virginia through Old Fourth Ward and followed Edgewood next to the streetcar tracks over to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. We couldn’t find an item or two there, so on the way back, we popped into Trader Joe’s. (There was also a side trip to Paris on Ponce, but we left there empty-handed; we made up for it by picking up some impulse ice cream at Trader Joe’s.)

We weren’t wearing a suit or a dress, but Atlanta does have its fair share of days where you can wear nice clothes. We were peeling off the layers today.

We did have traffic stuck behind us at one point, but where the streets are wide (Virginia), or there are bike lanes (Edgewood), traffic had no problem getting around us and more than one neighbor shouted out in greeting. One of the things we love about VaHi is seeing our neighbors when we’re out and about — thanks for putting your top down so we can see your face.

Folks on the BeltLine had their tops ALL the way down. Kids learning how to ride, families in a six-seat pedal-mobile, runners, dog-walkers, elderly pedestrians out for some sunshine. Us versus them? This is the true majority — not limited to those who are licensed to operate a motor vehicle.

We took nobody’s space in the parking lot, but the bike racks were full near the BeltLine. Although there were a lot of folks on the BeltLine, there weren’t as many as last weekend when we joined another couple to find dinner by bicycle in Inman Park. Snaking through the slow-moving crowd made us long for 20-foot wide pavement instead of just 14.

Perhaps we’ve underestimated how popular getting out of the car might be. Atlanta Streets Alive comes to mind.

It doesn’t appear that real-estate developers along the BeltLine intend to make the mistake of underestimating. New buildings and activity were everywhere along our route. Indeed, 60% of new development over the past five years has been in walk-able communities. This fits a trend of younger adults driving much less — per capita vehicle miles has fallen the past decade — and more focus on livability and local community.

Maybe we should pay attention to the trend developers and investors see.

Maybe we should notice we’re next door to the city’s best park, the city’s best multi-use trail, and yes, maybe we should notice that we’re already recognized as one of the most walk-able neighborhoods in the city.

Maybe we should notice that we’re situated directly between the only two bike-friendly universities in the country within the same city (Georgia Tech and Emory).

Maybe we should notice that Briarcliff and North Decatur were taken from four lanes down to three lanes and traffic flow and safety improved. (Safety for motorists as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.)

Maybe we should take note that when Virginia-Highland is ranked as a livable community, that the ability to drive 50 MPH down Monroe isn’t one of the criteria.

Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Midtown have noticed. They’ve noticed what it takes to draw youth and talent. They “get it” — errands in a car are just another chore, errands on a bike is building community, it’s keeping money local, it’s healthy, and it’s just plain fun.

~ Jett Marks

Traffic Advisory: Intown 10K Road Race

Be advised the Intown 10K Road Race will be held this Sunday March 2.

The race will start at 9 AM on Virginia Circle just east of Barnett. Runners will wind through the streets of Virginia-Highland and finish on Barnett Street, just south of Virginia Circle. No full road closures are expected; however, police will block cross streets along the course as runners pass.

Click here for a diagram of the course route. If you prefer a turn-by-turn description of the course, scroll down.

Intown 10K Race Course

  1. START- 936 Virginia Circle ATL 30306 ( Virginia Circle westbound)
  2. Go west on Virginia Circle ( PASS BARNETT STREET)
  3. Turn right on Arcadia
  4. Turn RIGHT on Virginia Avenue
  5. Turn Right on Barnett
  6. Turn RIGHT on Greenwood Avenue
  7. Turn RIGHT on Ponce de Leon Place
  8. Turn LEFT on Virginia Avenue
  9. Turn Right on Kanuga
  10. Turn RIGHT on Monroe Drive
  11. PASS Cresthill, PASS Elmwood, PASS Park Drive, PASS Amsterdam , PASS Hillpine, PASS Cumberland
  12. Turn Right on Sherwood Road
  13. Turn RIGHT on N. Morningside Drive
  14. Turn RIGHT on N. Highland
  15. Turn RIGHT on Courtenay
  16. Courtenay merges to Amsterdam
  17. Turn Right on Brookridge Drive
  18. Bear Right across the Orme Park bridge
  19. Turn LEFT at Elkmont/Brookridge / Orme Circle (signs are confusing as far as name of street)
  20. Bear or turn Right on Elkmont
  21. Turn LEFT on Park Drive (PASS OR CROSS VIRGINIA AVENUE)
  22. Park Drive becomes Ponce de Leon Place
  23. PASS Greenwood Avenue
  24. Turn Left on St. Charles Avenue
  25. Turn Left on Barnett Street
  26. Finish on the right side of Barnett Street—just north of Adair but before Virginia Circle

Volunteers Turn Out to Support Trees Atlanta VaHi Planting

DSC_0013Many thanks to the Cub Scouts of UMC Pack #17 (and their accompanying moms, dads, brothers and sisters) and all the other volunteers who showed up to plant 80 new trees this past Saturday in VaHi. If you were out and about in the ‘hood late morning you saw them along Briarcliff Pl., Greenwood Ave. and throughout Atkins Park planting carefully selected trees that we will enjoy for years to come. This was Trees Atlanta’s annual major VaHi planting event, and it was accompanied by a parallel planting in Morningside (also supported by Pack #17).

Special thanks to Alex and the team from Trees Atlanta for providing the trees and expertise. Longtime VaHi resident Stephanie Coffin was very involved in the planning of this event (as she always is) but was out of town and unfortunately couldn’t attend the planting.

Click here to view an album of photos from the event.

Trees Atlanta and VaHi Volunteers: You Guys Rock!!

VaHi Safety Team Report: February 25, 2014

By: John Wolfinger

Update on VaHi’s Problem Alleyway

The problem-plagued alleyway between Ponce de Leon and St. Charles Avenues has begun an amazing transformation thanks to a dedicated group of St. Charles Avenue and Barnett Street residents. Read about the first cleanup at http://vahi.org/residents-clean-up-vahi-alleyway/.

Now these folks have scheduled a second work session to trim back overgrown shrubbery and small trees to open up the alley and eliminate hiding places for urban camping and other undesirable activities. This session will be this Saturday 3/1/14 at 9:00 AM – meet at the corner of the alley at Barnett Street on the north side of the 737 Barnett Street condo building. Bring heavy gloves and whatever cutting tools you have for use on brush, bamboo and small trees. These dedicated residents have now dubbed this area ‘Maiden Trail’ and are working on plans for this to be a new walking area for neighbors and their pets. If you have questions or want to volunteer to help, contact the group at MaidenTrailATL@gmail.com. Congrats to these folks for facing a problem head-on and working to eliminate it, instead of just complaining about it.

Crime and Safety Summit Meeting and Discussion

There will be what could be a real defining moment in our total city safety situation on Thursday 3/6/14 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM at the Cascade United Methodist Church at 3144 Cascade Road, S.W. Atl 30311. The panelists are John Eaves, Fulton County Commission Chair; Judge Gail Tusan from Superior Court; Judge Bradley Boyd from Juvenile Court; Paul Howard, Fulton County D.A.; Caesar Mitchell, our City Council President; APD Chief George Turner; Fulton County Police Chief Cassandra Jones and Fulton County School Police Chief Felipe Usury.

Some of these are Fulton County people that can address the recidivism problem that Mayor Reed talked about both in his inaugural address and the recent State of the City address. I will be there and hope to see other VaHi and NPU “F” folks also. City-wide and county-wide safety problems impact what happens in VaHi.

Some Sign-Ups To Be Aware Of

If you have neglected to register your home or business alarm system – do this now at https://www.crywolf.us/oss/atlantaga/.

No one plans to call 911 – but you can plan ahead and have the operator already be aware of your name, address, etc. by registering at Smart 911:  https://www.smart911.com/. This can save a lot of talk time on a call for assistance.

If you have vacant property for over 30 days, you are required to register it as such at http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=754.

Thanks to our Zone 6 Commander, Major Peek, for finding more help for our crime analyst section, so that we can have our regular narrative incident reports from Zone 6 again. The following reports are taken from our APD Zone 6: http://atlantapd.org/Zone6.aspx. VaHi Beat 601 crime reports for the 5th and 6th weeks of 2014 (1/26- 2/8). These reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to raise your level of alertness as to what happens around us everyday.

Aggravated Assault:  No reported incidents from Beat 601. However, at the recently changed-ownership Ponce Hotel on PDL Avenue gunshots were fired as the victim and the suspect had a verbal argument over whom a female was to have sex with – the suspect fled. And, at the Clermont Lounge, the bouncer pulled a gun on two patrons for taking pix.

Auto Theft:  A 2006 Ford was taken from PDL Place and recovered in southwest Atlanta. A 2010 Toyota was stolen from a PDL Avenue parking lot and later recovered at a Boulevard gas station.

Commercial Burglary:  No reported incidents from Beat 601. However, at the Druid Hills Methodist Church on PDL Avenue, the suspect hid in the building after closing, broke into a vending machine and stole snacks and cash. At Dugan’s Bar on PDL Avenue, thieves broke a side window and took 50 bottles of liquor.  And at the Liberty Tax Service on PDL Avenue, thieves broke a side window and took a box of fake $50 bills and candy – which were recovered later.  I guess that they thought the bills were real?

Residential Burglary:  No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Commercial Robbery:  No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Residential Robbery:  No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Pedestrian Robbery:  No reported incidents from Beat 601. However, robberies of cell phones continue elsewhere, including a daytime cell phone robbery at Bessie Branham Park in Kirkwood. I had to read this report several times to believe – far south of here on Moreland Avenue, the male victim came to a residential address to meet a female for a paid sex date from an on-line connection, when he was approached by two armed males – the victim jumped out of his car and ran for a mile until he flagged down a cab and called 911.  He admitted he was drunk and high.

Larceny From Vehicle:  Vehicles were entered on Virginia Avenue (yielding a cellphone, laptop and an iPad), Maryland Avenue (a book bag was taken), Bonaventure Avenue (nothing listed as taken), Frederica Street (sunglasses were lifted), and on Greenwood Avenue (a Glock pistol was taken – the report states a window was left rolled down). All around the Zone in this time period there were 34 such reported incidents.

Larceny Other:  A cell phone was left at Neighbor’s Bar and, of course, it was not there when the owner returned. Lawn care equipment was taken from a (quite obviously unwatched) trailer on Virginia Avenue.  An unwatched bicycle was stolen in Piedmont Park. And at Inman School, an unwary student lent his cell phone to a stranger and he fled with the phone.

Stay alert and aware and enjoy city life.

Trees Atlanta VaHi Planting Set for February 22

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Editor’s Note: A headline for this article in our Voice e-newsletter listed a February 15 date for this event. That date is incorrect. The correct date is February 22. We apologize for the confusion.

Trees Atlanta will conduct a major planting event in Virginia-Highland later this month, and you’re invited to help.

Anyone who wants to assist with the planting should RSVP by clicking here. Volunteers will meet at New Highland Park  (corner of N. Highland Ave. and St. Charles Pl.) at 9 AM Saturday February 22. Please wear work clothes and bring work gloves. All other supplies will be provided.

DSCF0011This planting event will focus primarily on the following VaHi streets: St. Louis Pl., St. Charles Pl., St. Augustine Pl., Briarcliff Pl. and Greenwood Ave. Most of the trees to be planted will be silver maples (acer saccharinum), trident maples (acer buergerianum) or crape myrtles (lagerstroemia indica).

VaHi resident Stefanie Coffin worked with Trees Atlanta to organize the planting, as she has done several times previously.

vahighbillkid205“These annual plantings focus on areas of the neighborhood with high density and traffic to help mitigate the impact of pollution from autos,” Coffin says.

“Focus is on street trees that survive,” Coffin says. “The average life of a street tree is around 17 years, so tree selection is a big part of the planning process.”

Coffin points out that funding for the annual planting comes from the yearly grant given to Trees Atlanta by the VHCA and a generous contribution from UMC Cub Scout Pack #17, as well as recompense funds paid to the city by anyone found to have taken down or destroyed a tree illegally (these latter funds flow through the Tree Conservation Commission).

The planting event is part of Trees Atlanta’s NeighborWoods program, in which the non-profit partners with neighborhoods across metro Atlanta to plant native species, raise awareness about the benefit of trees, and create a core group of tree advocates. NeighborWoods is a collaborative effort to replenish and sustain the tree canopy, while also educating the community on tree care and management.

Click here to view a complete list of what kind of trees will be planted where.

Trees Atlanta Arbor Day Speaking Event Features NY Times Science Writer, Author

treesatlantalogoPassing along the following speaker notice from our friends at Trees Atlanta:

Please join us on Thursday, February 20 at 6 PM as we welcome Jim Robbins, a science writer for the New York Times and author of the acclaimed The Man Who Planted Trees for his talk entitled: The Power of Trees And How It Can Help Save the World.

Jim is the first Trees Atlanta Georgia Arbor Day Speaker, which has been made possible thanks to the City of Atlanta.
You will be able to purchase Jim’s book at the event and have him sign it!

Overview of Jim’s Talk: The Power of Trees And How It Can Help Save the World



Though they surround us, and are vital to our existence, trees and forests are poorly researched and poorly understood. Jim Robbins, a science writer for the New York Times, and author of the acclaimed The Man Who Planted Trees, describes in his talk the things we do know about them, and the many things we don’t — from their ability to clean up toxic waste to the ways scientists say they connect to the cosmos. Trees heal people, are critical to insects and wildlife as medicine, and, some scientists believe, even have a nervous system that allows them to think, strategize and communicate. Most importantly he explains why trees should be seen as an “ecotechnology” to accomplish a wide range of important functions to heal broken ecosystems and adapt a changing planet.

Jim Robbins, a free-lance journalist for more than thirty years, lives with his family in Helena, Montana. He has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times since 1980, and has written for numerous magazines from Condé Nast Traveler to Smithsonian. He has carried out assignments in Europe, Mongolia, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Yanomami Territory in Brazil and Venezuela, and across North America, especially the Rocky Mountain West. He is the author of four books of non-fiction, and is at work on a fifth. His writing interests include science, the environment, and the human central nervous system. He considers the fact that he has been able to freely indulge his curiosity and get paid for it one of his greatest accomplishments.

Event details:

  • Parking available at the Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center, 225 Chester Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30316 or neighboring street parking
  • 6:00pm – Presentation begins
  • 7:00pm – Book signing
  • Seats are limited & reservations are first come first served
  • CEUs available:  1.5 CEU hours for ISA members

Click here for more information or to register for the event.

JimRobbins_flyer

Virginia-Highland Master Plan Takes Shape

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By: Jess Windham

As the process to create a Master Plan for Virginia-Highland enters its sixth month, we want to say just one thing – Thank You! Participation in January’s public meeting was collaborative, engaged, and produced a wealth of feedback for our planners at Market+Main.

Concepts presented and discussed at January’s public meeting are currently available on the Master Plan website (link below). If you were unable to attend the meeting, you can find a video of Aaron Fortner’s presentation on the website which explains the concepts, their context, and origins. Please review the concepts available on the website and be sure to submit your feedback: http://www.vahimasterplan.org/.

The first draft of the Master Plan will be posted on the Master Plan website on March 10th.  As with every step in the process, the public is highly encouraged to comment on this first draft. Submitting your feedback to the draft online is going to be the most effective way for the planning team to hear from you. As comments are submitted on the websiteand subsequent edits are made, the document will continue to evolve to best fit the neighborhood. We anticipate a revised draft to be posted on or around April 4th. The Virginia-Highland Civic Association board will vote on the Master Plan document in April or May; ultimately the document will go to Atlanta City Council for adoption.

The process began with public input and continues to rely on peoples’ first hand experiences to pinpoint issues and opportunities in Virginia-Highland. As the document takes shape, please continue this wonderful trend and, again, thank you all for your participation, excitement, and support!

Please visit http://www.vahimasterplan.org/ to submit your comments.

Continue reading for additional background on the Master Plan process.

What is the Master Plan?

Planning consultants Market+Main lead the Master Plan process alongside a volunteer steering committee of residents from a variety of backgrounds. The process has three broad and overlapping parts: discovery, design, and documentation. We are now in the documentation phase, with an end result of a final Master Plan document voted on by Atlanta City Council to guide future project and funding decisions.

The Master Plan will be a key document in securing funding from the City of Atlanta for neighborhood improvements and projects. As part of the City of Atlanta, Virginia-Highland’s transportation infrastructure, economic development, zoning laws, urban design, education options and environmental regulations are shaped by that municipality, as well as by Fulton County and the state. New construction also shapes our neighborhood and its character. Having a Virginia-Highland Master Plan provides a formal avenue for citizen and neighborhood goals to be identified and clearly expressed.

Additionally, the Master Plan will knit together elements from existing and sometimes overlapping plans and policies that already address parts of Virginia-Highland. Currently, parts of the Connect Atlanta Plan, the Atlanta BeltLine Overlay District regulations, Cycle Atlanta: Phase 1.0, and the Ponce de Leon Corridor Plan all contain plans for parts of Virginia-Highland. Understanding these plans is a considerable task and becomes an even greater challenge when considering the likely impacts of future development that existing zoning already assumes. The neighborhood can engage in those initiatives to shape them to our mutual benefit, or alternatively wait for changes and new projects to move forward without Virginia-Highland input.

Creating this Master Plan provides an opportunity to be involved in initiatives that the City has already begun – some of them well underway. It also gives the neighborhood a platform on which to prepare for future projects, including those that may be contemplated in next year’s anticipated bond referendum. Changes are inevitable; this is a grand chance to inform and shape these changes. 

Many VaHi Businesses Support Residents During Storm

DSC_0003While February’s first snowfall left many in Atlanta unprepared and stranded, the second one of the month saw us at home, well-stocked and ready to hunker down. Almost immediately we were ready to get out of the house and enjoy our walkable neighborhood, snow or no snow.

Many Virginia Highland restaurants didn’t let poor road conditions or a shortage in staff and supplies stop them from opening on Wednesday to host the hungry and cabin-fevered. Several eateries offered specials or adjusted menus, and everyone adjusted to fewer kitchen and wait-staff with patience and camaraderie. Those who braved the slick sidewalks were rewarded with the signature hospitality of their favorite local spots.

On Thursday more restaurants opened, as did a few retailers who anticipated the late afternoon thaw and the rush of last-minute Valentine’s Day shoppers.

After the worst of the most recent snow, Murphy's used a snow-blower to clear a path for customers.

After the worst snow of the most recent storm, Murphy’s took drastic measures to clear a path for customers.

The business owners, managers, and staff who live in the community were willing to leave the comfort of home to serve their neighbors last week to display the spirit of what it is to be a “local business”. Beyond having an independently owned physical location in Virginia Highland, those of us who live and work in VaHi aptly treat our customers as neighbors. We happily open our doors to you, and we thank you so much for helping to keep them open.”

- Juliet White, Ten Thousand Villages

Residents Clean Up VaHi Alleyway

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Volunteers gather for a group photo before the clean up.

About a dozen Virginia-Highland residents braved chilly temperatures yesterday – but fortunately no snow – when they met to clean up the section of alleyway between St. Charles and Ponce de Leon avenues that runs from Barnett St. to Frederica St.

Residents Alicia Cardillo and Chris Juckins organized the clean up. Volunteers collected enough bags of trash to completely fill the back of a pickup truck. In addition to trash, several bags of recyclables were collected, and some overgrown brush was cleared.

A future event is planned to clear more brush and make the alleyway safely navigable for vehicles. It is hoped the increased traffic in the alley will discourage the homeless encampments and other undesirable activities that take place along the alleyway.

The group thanks Emile Blau of American Roadhouse who generously supplied biscuits and coffee for the volunteers. Supplies were donated by Keep Atlanta Beautiful, Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful and residents.

Before...

Before…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and after.

…and after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scroll down to view more photos from the clean up (thanks to Chris Juckins and Kay Stephenson for these). Click here to see more photos of what the area looked like before the clean up.

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Druid Hills Presbyterian Church Hosts Panel Discussion on Race and Law

Passing along the following from our friends at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church:

This February, True Colors will be staging the first ever performance in Atlanta of David Mamet’s Race. Race is the story of three attorneys, two black and one white, offered a chance to defend a white man charged with a crime against a black woman.

How can we have productive conversations about difference?

Please join us for a live panel discussion with Congressman John Lewis, GA State Senator Jason Carter, Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, and Atlanta Daily World Publisher M. Alexis Scott who will discuss how issues involving race influence our legal system, and how Americans discuss race in the 21st century. Moderated by David Vigilante, Senior Vice President of Legal for CNN, the afternoon will consist of a roundtable conversation by our panelists and a Q&A opportunity for the audience.

This panel discussion is free and open to the public and will start at 12 Noon on Saturday February 15 at the church.

Click here for more information.

Alley Clean Up Set for February 15

20140201_11333720140201_113232In the aftermath of a fire over the holidays in the alley that runs east of Barnett St. between Ponce and St. Charles – often the site of homeless encampments – a group of concerned VaHi residents is organizing a clean up of the alley. The nearby Open Door Community that provides assistance to the homeless has been invited to participate in the clean up.

The event is set for Saturday February 15 at 10 AM (rain date is February 22). Volunteers should wear work clothes and bring work gloves and are asked to meet at the Barnett Street entrance to the alley, across from where Maiden Lane starts. Trash bags, other supplies and bottled water will be provided.

Anyone who can help with the clean up is asked to RSVP to Alicia Cardillo at alicia.cardillo@gmail.com.

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Tentative Agenda for February 10 VHCA Board/General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, February 10, 2014; Church of Our Saviour, 1068 N. Highland Ave.

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Reports from Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

  • Dr. Gerry Neumark, President, President, APAB
  • Presentation on Open Door Residential Community (sometimes referred to as a Protestant Catholic Worker House), 910 Ponce de Leon Ave.; Mary Catherine Johnson

Planning Committee

V-14-005; 1055 Amsterdam Ave. NE; zoning is R-4.

Applicant Dan Hanlon (on behalf of owner Stephen Roach) proposes an extension of the existing home to the rear of the house and seeks variances to (1) reduce the eastern side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3’ in line with the existing structure on that side; (2) reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required) to 28’ (existing is ); and (3) reduce the half-depth front yard setback on the west side (abutting Humphrey St.) from 17’6” (required) to 3’5” (existing).   One tree in the buildable area will be removed; two 2.5’ trees will be planted.  The lot coverage remains well under 50%.  The appropriate neighbors have been notified. The date on the city’s stamped plans was not clear. At the VHCA Planning Comm., the applicant agreed he would furnish that date (and bring a copy to the VHCA meeting) and file a more specific plan to address the new stormwater created by the addition, specifically demonstrating that it would not flow downhill onto the eastern neighbor.  Subject to those conditions, the Committee voted unanimously to support the application.

Z-13-056 1085 Ponce de Leon Ave NE

Applicant Erik Kronberg  presents a proposal to rezone and redevelop the Druid Hills Baptist Church Activities Building and parking lot.  The proposal preserves the sanctuary and contemplates a new mixed-use residential/retail/commercial development with parking.  Though the development is in Poncey/Highland [NPU-N]) – not in Virginia-Highland – this informational presentation is mandated by the re-zoning process due to its proximity to and potential impacts on our neighborhood. (Link to the rezoning application:  Z-13-056 1085 Ponce de Leon Ave NE.   Link to a previously released article about it: http://atlanta.curbed.com/archives/2014/01/14/ponceyhighland-church-land-could-be-destined-for-mixeduse.php)

City of Atlanta Alley Re-platting Policy

Remand of V-13-099 from Fulton county Superior Court to BZA

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan & Jess Windham

2014 Goals & Budgets – Jack White & Peggy Berg

Parks Committee – Lauren Wilkes Fralick, David Brandenburger

Safety Committee – Peggy Berg

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle

Adjournment

Can You Help A Deserving VaHi Teen in Need?

1521350_723248251019185_656251682_nPosting the following on behalf of Virginia-Highland resident Michelle Corbett:

We are reaching out to ask for your help for someone in the neighborhood who recently suffered an unexpected and tragic loss. On Sunday, January 26th, Jenny Moody’s father unexpectedly passed away. Jenny was born and raised right here in Virginia Highland. Jenny still lives and works here. She graduated from Grady High School in 2013 and is currently a freshman at Georgia Tech. Jenny works weekends at American Roadhouse and she has been working there since she was 16.

As you might imagine, in addition to the emotional loss which Jenny suffered, she is now facing some real financial challenges as well. We are reaching out to people in the neighborhood to help raise funds to try and alleviate some of Jenny’s financial burden and to help a hard-working, sweet, brilliant and thoughtful young woman. If you know Jenny or knew her dad Mitch Moody, please consider making a donation.

American Roadhouse has generously offered to accept donations on Jenny’s behalf. Emile Blau, the owner of American Roadhouse, is taking care of collecting whatever is donated to ensure that it goes directly to Jenny.

Thanks in advance for your consideration in helping one of our neighborhood’s own.Thanks in advance for your consideration in helping this sweet young woman.

In Support of Proper Garbage/Recycling Bin Etiquette

DSC06002Passing along the following reminder about garbage/recycling bin etiquette from Kay Stephenson of the Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful group:

In my walks about the neighborhood I’ve noticed that some residents in both single- and multi-family dwellings are less than diligent about moving bins from curbside back onto their own property in a timely manner. This behavior presents a number of issues.

First, the bins can impede either vehicular or pedestrian traffic, and they present the appearance of a property that is not cared for. This ties directly to the ‘broken window theory’ of public safety. More information about the broken window theory can be found here.

photoIn addition, within the City of Atlanta it is illegal to place containers at curbside before the hour of 7:00 pm on the day before collection, or to leave them after 7:00 pm on the day of collection. In our neighborhood collection day is Monday.

We all have busy schedules and in the case of multi-unit rental homes and apartment buildings with absentee owners, there may be no one responsible for moving the bins to and from the curb. I’ve even had reports of neighbors who have returned bins for others on their street, only to find the property owner or tenant is annoyed. Apparently some find it more convenient to leave the bin at the curb permanently.

However, that is a poor excuse for allowing the neighborhood to look trashy, making life more difficult for neighbors and for breaking the law. We all have bad weeks, and neighbors should certainly cut each other a bit of slack. However, if this is a chronic situation, residents are within their rights to file a complaint with the City of Atlanta Office of Code Compliance.

The first step in this process should be to have a friendly conversation with the offending party to provide education on the law and to see if the problem can be remedied. If this approach is unsuccessful and the resident wishes to file a complaint, the process to do so is outlined here.

Just to clarify the rules, here is a summary:

  • Garbage and recycling bins are provided by the city, and are to be kept closed at all times to prevent garbage and odors from escaping.
  • Garbage bins should not be filled to the point of overflow.
  • It is the responsibility of the resident (whether home owner or renter) to keep the bin clean, sanitary, and odor-proof.
  • Bins cannot be placed where they will block normal vehicular traffic, public transportation, or pedestrian or wheelchair access roads and sidewalks.
  • Bins cannot be placed at curbside before 7:00 pm on the day before collection (Monday) and must be removed to private property by 7:00 pm on the day of collection.
  • Any extra garbage that doesn’t fit in the can must be place in properly marked bags or containers and not more than five bags are allowed at one time.
  • Violation of these codes results in a Class A offense.
    • 1st offense – $50 and/or up to 20 hours community service
    • 2nd offense – $75 and/or up to 50 hours community service
    • 3rd offense – $100 and/or up to 100 hours community service.
    • Each day that the bins remain at the curb in violation of the code is considered a separate offense, so you can see that the penalties can add up quickly.
    • For those with physical limitations that prevent movement of bins, an exemption can be given at the discretion of the Commission of Public Works. Contact DPW at 404-330-6333 for more information.

If you’d like to read more about the code, you can find the citation here.

I’m certainly not suggesting we all start reporting our neighbors for minor infractions. My intent for this message is to help educate those who honestly don’t know the rules, and encourage the rest of us to cooperate in Keeping Virginia Highland Beautiful!

Kay Stephenson, Keep Virginia Highland Beautiful

Winter Wren Women’s Boutique to Host Official Grand Opening Celebration

 New Virginia Highland Boutique From Veteran Retailer and Owner of 310 Rosemont Now Open

Special Grand Opening Celebration on Thursday February 6, 2014 from 6 – 9 PM

DSCN0623Winter Wren, a brand new womenswear boutique located in the heart of Atlanta’s Virginia-Highland neighborhood, is thrilled to celebrate its arrival with a stylish soiree on February 6, 2014. The second Atlanta offering from Winter Hodges, veteran retailer and longtime Virginia Highland resident behind Atlanta’s beloved 310 Rosemont boutique, Winter Wren features comfortable yet sophisticated womenswear with a curated selection of ready-to-wear apparel and accessories from posh brands like Free People, BB Dakota, Michael Stars, Hunter Boots, Kensie, Aryn K., BCBG Generation, Diane Von Furstenberg, Rebecca Minkoff and more. From party-wear to casually chic weekend-wear, Winter Wren is bringing new options and an alternative shopping experience to Atlanta’s fashion set.

“While I have boutiques across the Southeast, to have my first name sake store in the heart of the Virginia Highland, the neighborhood I call my home, is more than a dream come true.  Winter Wren is more than just another women’s clothing store; we strive to offer an authentic shopping experience and are dedicated to building the community that surrounds and supports us.  It is truly an honor to open my second boutique in Atlanta and I consider our community to be THE most solid ground as a building block for great things to come,” says Winter Hodges, owner of 310 Rosemont and newly opened Winter Wren.

DSCN0621To mark its official grand opening, Winter Wren will host a celebratory evening of shopping and cocktails on February 6, 2014 from 6 to 9 PM.  Guests are invited to sip on signature Cathead Vodka cocktails while shopping a special selection of Free People merchandise at a 20% discount. Live jazz will set the soundtrack for the evening as guests mix and mingle and enjoy fresh sushi and bites by Genki Noodles and Sushi.  A Free People giveaway will round out what is sure to be an unforgettably fashionable evening.

Winter Wren is now open to the public and is located on the corner of North Highland Avenue and Virginia Avenue at 1004 N. Highland Ave. Atlanta, GA 30306. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information please visit www.facebook.com/winterwrenatl or call (404) 888-9736.  Stay connected on Twitter and Instagram at @winterwrenatl and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/WinterWrenATL.

Winter Wren Evite-Feb6

SPARK Update: Prospective Parent Tours and Rising K Open House

SPARKSupporterLogo

Passing along the following from our friends at Springdale Park Elementary School:

Due to the overwhelming response SPARK has received for our prospective parent tours, we are modifying our tour schedule so we can accommodate everyone. No registration is necessary since we will make sure enough staff will be available to accompany guests and answer questions. We have had to change some dates in order for us to secure enough staff to help with the tours.

Our new tour dates are as follows:

  • Thursday, February 6th at 8:45 AM
  • Thursday, February 13th at 8:45 AM
  • Tuesday, February 25th at 8:45 AM
  • Tuesday, March 4th at 8:45 AM

Note: We have had to cancel the February 27th date.

When you arrive at SPARK, please go the main office first to sign in. After check in, please wait in the cafeteria until the tour starts. Please arrive on time – after 9:00, late arrivals will not be admitted.

Also, please mark your calendars for SPARK’s Rising Kindergarten Parent Open House on Tuesday March 11th at 8:45 AM. This is an opportunity for parents to hear from SPARK administration and kindergarten teachers about SPARK’s curriculum, the daily schedule for kindergartners, and visit a SPARK kindergarten classroom. We understand that children may need to accompany their parents to the open house but please note that this event is designed for parents.

We have received many questions about activities for rising kindergarten students and SPARK does hold a lunch for new students in the spring. We will post the information on our website and to the local preschools once we confirm a date.

SPARK also has kindergarten ambassadors – parents of current SPARK students who also have a kindergartner starting next year. They are a great resource for questions about SPARK. They will set up play dates for kindergartners to meet over the summer. Visit the Kindergarten Corner of the SPARK website for updates on activities. Our Kindergarten Ambassadors are Ida Centner (ida@centner.org) and Heather Hallett (heather.hallett@yahoo.com).

You can also sign up for the SPARK newsletter SPARK-e, which provides weekly updates for SPARK parents. Visit http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/domain/1823 to sign up.

When visiting SPARK, please allow plenty of time to park. Due to the expansion construction, there is no guest parking on-site. Please use side streets for parking. There is a walkway to SPARK from the DHUMC parking lot, although parking in the church lot is not permitted.

We are very excited to meet future SPARK parents at one of our scheduled events. We hope you can join us!

Inman Middle School Expansion Update

DSC_0004Re-posting the following from the Virginia-Highland Morningside Parents Association discussion board:

At the first Inman Expansion Committee meeting held January 21, 2014, representatives from the architecture firm BRPH shared their Conceptual Design Package for the proposed Inman Middle School addition. A project overview can be found on the Atlanta Public School’s Facilities Department webpage at http://www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/Page/40689. The project’s current tentative start date is December 2014.

The proposed addition would add approximately 20,000 sq. ft. on two levels (approx. 12,000 sq. ft. to the foot print) to the east (main entrance) side of the building. This expansion would include seven regular classrooms, two health classrooms, one technology lab, renovations to the existing band room, additional bleachers in the gymnasium, reworking of the locker rooms and coaches’ offices, and a complete renovation and addition to the main lobby area. A new stairway and elevator in the main lobby area will allow access to the media center and second level. In addition, the student entrance on Clemont Drive will be shifted over to the new addition and will provide a larger buffer zone for students between the street and the building, and a pull-off for special education buses will be added along Park Dr. Enhanced entry security at the front is planned, including a security vestibule closer to the main office. While the plans are in a very early stage, the building layout in general seems to be well thought-out, and we (authors of the VHMPA post) look forward to its continued development.

The next Inman Expansion Committee meeting will be held in March (date TBD). If you have questions or comments regarding the current conceptual design, please feel free to contact the Inman parent representatives on the committee: Tamara Jones (IMS LSC rep) at tjones@keepers-bags.com or Gail Price (IMS PTA rep) at gailanddave2@comcast.net.

Applicants to Present Plan for Proposed Redevelopment of Druid Hills Baptist Church Site

220px-Druid_Hills_Baptist_Church

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

The applicants for the Druid Hills Baptist Church re-zoning (located in Poncey Highland, NPU-N) will present their proposed project for information and public comment at the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board of Directors Meeting, on Monday, February 10, 7 PM at the Ponce de Leon Library, 980 Ponce de Leon Avenue NE.

The proposal preserves the sanctuary and contemplates a redevelopment of the existing activities building and adjacent parking lots to mixed-use residential/retail/commercial development (with new parking.) Though the development is not in Virginia-Highland, this informational presentation is mandated by the re-zoning process due to its proximity to and potential impacts on our neighborhood.

Link to the rezoning application: Z-13-056 1085 Ponce de Leon Ave NE. (Click on File, Download to download the application.)

Link to a previously released article about the development: http://atlanta.curbed.com/archives/2014/01/14/ponceyhighland-church-land-could-be-destined-for-mixeduse.php

A subsequent informational presentation will occur at NPU F on Monday, February 17 at 7 PM at Hillside (1301 Monroe Drive; enter from Monroe; the gate access code is 1615).

Images from VaHi’s SnowJam 2014

DSC_0018Now that the temps have warmed a bit, the snow’s melted, and the challenges and inconveniences that came with this past week’s storm are a distant memory – yeah, right – we thought you might enjoy viewing a few images of how the storm impacted our neighborhood.

This is just a sampling, a few photos taken by your fearless reporter as he was out and about with his dog. If you’d like to add images to this gallery so that they can be shared with future VaHi residents, please send them to jnbecker@me.com.

Stay warm these last few weeks of winter everyone – spring’s right around the corner!

Click here to view VaHi images of SnowJam 2014.

Happy 20th Birthday, Java Jive!

photoOne of Virginia-Highland’s flagship businesses is having a birthday this month, and you’re invited to help celebrate!

February marks Java Jive’s 20th year in VaHi. Owner Steven Horwitz says weekly drawings will be held throughout the month to thank the neighborhood and its residents for their support over the years.

photo 5Starting February 1 and continuing throughout the month, customers can drop their names or business cards in a bowl at the shop. Each Friday two names will be drawn from the bowl with one lucky winner taking home a $25 gift certificate and the other snagging a bag of Java Jive’s house blend coffee. Winning names will be posted on Java Jive’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Java-Jive/130545348302.

Java Jive is located at 790 Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Happy 20th birthday, Java Jive!

ABC Report Finds VaHi ‘Ideal’ Possible Location for Bike Share Kiosk

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Bike sharing in Atlanta is one step closer to becoming reality. It’s not exactly known where the first kiosks will go, but VaHi is one of nine areas an Atlanta Bicycle Coalition study found to be ‘ideal’ possible sites.

Click here to read a Creative Loafing article with the latest on bike sharing in Atlanta.

City Council District Six Winter Storm Update

wan_190Passing along the following information and link to e-newsletter from our City Councilperson Alex Wan.

I hope that everyone is staying safe during the current weather conditions in Atlanta. Here is some important information I want to share with you regarding the situation:

  • Please avoid getting on the roads if at all possible, particularly as the temperatures continue to drop, and the roads begin refreezing.
  • The City’s priority has been to assist GDOT with unclogging the interstates. We are also working on clearing major arterials through the City, followed by secondary streets.
  • The Mayor’s office informs us that abandoned vehicles in the City of Atlanta street right-of-ways are simply being moved to the side and out of the way, and not to other lots. Where the City is assisting GDOT in clearing the interstates, cars are also being moved to the side and not to another lot. In instances where vehicle owners are with their cars and need assistance, those cars are being towed to lots.
  • The City will be mobilizing with meals this evening for those that are still stranded in their cars and in shelters, fire stations, etc. Please help us make sure that those in need are accounted for by having them call 911 or contact Michael Sterling in the Mayor’s office at 404-664-1921.

We also learned earlier this afternoon that all Atlanta Public School students are now safely at home. City of Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools will remained closed tomorrow due to the weather and icy road conditions.
I will continue sharing updates with you as I receive them. Please be safe in all of your activities until everything melts.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation.

Former Zone 6 Commander Retires from APD After 30 Years of Service

Deputy Chief Propes' Retirement Celebration FlyerMany VaHi residents will remember Deputy Chief Renee Propes who was commander of our Zone 6 for several years before being promoted. Eventually rising to one of the department’s highest ranking positions, Propes is now retiring after thirty years of service. A retirement celebration will be held Thursday February 6 at 6 PM at Manuel’s Tavern in Poncey Highland.

Congratulations on your retirement, Deputy Chief Propes, and thanks so much for your many years of dedicated service.

Callanwolde Fine Arts Festival Set for January 25-26

CallanwoldeArtsFestival_LogoSet your calendar now for the first annual Callanwolde Arts Festival! This event is a two-day indoor arts festival on January 25 – 26, 2014 which promises to become one of the premier partnerships of art institutions in the Atlanta area. It is a festival for artists by artists, letting the artist have a voice in the creation and operations of the festival.

This event will feature approximately 86 painters, photographers, sculptors, metalwork, glass artists, jewelers and more! The festival will also offer artist demonstrations, live acoustic music, plus gourmet food trucks with healthy alternatives and music and dance performances.

Tickets are $5 per person and they’re available online or at the door.

Click here for more information.

Inman Middle School Principal Stepping Down

 

Paula Herrema

Paula Herrema

As reported in VaHi Patch and other sources, Inman Middle School’s principal Paula Herrema has announced she will be stepping down from her post at the end of the month for health reasons.

Veteran principal Thomas Kenner will replace Ms. Herrema on an interim basis at least through the end of the year.

The VHCA would like to thank Ms. Herrema for her outstanding contribution to the education of Virginia-Highland’s middle schoolers during her tenure.

Inman PTA Sponsors Cyberbullying Workshop

DSC_0004Passing along this notice from VaHi resident Cathy Lepik and the Inman Middle School PTA:

The Inman Middle School PTA invites the community to a parent/student cyberbullying Workshop. 

“Submit the Documentary” The Virtual Reality of Cyberbullying™ 

Thursday, January 23, 2014 

6:00 PM, Inman Middle School Auditorium 

Inman students in attendance with a parent will receive a homework pass. Concessions will be offered to benefit the Inman Drama Club. 

A must-see for every middle school and high school student and their parents. SUBMIT* The Documentary is a 45-minute look into the frightening new reality of cyberbullying. 

It’s in the news and it’s in our schools…cyberbullying is bullying by means of electronic technology committed through email, instant messaging, mobile applications, social media, chat rooms, and blogs or through messages and images sent through a cell phone. Because of the anonymity, kids who never thought of being a bully are becoming harassers. By exploring the complicated dynamics behind cyberbullying, Submit the Documentary describes the impact and outcomes of advanced technology and human nature in a lawless, new, social frontier. 

A Q&A will follow, lead by cyberbullying expert, Dr. Patricia Agatson, co-author of the book, Cyber Bullying: Bullying in the Digital Age. Dr. Agatson has been quoted in articles on cyber bullying in Time Magazine, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and CNET News, and has appeared on CNN as well as other local and national television segments to discuss cyber bullying. 

SUBMIT* The Documentary is rated PG, but the subject matter is sensitive and may not be suitable for younger children. Please use discretion. Click here to view the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyAtYa6qMWM 

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls cyberbullying the “most common online risk for all teens.”

Please join us for this important evening!

Eastside Trail Gateway Groundbreaking Set for This Friday

Beltline_logo_finalThe long-awaited connection between the Eastside BeltLine trail and popular Historic Fourth Ward Park is finally becoming reality.

The groundbreaking celebration for the gateway that will connect the trail and the park will take place this Friday January 17 at 10 AM on the Eastside Trail overlooking Historic Fourth Ward Park at the Angier Springs Road access point. Access is available via Somerset Avenue off of North Avenue. Parking is available on Somerset Avenue and Angier Springs Road.

DSC_0024The Gateway is an ADA-accessible trail that will connect Historic Fourth Ward Park directly to the two-mile paved portion of the Eastside Trail, running from Inman Park to Piedmont Park. The path will begin across from the Angier Springs Road access point of the Eastside Trail, and wind down the hill toward the park, connecting at Dallas Street and North Angier Avenue. The design includes landscaping, retaining walls, lighting, and green infrastructure stormwater design.

The Eastside Trail Gateway is made possible by generous contributions from donors to the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership: A Friend of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership; the R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation; the John N. Goddard Foundation; and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.

For more information, click here.

VaHi Safety Team Report: 2013 Zone 6 Summary

City of Atlanta logo colorBy: John Wolfinger

Passing on this message from our APD Zone 6 Commander, Major Tim Peek, with a look back at the 2013 Zone crime stats and looking forward to 2014, urging citizen participation in crime prevention.  To see how big Zone 6 is – look at the map at  http://atlantapd.org/Zone6.aspx  Zone 6 goes from Amsterdam Avenue southward to McDonough Boulevard, from the Downtown Connector on the west and eastward to the East Lake neighborhood.  VaHi is but a small part of the entire Zone 6 and we are designated as Beat 601, which follows our neighborhood boundaries.  Zone 6 is also the only APD Zone that is divided between two counties – Fulton and DeKalb.

Note that Major Peek urges those who have not registered their alarm systems to do so before February 1, 2014.  The reasoning is explained at http://www.ajc.com/news/news/police-atlanta-residents-businesses-must-register-/nY7Bm/

The most significant crime category we suffer here in VaHi is larceny from vehicle – so please remember the Clean Car Campaign and keep ALL parked cars cleaned out at ALL times.  Probably most of our VaHi victims of this crime are visitors to our many bars and restaurants – so I again urge our business community to remind their patrons of the danger of leaving ANYTHING visible in their cars before enjoying an evening here.  These thieves know that there is a gold mine of opportunity here and they will continue to roam our streets and parking lots – until they only find empty parked cars and go elsewhere.

Happy New Year!

John

———————————————–

Citizens of Zone Six, please see the information below…

2013 Overall Crime Statistics

2% up YTD from 2012

2% up YTD from 2011

18% down YTD from 2009

Robbery arrests – 72 robbery suspects arrested in 2013 (18 arrests in the last two months)

Burglary arrests – 74 burglary suspects arrested in 2013 (9 in the last two months)

Theft from auto arrests – 109 suspects arrested for breaking into autos in 2013

You may ask the question “What does any of these statistics mean?” If you, a family member or friend have been the victim of a crime, absolutely nothing. Please know that no number can take the place of a victim of crime. As a method of seeing what’s happening and where, it is critical that we look a these numbers to develop crime trends and strategies. Over time, statistics will paint a picture of what is taking place in the community. The law enforcement profession has undergone enormous changes. Each day, it appears that we are dealing with new crime trends all over. In attempts to make a difference, we are performing many additional tasks aimed at reaching youths since we are seeing a growing trend of senseless crimes attributed to youthful offenders. Of course, if youth commit crimes, the responsibility of the police department is to deliver the offenders to the judicial system and formally charge them just as we would for an adult. We are also working closely with the DeKalb and Fulton County District Attorney’s Offices. We have also reached out and received support from our state and federal law enforcement partners.

In 2013, we experienced a disturbing trend with violent crime.  With that, we also experienced an increase in arrests for those same crimes.  In the last two months, we have arrested 7 persons for burglary and 18 persons robbery/armed robbery.  Although we can’t call this a victory, we can consider it a great step in the right direction.  What is significant is that several investigations were aided by citizens taking the time to report suspicious activity.  This police/citizen partnership is so very important in fighting crime.  We also worked closely with our law enforcement neighbors in the metropolitan area.  Particularly, Zone Six worked closely with DeKalb County’s South Precinct to investigate many of the crimes that border both jurisdictions.  Zone Six also received an enormous amount of support from other sections within the Atlanta Police Department such as our Special Operations Section, Special Enforcement Section and our Community Oriented Policing Section.  All were willing participants and we look forward to working with all for continued progress.

For 2014, we hope that you (citizens and residents) will remain vigilant and continue to partner with police.  We know and realize that without public support, we may struggle to expediently develop information that we need to solve certain crimes.  We ask that you continue to do the following:

  • We ask that you continue to look, observe and report any suspicious activity to the police by calling 911.
  • Install an alarm system if you don’t already have one. Make sure all windows and doors are covered with sensors.  Glass break sensors and audible sirens are also great. Once you have the system installed, be sure to have it registered with the City of Atlanta.  You can do so by going to https://www.crywolf.us/oss/atlantaga/.
  • Light up your lots so that your neighbors can easily see suspicious activity around your homes.
  • At night, please close curtains and blinds so that prowlers cannot see inside your homes at night.  Investigations have revealed that professional criminals often go out and scout which properties they will target.  That is why they are able to hit and leave in such a fast manner.
  • Reinforce your door thresholds so that a simple kick will not allow easy access.  Although not cheap, there are some decorative storm doors that will not simply shatter.  They are good at deterring crime but they must be properly installed.
  • Continue helping with the Clean Car Campaign.  Remember not to hide items in your car but keep them out of your car.  Leave them at home or take them with you when you get out of your cars.
  • Be watchful and always be aware of your surroundings.  Listen to your gut feelings. If someone’s presence makes you uncomfortable, avoid remaining in their immediate presence.
  • When you receive notice of arrests from our Court Watch programs, please be willing to participate in the court process and show up.  We need your help to slow and stop the process of repeat offenders entering and exiting the jails, only to prey on more victims.

In closing, we look forward to having a great 2014.  Our hearts go out to all families that were victims of violent crime, and particularly those who experienced bereavement as a result of crime in Zone Six and throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area.  We can’t simply close out 2013 and act as if it never happened but we can learn from history and hopefully, we can change the future.  Get to know each other and be good, nosy neighbors.  I look forward to working with each and every person.  Happy New Year!

The mission of the Atlanta Police Department is to create a safer Atlanta by reducing crime, ensuring the safety of our citizens and building trust in partnership with our community.

Sincerely,

Major T. D. Peek

Commander, Zone Six Precinct

Atlanta Police Department

2025 Hosea Williams Drive

Office – 404-371-5002

City Cellular – 404-831-0824

Efax    – 404-546-9110

Email  – TPeek@AtlantaGa.Gov

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Support SPARK – Shop at Whole Foods Jan. 15th

SPARKSupporterLogowhole_foods-logo1Our friends at Springdale Park Elementary PTO have advised that Whole Foods on Ponce de Leon Ave. will hold a 5% sales day in support of SPARK on Wednesday January 15th. Whole Foods will donate 5% of net sales from 8 AM – 10 PM that day to the SPARK PTO so the more you shop during that period, the more you give to this worthy neighborhood cause.

Whole Foods’ mission is to cultivate a community of innovative thinkers with a commitment to personal, environmental, and social responsibility, where a love for learning is inspired by passionate student-focused teaching, based on the highest standards for academic excellence and creativity. Money raised through the 5% sales day will be used for curriculum, student enrichment, teacher support tools, and supplemental teacher training and aides.

For more information, visit www.atlanta.k12.ga.us/Page/8674.

Mary Alyce Ware: May 21, 1930 – January 7, 2014

By: Lola Carlisle, North Virginia Avenue

Special thanks to Matthew Baughman (also of North Virginia Avenue) for providing information from his 2002 interview with Mary Alyce Ware.

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Mary Alyce, on right, and Betty Ware in their home at 1035 N. Virginia Ave

There was nowhere we would rather live than Virginia-Highland.

My first introduction to the area was in 1984 when a friend picked out bridesmaids dresses from Mooncake. I drove up to Atlanta from South Georgia and had my first taste of what was then a neighborhood still in transition – but more on this side of transition than the other. My friend Gretchen told me all about how cool intown Atlanta was, and she was right. Boy, we had a ton of fun, from restaurants in VaHi (including The Dessert Place) to wild-as-hell nightclubs like Club 688 in downtown Atlanta.

Cut to nearly ten years later: my husband and I return from NYC. We considered living in the suburbs for about 30 seconds and then set our sights on Virginia-Highland. On every excursion with our realtor (the intriguing German lady with the cool old black Mercedes) we found ourselves being shown around less expensive neighborhoods near Virginia-Highland before we insisted on looping back to the nighborhood itself. Buying here panned out – and I swear we got the very, very last great deal in this community. I know some other people think they did; maybe we’re all correct.

The day we moved into the neighborhood in March 1993, Mary Alyce and Eddie Ware came over and introduced themselves. They wanted to know everything about us and tell us everything about this little part of Virginia-Highland. They were brother and sister and lived next to one another – Eddie in the family home at 1029 N. Virginia Ave. and Mary Alyce next-door. At the time, we were very busy working hard and trying to make ends meet so we were not as receptive to the long conversations that Eddie and Mary Alyce enjoyed. If you needed to run out to your car, you did so armed with an explanation about why you couldn’t linger.  But all that changed over the next couple of years as we got to know Eddie and Mary Alyce better.

School picture of Mary Alyce

Mary Alyce, Morningside

Eddie fell in love with our first Weimaranar, Hekate. We learned later that Hekate was fed McDonald’s burgers over the fence three times a week, compliments of Eddie, who spent time with her every day. I have to say that because we were so busy we kept a little distance between us and the old guard on the street – but that was before our daughter Carli was born. No one could keep Mary Alyce Ware away from a cute baby! From Carli’s birth in December 1995 until January 2014, we were lucky enough to have Mary Alyce Ware (Aunt Dee Dee) in our lives.

Mary Alyce was born in 1930, about the time Virginia-Highland was becoming a bustling subdivision of Atlanta. A year before Mary Alyce was born, her parents moved to Atlanta from New Orleans for her father’s job with National Linen Service. Like many folks in those days, they rented apartments and homes around the neighborhood until 1942, when they bought the home at 1029 N. Virginia Avenue. Mary Alyce was the middle of five children – two older brothers and a younger brother and sister. 1029 N. Virginia, a three-bedroom/one-bath house, was a bustling and happy place. The kids went to Morningside, Inman, Sacred Heart, and Boys High. They walked and rode the bus to school and pretty much everywhere they went. Mary Alyce remembered growing up with war rationing, scarlet fever and polio outbreaks. Mary Alyce contracted polio and ended up missing enough school that she graduated one year late. She lived with the repercussions of having had polio all of her life, primarily severe back issues that prompted her early retirement in 1979.

Mary Alyce was a strong and independent woman. She applied to Loyola University and was shocked to hear they didn’t allow women to attend. She then applied to H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, the women’s college of Tulane University. She was accepted and graduated in 1953 with a psychology major and philosophy minor. After graduation she lived in New Orleans with her grandmother for a few months until her father encouraged (or more accurately, insisted) that she return and search for a job.

Mary Alyce and friends at Sophie Newcomb College

Mary Alyce Ware, seated third from left, at Sophie Newcomb

Most women of her generation took secretarial jobs, but Mary Alyce could not due to her lack of typing skills, which were limited by her bout with polio. She applied to and got an entry-level job with Life of Georgia, and her working career began. Mary Alyce’s independent nature was in evidence in her promotion to traveling auditor, the first woman in the company to have that title. The role was one she’d been in for some time before being officially promoted (and given a raise), an act that occurred only after she formally asked for both in a special meeting with her boss.  I also recall Mary Alyce’s indignation that when she wanted to buy the home next to her parents, she was not allowed to sign the note alone even though she had the credit history and finances to do so; a man had to co-sign.  Her father did so, but the fact that it was necessary infuriated her, especially in this era of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment.

My years with her taught me a good bit about what the neighborhood had been like over the decades. When I asked her about its reported ‘decline’ in the 60’s, she replied that she had never noticed it;  North Virginia had stayed stable. Come to think of it, she was right. When we moved in in 1993, the Pittmans (who were in their 70′s) lived across the street, Eddie was in his 60’s and still owned and lived in the house he grew up in, Mary Alyce was in her 60’s and lived next door to the house she grew up in, Ronnie Boorstein was in his 60s and lived in the house he grew up in. The Abrahams still lived in the house behind us where they raised a family, we bought our house from Sue Robinette (when she was 100; she and her husband were the original owners), Mr. Allen and his friend lived across the street and had lived there for a very long time, and Dennis and Polly lived a few doors down and had lived there since the late 70’s. I could tell a similar story about Los Angeles Avenue as well.

Mary Alyce was a great friend and family member to so many, and she became an adopted aunt, mother and grandmother to us. We really got comfortable with each other during my maternity leave; she and I spent every day watching Carli grow. From then on we were all family – even our nieces, nephews and au pairs took Mary Alyce on as their Aunt Dee Dee. I could ask Aunt Dee Dee advice about work, friends, health, child rearing, pets and family and come away with useful information. Carli would proudly take her friends over to meet Aunt DeeDee, with whom they would spend hours. She was the best neighbor – and adopted family – anyone could ask for. When she was younger, she spent nearly every weekend of the summer with her nieces and nephews at their cabin on Lake Jackson, and several of her nieces and nephews lived with her for extended periods of time.

I will greatly miss my trips across the street, glass of wine in hand, where over the years I made a fast friend.

All photos courtesy of Mary Alyce Ware.

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Mary Alyce in front of her parents’ house, 1029 N. Virginia Ave

 

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Mary Alyce’s father, Thomas Ware, at a National Linen Service meeting

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Tommy and Eddie Ware – possibly near the apartments they lived in at 645 N. Highland Ave.

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Mary Alyce on Lake Jackson

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Eddie Ware, 1947 at Boys High

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Mary Alyce and her nephew Edward (Cubby) Ware on Lake Jackson

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Mary Alyce on lawn of 1029 N. Virginia Ave, looking north toward 1035 N. Virginia Ave

 

Celebration of Ryan Hidinger’s Life Scheduled for Sunday

Ryan Hidinger, chef at Staplehouse restaurant and co-founder with his wife Jennifer of The Giving Kitchen – a nonprofit that provides assistance to metro Atlanta restaurant workers in financial need – passed away last week after a year long struggle with cancer. You can read more about Ryan and why so many people were saddened by his passing in this Access Atlanta article written by John Kessler.

Ryan’s friends and family have organized a celebration of his life that will be held at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot this Sunday January 19 from 11 AM – 2 PM. Scroll down for details.

BE_FIRM

 

Memorial Service Scheduled for Former VaHi Taco Mac Manager Paul Reed

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Paul Reed (center) surrounded by some of the Taco Mac group he managed during a reunion at the store last February.

Many Virginia-Highland residents will recall Paul Reed who for several years was a manager at the Taco Mac location at Virginia and N. Highland avenues. Paul passed away last week from complications related to the diabetes he’d struggled with recently.

Paul was a wonderful man, with a heart and sense of humor to match his large frame. Whether you were a regular or someone walking into Taco Mac for the first time, Paul was always there to welcome you with a big smile and a hearty:  “Have a seat anywhere you like.”

Always someone you could go to with a problem or concern, Paul connected instantly and in a meaningful way with his staff. Many will recall that late one night Paul risked his life defending Taco Mac and its employees from an armed robber. The outpouring of support from his former staff and customers in the wake of his passing has been overwhelming and is a testament to how much he was loved.

There will be a viewing for Paul this Thursday January 16 from 2-8 PM at Raleigh Rucker Funeral Home located at 2199 Candler Rd. in Decatur. A memorial service will be held at the same location on Friday January 17 at 11 AM.

At the time of his passing Paul was uninsured, and his family is accepting donations to help defray the cost of his memorial service. Anyone interested in helping out at this difficult time can contact the family at 770-256-5711.

Toscano & Sons Opens in VaHi

TSLogo2006In 2006 Toscano & Sons Italian Market opened on Atlanta’s Westside and quickly established itself as the city’s prime destination for authentic Italian specialty food products. The store built a loyal following for its award winning authentic Italian Panini; great selection of Italian meats, cheeses and wines; home-made entrees and sauces; and wide range of oils, vinegars, pastas, sauces and other Italian pantry items.

T&S InteriorIn early 2013 owners Kathy Boehmer and John Reed decided to relocate the store to a more residentially dense, walkable part of the city. They were delighted to find a spot in the heart of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood at 1050 N. Highland Avenue. The store reopened at the new location in early December and continues to add new items and product lines on a daily basis. Plans for 2014 include the reintroduction of their range of great wines and expansion of prepared foods.

Drawing on Italian heritage, regular trips to Italy, and a passion for Italian food, wine and culture, the owners have a shared enthusiasm and knowledge for all things Italian. They and their staff enthusiastically engage customers about anything Italian as evidenced by the high marks they get from everyone who walks through the door. Whether you’re a diehard Italophile, or just like to eat good food, Kathy and John look forward to meeting many of their new neighbors at the new location and are grateful for the gracious outpouring of support and the warm welcome they’ve received from all their customers, new and old, since they re-opened. They’ve created a warm, welcoming corner of Italy in the heart of Atlanta and hope you will enjoy the cozy ambiance and great selection of foods to take home.

Ciao a presto!

Toscano & Sons

1050 N. Highland Ave.

404-815-8383

www.toscanoandsons.com

Tentative Agenda for VHCA January 2014 Board and General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, January 13, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library 

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Reports from Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

  • Angelika Taylor, Tour of Homes
  • Alex Beasley, Trees Atlanta

Planning Committee

V-13-264 Glen Arden Way NE; zoning is R-4.

Applicants  Ashley Peck seeks a variance to reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required0 to the existing 23’ to add heated space in the attic within the existing footprint.   A Planning Comm visit on observed no tree or runoff issues.  The applicant has notified the appropriate neighbors. The Planning com recommends approval conditioned on a site plan dated Nov 25, 2013.

V-13-265 976 Adair Ave. NE; zoning is R-4.

Applicant Lisa Pringle seeks a variance to (1-A) reduce the east side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 5’ and (1-B) to reduce the rear yard setback from 15’ required) to 6’ (credit given for half of a 10’ alley) to build an accessory structure (storage shed begun w/o permit and already substantially complete); and (2) a variance to reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ to 5’ to allow an extension in line with the existing structure on that side.  A Planning Com site visit indicated that notation of one tree was needed; ti has been made.  A 55-gallon (minimum) rain barrel is being added to the west side addition to prevent additional stormwater from reaching the adjacent neighbors..  The removal of an existing deck in the rear will reduce lot coverage from to 57%  49.29%.  The appropriate neighbors have been notified.

The Planning Comm recommended approval based on the filing of a revised site plan that matches the one displayed and signed off on at the Planning Comm meeting, which adds a requested rain barrel.

V-13-284 1038 St. Charles Ave.; zoning is RG-2.

Applicants Ben and Melissa Redwine request (1() a variance to0 reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 2’ (already existing) and (2) a requust to add heated a space to a proposed new finished basement. No external changes will be made.  The FAR is going from 3102 to 3908 (31%->38%), well within the permitted limits for this zoning.  The existing lot coverage of  50.84% will not change. An exhausting number of neighbors have been notified.

The Planning Committee recommended approval conditioned on the site plan dated Dec 18, 2013.

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan & Jess Windham

Committee Reports –

Tour of Homes – Angelika Taylor

Budget – Jack White & Peggy Berg

Communication – Revised VHCA logo – Lola Carlisle and John Becker

2014 Goals & Budgets – Jack White

Calendar Items

Adjournment

VaHi Resident Named to Most Influential Georgians List

MarkBecker

Photo credit: Jason Getz, AJC

Georgia Trend’s annual list of the most influential Georgians was released recently, and a Virginia-Highland resident’s name is on it.

Mark Becker, president of Georgia State Univerity, is one of 75 Georgians named to the list. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Since beginning his tenure as GSU’s seventh president in January 2009, Becker has led this 100-year-old institution of some 32,000 students into a period of marked growth and advancement. Under his leadership, Georgia State’s graduation rate has already increased by 10 percent, and the university is becoming a national model for undergraduate education.”

For those who don’t know, Mark is married to Laura Voisinet who has worked tirelessly to reduce graffiti in Virginia-Highland as chair of the the neighborhood’s graffiti abatement task force.

To see the rest of the list, click here.

Congratulations, Mark Becker!!

Atlanta BeltLine Offers Free Fitness Classes

Beltline_logo_finalLooking for a convenient and inexpensive way to shed some of those holiday pounds? If so, check this out from our friends at the Atlanta BeltLine:

The Atlanta BeltLine is hosting FREE fitness classes!  We would like to invite you to participate in getting fit on the Atlanta BeltLine from now through March 31. This fitness campaign will offer something for everyone, so if this is your first class or your 50th, don’t miss out on this fun new way to enjoy time with your community.

Click here for more information.

Caroling Fundraiser Set for December 22-23

YouthChristmasCaroling_Small-300x283On Sunday and Monday December 22 and 23, from 4:00-7:00 PM, the Grady High School Gay Straight Alliance will be holding a Christmas caroling fundraiser to benefit Lost N Found Youth, Inc. The event will be held at the VaHi triangle island at the corner of N. Highland and Virginia avenues.

Lost N Found Youth is a small organization created specifically to help homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the Atlanta area. The group provides emergency and transitional housing and other services, but because the problem of LGBT homelessness is so great, they are not able to help everyone in need.

The Grady High School GSA will be singing carols, passing out hot chocolate and collecting donations to help Lost N Found Youth expand and help more homeless youths. The group invites all residents to attend.

Open Door Community Needs Your Help

HomelessMany Virginia-Highland residents are aware of the Open Door Community, which operates out of an old home located at 910 Ponce de Leon Avenue, just a short walk west from Briarcliff Summit. An Atlanta “Protestant-Catholic Worker community”, Open Door’s mission, broadly stated, is “to resist war and violence and nurture community in ministry with and advocacy for the homeless poor and prisoners, particularly those on death row.”

In everyday terms, Open Door is an important resource in our community – a last resort, in many cases – for the unfortunate souls we see sleeping on our park benches or sidewalks and wandering aimlessly through our streets. Many of these disadvantaged citizens have mental disabilities and no place else to turn for help. Open Door provides housing, food, clothing, sanitary services, medical care and access to additional resources that can help keep the homeless alive and healthy. Through their ministry, the staff offers the homeless a shelter from the storm and hope that a better life can lie ahead.

DSC_0005Open Door staff members Mary Catherine Johnson and Terry Kennedy reached out to the VHCA recently in an effort to foster a new, more active working relationship between Open Door and the Virginia-Highland community at large. Several members of the board visited the facility this week and were educated on Open Door’s mission. We saw the limited resources the staff has to accomplish that mission. The challenge is enormous, to say the least, and we thought you’d want us to let you know how you can help.

Donations

Donations are accepted at the front door of the Open Door Community, 910 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Contact Mary Catherine Johnson at mcjohnson78@yahoo.com or 404-273-0621 with any questions or to make arrangements outside of those times.

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Open Door staff member Terry Kennedy explains the process for providing the homeless with clean clothes while fellow staffer Mary Catherine Johnson (right) and VaHi resident Stephanie Coffin listen.

In the cold winter months, the community urgently needs the following items:

  • Men’s shoes, especially sizes 12 and up
  • Long underwear
  • Blankets
  • Backpacks
  • Winter coats for men and women
  • Gloves
  • Men’s jeans, all sizes
  • Ready-to-serve covered dishes that are homemade or left over from parties/receptions

Donations of cash or checks are also greatly appreciated. Make checks payable to the Open Door Community.

Volunteer Needs

As much as clothing, food or money, Open Door needs you. Volunteer help is desperately needed in the following areas:

  • Tuesday Soup Kitchen & Men’s Showers: 8:45 am – 2:00 pm
  • Wednesday Soup Kitchen & Women’s Showers: 9:30 am – 2:00 pm
  • Wednesday Foot Clinic: 7:00 – 9:30 pm
  • Volunteers to cook or bring supper for the community’s residents (about 25 people) any night of the week except Friday and Saturday
  • Volunteers to come in on weekends to help around the house: sorting donations, cleaning, etc.
The community is in dire need of men's shoes, especially size 12 and up.

The community is in dire need of men’s shoes, especially size 12 and up.

Contact Mary Catherine Johnson at mcjohnson78@yahoo.com or 404-273-0621 to volunteer or if you have questions.

The VHCA looks forward to hosting Mary Catherine at our February 10 monthly meeting (7:00 PM at the public library on Ponce de Leon Avenue) where she will make a short presentation and take questions. All interested VaHi residents are cordially invited to attend.

To view an album of photos from the VHCA board’s tour of the Open Door facility, click here.

For more information on the Open Door Community, visit their website.

Grady High College and Career Center Says Thanks for Grant

Henry_W_Grady_High_School_AtlantaEarlier this year, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association awarded an $800 grant to Grady High’s College and Career Center in support of the work the center does with seniors to prepare them for life after high school. The grant was part of a total of $15,000 in grants awarded by the VHCA in 2013.

The center’s director, Susan Muntzing, emailed last week to say thanks on behalf of the students and staff who have directly benefitted from the grant.

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Grady students Nadia Brewer (left) and Tatum Young use the facilities at the Grady College and Career Center.

“The Grady CCC is appreciative!” Muntzing wrote. “We could not accomplish what we do for the students without generous donations from supporters like the VHCA.”

“The VHCA Grant Committee is excited to support the Grady CCC,” says VHCA board member Peggy Berg. “It’s a remarkable resource with many volunteers doing excellent work with our graduating seniors.”

For more information on Grady’s CCC, click here or visit the center’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grady-High-Schools-College-and-Career-Connection/281342895780.

It’s the Most Wonderfully Sustainable Time of the Year

RecycleWreatheBy: Jess Windham

With countless ways to make the holidays environmentally friendly, why not see how many you can do at once? No one can do it all, but we can all do something. Here are some ideas to get your ‘enviro-wheels’ turning as you make the season bright:

What’s the Use – Give a present that will keep on giving, both to the recipient and the environment. Things like rain barrels, a replacement LED, a native hardwood sapling, or a compost bin can help reduce annual bills, decrease carbon footprints, prevent flooding, or produce less waste materials.

Maker – Just when you think Atlanta’s shown all her cards, you discover another creative business, craftsman, or brewery ready to knock your socks off. An incredible wealth of products made in Atlanta and our region in general from Charleston to Asheville to Nashville are just waiting to be discovered. The more local your gift, the fewer miles it has to travel to get to you and the more you support a local economy.

Material – When choosing gifts, choose presents made of sustainable, recycled, long-lasting, or reusable materials. Bamboo is a good material to choose and a lot of companies are now incorporating recycled materials into their products. Have fun with it and see what you can find. If you’re lost, look for certifications like FSC for paper products or cradle-to-cradle certification.

Thought That Counts – Some say the best gifts are actually experiences. Every Atlantan I’ve met has at least once quintessential Atlanta experience they haven’t yet experienced. Just to name a few, you could give someone a walking tour at Oakland Cemetery, adventure through The Atlanta History Center, hang out with dinosaurs at Tellus and Fernbank, or laugh with characters of all types at the Center for Puppetry Arts. This barely scratches the surface – go forth and explore!

In the Aftermath – If you’re like me, you’ll have a lot of packaging, styrofoam, old electronics, and an old Christmas tree hanging around after the holidays. The City of Atlanta aims to divert 90% of municipal waste by 2020 and has multiple resources to help divert these things from our landfills. Find out more online at http://hss-prod.hss.aol.com/hss/storage/patch/c13d702b501bc5a7b3731ca6d3cc2ae6. For more sustainable holiday tips, here is an A to Z:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ethicallivingblog/2007/dec/12/toptipsforagreenchristmas.

Inman Frosty 5K Returns to VaHi in December

Frosty_5K_T_Shirt_2013_snarkThe Inman Frosty 5K will return to Virginia-Highland on Saturday December 14.

This year’s family-friendly race – the second annual – will start and end at the intersection of Virginia Avenue and Ponce Place. The start time is 10 AM. Scroll down for a map of the course route.

For more information on the Inman Frosty 5K or to register for the race, visit http://www.inmanfrosty5k.com/ or http://www.active.com/.

2013 Frosty 5K Final map

Agenda Set for December 9 VHCA Monthly Board/General Meeting

Following is the tentative agenda for tonight’s monthly VHCA board/general meeting:

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, December 11, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library

Proposed Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda & Minutes

Reports from Police & Fire representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

Planning Committee – Jess Windham

Variances:

  • V-13-238;  990 Bellevue Drive NE
  • V-13-243;  670 Park Drive. NE
  • V-13-247;  906 Highland Terrace NE
  • V-13-256;  932 Highland View NE
  • V-13-257; 926 Highland View NE

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan / Jess Windham

Tour of Homes – Suzanne Buck / Angelika Taylor

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle

Adjournment

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K Road Race Set for December 7

BLP_Runningseries_logo (2)Passing this along from our friends at the Atlanta BeltLine:

Atlanta BeltLine Running Series Announces Eastside 10K on Saturday, Dec. 7

Peachtree Qualifier Event Also Features Alumni Tailgate and Neighborhood Challenges

ATLANTA (Oct. 8, 2013) The Atlanta BeltLine Running Series(R) announced today its third annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K will take place on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. A Peachtree Qualifier, the race will kick off at Stoveworks at 112 Krog Street Northeast  Atlanta, GA 30307 at 10 a.m. Race day activities include the highly-popular College Alumni Tailgate Challenge and the Neighborhood Challenge.

Featured Image

Photo credit: Christopher T. Martin

“As a Peachtree Qualifier, the demand for the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K has been enormous, and even sold out last year,” said Atlanta BeltLine Running Series Race Director Dan Popovic. “Since the Peachtree Road Race began assigning start positions based on performance in qualifier races, this ups the ante on the value of participation to the running community.”

This run/walk on the Eastside Trail winds through the Inman Park, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Poncey Highland, and Virginia Highland neighborhoods.  Participants will pass by the new Historic Fourth Ward Park and Skate Park, take in beautiful vistas of downtown and midtown Atlanta, travel an off-road stretch of the Atlanta BeltLine corridor, and enjoy a jaunt through Piedmont Park.

“The Eastside Trail is the hottest thing to happen to Atlanta in years. Every week, thousands of Atlantans use the Eastside Trail for fitness, fun, access and connectivity,” said Atlanta BeltLine Partnership Executive Director Valarie Wilson.  “We hope to see participants of all fitness levels running and walking the Eastside 10K.”

Race Day Activities

  • Alumni Tailgate Challenge – Coinciding with the day of the SEC Championship and Championship Saturday, the Eastside 10K features an exciting Tailgate Challenge that encourages college football fans to represent their schools and enjoy a rigorous run before heading into the evening’s football programming.
  • Neighborhood Challenge – Atlanta neighborhood associations will compete for a $500 cash purse to be divided among the fastest, largest, and most spirited neighborhood teams.  “Atlanta’s neighborhood associations are rallying at the opportunity to compete for BeltLine bragging rights and potentially win some cash to support their community,” said Atlanta BeltLine Partnership Program Director, Rob Brawner.
Running by Ponce City Market

Photo credit: Christopher T. Martin

More details about the Atlanta BeltLine Running Series – including the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K, challenges and other races, can be found at http://Run.BeltLine.org. Participants are encouraged to register by December 4, when registration will increase from $38 to $45. Proceeds benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership.

About the Atlanta BeltLine

The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment and mobility projects currently underway in the United States. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) is the entity tasked with planning and executing the implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine in partnership with other public and private organizations, including City of Atlanta departments.

About the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABLP) is a non-profit organization committed to raising funds from private and philanthropic sources to support the Atlanta BeltLine, working with the community and partners to raise general awareness and support, and serving as a catalyst to mobilize resources to achieve the positive social impacts of the Atlanta BeltLine vision. For more information on the Atlanta BeltLine, please visit www.BeltLine.org.

Murphy’s To Host Seventh Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

The folks at Murphy’s have let us know they’ll be hosting their Seventh Annual Christmas Tree Lighting & Neighborhood Celebration this Thursday December 5th from 6:30 – 7:30 PM.

You’re invited to come join your neighbors in listening to – and singing along with – Christmas carols performed by the Georgia Boys Choir. There will be plenty of complimentary hot cocoa and fresh baked cookies to help warm things up a bit. Even Santa won’t miss this event so you’ll want to stop by for sure.

Murphy’s is located at 997 Virginia Ave., next door to Taco Mac.

Treelighting2013v3[1]

Meeting Reminder: Historic Designation Exploration For Two VaHi Subdivisions

What: #4 in a series of 5 informational meetings regarding exploration of historic district designation for two specific Virginia-Highland subdivisions. This meeting is primarily for residents living in the F.A. Ames Property/Virginia Highlands subdivision on Virginia Ave.(between N. Highland and Rosedale Dr. and Hudson Drive – but any interested party may attend. Andy affected resident who has been unable to attend other meetings is encouraged to come as well. Please see the map found on our website (link below) to see if you live in the contemplated district. The next meeting will be on Dec. 11.

When: Thursday Dec. 5 – 7 PM

Where: Garrison Hall at Church of Our Saviour (opposite the fire station at the corner of H. Highland and Los Angeles)

Note: Additional information can be found by clicking here.

VaHi_Adair_Neighborhood_111413

SPARK Angel Tree

angeltreePassing along the following from our friends at Springdale Park Elementary School:

Dear SPARK Community,

As we begin the holiday season, we are saddened that many children at Springdale Park Elementary and their families will not receive any gifts this year due to financial circumstances. However, we are fortunate to be in a community with generous and caring families and individuals, which is why we are having an angel tree for our students in need.

SPARK staff members have worked with the families of these students to get lists of needed items (clothes/shoes) and desired items (toys/games). Items are written on the back of ornaments hung on a tree, located just inside the front doors of the main building.

Unlike some angel trees that ask you to adopt a child or a family and provide their entire wish list, our angel tree has individual items on each ornament. We have also included gift card requests for each family, such as Publix and Wal-Mart gift cards, which can be used for food or toiletries.

Please consider being an angel for a SPARK student in need and providing an item or two. SPARK parents and all community members are welcome to take ornaments at any time during school hours (you will need to sign in at the main office first). If you are unable to come to SPARK and would still like to provide a gift, please email Meghan McClosky at memcclosky@atlanta.k12.ga.us.

Gifts can be dropped off at SPARK with Kimberly Walker. Please have your gifts delivered to SPARK by Tuesday, December 17th. Gifts will be distributed to families by Friday, December 20th.

We ask that items not be wrapped in wrapping paper since we need to accurately distribute the gifts (gift bags are acceptable and appreciated). Also, each ornament tag includes a color code assigned to each family and child, in order to protect their privacy. Please send your tag with your gift or attach a note listing the two colored dots on the tag.

Many SPARK staff members are providing gifts, and we have asked SPARK parents to contribute as well. Our students even helped out by making the ornament tags for the angel tree (thanks to our wonderful 5th-grade volunteers). However, we would like to extend the opportunity for the larger SPARK community to participate in helping its students.

If you have any questions regarding the angel tree, please contact Meghan McCloskey at memcclosky@atlanta.k12.ga.us.

We hope the many angels in the SPARK community can help our students in need and their families have a happy holiday season.

Winter Wren Opens at Corner of Virginia and N. Highland Avenues

WinterWrenWinter Wren – a ladies’ boutique under the same ownership as nearby 310 Rosemont – recently opened in the space previously occupied by Mitzi & Romano (1004 N. Highland Ave.). We asked store manager Carrie Cala to tell us a bit about their new venture and this is what she provided:

DSCN0623This is not about ANOTHER ladies’ boutique in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. It is much more. Winter Wren Hodges purchased a house just down the street from his latest project in the Morningside area back in 1996. He made it his home in 2011. Owning a retail store with his namesake has been a dream for almost two decades. Atlanta is his largest market and Virginia-Highland is his favorite place to be.

He introduced 310 Rosemont (named for his childhood address) in 2011. In early 2012, Hodges was diagnosed with MDS. After a later diagnosis of AML and a stem cell transplant, Hodges spent every possible moment planning a new concept that would be compatible with 310.  Winter Wren, which opened this past month, has a well thought through selection of labels with location, customer and price point in mind.

DSCN0621A Free People shop is a strong component of Winter Wren with shoes and accessories from designers like Michael Kors, Minnetonka, Rebecca Minkoff, Ugg, Hobo and Ty Jewelry. Other clothing lines include BB Dakota, Michael Stars, Ella Moss, Wildfox and 7 jeans.

Although it is another boutique, Winter Wren is a great addition to the neighborhood of retail. Light and airy, fresh and savvy, it offers alternative brands with pricing every customer, partner or husband will love.

DSCN0622After his recent battle with cancer, Winter thought about slowing down. However, knowing his love of retail as well as his love for the area, he feels as though he is in fact slowing down. He knows this is where he is supposed to be. He actually bought a pair of boots in one of the local stores back in 1995.  It was that experience which gave him the dream of one day opening a store and just being a part of such an awesome community.  He counts it as one of his many blessings.  It’s really not just another boutique.

Tour of Homes Committee Adds Touch of Holiday Color to VaHi’s Main Intersection

IMG_6360We want to give a shout out to Angelika Taylor and the rest of the 2013 Tour of Homes committee who helped add some holiday color to the neighborhood by hanging big red Christmas bows from the light posts and the main VaHi sign at the intersection of Virginia and N. Highland avenues.

Taylor says the team had to be out hanging TOH banners anyway, so adding the beautiful touch of holiday color was a no-brainer.

“We’re very pleased with the hint of Christmas the bows provide,” Taylor says, “and we hope it helps get people into a festive holiday mood as the tour approaches this coming weekend.”

IMG_6362Taylor says she hopes to get local businesses involved next year and expand the effort to decorate the neighborhood’s business nodes for the holidays.

Thanks, Angelika and TOH committee – and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Preliminary Concepts for the Virginia-Highland Master Plan Open for Comment

By: Jess Windham and Jenifer Keenan, Co-Chairs, Master Plan Steering CommitteeDSC_0037

Since the Master Plan process began in August, there’s been a great deal of conversation about what makes Virginia-Highland a great place to live. It’s the Master Plan’s goal to capture neighborhood consensus on those features that make the neighborhood such a successful and vibrant community and to outline a path for continued success.

Importance of Master Plan in Future Funding

The Master Plan will be a key document in securing funding from the City of Atlanta for neighborhood improvements and projects. As part of the City of Atlanta, Virginia-Highland’s transportation infrastructure, economic development, zoning laws, urban design, education options and environmental regulations are shaped by that municipality, as well as by Fulton County and the state. Having a Virginia-Highland Master Plan provides a formal avenue for citizen and neighborhood goals to be identified and clearly expressed.

Additionally, the Master Plan will knit together elements from existing and sometimes overlapping plans and policies that already address parts of Virginia-Highland. Currently, parts of the Connect Atlanta Plan, the Atlanta BeltLine Overlay District regulations, Cycle Atlanta: Phase 1.0, and the Ponce de Leon Corridor Plan all contain plans for parts of Virginia-Highland. Understanding these plans is a considerable task and becomes an even greater challenge when considering the likely impacts of future development that existing zoning already assumes. The neighborhood can engage in those initiatives to shape them to our mutual benefit, or alternatively wait for changes and new projects to move forward without Virginia-Highland input.

Creating this Master Plan provides an opportunity to be involved in initiatives that the City has already begun – some of them well underway. It also gives the neighborhood a platform on which to prepare for future projects, including those that may be contemplated in next year’s anticipated bond referendum. Changes are inevitable; this is a grand chance to inform and shape these changes. The choice broadly is to sit back and wait, or try to use these opportunities to identify and meet the neighborhood’s needs.

Where We Are in the Process

Planning consultants Market + Main lead the Master Plan process alongside a volunteer steering committee of residents from a variety of backgrounds. The process has three broad and overlapping parts: discovery, design, and documentation. While we still have a long way to go, the end result will be a final Master Plan document voted on by Atlanta City Council around April 2014 to help guide future project and funding decisions.

The discovery phase has been extensive, and it continues as Market + Main begins to create design options based on existing input. During the first two months of the process, a Master Plan online survey and interactive map were available 24 hours a day so people could provide input for the master plan, whether at 2 PM or 2 AM. It gathered over 150 comments each to both the survey and map comments. In addition, an all-day and evening design charrette was hosted to get ideas and have discussions in person. Also, in the last two months we have hosted volunteer focus groups and will continue to do so through January. All of this has been done with the intent of ensuring that everyone who wants to provide input has ample opportunity to do so over the many months that this process is ongoing.

Provide Your Input on Preliminary Concepts

Using these discussions and various avenues for feedback, Market + Main has shaped some preliminary concepts for the Virginia-Highland Master Plan that are now available for comment. Preliminary concepts will be available for comment on the website now through January 3, 2014. A public meeting in late January will further explore these concepts, incorporating feedback from the website, and continuing to leverage community involvement to shape the Master Plan document.

Check out the preliminary concepts and comment at http://www.vahimasterplan.org/preliminary-concepts.html.

Click here to view a video of Market + Main’s evening presentation at the design charrette.

The Master Plan is sponsored by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. Updates are provided monthly at the scheduled VHCA board meetings, as well as at vahi.org and in The Voice e-newsletter.

New Eleven Ton Midtown Public Art Exhibit Has VaHi Connection

imageLong-time VaHi residents Stephanie and Tom Coffin must be beaming with parental pride this morning.

The Coffin’s eldest son Zachary is a designer and sculptor – of very, very large pieces. His most recent work – entitled Rockspinner – was erected yesterday at the corner of Peachtree and 10th streets. Rockspinner is a 22,500 pound boulder that sits on a spinning pedestal.

Coffin also has works on display at the Lindbergh MARTA Station, Cleopas Park and another Rockspinner near the Georgia Aquarium.

Click here to read an AJC article on Coffin’s newest project. Click here to visit Coffin’s website.

Most VaHi residents know Stephanie Coffin is an artist in her own right, having crafted colorful mosaics that can be seen throughout the neighborhood and surrounding area. Click here to read a Voice article about Stephanie and her mosaic work.

Congratulations to Stephanie, Tom and, of course, Zachary!

Fundraiser for VaHi Resident Jennifer Chambers

Thanks to John Wolfinger for passing this notice along which is appearing on other message boards around the neighborhood. Please consider helping Jennifer out if you can.

If you have lived in VaHi for a long time you will remember that Jennifer Chambers and her late husband, Jerry, were very active in the community during the I-485 expressway crisis and that later on Jenny was one of the caregivers for the late John Howell when he was gravely ill. Jerry had a furniture re-finishing business in L5P until his recent death. Now – it is time for the community to step forward and help Jenny in her time of need.

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JenniferandJasonJennifer Chambers | Help Jenny Chambers Get Through This Year

Jennifer Chambers, a Virginia-Highland resident, has been by her son’s side since he was assaulted on Halloween weekend. Jason Chambers has a severe brain injury.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/GW-Professor-Beaten-Near-Dupont-Circle-230122801.html

Jennifer and son Jason are both Grady High School alumnae. Jason is a professor at George Washington U where he earned his MBA. Jennifer is a massage therapist in Va Hi.

Following is a donation website on Give Forward created by Sophia Peterman raise funds for Jennifer Chambers. http://gfwd.at/1b5DBDO

The site hopes to raise $15,000 to help Jennifer pay her bills while she is away from her business taking care of her son. Jennifer is posting reports of Jason’s progress.

Residents Invited to Master Plan Design Charrette

DSC_0037By: Jess Windham and Jenifer Keenan

The Virginia-Highland Master Plan community design charrette is coming up, and we want to see you there!

All day Tuesday, November 12th, the Market + Main team of planners and designers will be hosting this design charrette (aka workshop) for the Virginia-Highland Master Plan. Stop in at Virginia-Highland Church across from Inman Middle School between 7:30am and 5pm to contribute your ideas, see the results of the online map and survey, share your VaHi experience, and be a part of the process by interacting with the planning team.

At 7pm on the 12th, the Market + Main planning consultants will conduct a community meeting at the church where they will present the ideas and concepts that have been generated to address the issues and opportunities expressed by the community. These emerging concepts will include ideas for addressing traffic calming, pedestrian mobility, biking, future land uses and open space enhancements.

Before the community design charrette, be sure to participate in the online survey (http://www.vahimasterplan.org/survey.html) and put pins in the online interactive map (http://vhmp-civicworks.dotcloud.com/#page/about) so that the Market + Main team can know your ideas and concerns heading into the November 12 charrette. The survey and interactive map will only remain active through Friday November 8 so please submit your experience, ideas, feedback, gripes, loves, and all before then!

For more background and information about the Virginia-Highland Master Plan process, please visit http://www.vahimasterplan.org/.

Meeting Reminder: VaHi Master Plan Design Workshop and Community Meeting

DSC_0037The Virginia-Highland Master Plan community design charrette is tomorrow Tuesday, November 12th, and we want to see you there!

All day Tuesday, November 12th, the Market + Main team of planners and designers will host a design charrette (aka workshop) for the Virginia-Highland Master Plan. Stop in at Virginia-Highland Church across from Inman Middle School between 7:30 AM and 5 PM to contribute your ideas, see the results of the online map and survey, share your VaHi experience, and be a part of the process by interacting with the planning team.

Then, at 7pm on the 12th, the Market + Main planning consultants will conduct a community meeting at the church where they will present the ideas and concepts that have been generated to address the issues and opportunities expressed by the community. These emerging concepts will include ideas for addressing traffic calming, pedestrian mobility, biking, future land uses and open space enhancements.

For more background and information about the Virginia-Highland Master Plan process, please visit http://www.vahimasterplan.org/.

DHPC Schedules Education Series on Poverty

DHPCWebsiteLogoPassing along the following from our friends at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church:

For the month of November we will be hosting speakers from many of our outreach ministries in the neighborhood. We will have the opportunity to meet with the leaders who can help us understand what living on the streets is about and how we might engage in ministry ourselves. 

  • November 3, Rev. Chad Hyatt, pastor at Mercy Church, will share his experiences and discuss ways we might make more connections with Mercy Church.
  • November 10,  Brenita McCord, Executive Director of Journey,  will share some of great accomplishments and  hopes for our Journey Ministry.
  • November 17, Rev. Brad Schwears, Executive Director of Intown Collaborative Ministry will help us understand how their food and support ministry helps so many in our neighborhood
  • November 24, TBD

All sessions start at 9:30 AM. DHPC is located at 1026 Ponce de Leon Ave.

Meeting Reminder: Historic District Exploration for Two Virginia-Highland Subdivisions

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadWhat: #3 in a series of informational meetings regarding exploration of historic district designation for two Virginia-Highland subdivisions. This meeting is primarily for residents in Adair Park living on the North side of Adair Ave., the East side of Todd Rd., and all of Rupley Drive – but any interested party may attend. Please see the map found on our website (link below) to see if you live in the contemplated district.

When: Thursday Nov. 7 – 7 PM

Where: Garrison Hall at Church of Our Saviour (opposite the fire station at the corner of H. Highland and Los Angeles)

Note: If this topic is new to you, please click here to view the original detailed announcement regarding this process. Additional information can be found by clicking here. 

Date Set for Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful Fall Clean-Up Event

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Editor’s Note: Passing the following along from our friends at Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful (KVHB).

It’s time for Keep Virginia Highland Beautiful’s fall neighborhood clean-up event and organizers are looking for your participation.

What: Volunteers will clear weeds, pick up trash, and remove stickers and handbills.

When: The event is scheduled for Saturday November 2nd from 8 AM – 12 Noon.

Where: Efforts will be focused on the N. Highland Ave. corridor, primarily in the Atkins Park and N. Highland/Virginia commercial nodes.

Please contact keepvirginiahighlandbeautiful@gmail.com to volunteer or sign up on the group’s Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/221805984647003/.

If you are aware of a church, youth, or other service group that is looking for a project, please contact organizers so they can coordinate supplies and assignments.

DSC05676If you would like to self-organize to clean-up additional sections of the neighborhood, please let organizers know. In the past, groups have worked additionally around Orme Park and the Maiden Lane area.

Volunteers should bring work gloves, rakes, shovels, gas powered weed whackers and leaf blowers, and hand scrapers.

For businesses or individuals who would like to donate supplies, organizers need the following:

  • Lawn & leaf bags (20 or more)
  • Trash bags (one large box)
  • Latex gloves (one box medium and one box large)
  • Work gloves (10 pairs to be reused by volunteers)
  • Broad spectrum weed killer (two containers with built in sprayers)
  • A place to gather before – would be nice to have coffee for volunteers
  • A place to gather after – would be nice to have some sort of post work refreshments for volunteers

Please contact us if you can make a donation or would like to offer your place of business as a gathering spot or to donate refreshments.

DSC05671What else can you do?

Business and property owners are asked to take a critical look at the area from your front door to the street. Please make an extra effort to clean all the way to the street (including the curb area). Sweep up the cigarette butts and broken glass.

If you have a tree well in the right-of-way, how about making sure it is clear of weeds and buying a bag of mulch to make it look neat and keep the tree healthy?

For residents, this is a great time to make every part of the neighborhood look great – not just the commercial areas. Make sure the area in front of your home is groomed all the way to the street.

KVHB’s previous two events – in October 2012 and April 2013 – were very successful. Organizers are optimistic this November’s event will be the best ever.

Peggy Berg and Randy Guensler: VaHi’s 2013 PEDS Golden Shoe Award Winners!

The 2013 PEDS Golden Shoe award winners. Randy Guensler is on the far left, Peggy Berg is second from left.

The 2013 PEDS Golden Shoe award winners. Randy Guensler is on the far left, Peggy Berg is second from left. Photo credit: Todd Burford

Congratulations to VaHi residents Peggy Berg and Randy Guensler who were named recipients of the 2013 Golden Shoe award from PEDS, the pedestrian advocacy organization. The pair was given their awards at a ceremony Thursday night at All Saints Church on West Peachtree Street.

Berg won the award for Pedestian-friendly Activism. As safety/sidewalks chair for the VHCA Berg negotiated an arrangement with the city’s Public Works Department that resulted in the first large-scale repair of sidewalks in our neighborhood in 40 years. Ms. Berg took responsibility for all of the program’s considerable organizational challenges – securing partial matching funds from the neighborhood association, overseeing public outreach, answering every respondent, measuring and estimating the repair costs of each section, and submitting the collected funding and schematics to the city. Bundling sidewalk repairs in this manner was a win/win for both parties, enabling the Civic Association to promote a comprehensive approach to making sidewalk repairs on a large scale and the city to perform the work in a cost effective, efficient and timely manner. Click here to read more about this effort.

Berg was also recognized for her participation in a city hall task force last year that took a hard look at the city’s policies and procedures for dealing with sidewalk maintenance, widely considered to be archaic and ineffective. The task force produced recommendations that will hopefully bring about improvements.

Left to right: Georgia Tech graduate assistant Alice Grossman, Peggy Berg, Randy Guensler, Georgia Tech graduate assistant Zan Frackelton

Left to right: Georgia Tech graduate assistant Alice Grossman, Peggy Berg, Randy Guensler, Georgia Tech graduate assistant Zan Frackelton

Guensler received the award for Pedestrian-friendly Research for the comprehensive sidewalk inventory project he spearheaded through Georgia Tech’s Center for Traffic Operations and Safety. Guensler fitted a tablet device onto a wheelchair and programmed the rolling contraption to take video, measure cracks and bumps, and upload latitude and longitude coordinates to a mapping system. You can read more about Guensler’s sidewalk inventory mapping project here. 

Click here to learn more about PEDS and read more about Thursday night’s awards ceremony.

Congratulations again to two VaHi residents who are making a difference in the walkability of our neighborhood and the city of Atlanta!

SPARK Teachers Win APS Awards

SPARKSupporterLogoCongratulations to SPARK teachers Jennifer Lockwood and Brianne Turgeon who were honored this past Tuesday by receiving $7,500 awards from Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education.

Lockwood teaches 4th grade at SPARK and Turgeon is the school’s music and chorus instructor. They were two of ten APS educators to win the prestigious award.

Click here to read a Patch article on the awards.

Congratulations again to Jennifer Lockwood and Brianne Turgeon – two of Atlanta’s top educators!

Faith Flowers Hosts Accent Decor Photo Shoot, Rob Plattel Flower Arranging Workshops

Did you pass by Faith Flowers today and wonder what all the hubbub was about?

Owner Laura Iarocci emailed to let us know it’s been a busy week at her shop. First, they’ve been hosting flower arranging workshops all week conducted by Rob Plattel, a renowned natural art designer from the Netherlands.  If that wasn’t enough, Iarocci’s shop hosted a photo shoot today for Accent Decor’s 2014 catalogue. Accent Decor is an Atlanta-based wholesale home goods and event decor company that specializes in innovative and quality containers, vases, ceramics and accessories.

A number of colorful arrangements crafted by Plattel and his students are on display in and around the shop. Iarocci invites everyone to stop by for a peek. Scroll down to see photos of some of the spectacular flowers on display.

Faith Flowers is located at 1183 Virginia Ave. NE, in between Eclectic Music and Dr. Lisa K. Williams chiropractic office.

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Worthmore Jewelers Wants Your Leftover Halloween Candy for Charity

Passing this along from our friends at Worthmore Jewelers located on Amsterdam Walk.

November 1-10, Worthmore Jewelers (worthmorejewelers.com) — located on Amsterdam Walk — will be collecting left-over Halloween candy from community members to be donated to the organization ”Operation Stars and Strips” (operationstarsandstripes.org) which sends the candy in care packages to servicemen and women abroad. 

This year, Worthmore has organized a competition between its Midtown and Decatur locations to see who can gather the most candy. Participants will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a $50 Worthmore Jewelers gift card. 

Worthmore has long had a significant client base in Virginia Highlands and we would love to give ViHi residence the opportunity to do some good with their left over Halloween candy! 

WorthmoreJewelers_Stars&Stripes

VaHi Triangle Island Fall Clean-Up

A handful of volunteers met at the triangle island in front of Taco Mac this past Sunday and spent a couple of hours sprucing up the VaHi landmark for the fall and winter.

Trash was picked up from inside and around the island, weeds and tired spring annuals were removed, new winter annuals planted near the Virginia-Highland sign and some new pine straw put down. The temporary fencing that’s done a so-so job of keeping folks off the plantings was removed in preparation for a yet-to-be-determined more permanent solution to the problem.

Scroll down to see a few photos from the clean-up.

Thanks to all those who showed up to help!

Before:

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During:

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Volunteers took time to use bolt cutters to cut same frayed wire ends on this poorly-anchored cleat. Safety hazard addressed!

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After:

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Meeting Reminder: Historic District Exploration for Two Virginia-Highland Subdivisions

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadWhat: #2 in a Series of Informational Meeting Regarding Exploration of Historic District Designation for Two Virginia-Highland Subdivisions – (this meeting is primarily for residents of Lanier Blvd. and Los Angeles Dr., but any interested party may attend)

When: Monday, Oct. 28 – 7PM

Where: Pettway Hall at Church of Our Saviour (opposite the Fire Station at the corner of Los Angeles and N. Highland)

Note: If this topic is new to you, please click here to view the original detailed announcement regarding this process. Additional information can be found by clicking here.