2017 – 2018 VHCA Board of Directors Election Results

Congratulations to the following candidates who received the ten highest number of votes becoming directors of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association for the 2017 – 2018 term beginning October 1, 2017.

Barry Loudis
David Brandeberger
Jenifer Keenan
Kay Stephenson
Simon Lee
Steve Messner
Stefanie Roberts
Troy Murray
George Zirkel
Chase Johnson

Emma Tinsley is the alternate director.

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2017 Annual Association Meeting and Board Elections

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association Annual Association Meeting will be held September 14 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Please try to arrive at 6:30 to sign in and receive your ballot. Grants will be awarded and the 2017-18 Board of Directors will be elected.

The SPARK Chorus, led by music and chorus teacher Brianne Turgeon, will kick off the meeting again this year, so be sure to arrive early to hear them! They will start at 6:45 pm.

Candidates for the 2017-2018 VHCA Board of Directors

The Nominating Committee of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association presents the following list of candidates, all of whom have declared their candidacy. Click on each name to read brief biographies of each candidate. Candidates will also speak briefly at the annual meeting.

(I) indicates incumbent

David Brandenberger (I)

Shannon Cofrin Gaggero

Chase Johnson

Jenifer Keenan (I)

Simon Lee

Barry Loudis

Steve Messner (I)

Troy Murray (I)

Stefanie Roberts

Kay Stephenson (I)

Emma Tinsley

Ed Westreicher

George Zirkel (I)

Members of the association (18 years-of-age residing within the official boundaries of Virginia-Highland) may vote at the Annual Meeting or by absentee ballot. Residence is verified by providing a copy of a valid ID (e.g. GA driver’s license or state issued ID) or a utility bill issued within sixty days of the meeting. The bill or statement should show your name and address.

Absentee Ballots

Members may also vote by absentee ballot. Your ballot, along with a copy of one of the forms of identification mentioned above may be delivered to 949 Rupley Drive (a collection box will be available) by 5:00 pm on September 14, 2017. Absentee ballots may also be delivered to the annual meeting by its start time at 7:00 pm. Please put your ballot in a sealed envelope, then attach the identification document to the outside of the envelope. Account numbers and driver’s license numbers may be blacked out, but leave your name and address visible. After your residency is verified, the identification documents will be removed and shredded. This ensures that your ballot will remain anonymous.

You can download a copy of the absentee ballot here.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the Annual Meeting!

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Looking for an Article Seen in the VOICE?

Check the Archive!

Publishing of articles from the VOICE on the website news feed has been temporarily suspended. However, you can find the current and all back issues of the VOICE in the archive located here.

As mentioned in the last issue of the VOICE, we are looking for some help with the newsletter and website. If you are interested, please send a message to communications@vahi.org.

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BeltLine Northside & Northeast Study Group Meeting

Northside + Northeast Study Group – Thursday, July 13, 2017

6:30-8:00 pm
Rock Spring Presbyterian Church
1824 Piedmont Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30324

Join BeltLine representatives to learn about the design of the Northeast Trail! Meet the team behind the design and construction of the Northeast Trail taking shape between Ansley Mall and Mayson Street NE. ABI will unveil timelines and other key details about the project, and gather insights from the community that will help shape the trail’s design.

 

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Take the Survey

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association organizes two main events each year, Summerfest and the Tour of Homes. These events earn revenue to fund many of neighborhood initiatives. In addition, we organize other social and fund-raising events for specific purposes such as fund-raisers for Fire Station #19.

Recently we have formed a committee to look at adding one or more events during the year – either as fund-raisers or as purely community building activities. This survey is designed to solicit your feedback on the types of events that are most interesting to you. Please follow the link to take the three-question survey

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I-85 Small Business Resource Event

Join Invest Atlanta and partners to learn about the resources available to businesses impacted by the I-85 closure. This is an opportunity to meet with local service providers offering technical assistance, financing, consulting services, and more.

Tuesday May 9th 10:00 – 2:00 PM

Peachtree Hills Recreation Center, Peachtree Hills Avenue NE, Atlanta GA

Find additional information here:

Invest Atlanta Webpage

BIS Now Article

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Happening in VaHi: A Book Signing by Local Authors

 

Join Joyce DeWitt and Kathy Knapp on Sunday May 7 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. as they read from and sign their new children’s book, The Story of Leo and Emma. The story tells of a 7-year old girl and her next-door neighbor, an eleven-year-old basset hound. Their friendship blooms as they learn about accepting those who are different from you.

This delightful story was inspired by a real neighborhood girl and her next-door neighbor. Stop by Paper Source on Sunday, and in addition to a signed copy of the book, you can get the “paw-tograph” of Leo!

When: Sun, May 7, 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Where: Paper Source 1052 North Highland Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30306

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What the Inman Middle School Crossing Guard Saw

We regret that the original version of this article had a racially-offensive characterization. This in no way represents the values that we aspire to in this community or association.

One of the many things that makes Virginia-Highland great is our diversity. We celebrate that diversity and want everyone to feel welcome in our neighborhood and valued by the civic association.

It takes just one time…

Wed March 29, 2017

Inman Middle School has four morning crossing guard posts in the morning, two staffed by APS employees and two by neighborhood volunteers. One volunteer position is on the corner in front of the Field of Dreams; the other at the Clemont-Cooledge crossing.

There have been days when the Field of Dreams position has been unguarded because there simply are not enough volunteers. It’s usually the last one filled. Still, there is a light there to get kids across—it’s not as terrifying as crossing Virginia right in front of the school, where there are buses stopped, and westbound cars coming down Virginia turning right onto Park, and eastbound cars turning left on to Ponce de Leon Place, and stopped traffic obscuring views.

Sometimes I have worked the Field of Dreams position thinking how quiet it was for the most part.

But not today.

This morning I responded to a last-minute call to staff the Field of Dreams position and I am so glad I did because of what I helped prevent.

A freak situation

The sun was really bright this morning, and it had risen pretty much to eye level, so that cars and pedestrians heading east on Virginia could hardly see anything. In fact, one student I escorted across Ponce de Leon Place toward the church crossing screwed up her eyes so tightly they were barely open.

At the height of the morning arrival to the school, a fire truck suddenly roared up Virginia from the west, sirens blaring. I made sure the children did not attempt to cross Ponce De Leon Terrace (especially since the pedestrian light was red anyway!). As the fire truck sped up Virginia past the school, its siren still blaring, the pedestrian light changed. Presumably safe now to cross, on multiple counts.

Not so.

No one heard another, smaller emergency vehicle racing up Virginia, its siren blending in with the one that had just passed. The children, and the drivers coming  up Virginia, were all blinded by the sun. As the children started to step into the crosswalk, I gave one last glance down Virginia, just in time to see the second emergency vehicle, which was going very fast, start to turn right onto Ponce de Leon Terrace, its siren drowned by that of the receding fire truck. I urgently blocked the children’s path until the vehicle had turned. All happened in just seconds.

What if I had not been there? The children could not see properly. The pedestrian light was green. The emergency vehicle barely slowed down to turn right, if at all. I think it would have been a disaster.

I have seen children crossing there in the morning when there was no guard—I can see down there when I am standing at Clemont. It always looks quite routine.

It just takes one freak situation. Or one irresponsible driver coming through at just the wrong time.

How to volunteer
If you would like to help out as a crossing guard, email transportation@inmanmiddleschool.org. They really need more. You can do it as often or as seldom as you like. You simply sign up for a morning any time you feel like it.  Each morning shift is from 8:30 – 9:05. Some do it once a month, others 2 or 3 times a week. It’s up to you.

Charming sights

The children can be quite charming. There was one boy this morning who came up the Virginia sidewalk from the west on his skateboard. A very colorful skateboard, indeed. He clearly loves it. He told me that he skates all the way along the BeltLine from Irwin Street.

And there are cyclists. And musicians carrying their instruments. And children carrying in phantasmographic artwork and outlandish cutouts.

It’s fun being a crossing guard, and it’s important.
For more information: http://inmanmiddleschool.org/crosswalk-parents/.

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Park Pride Hosts Annual “Pints for Parks” on May 2


David Brandenberger, VHCA Board Member and Parks Committee Chair

Longtime metro Atlanta parks advocates Park Pride will hold their annual spring social and fundraiser Tuesday, May 2nd from 6 PM to 9 PM. This year’s event brings together park (and beer!) enthusiasts at Orpheus Brewing for an evening of drinks, games and good company, all in the spirit of celebrating green space.

Your $45 ticketed donation will include a limited edition Park Pride tasting glass, seven complimentary beer tastings, food, a brewery tour, an opportunity to participate in a silent auction, and the ability to participate in several games. In addition to a enjoying a fun evening, you will be supporting an organization that works tirelessly to preserve, maintain and build parks and green spaces in the City of Atlanta, creating a more sustainable, equitable, ecologically-stable and beautiful city to live in. Park Pride specifically has made multiple generous grants to every one of Virginia-Highland’s parks over many years.

They are expecting around 350 attendees at this year’s Pints for Parks, so register early. For more information, click here.

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Inman Middle School Jazz Band Gives Visitors an Unexpected Treat

 

Visitors to the Inman lobby were given a treat early on Friday, March 31, when they were unexpectedly arrested by a glorious sound that filled the whole area. It was a pop-up concert by the Inman Middle Jazz Band.

The sound was astonishing. Was it the skill of the young players, the irresistible cascading score, the last day of school, or the beautiful spring day that raised those children to such heights? Maybe all of those. The surprisingly polished sound from players so young was truly a treat. And there was so much joy and enthusiasm coming from the ensemble.

What they were playing was a piece called “Cold Duck Time” by Eddie Harris. The crescendo toward its grand conclusion was lots of fun—reminded me, in a way, of the ending of Ravel’s Bolero in the way it built and hypnotized its way to the end.

Inman Middle Band Director Arneesa Woods (pictured) is clearly an inspiration to those musicians. You could see it in the way she conducted and the way in which they responded.

She told me afterwards that she has been Inman band director for 16 years. She obviously loves it, and she even had a former student, now an adult, assisting her today.

And why the pop-up concert? They are preparing for their spring concert at Grady, and to build confidence under a little more pressure, Arneesa decided they should play in the open lobby for anyone who walked by. They clearly rose to the occasion. So glad I stumbled into it.

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Tips from a New VaHi Business Owner for Building Spring Fitness

By Collin Eggebrecht, owner of OnePoint Physical Therapy

Virginia-Highland continues to be one of the busiest neighborhoods in Atlanta when it comes to outdoor activities.  With endless sidewalks, foot and bike accessible restaurants and shops, numerous beltline entrances and parks, physical activity is a part of life in the neighborhood.

Spring is here, and with that comes increased opportunity for outdoor activity. We are most sedentary in the winter months while spring brings more frequent neighborhood walks, runs and sports participation. Many of us, however, forget to prepare, leading to unwanted injuries, so now is a great time to prepare to prevent them.

How to build strength and endurance

A simple way I like to teach individuals to build their strength and endurance is the 10% rule.  Add 10% of volume per week to your routine to safely progress and to minimize your risk for injury.  This is especially true this time of year as many of us have had limited physical activity over the past few months. The 10% rule is commonly used by runners to safely add miles week over week.  We are not all runners, though, so why not apply this rule to other activities?  All you need to do is pick a measurable aspect of your workout (for example. distance, time, repetitions, and weight).

Here are three examples of ways you can use this principle with your workout routine.

1. Goal: 30 minutes of walking, 3 times per week (90 total minutes)

  • Week 1: 10 minutes of walking, 3 times (30 total minutes)
  • Week 2: 11 minutes of walking, 3 times (33 total minutes)
  • Week 3: 12 minutes of walking, 3 times (36 total minutes)

2. Goal: Lift 20 lbs for 30 repetitions

  • Week 1: Lift 10 lbs for 30 repetitions
  • Week 2: Lift 11 lbs for 30 repetitions
  • Week 3: Lift 12 lbs for 30 repetitions

Reaching out to local businesses for help

Virginia-Highland also houses many fitness instructors and therapists, so if you need assistance, now is a good time to reach out for support. Look around local businesses and gyms or ask your neighbor for a recommendation. Good l
uck, stay hydrated, and keep moving.

Collin Eggebrecht is a new business owner in the Virginia Highland neighborhood. He recently opened the doors to OnePoint Physical Therapy on the corner of Barnett and Greenwood. He has years of experience in injury prevention, sports-related rehabilitation and orthopedics. For more information visit www.onepointpt.com

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How Money Raised by VHCA Helps Support Our Community

VHCA supports our community in many ways, partly through volunteering and partly through financial support.

Following is an overview of the events that bring in the money to support the community and where that money goes.

How we raise the money
Quite simply, the June Summerfest and the December Tour of Homes generate almost all of the funds that we raise.

Since 2005, we have funded over $245,000 in grants for education, partnering nonprofits and community organizations. This includes almost $115,000 in grants to our neighborhood schools, just under $40,000 to our public library, and over $35,000 to Trees Atlanta.

Our funding also supports other neighborhood projects, including the acquisition of N Highland Park, park improvements, safety, sidewalk and traffic concerns, planning and preservation efforts, and communication.

Some specific allocations
Here are just some of the funds that the civic association allocated in 2016:

VHCA Grant Awards – 2016

  • $19.500 to install three APD video cameras, in response to an offer of matching funds from Alex Wan’s council fund.
  • $4000 to Trees Atlanta
  • $3250 to Springdale Elementary PTO
  • $3100 to Inman Middle School
  • $2825 to Ponce de Leon Library
  • $2500 to Inman Middle School Technology Foundation
  • $1750 to Grady High School College and Career Center
  • $1500 Grady Athletic Boosters
  • $1500 to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

Volunteering

We are able to raise that money through the efforts of our volunteers. Without them, these initiatives would collapse. So please volunteer for our upcoming Summerfest 2017 in June, as explained in the accompanying article, and know how much you are helping all of us when you do that—not to mention the enjoyment and neighborhood camaraderie you will get out of it.

Remember, without our volunteers, Summerfest simply could not happen.

Thank you for your support, and enjoy Summerfest.

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Welcome to Our Newest Store, Vernacular

by Kay Stephenson, VHCA Vice President

In language, vernacular means “spoken as one’s mother tongue”. In architecture, it means “concerned with domestic and functional rather than monumental buildings”. For Chelsea and Kris, owners of the newest shop in the neighborhood, the name is synonymous with “east coast casual with a west coast vibe”.

The shop, which hosted its grand opening over the weekend, offers mostly casual women’s apparel and accessories, with a curated mix of gifts and home décor items as well. It also offers functional items that are different and fun – like the copper-accented french press for your coffee.

When Chelsea and Kris saw that Stanton Home Furnishings was moving out, they jumped at the chance to open a shop in this vibrant section of Virginia-Highland. A short two months later, and they are open for business at 1044 N. Highland Ave. Monday – Thursday 11 – 7, Friday and Saturday 11 – 8, and Sunday 11 – 6.

Kris said he asked property owner Stuart Meddin about the other open spaces in the strip (Dakota J’s former space and the recently vacant Half-Moon store) but both were already spoken for. No hints though. We will just have to wait and see what pops up.

Chelsea said they don’t have a specific target demographic, and I saw all ages in the shop – they have something for everyone, and at prices that don’t break the bank. They even offer the couple-friendly partner couch, which is nice for an after-brunch catch-up on email while others shop.

Stop in to Vernacular soon and welcome Chelsea & Kris, along with Carol, their full-time store manager, and Miah, the assistant manager. We couldn’t be happier to have them in the neighborhood, and I didn’t make it out of the store without a purchase!

Lovely things from truly nice people.

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Planning Your Spring Break Staycation Right Here, Intown

By Kay Stephenson, VHCA Vice President

Spring break may have originated with college students flocking to Ft. Lauderdale in the 1930s, but today families with children of all ages make special plans for this time. For colleges and universities, spring break is scheduled at different times throughout the month of March, but for the Atlanta Public Schools, April 3rd through the 7th is the time for families to kick back and have some fun this year.
For those who don’t plan to travel, there are a host of options for family fun in and near Virginia-Highland.

Kids’ Camps
Virginia-Highland resident Kim Steen Langan of Intown Tumbling is offering a half-day camp for kids three and up. Located right on the BeltLine at 828 Ralph McGill Blvd, the program runs from 9:00 am – 12:30 pm April 3 – 7, 2017. Full details may be found here.

Have a child who is more the outdoor type? Let them be a Junior TreeKeeper with the Trees Atlanta programs. April 3 – 7, 2017, the educational staff is offering two spring break camps – one for 1st to 3rd graders, and a 2nd for 4th to 6th graders. Each day begins and ends at the TreeHouse in the Stove Works Building, 112 Krog Street, but most activities will be out on the BeltLine and throughout nearby parks and neighborhoods. More information may be found here.

Tours
Get the whole family outdoors with a walking tour of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum along the Eastside Trail. Scheduled every Friday and Saturday morning, trained docents will lead you on a 1 ? hour walk discussing the arboretum collection, other plantings, history, architecture and the future of the Atlanta BeltLine. Register for tours here.

Inman Park company Food Tours Atlanta offers family-friendly walking tours full of history, art, and great food. Tour Inman Park or Ponce City Market. The 2 ? hour tours are offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Use the code EATLIKEALOCAL to receive a 10% discount for the whole family. More information may be found here.

Sales & Festivals
Saturday April 1st is Trees Atlanta’s 5th Annual Native Wildflower and Vine Sale at the Carter Center. It is a great place to pick up plants for your garden. Let the kids get in on the act and pick their favorites. Experts will help you to pick the right plant for any location and even give you advice on how to plant and care for your plants when you are home. More information may be found here.

Festival on Ponce takes place April 1st and 2nd in the historic Olmstead Linear Park, designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, Sr. The festival includes both fine art and crafts, acoustic music from local artists, a kid’s area, and of course food & beverages. More information may be found here.

The 81st annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival once again brings us all to Piedmont Park on the last weekend of spring break (April 7-9). This is Atlanta’s longest-running festival and includes the always entertaining Atlanta Dog & Disk Club Competition. Stroll through the artist market, eat gourmet and festival foods, enjoy rides and games, and listen to live music. From inflatables in the Meadow to crafts at the Mayor’s Grove, there is plenty to entertain children. Check it out here.

Gardens and Parks

The Atlanta Botanical Garden offers seasonal family activities throughout spring break both on the great lawn and in the Children’s Garden. Enjoy all-age exhibits, including Atlanta Blooms and Orchid Daze–both continuing throughout April. Check out a special itinerary for visiting with kids here and spring break programs here.

Did you know that Piedmont Park offers guided tours? The Atlanta Audubon Society leads bird tours on the first Saturday of the month at the park. Piedmont park also offers guided history tours on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Saturday from March to December.  More information may be found here.

Best of all, you can explore the park on your own by downloading a Piedmont Park scavenger hunt or a self-guided tree tour.

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Have You Heard of C.A.U.T.I.O.N. or Road Busters?

Learn More at Pickets, Protests, and a Parkway

By Kay Stephenson, Vice President, VHCA

This never-realized 1970 map shows the proposed I-485 & Stone Mountain Highway cutting through Inman Park, Virginia Highland, Poncey-Highland, Morningside, & Candler Park

Inman Park residents Cristy Lenz and Sandi Parker want us to know about the 30-year battle to stop a proposed 8-lane raised interstate. It would have cut through the heart of several intown neighborhoods including Virginia-Highland. Some in our neighbors have heard the story and some lived it. Still others have no idea that John Howell park stands as a monument to that battle, and to the people who started with grassroots protests but showed the state that their activism couldn’t be ignored.

C.A.U.T.I.O.N. was the legal arm of the battle while Road Busters was the protest arm. In the end, they managed to elect 54 people who were opposed to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s plan. Finally, they couldn’t be ignored.

Experience the history of this success through a pop-up history exhibit featuring memorabilia of the fight. Take the opportunity to hear from, and speak with, the original organizers of C.A.U.T.I.O.N. “It’s a great reminder in these times that grassroots activism can make a difference”, said Lenz. She and Parker want to remind and educate residents about their activist roots. In addition, representatives of a diverse group of organizations will share information and offer opportunities to get involved in current issues.

The event will be held in the same building as King of Pops in Inman Park (337 Elizabeth Street). Walk past the pops walk-up window on Bernina Avenue and turn right down the alley. A kick-off party will be held Friday February 24th from 6 – 10 pm and will include words from BeltLine visionary Ryan Gravel and Cathy Bradshaw, founder of C.A.U.T.I.O.N. Other members of C.A.U.T.I.O.N.  and Road Busters will also be on hand. On Saturday February 25th, the exhibit will be open from 11 – 5 pm and includes a panel discussion on Saturday afternoon. Both days are open to the public.

More information is available on the event website and Facebook page. And if anyone has any pictures or memorabilia that they would like to put in the exhibit please contact Cristy (cristy@foodtoursatlanta.com) or Sandi (sparker@indigo-collective.comby Friday February 17th.

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Troy Murray

Troy Murray is a 19-year resident of Atlanta and a 13-year loft owner at Greenwood Lofts in Virginia-Highland.   Originally from Nashville, Troy moved to Atlanta after earning a bachelor’s degree in Logistics and Transportation with a minor in Geography from the University of Tennessee.  Troy is a project manager for United Parcel Service, Inc.  (UPS), and has a passion for transportation and a strong interest in infrastructure growth and sustainability.   With a balcony view overlooking the Beltline and Ponce City Market, Troy has seen many changes in the neighborhood.

Troy has been involved with several organizations in Atlanta including:  UPS LGBTA Business Resource Group (2014 – current); AIDS Walk Atlanta (Team UPS captain, 2015 & 2016); Out & Equal Atlanta (board member, 2008 – 2013); United Way (UPS team leader, 2006 – 2008); Greenwood Lofts HOA (secretary 2005 – 2008); and Open Hand volunteer (1998 – 2005).

As an avid runner and dog owner, Troy can be seen daily either walking Jesse along Greenwood Avenue or running on the beltline. When not out an about with Jesse, he will bring his extensive non-profit and transportation expertise to our transportation and safety issues.

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Micah Stringer

Micah Stringer and his family have been Virginia Highland residents for almost two years.  Micah is originally from Syracuse, New York and his wife Kara is an Atlanta native.  They live in Atkins Park and both daughters attend SPARK elementary.  Micah is currently President of Atkins Park Neighborhood Association, a Division Vice President for a regional bank and graduate of the College of Charleston, SC.  Since moving to the neighborhood, the Stringer family has been very involved in local volunteer initiatives, VH Tour of Homes, SPARK and youth sports.  Micah has a strong interest in parks, planning and helping to revitalize the VaHi business district.

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Warren Bruno Memorial Bike Ride

The VHCA joins in those supporting the first annual Warren Bruno Memorial Ride to honor the legacy of a man who enriched the lives of so many in our community.

As the owner of flagship VaHi restaurant Atkins Park, Warren was one of the founders of Summerfest, and there’s no way we’d be having a 30th anniversary festival without his incredible support through the years. Warren was also an avid cyclist, so this tribute is fitting for a man who never missed a chance to bring family, friends and community together.

The ride will take place the morning of Sunday June 2 and start at the New Highland Park (corner of N. Highland Ave. & St. Charles Pl., across the street and just south of Atkins Park). Riders should sign in at 6:45 AM, the ride will start at 8 AM.

Registration is required. Register at http://wbmemorialridesummerfest.eventbrite.com/. When registering, donations may be made to the Leukemia Lymphoma Association in Warren Bruno’s name.

Ride on, Warren!

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30 Additional Historic Plat Maps Added

Houses once stood on the land that is now John Howell Park, and the Inman School's trailers and playing fields. This plat mapped out the land lots for those houses.

About a year ago, we posted 22 historic plat maps of various subdivisions that are now part of Virginia-Highland — these are the maps on which surveyors originally plotted how the land was subdivided into the lots that, for the most part, still exist today. To explore the maps, you can start by viewing the map of Virginia-Highland (“Map of Maps”), then select your specific area, then click through all available maps for that sector.

Now, the VHCA Preservation and History committee has provided an additional 30 historic plat maps which we have posted. The most enjoyable thing (for history and map geeks, anyway) is to explore from the overall VaHi map. However, if you want to know specifically which maps were added, here is a list:

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Piedmont Park Expanding Further

Piedmont Park expansion continues at the park’s far northern end near Ansley Mall. This phase of expansion comes after completion of a 26-acre expansion in 2011 that included two dog parks, the Greensward Promenade plaza and fountains, and the Six Spring Wetlands. The past two years has given the park conservancy time to raise additional funds for this year’s expansion.

The additional 53 acres to be added this year include Piedmont Commons, The Northwoods and Piedmont Gardens (see map). Challenges include “excavating industrial waste, whacking away gnarly masses of invasive kudzu, breaking up concrete creek beds, shoring up erosion and helping build a new utility and irrigation infrastructure” in the Piedmont Commons area.

Read the full story at Midtown Patch

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Agenda Set for VHCA Meeting – February 11, 2013

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Monthly Meeting

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

Agenda

  • Call to Order
  • Adoption of Agenda & Approval of Minutes
  • Reports from Public Safety representatives
  • City of Atlanta officials
  • Other elected officials & guests
  • Randy Guensler, Ga. Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Committee Reports:
    • Fundraising
      • Summerfest update – Pam Papner
      • Planning  – Lola Carlisle
        • V-13-002, 1026 Bellevue Drive NE.  Homeowner and applicant Celia O’Keefe seek a special exception to relocate a bedroom inside the existing footprint of a legal non-conforming duplex with a grandfathered apartment in an accessory structure in the rear.  The room currently being used for a bedroom for their small child was not designed for that purpose. A site visit revealed no other issues.  At the Planning Committee meeting on 2-5-13, the applicant had proof of notification of the relevant neighbors.  There were no objections or other relevant comments, and the committee unanimously recommended approval conditioned on site plans stamped and dated 1-8-13.
        • LRB _____ . Applicant and owner Emile Blau seeks a license to sell spirituous liquors at the American Roadhouse, 842 N. Highland Avenue NE.  The applicant’s application was mysteriously undated despite its trip through the City, an unusual (but not unheard of) result. The applicant attended the Planning Committee meeting on 2-5-13 and avers as follows: He has 23 years of experience in the restaurant management at Bones and related businesses; his proposed manager has similar experience. Neither has been personally cited or represented a business cited for underage service of alcohol. He will do in-house training for staff on alcohol service, recognition of boisterous behavior, and identification of conditions that dictate the refusal of service.  The Planning Committee recommended that the application go forward without opposition.
        • Aaron Fortner, Market & Main
          • Analysis of Middle School expansion impacts on traffic, land use, and neighborhood balance
  • Adjournment
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Bike lanes, turn lane coming to Ponce

by Brian Gross

On Feb. 7, John Wolfinger and I attended the City and BeltLine’s Open House about the planned improvements to Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Here were the improvements discussed: note, #3 is a very big change!

1. Resurfacing of Ponce between Juniper and Briarcliff/Moreland (GDOT)

2. Pedestrian safety improvements between Piedmont and Briarcliff/Moreland (GDOT)

3. Improvements from Boulevard/Monroe to Freedom Parkway. (BeltLine)
This would reduce the number of traffic lanes from three in each direction, to two wider lanes in each direction but add:
a) a center lane for turns and with some pedestrian islands and
b) as far east as Ponce de Leon Place, a bike lane in each direction. The bike lanes will be buffered from the car traffic by barriers approx. 1 to 2 feet wide. Unfortunately, the road is not wide enough so that the bike lanes can stretch as far east as Freedom Parkway.

The City rep told us there is not a fixed date, but he expected the work to be completed in the summer.

4. Ponce City Market Plaza Interface (BeltLine)
– A plaza that will let pedestrians walk between the BeltLine and the rail shed along the east side of Ponce City Market. (The rail shed will be turned into retail and food outlets). The BeltLine is hoping that funding will also allow for a ramp at North Avenue.

Well, that will connect Ponce City Market – but what about access from Ponce itself, without going through the Market? (I asked). The City planning rep told me that there are plans for a ramp to the BeltLine from the CVS on Ponce and also the Ponce City Market is considering an elevator from the top level of the rail shed down to street level.

On a related note, here are some links to some additional projects underway in Midtown:  project descriptions on the Midtown Alliance website and a recent progress report published on the Midtown Patch site.

Please also see the full handout from the event below, and the map presented:
(note: a “HAWK” signal is a signal at a mid-block pedestrian crossing)

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Before the Plaza Theatre, Patent Medicine Paid for the Druid Apartments

by Brian Gross

It seems that patent medicine paid for quite a bit of local real estate development in the early 1900s. I previously wrote about how Dr. Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic helped build Atkins Park. Now I’ve discovered another promoter of cure-all liquid who financed a beautiful apartment building at the southwest corner of Ponce and N. Highland with his profits.

The site is currently occupied by Briarcliff Plaza, “Atlanta’s first shopping center” (1939) and home to the Plaza Theatre and Majestic Diner. But here in 1917, the Druid Apartments were built. They were financed by George Francis Willis who had made his fortune on sales of Tanlac, a cure for stomach troubles, and Zonite, an antiseptic.

In 1920, Forrest and George Adair brokered a deal whereby Willis sold the apartments for $125,000 to Alex F. Marcus and Charles F. Ursenbach [3] – both brothers-in-law of Leo Frank, who had famously been lynched in 1915.

I haven’t found out if there’s a reason the Druid Apartments were torn down other than a more profitable use of the land.

And following the history trail keeps turning up even more of these patent medicine-financed developments. Mozley Park in west Atlanta, a lovely 1920s neighborhood and an early epicenter of white flight, was founded by Dr. Hiram Mozley, whose lemon elixir promised to relieve heart disease, indigestion, nervous prostration, headache, constipation and neuralgia!

Follow the history trail and there’s always more than meets the eye.

 

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1928 maps now online (and many more)

Historic maps lovers rejoice! A 1928 detailed topographic survey of Atlanta is now available online and includes Virginia-Highland roughly from Inman School on south. Our new Historic Maps page provides you the links. For future reference, the Historic Maps page is linked from our site’s menu under “Planning/Variances” and then “Preservation/History”, as well as from the A-Z index.

The new page also links you to our amazing collection of original plat maps from the era that VaHi’s subdivisions were built; the 1949 aerial survey; and the 1911 and 1920 Sanborn fire maps.

For those with an interest in Atlanta’s history before VaHi existed, an entire 1878 city atlas was also recently made available online. We can also direct you to the full resolution version of the beautiful 1871 “bird’s eye view” illustration of Atlanta.

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N. Highland, Asheville, and Dr. Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic

by Brian Gross, Communications Committee

I recently stumbled across a 9-month-old post about a house for sale at 811 N. Highland. Built in 1911, 7 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms and a carriage house. It’s said to have belonged to a St. Louis doctor, Dr. Edwin Wiley Grove. Dr. Grove was a self-made millionaire most famous for “Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic”, which contained quinine but without the bitter taste. Some sources claim that by 1890 more Grove’s tonic was sold than Coca-Cola.

Dr. Grove’s tonic riches enabled him to buy real estate. Here in our ‘hood, in 1912, he developed what is now Atkins Park (the three “Saint” streets east of N. Highland). Originally “St. Louis Park” (Grove lived in St. Louis), he changed it to Atkins Park to honor a family friend and mentor, Col. Atkins – a man who had served both in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the Confederate Congress.

In northwest Atlanta along what was until recently Bankhead Highway, Grove developed the streetcar suburb of “Fortified Hills”, later renamed Grove Park, where the now hard-scrabble streets are named after Grove’s daughters.

Grove was active in developing hotels in Asheville, North Carolina. You may have been to the beautiful Grove Park Inn, dedicated by Williams Jennings Bryan and where seven presidents have slept. Connecting the historical dots can lead you to some unexpected places!



  

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Clermont Hotel to Become Boutique Hotel

The Clermont Hotel has been sold to a team of Nashville and New York developers who intend to turn the property into a boutique hotel. The bellwether of the “old”, bawdy Ponce de Leon Avenue stands on its southern side at Bonaventure. The Clermont was built in the 1920s and was closed on orders of county health inspectors in 2009. No word on the fate of the (in)famous Clermont Lounge in the basement, a magnet for visiting celebrities and known for its aging strippers (read more at the Business Chronicle or at the AJC).

The team that bought the Clermont also owns the Oliver boutique hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee, in which they also renovated a historic landmark.

It seems that new and interesting development to Virginia-Highland’s immediate south is unstoppable and not just limited to the massive Ponce City Market project. At the Stove Works in Inman Park there are plans to add an epicurean market (read more at Creative Loafing or Atlanta Intown).

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CINS (Council of Intown Neighborhoods and Schools)

Upcoming CINS (Council of Intown Neighborhoods and Schools) Meetings

What: APS’ Human Resources – Hiring, Staffing, Leveling and Professional Development

When: December 12, 2012 – Noon

Where: Springdale Park Elementary School, 1246 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30306

What: 2013 Legislative Agenda for Education

When: January 16, 2013 – 7:00 pm

Where: Centennial Place Elementary School, 531 Luckie Street, Atlanta, GA 30313

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Local businesses publish Highland Corridor map

Local businesses in Virginia-Highland have worked together with others in Morningside, Poncey-Highland, Inman Park, and the Old Fourth Ward to produce a foldable, glossy, paper map of the “Highland Corridor”, which is now being distributed at local businesses.

Download the brochure as a PDF
Google map of businesses listed on the map – perfect for using on your smartphone or tablet.

“To The Trade Only” is the facilitator of producing these maps on behalf of the local businesses which make up the district. Barbara English of that company provided us with the story behind the maps:

Following on the heels of the very successful Virginia-Highland marketing pieces that were produced for the businesses as late as 2006, there was a void when the business association failed to maintain itself through organization of its members. The business leaders who were a part of it realized how much time and effort it took to market the area and run their own businesses too. To The Trade Only offered to collect a small amount of money from each of the business owners, organize the group into a workable marketing plan and get the maps printed and distributed to over 76 hotels, B&B’s, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, CNN Center, Peachtree Center, The Atlanta History Center and other points of public distribution in addition to the businesses on the maps.

A Facebook page has been launched, and regular newsletters to the business community are being sent to keep them informed of news that would be relevant to them. The maps are made available to any kind of event for gift bags or just to hand out. This includes weddings, realtors with open houses, etc.

As a marketing piece for the neighborhood association, part of the value of it is to make potential buyers and owners aware that the area is not only a desirable place to live, it is rich with resources which make the area attractive to residents as well as tourists.

It is To The Trade Only’s hope to continue to work with the local residents and businesses in marketing the area to everyone’s benefit. They organized a trade out with Atlanta Intown Magazine and will be seeking out anyone else who has a vested interest in making the Highland Corridor successful on many different levels.

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BeltLine Eastside 10K run

From the Atlanta BeltLine the VHCA has received the following information:

Atlanta BeltLine Running Series Opens Registration for Eastside 10K 

December 1 Event Features First Official Run on New Eastside Trail and Exciting Tailgate and Neighborhood Challenges

 ATLANTA (Aug. 23, 2012) The Atlanta BeltLine Running Series announces its second annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on Saturday, December 1, kicking off at Stoveworks (112 Krog Street Northeast  Atlanta, GA 30307) at 10 a.m. This first official run/walk on the new Eastside Trail winds through the Inman Park, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Poncey Highland, and VirginiaHighland 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.

“We are so excited to get out and get active on the new Eastside Trail with the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K,” said Atlanta BeltLine Partnership Executive Director Valarie Wilson.  “We encourage Atlantans to take advantage of this awesome new trail and this exciting event to show their team spirit and get moving!”

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. Teams are forming quickly, including representatives from Agnes Scott University, Auburn University, Georgia State University, Georgia College and State University, Kansas State University, University of Georgia, and Vanderbilt University, with more to come.

The race also features a Neighborhood Challenge, in which neighborhood associations will compete for a $1,000 cash purse to be awarded to the fastest, largest, and most spirited neighborhood teams.  “We are very excited to give Atlanta’s neighborhood associations 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.

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 November 28th, when registration will increase from $38 to $45. Proceeds benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership.

Special amenities offered to Eastside 10K participants include:

o   Tailgate Challenge including exciting prizes such as happy hour events from several local venues, the ability to setup your tailgate tent along the race route!

o   Neighborhood Challenge featuring a cash purse of $1,000 to be awarded to the neighborhood associations fielding the largest,, fastest and most spirited teams. The winning neighborhoods will get featured in Atlanta Intown

o   Great new start and finish location: Stoveworks

o   Long-sleeved technical shirts, thanks to Nike

o   Unique medals

o   Points earned toward Atlanta BeltLine Running Series Challenge prizes

o   AND, proceeds from the race support the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership! 

Registration is open and additional information is available at http://Run.BeltLine.org.

 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 address social concerns.  For more information on the Atlanta BeltLine, please visit www.BeltLine.org.

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Minutes – August 13, 2012

MINUTES

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board Meeting

August 13, 2012; Ponce de Leon Library

CALL TO ORDER

Mr. White called the meeting to order at 7 PM.

The following board members were present: Lola Carlisle, Frazier Dworet, Genny Ferrero, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Jack White, John Wolfinger, and David Wolfson. Pamela Papner arrived subsequently. Peggy Berg, Rob Glancy, and Brian Gross were absent with notice.

* * *

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA

Ms. Carlisle moved to adopt the agenda. The motion was seconded by Ms. Ferrero and passed unanimously (with a slight amendment as to the order, for the purpose of accommodating visitors). The attached agenda (“Addendum 1”), as revised, was approved without objection.

* * *

POLICE AND FIRE

Officer Moore from Zone 6 spoke on behalf of APD. He noted that there have been 146 arrests for the week, 684 arrests for the month, and over 4,000 arrests for the year. He further cautioned that people should be aware of leaving valuables in their car, and providing cell phones to youth (who subsequently steal them). An audience member also expressed concern about the parking of taxi cabs at the corner of Greenwood and N. Highland; Mr. Wolfinger promised a follow-up with APD on the issue.

* * *
CITY OF ATLANTA OFFICIALS

None were present.

* * *

OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS & GUESTS

Rebecca Serna of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition spoke with regard to the Streets Alive event this past May and reported that the group has applied to repeat it on October 7, with a route revision that forms a loop down Virginia Avenue to the Atlanta BeltLine, which will be open by that point. Some residents who live southwest of the Virginia/Highland intersection voiced concerns about being closed in; Ms. Serna said the route would be permeable and allow crossings and that residents who wanted to use their cars would have the option of being walked by police officers to their homes, as was the case in May. Mr. Wolfinger asked if any business owners had expressed opposition; Ms. Serna noted that only one antique shop owner in Inman Park had and that others had supported it. She introduced Matt Garbett, a resident of the Old Fourth Ward, who will be the event coordinator and offered to provide additional information at our AGM.
* * *
VHCA COMMITTEE REPORTS

Planning

V-12-119, 988 Lanier Boulevard. Ms. Ferrero explained that owner Jack Zampell contemplates adding a second story within the footprint of the exiting home and replacing a one-car garage with a two-car garage with increased setbacks, though still needing a variance. Mark Arnold appeared for the applicant, who was ill. Several nearby neighbors expressed concern regarding the process, reporting that they had not received adequate or timely notice and documentation on the variance requests. Mr. Arnold had no knowledge of these aspects, which were the purview of the applicant himself. Mr. White moved to defer for one month to allow neighbors to receive and review information relating to the variances and invited everyone to attend the planning meeting on September 5th. Ms. Ferrero seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Amendments to Bylaws. Ms. Ferrero explained the history behind the amendments to the bylaws and noted that they and comments from her and Mr. White had been posted on the web for a month. No questions have been received from the membership; she invited comments and questions from the audience. There were none, and she moved to approve the amendments for presentation and adoption at the AGM. Mr. Dworet seconded, and the motion passed unanimously. Ms. Papner and Mr. Wolfinger did not vote.

Education Committee

Ms. Foerschler Horn provided an update regarding various education issues. Among other things, she noted that VHCA’s previously-approved funding had been sent to the Inman Technology Foundation for the provision of computers. (In this context, she recognized the condition of several Old Fourth Ward groups, an action coordinated by Mr. Garbett, whose actions she recognized.)

Additionally, she noted that the committee will be working with parents to address a new crosswalk zone for Springdale Park students at the corner of Briarcliff Road and Briarcliff Place. The recently expanded walk zone has increased usage of this crossing on very busy Briarcliff Road; at the Ed Committee’s request, APS was now providing a crossing guard and the committee was suing for a new crosswalk. Finally, Ms. Foerschler Horn explained that the Inman Task Force continues to meet to address middle school capacity for our cluster. The superintendent’s goal is to identify a solution by the end of this calendar year; in these meetings, his staff has indicated that the superintendent will not recommend a second middle school with discrete elementary feeders.

Budget Committee

Mr. Dworet noted that the budget report is posted on the VHCA website. Mr. Dworet stated that last month he received two ‘lost’ invoices originally dated June 2010 from Trees Atlanta in the amount of $1,073 for a replacement tree and grasses installed in the streetscapes in that time period. Trees Atlanta reported that they had submitted the bills in a timely way after the work but had not been paid despite renewing the request several times with the Parks chairman of that period. Mr. Dworet’s requests to that person for additional background yielded no new information. Mr. Dworet concluded that the work had been done and that Trees Atlanta deserved to be paid for it. He therefore moved to amend the budget to allocate the $1,073 from the current unallocated funds to the Parks Committee budget to pay the invoice. Ms. Carlisle seconded the motion; it passed unanimously.

Finally, Mr. Dworet moved to amend the budget to allocate $4200 from unallocated funds for real estate taxes and waste services for NHP to the Budget Committee. Ms. Foerschler Horn seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

Safety Committee

Mr. Wolfinger spoke regarding the Briarcliff Summit building. He is pleased that new ownership will likely address many deferred maintenance items. Evergreen Associates, a management company, has concluded the purchase of the building and is scheduling staggered renovations to allow occupants to remain in residence during construction. It will remain a Section 8 property, but he hopes that the new work will improve the quality of the neighborhood.

Fundraising Committee

Ms. Papner announced that 2012 Summerfest revenue will likely exceed $180,000, which would be a new high. She further noted that the New Highland Park construction will commence next week (with completion scheduled for within a few months). In connection with the funding of New Highland Park, an audience member questioned whether Ms. Papner has received the donations (promised at the February meeting by Rob Glancy), who had managed the Intown Ten road race held on March 4th of this year. Ms. Papner noted that she has not. Mr. White explained that the VHCA did not hold the run and could not provide a financial summary, and that at the July meeting the individual who held the run has promised to provide a report in August.

Nominating Committee and AGM

Ms. Carlisle stated that the annual meeting will be held September 13 at Inman Cafeteria from 6:30 – 9:00. The Nominating committee is working hard on candidates for next year’s board; four members have announced they are leaving: Mr. Dworet, Mr. Gross, Mr. Glancy, and Mr. Wolfinger have announced they will not be candidates. She again invited everyone to suggest any individual that he/she believes will make a good contribution to the VHCA.

Communications Committee
Ms. Carlisle spoke at the specific request of Mr. Gross, who was absent. Due to the success of the electronic Voice, Mr. Gross has requested that we permanently end the regular publication of the printed version. Mr. White reported that Mr. Gross estimated savings of approximately $7,000 per written issue. Ms. Carlisle therefore moved that the Board discontinue the written edition of the Voice and continue the use of publishing an electronic version of the Voice. Several audience members were opposed to doing so, fearing new residents and those without computers would not see it and that the move had not been sufficiently publicized. Several Board members responded that the Board has over several months made repeated invitations to the residents of the neighborhood to request written copies of the Voice, and that no such requests have been received to date. Ms. Papner and audience member (and former Voice editor) John Becker pointed out that a printed Voice was hugely burdensome and time-consuming to volunteers, contained information that was often outdated after the time needed for printing and distribution, and that the responsibilities fell on a few small number of increasingly unwilling volunteer board members The motion passed 6-1; in favor were Ms. Carlisle, Mr. Dworet, Ms. Ferrero, Ms. Foerschler Horn, Mr. White, and Mr. Wolfson; Mr. Wolfinger opposed without comment.

Parks

A. John Howell Park. Ms. Wilkes Fralick discussed the conceptual plan for the recent improvements to the park. The plan has been posted on the website, and the Parks Committee wrote a very detailed article about the plan and process in the Voice and solicited comments and input from citizens on four scheduled tours (two with the Landscape Architect) on varying hours and days of the week. The plan has been widely supported. She moved to adopt the conceptual plan as presented in the Voice and online (minus the contemplated new sandbox, which the Parks Department asked be removed out of concern for the longevity of the adjacent rubberized safety surface). Mr. White seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Wilkes-Fralick explained that an additional $1,330 was required to finalize the plans to obtain bids from contractors for the actual costs of the improvements. Such plans will be required to apply for grant funds. Ms. Fralick moved that the funds be allocated for the final plans. The motion was seconded by Mr. Dworet and passed unanimously.

Ms. Wilkes Fralick also notified the Board that the cost of the re-grassing effort in September at JHP was going to be less than previously thought.

New Business

None.

Calendar Items

None.

Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 8:53 PM.

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Minutes – July 9, 2012

MINUTES

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board Meeting

July 9, 2012; Ponce de Leon Library

CALL TO ORDER / ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA

Mr. White called the meeting to order at 7 PM.

The following board members were present: Frazier Dworet, Genny Ferrero, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Jack White, John Wolfinger, Rob Glancy, Lola Carlisle, David Wolfson, and Lauren Wilkes Fralick. Peggy Berg arrived subsequently. Pamela Papner and Brian Goss were absent with notice.

Mr. White moved to adopt the agenda, amended to include planning application LRB-328. Ms. Carlise seconded the motion. The attached agenda (“Addendum 1”), as revised, was approved without objection.

* * *

GUESTS

RJ Morris introduced himself and explained that he will be running against Arthur Ferdinand for Fulton County tax commissioner on July 31.

Jenn Graham of Streets Alive also spoke. She noted that approximately 13,000 people attended the event, which was a success. A future Streets Alive event is currently planned for the fall, although the dates have not yet bet set.

Madigan McGillicuddy, the new youth services librarian at the Ponce de Leon branch, introduced herself and discussed upcoming initiatives at the library.

* * *

CITY OF ATLANTA OFFICIALS

Ms. Pat Gardner invited questions about the upcoming vote on the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (“T-SPLOST, and encouraged everyone to vote on July 31. She also thanked everyone for the continued opportunity to represent District 57.

Representative Ralph Long from District 58 spoke as well. He also invited questions regarding the T-SPLOST as well. He stated that he will have a town hall on July 12, at 7:00 pm., at Atlanta Metropolitan College, Conference Room 1A.

Mr. White noted that there will be a forum on Tuesday, July 24 at Inman Middle School for the candidates in the 57th and 58th district.

VHCA COMMITTEE REPORTS

Fundraising.

Ms. Carlisle moved to appoint Angelika Taylor chair of the Tour of Homes committee, together with all of the members. Mr. White seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Taylor spoke about the status of the Tour of Homes. The event is currently scheduled for December 11-12, 2012. She noted that there are currently several homeowners that have volunteered their homes for the tour. There is already a restaurant that has volunteered, and she noted that work now needs to focus on obtaining sponsorships. She also invited the audience to make any suggestions regarding proposed performers for the event.

Planning.

LRB-328. 758 Ponce de Leon. Change of agent on the liquor license for Rudy’s Inc., d/b/a The Local. Attorney Lisa Morehower presented on behalf of the application. She explained that their accountant has advised them to make some changes to their organizational setup for tax purposes. Mr. Hatcher is currently the named agent, but his partner, Charles E. Kerns, will be responsible for the continuing operation of the business. In-house training program, no liquor violation, and has not had a liquor license violation in 28 years. In response to questions, Mr. Kerns noted that they have never had a citation for any type of violation. Ms. Carlisle moved to approve change of agent, and Mr. White seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Ferrero and Mr. White also spoke regarding proposed changes to the bylaws, and invited comments. If the bylaws are to be amended, the revisions will be voted on at the September meeting.

Budget.

Frazier Dworet provided an updated budget report. He noted that the numbers reflected with regard to Summerfest are not final.

Education.

Nicole Forschler Horn spoke regarding the recent Grady cross-cluster meeting. She noted that more than 60 people attended, and that Kimberly Douglas acted as facilitator. The minutes from the meeting are now posted on the VHCA website. Ms. Forschler Horn also moved to approve the committee members nominated by the nominating committee. Ms. Berg seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Additionally, Ms. Forschler Horn explained that additional funds are required to assist Inman Middle School with the temporary trailers currently being used on site. To equip the trailers with the necessary computer equipment, the school requires $17,000. The PTA will provide $5,000, and has approached VHCA for assistance. Ms. Forschler Horn expressed that she has reached out to the other neighborhood associations within the cluster to ensure that all neighborhoods contribute. Ms. Forschler Horn moved that the VHCA allocate up to $1,500 from the budget allocated to discretionary board grants, to help purchase such computer equipment for the trailers. Rob Glancy seconded the motion. Frazier Dworet, Genny Ferrero, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Jack White, Rob Glancy, Lola Carlisle, and David Wolfson all voted in favor; Mr. Wolfinger opposed. The motion passed.

Safety.

Ms. Berg spoke regarding the sidewalks. She is continuing to work on finalizing the sidewalk cluster. At the Board’s request, she recently re-approached the city regarding whether various trees causing damage were within the realm of the city’s responsibility. Ms. Berg noted that the city officials were very gracious, and the City has reduced our costs for sidewalk replacement as a result. She is optimistic that they can begin working in three weeks. Ms. Berg also apprised the Board that her recent request to the City regarding streets issues in the neighborhood was met graciously, and that many of the items have already been installed and/or addressed by the City.

Mr. Wolfinger noted that he went to Fire Station 19 to discuss respirator and air tank equipment for firefighters. There are no problems with ours (unlike DeKalb County). He also noted that he recently received a grant for $3,500 for supplies to address graffiti in the neighborhood. Because he feels that we have so much, he has agreed to share our resources with other neighboring communities.

Mr. Wolfinger further noted that he met with the safety committee recently (Eleanor Barrineau, Kay Stevenson, Juliette White, Brian Gross, and David Wolfson) regarding a new project. They are working on a “welcome to the neighborhood” for new residents. He also would like to work on some additional street lighting, but feels that it will probably be deferred until next year, as there is little time left in the year.

Parks.

Mr. White provided an update regarding John Howell Park. He noted the Parks Committee recently wrote an article in the Voice to provide a complete report of what they are contemplating. Mr. White further discussed the next phase of the park rehabilitation: seeding the grassy areas of the park with fescue. He explained that it will cost $3,500, and it will require temporary park closure, aeration, fertilization, liming, and removal of weeds. Mr. White noted further that the $3,500 includes watering of the lawn and will require cooperation from the community to avoid interfering with the lawn.

Mr. Dworet raised the issue of whether or not we should allocate more significant fencing to prevent people from walking over the newly-seeded areas. Mr. White expressed that the issue really is one of aesthetics and funding.

In that same vein, an audience member questioned Mr. Glancy as to whether any of the funds from the Intown Ten (10K) road race would be made available to assist with these improvements to the park. After some discussion, Mr. Glancy eventually said he would make the report and donation in August, and then he departed.

Mr. White moved that the VHCA allocate $4,000 from the parks budget (with $500 to be allocated to the fence) to address these items. Mr. Wolfinger seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

On behalf of Ms. Papner, Mr. Dworet noted that CoA Parks has given them a certificate of appropriateness on New Highland Park, and that construction is moving forward.

Mr. White discussed recent damage that occurred at Orme Park when a city truck damaged some pervious concrete pavers, damaged a tot swing, and destroyed a water meter cover. Repairs are being scheduled.

NEW BUSINESS

An audience member noted that the Clairmont Lounge will be closing in connection with redevelopment efforts.

Mr. White asked the board to appoint Genny, John, Nicole and Lola to be members of the nominating committee. Peggy seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

RECESS

The Board went into recess for an executive session.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 PM.

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Minutes – June 11, 2012

MINUTES

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board Meeting

Monday, June 11, 2012; Ponce de Leon Library

CALL TO ORDER

Mr. White called the meeting to order at 7 PM. The following Board members were present: Peggy Berg, Lola Carlisle, Frazier Dworet, Genny Ferrero, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Brain Gross, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Pamela Papner, and Jack White. Rob Glancy and John Wolfinger arrived subsequently. David Wolfson was absent with notice.

* * *

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA / APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Ms. Foerschler Horn moved and Ms. Berg seconded a motion to adopt the agenda. The attached agenda (“Addendum 1”) was approved without objection.

Ms. Foerschler Horn moved and Mr. Dworet seconded a motion to adopt minutes for the May Board meeting. The minutes from the May 2012 Board meeting were likewise approved without objection.

* * *

POLICE AND FIRE

Two sergeants were present and reported that over the past couple of weeks, there has been an increase in armed robberies in the area generally surrounding Little Five Points. The officers noted that these robberies are partly attributed to the fact that schools were recently let out for the summer break. Nevertheless, the officers advised citizens to remove valuables from parked cars, and advised that more unmarked police cars will be patrolling the neighborhood to increase police visibility. Major Meadows also spoke and invited residents to discuss any issues with him.

Ms. Carlisle further questioned the officers with regard to whether any issues associated with the recent Soapbox Derby event. No issues were reported.

* * *
Bill Munro, AFPL

Bill Munro, director of the Ponce de Leon library, thanked the Board for the support provided by VHCA to the library. Mr. Munro further reported that $2,000 donated by the VHCA to the library this year was used to great benefit. Among other things, he explained that the Ponce de Leon branch was able to convert its VHS movie collection to DVDs, and as a result now has the largest DVD collection in the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. He further noted that the donated VHCA funds are also being used to assist the library with the fulfillment of its children and young-adult summer reading programs.

Mr. White thanked Mr. Munro for his continued support of the VHCA and noted that Mr. Munro goes above and beyond to ensure that the library is available to the VHCA for Board and committee meetings.

* * *

CITY OF ATLANTA OFFICIALS

None were present.

* * *

OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS & GUESTS

Tom McWilliams from Sylvan Hills attended on behalf of State Representative Ralph Long, a candidate for House District 57. He reminded everyone of the upcoming July 31 election, which will, among other things, call for a vote on the T-SPLOST transportation initiative

Mr. Earl Cooper introduced himself to the Board and to the audience. He is the current PTA president at Grady High School and is running as a Republican from House District 58.

* * *

VHCA COMMITTEE REPORTS

Budget Committee

Mr. Dworet reported that Melissa Kriest is the new bookkeeper for the Association, and that she has been instrumental in the further organization and streamlining of VHCA financial activities. After questioning from audience members, Mr. Dworet confirmed that all check-signing authority remains within the control of the Board.

Planning Committee

A. LRB-318; 1006 N. Highland Avenue (Taco Mac). The application relates to the change in ownership and resulting change of the designated liquor agent. Michael Sard from Sard & Leff spoke on behalf of the applicant. The new agent will be Susan Oddo. She explained that the application emanated solely from the change in ownership; with a new legal entity as owner, a new alcohol license is required. Ms. Carlisle noted that there have been no issues with Taco Mac in the past, that the Planning Committee unanimously approved the application at its previous meeting. Ms. Carlisle moved to approve the application, Mr. Glancy seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

B. V-12-070; 907 Highland View; Application for reduction of various setbacks. Mr. Mark Arnold appeared on behalf of the applicant, and explained that in connection with a second story addition within the existing footprint, the application involves the following setback reductions:

reduction of rear yard setback from 15’ (required) to 10’;
reduction in north side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3’2”;
reduction of south side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 2’10”; and
reduction of front yard setback from 35‘ (required) to 19’.

Mr. Arnold further explained that he previously examined all original two-story homes in the neighborhood to determine why they are aesthetically appealing, and he attempted to implement many of these characteristics in the plans for the current home. Mr. Arnold stated that the owner is doing all this it can to preserve trees, but that two dogwoods will be removed in the front. He confirmed that the submitted plans otherwise comply with all other requirements and that they are actually reducing existing lot coverage to 48%, because they are removing an existing swimming pool. Ms. Carlisle noted that some of the neighbors (911 Highland View, to the east) had expressed concern about the height of the house. Mr. Arnold’s client met with this neighbor and offered to revise the plans to address their concerns. The neighbors have now approved the plans, and the plans received unanimous recommendation for approval from Planning. Ms. Carlisle therefore moved to approve the application, conditioned on the revised site plan dated 5/31/12. Ms. Ferrero seconded the motion. The motion was approved 9-1, with all in favor except Mr. Glancy, who opposed it without comment.

C. SAP 12-0060; Special Administrative Permit to Operate Food Trucks at 841 N. Highland. The application was presented by Victoria Meadows. She noted that all trash and restrooms will be provided by Mr. Landau. Ms. Carlisle moved and Ms. Foerschler Horn seconded a motion to approve SAP120060. The motion passed unanimously.

Parks Committee

A. John Howell Park. Mr. White reported that the committee is moving forward with the work and repairs discussed last month; all work is on schedule. The committee has met with the Parks Department and Park Pride. The park’s original landscape architect, Peter Frawley, has led discussions about potential modifications around the volleyball court and on connecting the two levels of the park. Ms. Wilkes has met extensively with representatives from Volleyball Atlanta, who are partners in this process. The committee will prepare an article for the Voice and will schedule public walk-throughs to solicit public comments.

B. VHCL & New Highland Park. Pamela Papner provided an update, citing July 1 as the target construction start date. She further noted that $150,000 has been raised thus far for New Highland. On the topic of fundraising, Ms. Papner asked Mr. Glancy when the proceeds promised to the VHCL from the road race he directed on March 4th “benefitting John Howell Park” would arrive. Mr. Glancy stated that he was unable to provide the financial data at this time; “one or two checks remain to be written.” Ms. Papner indicated that the topic could be on the next agenda.

Fundraising Committee

Pamela Papner spoke regarding Summerfest. Relying upon information received to date, she believes this is going to be the best year ever with regard to financial receipts. Although she does not have the final numbers in with regard to beverage revenue or operations costs, and her estimate for earnings is in excess of $150,000.

Education Committee

Ms. Foerschler Horn spoke regarding the progress of the new education committee, which among other things, have declared the following goals: (a) to inform the neighborhood on issues that impact local neighborhood schools; (b) to collaborate with schools to solve problems and support positive change; and (c) to work with other neighborhoods within the Grady cluster. Ms. Foerschler Horn moved to approve the stated committee goals, which was seconded by Mr. White. The motion passed unanimously.

Safety Committee

A. Sidewalks. Ms. Berg provided an update with respect to the proposed sidewalk improvements and the contribution required by the VHCA in this regard.
Ms. Papner expressed concerns regarding the expending of Board funds for, among other things, commercial owners of residential properties. Mr. Glancy suggested that we have a cap on the amount funded for each property, which Ms. Berg said was part of her concept . Several members expressed concerns as to whether the Board should spend funds on sidewalks when city law makes homeowners legally responsible for the tasks.

After extensive discussion, Mr. White moved to approve a maximum total allocation of $15,000, with the following limits and conditions: $500 per segment; total of $800 per property; but in no event ever greater than 50% of the property owners’ cost. Messrs. Gross and Glancy seconded the motion.

After further discussion, the motion was amended to state that Ms. Berg will make a good faith effort to offer participation in the bundle without financial incentive.

The motion was approved 7-2; Mr. Wolfinger, Ms. Berg, Mr. Dworet, Mr. Glancy, Ms. Foerschler Horn, and Ms. Carlisle voted in favor and Ms. Papner and Ms. Ferrero voted against. Both argue that it was unwise to spend association funds on what the law deems a private landowner’s responsibility, particularly when a structure is a commercial investment for a non-resident. Mr. White, who was moderating the discussion, did not vote on his own motion and provided no reason.

B. Mid-year Report on Goals. Mr. Wolfinger deferred the report to next meeting with regard to committee goals. However, he noted that there will be a meeting regarding cleanup proposals for the intersection of Virginia and Highland Avenues on Wednesday, June 13, to bridge the gap between VHCA and the business association. The meeting will be at 6:30 at Aurora. VHCA is trying to encourage the business owners to better maintain the area surrounding their businesses.

Communications Committee

Mr. Gross stated that the VHCA has a new website, a new system for emailing residents, and a good support team. He reminded Board members to provide content for the Voice. While our previous decision was to publish one more printed edition of the Voice in paper format (prior to this fall’s Tour), Mr. Gross noted that substantial cost savings would be available to us from switching permanently to electronic editions. Mr. White and Mr. Dworet agreed with that perspective. Mr. White requested that Mr. Gross agree to lead a thorough discussion of this point at next month’s meeting regarding the pros and cons of maintaining a paper version of the Voice.

NEW BUSINESS

To comply with technical requirements of the bylaws, Mr. White moved to confirm all current Budget, Parks, Planning, Safety, and Summerfest committee members. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Gross will bring a list of Communication Committee members next month.

CALENDAR ITEMS

Mr. White noted that the general meeting this year will be on Thursday, September 13, 2012.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned at 9:34 PM.

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Kanuga looking spectacular with new trees

Kanuga was already looking better than usual after a recent cleanup by the city (thanks to Jenifer Keenan for bird-dogging Atlanta Public Works). But now the Atlanta BeltLine Corridor Project has planted trees along the entire length! The trees are a test plot underplanted with buffalo grass, which should provide a drought-tolerant ground cover.

Looking up the full length of Kanuga from Monroe

Looking downhill from the middle of Kanuga

Looking uphill from the middle of Kanuga

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What I learned about VaHi from old Voice newsletters

by Brian Gross, Communications Committee

Voice logos through the years. Click to enlarge image.

I recently helped scan and uploaded more than 60 past issues of the Virginia-Highland Voice, the VHCA’s long-standing paper newsletter, which continues today in electronic form. The issues ranged from the very first Voice in 1972 through 1976, then a large gap, and then other issues dating from 1988-2012.

By scanning headlines I was able to create online tables of contents for each issue. In doing so I read many articles and I thought I’d share with you the most interesting articles I found. Keep in mind I’m a relative newcomer (3 years) – and I know that others might find other topics more interesting than I do. Also, I know there is always more to the story than what I found. I speak for myself here and not for the VHCA. With those disclaimers, here’s what I found interesting:

Neighborhood Empowerment and Fighting I-485

Planned route of I-485 through VaHi

The Voices from the 70s don’t actually give the full background and context of the battle that raged at the time against the building of the I-485 freeway north-south through Virginia-Highland and other neighborhoods.

Nor do they discuss the fact that this was the first time neighborhoods actually had a voice – “the third leg of the stool” in the city, next to business and the black community.

But it is interesting to catch these glimpses of that time, once I was educated on the context and history.

One article also explained the very real problem of redlining at that time – something that until recently I only thought happened in minority areas. (Voices from 19721973197419751976)

Sidewalks

The most intractable problem in VaHi?

Virginia-Highland’s broken sidewalks? “Always and forever” an issue… examples:

Zoning

Almost a 2000-person mega-entertainment complex?

The VHCA battled some projects that would have been disastrous and might have led us to become a second Buckhead village (where violence from partygoers got so bad they tore the place down!):

But, the association lost the battle to save dozens of majestic oak trees at 830 Ponce, the site today of The Carlton on Ponce condominiums.

Ponce de Leon Avenue

In 1990 a “Ponce Taskforce” was formed, and the Fall 1990 issue was dedicated to Ponce, inventorying the help organizations there, the transient hotels, and the problems. In 1992 there was a spirited letter to the editor against a potential expansion of Grady Hospital onto Ponce.

Ponce has improved substantially since then I am sure, but is still a problem. I feel that as a  community we “face” north, west and east, but turn our back to Ponce. Is the community too exhausted to try and improve it?

Summerfest and Tour of Homes

Summerfest is present in nearly every issue, Tour of Homes almost as often, and every year the plans were announced and the ever-greater successes described. Some articles that stood out:

Safety

Of course, John Wolfinger’s Safety Reports are legendary, but were not included in the hard copy Voice because of John’s desire to have the reports distributed by street captains, thereby strengthening that program.

As the person who drove the 2010 expansion of FBAC (member supported security patrol) to cover the entire neighborhood, I found it interesting to read about a spirited, but unsuccessful effort to do so in 1994, as well as to track how FBAC came to be.

Parks and Trees

John Howell Park 1988 original plan

Some standout articles:

His work was to grace VaHi

The tireless efforts of Stephanie Coffin to save trees and plant more are a red thread throughout almost all Voice issues.

Retail

Superior Foods closes, 1994

  • In 1994, residents were shocked by the sudden closing of Superior Foods grocery, where CVS is today on N. Highland.
  • Recently a friend from Vinings asked me if I enjoyed all the galleries in VaHi. I was baffled – what galleries? Now I understand – she hadn’t been to VaHi for a long time! In 1993, VaHi was famous for art galleries – I enjoyed this overview of them.
  • In 1994 VaHi was coffee and dessert-obsessed – I enjoyed the comparison of seven locations. Why are there no dedicated dessert places today!?

People

Portraits of exceptional neighborhood volunteers and organizers:

And honorable mention to indefatigable columnists:

  • Nan Hunter’s recycling columns in the 1990s when recycling was a new idea
  • The Highland Ho-er (gardening tips by today’s safety guru John Wolfinger)
  • Colonel Mustard (restaurant reviews)

PS – Some of the ads were very entertaining too, such as this 1990 Murphy’s ad:

Ad for Murphy's, Virginia-Highland Voice, August 1990

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More Voice past issues available online

We have scanned more past issues of the Virginia-Highland Voice — the following additional issues are available online.

See also the full archive at vahi.org/voice-print.

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BeltLine Master Plan for Sub-area 6

The BeltLine Master Plan for “sub-area 6” includes the western edge of Virginia-Highland along Piedmont Park and Monroe Drive. These include proposals for improvements to the intersections of Monroe and 8th; Monroe and 10th/Virginia/Kanuga; and for converting Monroe to two lanes with a median/turn lane. Diagrams cover proposed bike access and transit.

The download can take a while as it’s 45 MB large: download main document here; there are also appendices (72 MB).

BeltLine master planning homepage

Here are some pictures from the document:




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Trees Atlanta Tree Sale & Festival

From Trees Atlanta we have the following:

Trees Atlanta Announces 13th Annual Trees Atlanta Tree Sale & Festival

More Than 1,000 Trees and Plants Offered at Annual Non-Profit Fundraiser

Looking for trees and plants to add beauty and shade to your yard? You won’t find a better deal than at the 13th Annual Trees Atlanta Tree Sale & Festival. The local non-profit has added more than 88,000 trees to metro Atlanta since its inception in 1985, and each October, Trees Atlanta has a sale that offers more than 1,000 plants – including 200 species of trees, shrubs, native perennials, and tree-friendly vines – for purchase by the public. All proceeds benefit weekly neighborhood tree planting projects, helping Trees Atlanta volunteers plant approximately 2,000 trees each year all around metro Atlanta.

The sale, sponsored by Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., will take place at the Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center, located at 225 Chester Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30316 on Saturday, October 13th, 2012 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Trees Atlanta donors of $500 or more are invited to attend a preview shopping night the evening before the sale.

The Trees Atlanta Tree Sale gives plant lovers a chance to talk with experts about why each tree is unique, so that making the decision on which tree to buy becomes easy and enjoyable, for both the avid planter and the first-time buyer. Shoppers will find oaks, ginkgos, hickories, hollies, dogwoods, redbuds, azaleas, hydrangeas, blueberries, and many more species and varieties, including selections that attract wildlife and pollinators such as birds, butterflies, and bees.

One variety that is making its first appearance at the tree sale this year is Sheri’s Cloud blackgum, which is a variegated blackgum that was discovered in Arkansas. Another great plant that is always very popular is the paw paw. It’s a small tree with beautiful leaves and delicious fruit. Also available will be Devil’s Walking Stick, which has the largest leaves of any native tree (they’re compound and can be up to 5 feet long!). And if you’re looking for beautiful vines for a trellis or fence, we’ll have several great native options like coral honeysuckle, passion vine, native wisteria, and trumpetcreeper.

In addition to purchasing trees and plants, visitors are invited to spend time at the Trees Atlanta Kendeda Center by enjoying the festival component. There will be features such as planting and pruning demonstrations, live music, a small sheep petting zoo, a dynamic speaker, partner booths, kid’s crafts, raffles, and food trucks. There will also be opportunities to learn about the components of Trees Atlanta’s Platinum LEED-certified headquarters.

A complete list of trees and plants for sale will be available on www.treesatlanta.org. And if a shopper wants a big tree but has a small car, Trees Atlanta can provide delivery, as well as planting assistance, within a limited area for a small fee. Go tree shopping on October 13th with Trees Atlanta!

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Streets Alive! Virginia, N. Highland closed to traffic

From Atlanta Streets Alive! this information:

On Sunday October 7th, 2012, Atlanta Streets Alive will return to North Highland Avenue for four hours — from 2pm-6pm.

Two miles of North Highland plus one mile of Virginia Avenue plus just about two miles of the brand new Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail means we will have almost FIVE miles of car-free community space to ride, walk, play, dance and rock and roll.

Look for activities all along the route including local acoustic musicians, a capella groups, marching bands, alongside classes such as salsa dancing, yoga, zumba and thousands of people out riding their bikes.

Read more at the Atlanta Streets Alive! website

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News (and movies) from VHCA Annual Meeting and 40th Anniversary Celebration

The Board of Directors for the 2012 (October) through 2013 (September) period has been elected.

Minutes of the meeting are forthcoming; however you can watch videos of the meeting, including the many special events such as:

  • SPARK choir performing (watch video)
  • Joe Drolet‘s educational address about the formation of the VHCA to fight construction of an interstate highway through our neighborhood (watch video)
  • Addresses by Pat Gardner, Ceasar Mitchell and Alex Wan (watch video)
  • Remembrance of Warren Bruno and and address by his wife Sandra (watch video)
  • Recognition of former and exiting Board members (watch video)
  • Discussion and voting on amendments to the VHCA by-laws (watch video)
  • Grants to community organizations (watch video)

See a slideshow of the achievements of VHCA and its volunteers below. You can also download it as a PDF file.

Finally, here is the new history video which premiered at the meeting, based upon the book Images of America: Virginia-Highland by Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle. It was first shown at the 40th anniversary celebration (2012 annual meeting) of the VHCA. You can watch it full-screen by clicking the square icon in the bottom right of the video.

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A Rich History – Video

Here is the new video based upon the book “Images of America: Virginia-Highland” by Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle (http://bit.ly/RX6kRb). It was first shown at the 40th anniversary celebration (2012 annual meeting) of the VHCA. You can watch it full-screen by clicking the square icon in the bottom right of the video. You can also watch in high definition at http://youtu.be/-RQLbmnwtw8.

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VHCA Annual Meeting and Elections and VHCA 40th Anniversary Celebration

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association will hold its Annual Meeting and Election at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria on September 13 from 6:30 – 9:00PM.

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association will hold its Annual Meeting and Election at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria on September 13 from 6:30 – 9:00PM. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the formation of the VHCA, and we have some special events planned. 

Celebration, song, coffee and dessert

Inman Middle School and Springdale Park Elementary (SPARK's) Advanced Choruses will perform. We've invited past board members to attend and be recognized, and we'll give out grants as we do every year. San Francisco Coffee will have coffee and dessert available for purchase.

All residents of Virginia-Highland are encouraged to attend and – if you're not already – become involved in your Neighborhood Association.

Past Board members please note

Please contact us at if you are a past board member planning to attend so that we can be sure to recognize you. Look for a more detailed agenda and reminder next week, and please plan to attend.

Election of the 2012-2013 Board

The nominating committee of the VHCA has presented a list of candidates, all of whom have declared their candidacy.

Members of the association (18 years of age residing within the official boundaries of Virginia-Highland) may vote at the meeting. In order to vote, please bring a copy of a valid ID (GA driver’s license, e.g.) or a utility bill issued within 60 days of the meeting and showing your name and address.

Absentee ballots

Members may also vote by absentee ballot. Your ballot along with a copy of one of the forms of identification mentioned above may be delivered to the offices of Tailfin Marketing (1246 Virginia Ave) by noon on Thursday, September 13th or to the Annual Meeting by its start time at 6:30 PM. Please put your ballot in a sealed envelope with the identification documents separately sealed inside or stapled to the outside. (Please cross out specific account or driver license numbers.) After your residency is verified, the identification documents will be removed and destroyed. Your ballot will remain anonymous.

Proposed bylaw revisions

Revisions to VHCA bylaws are proposed for the membership's consideration (and potential adoption) at the meeting. Here (again) are links to:

  1. the existing bylaws;
  2. the proposed new bylaws, for the membership's consideration (and potential adoption) at our Annual General Meeting on September 13th at Inman Middle School; and
  3. some explanations and commentary on the changes by their primary authors, board members Genny Ferrero and Jack White.

Full Agenda

  • Call to Order and Welcome
  • Intro of Choirs
    • Inman Middle School Chorus – Chorus Director, Stacey Tanner
    • SPARK Advanced Chorus –– Chorus Director, Brianne Turgeon – accompanied by Jenna Mobley on the banjo
  • 40th Anniversary Opening Remarks
  • History of Virginia-Highland Video
  • Intro and Recognition of Past Board Members
    • Remarks by Joseph Drolet
  • Recognition of Guests
  • Community Service Recognition
  • Nomination Committee
  • Bylaws Committee
  • Grant Awards
  • New Business
  • Closing & Adjournment

Thanks to:

  • Jenna Mobley – Photography
  • Twelve – Flowers
  • San Francisco Coffee
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The VHCA published a quarterly print edition of the Virginia-Highland Voice until May 2012.
You may choose from the summary table of available PDFs below, or further down, you may browse the tables of contents for all available past issues.

Summary table of PDF files

For 1995 and previous, Winter editions were published at the end  of the year indicated, e.g. Winter 1995 was published in December 1995.
After 2006, Winter editions were generally published in November of the year prior to the year indicated below, e.g. Winter 2011 was published in November 2010.

 

BROWSE TABLES OF CONTENTS FOR PAST ISSUES ↓↓↓

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VHCA Board Elections

VHCA Board Elections
To be held at the VHCA Annual Meeting – September 13th – Inman Middle School Cafeteria – 6:30 – 9:00PM

The nominating committee of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association presents the following list of candidates, all of whom have declared their candidacy:

Members of the association (18 years of age residing within the official boundaries of Virginia-Highland) may vote at the Annual General Meeting on September 13, 2012 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria, which begins at 6:30 PM. In order to vote, please bring a copy of a valid ID (GA driver’s license, e.g.) or a utility bill issued within 60 days of the meeting and showing your name and address.

Absentee ballot

Members may also vote by absentee ballot. Your ballot along with a copy of one of the forms of identification mentioned above may be delivered to the offices of Tailfin Marketing (1246 Virginia Ave) by noon on Thursday, September 13th or to the Annual Meeting by its start time at 6:30 PM. Please put your ballot in a sealed envelope with the identification documents separately sealed inside or stapled to the outside. (Please cross out specific account or driver license numbers.) After your residency is verified, the identification documents will be removed and destroyed. Your ballot will remain anonymous.

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BeltLine Lantern Parade

From the Atlanta BeltLine, info about the following event:

The long-awaited Eastside Trail is a marvelous accomplishment that will connect our communities – and that calls for a community parade!

Absolutely everyone is invited to participate in this Art on the BeltLine project by the Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons. We will follow the Seed & Feed Marching Abominables from Irwin Street all the way to Park Tavern!

The Lantern Parade is a big fun free good time for the community. Together, we will magically illuminate and celebrate our new public space! Participation in playful creative events fosters enduring bonds between people and place. The Lantern Parade is active creative placemaking. Come play and hold up a light for the Atlanta BeltLine! Make your own lantern or take one of our free workshops or grab that old Coleman!

Time: 7:30 pm-10:00 pm
Location: Intersection of Lake Avenue and Irwin Street, Inman Park

Details here: www.GratefulGluttons.com
Share on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/bto6vzq

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Crime Reports

APD’s August Report

APD has a good recap of some good things that have happened at http://www.atlantapd.org/files/GreatestHitsAugust.pdf Especially note our own Deputy Chief Propes’ report about our Smart 911 System. Please sign up if you have not yet done so. VaHi was mentioned in this report with the Creative Loafing story about the capture of residential burglar Charles Echols here. Again – thanx to everyone who helped with this community project.

The following reports are taken from our APD Zone 6 (http://www.atlantapd.org/zone6.aspx) crime stats for the 2012 weeks of 32,33, and 34 (8/5 to 8/25). Note that this is a compilation of 3 weeks, instead of the usual 2 weeks. Again, I state that these reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to make you aware of what happens around us everyday and to raise your alertness and awareness. The emphasis is on our VaHi Beat 601, but with news from around the Zone as it applies to us.

Aggravated Assault – A male reported being shot outside of a Bonaventure Avenue apartment, but waited some time before calling in a 911 report. No physical evidence was found outside of a shooting, but such evidence was spotted inside the apartment – indicating to responding officers that it may have been a self-inflicted accidental shooting – the victim was taken to Grady with non-life-threatening wounds.
On 8/21 at 8 p.m. at the Open Door Community on PDL Avenue a combative arrestee under the influence of either drugs or alcohol attacked 3 different victims – one being struck with a board with a protruding nail. No one was seriously hurt and the arrestee was taken to Grady.
Nearby at 4 a.m. on northbound Moreland Avenue a motorist and passenger was fired at from a vehicle beside them – they suffered only superficial wounds and refused treatment. Road rage??

Auto Theft – Vehicles were stolen from Bellevue Drive, Briarcliff Place, North Highland Avenue, Lanier Boulevard, Greenwood Avenue (2), St. Charles Avenue and two botched attempts were reported from Virginia Avenue.

Auto Theft Recovery – No such reports from Beat 601

Commercial Burglary – No reports from Beat 601

Residential Burglary – Residences were broken into on Monroe Drive via a broken door window, North Highland Avenue via an unlocked back door (their dog was locked in the bathroom), Briarcliff Road via a pried open front door – the victim found the perp inside when she came home, asked for her laptop back, he returned it and fled on a bicycle, Orme Circle entered via a broken back window and cut himself on the glass (tsk!), evidently the alarm scared him off as nothing was reported taken.

Hopefully now that Charles Echols is behind bars – this rash of residential burglaries is over. BUT – if you still do not have double locks on your doors, make this change quickly. Just because your door is locked with a single lock – all someone has to do is break the window glass and reach in for entry.

Commercial Robbery – No such reports from Beat 601

Residential Robbery – No such reports from Beat 601

Larceny From Vehicle – Vehicles were entered into on Bellevue Drive, Kentucky Avenue (2), North Highland Avenue (3), PDL Avenue (2), Amsterdam Walk, St. Charles Avenue, Greenwood Avenue, Drewry Street and hubcaps were taken off on PDL Place.

Homicide – On 8/16 at 10:15 p.m. a “person shot” call was made with the Barnett Street convenience store owner, “Mike” Moloo, being the victim, after an apparent robbery attempt. He was taken to Grady where he died. This investigation still continues. Please, if anyone happens to remember seeing or hearing anything that nite that could be of help in solving this case – e-mail Detective K. Otts at kotts@atlantaga.gov Homicide needs more help in solving this horrific murder.

A memorial facebook page is at htttp://www.facebook.com/RememberMikeMoloo

Larceny Other – Shoplifting was reported at Intown Hardware. An unwatched cellphone was taken from the DJ at the MJQ Club. A potential “customer” at ATL Motorcycles on PDL Avenue took a scooter for a test drive and never returned. An unwatched cellphone was taken from the front desk at Enyata Salon on North Highland Avenue – 2 teenage b/m had been in soliciting “funds for Grady High School football team” before the phone was discovered as missing. The CVS store caught a shoplifter. There were front porch package thefts on Virginia Avenue.

Nearby snatch and grabs continue to be a problem. A cellphone was snatched from a texting passenger of a car stopped at a traffic lite on North Avenue at 8 p.m. – a similar incident happened on this street at 3:15 a.m. A GBI employee had his phone snatched while he was pumping gas at 6:15 p.m. at a Boulevard gas station. At 1:15 p.m. a phone was snatched from a talking Merritts Avenue pedestrian and the same sort of thing happened to a PDL Avenue pedestrian near Parkway at 7:30 p.m. In EAV on Brownwood Avenue at 2 a.m. the victim stuck his phone out the door for a better signal and had it snatched. A group of teens asked an Eastlake pedestrian near Publix to borrow his phone and fled. An unwatched phone was taken from a table at Bessie Branham rec center in Kirkwood. I may have missed some of these reports – but hope you get the idea that cellphones need to be watched at all times, are not to be loaned to strangers wanting to borrow them and walking and texting/talking are verboten and keep your car windows rolled up while talking/texting at a traffic lite. “Used” cellphones can be easily sold for cash and quite obviously there is a good market for them. I would assume that those of you reading this report are taking steps to protect your cellphone – but PLEASE warn your friends and neighbors who are careless in protecting their cellphones.

Pedestrian Robbery – No reports from Beat 601

However, across the street at the PDL Avenue Publix store parking lot on 8/9 at 1:30 p.m. there was a purse snatching. The passing female who tried to intervene had a knife drawn on her and the perp fled on foot. He dumped the purse in a Cleburne Terrace backyard and kept running. He was spotted briefly on Linwood Avenue and led officers on a chase thru a section of Freedom Park and was finally captured in a Bonaventure Avenue backyard. The perp was on both Federal and Georgia parole. You can send a thank you to Officers Trombley, Larosa and Fisher for slogging thru the heavy rain that day on foot to make this capture at http://www.atlantapd.org/officercomment.aspx I’m sure they needed the rest of the day off to recover from all of that chasing!

Also nearby a Glen Iris apartment building resident was robbed of her car at gunpoint in the building’s parking garage at 1:30 p.m. – the perps were driving yet another stolen car to steal this one. A Ralph McGill Boulevard pedestrian was robbed of her purse by intimidation at 10:50 p.m. and also on this same street at 6:15 p.m. a pedestrian was robbed of her purse and cellphone at gunpoint.

Stay alert and keep ALL parked cars cleaned out at ALL times.

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2012-3 Board Bios

Below are the bios of the candidates elected to the 2012-2013 Board of Directors of the VHCA. The Board was elected by residents on September 13, 2012 at the VHCA Annual Meeting. Following are the bios that they submitted prior to their election.

John Becker

I own a home on Rosedale Road where I’ve lived for 11 years. I’m currently a freelance writer but am looking to return to my old field of pharmacy automation as soon as I find the right sales position.

I have a strong belief in local volunteerism and have been involved in my community in one way or another everywhere I’ve lived. In VaHi I started by volunteering for Summerfest, working a few shifts per festival for several years until being asked to coordinate all volunteers for last year’s festival. We were fortunate to be very successful with volunteer recruitment in 2012, securing our quota of volunteers well ahead of schedule and experiencing very few cancellations and no-shows. Things went very smoothly. I’ve agreed to serve in this capacity again for the 2013 festival.

In 2006 I started serving as editor of the print Voice newsletter and continued in that role until stepping down in 2011. I still write occasional articles for the fantastic new electronic Voice. I’m also an avid digital photographer and have enjoyed serving as the neighborhood’s “unofficial photographer” since starting as Voice editor in 2006.

A few years ago I took an interest in the neighborhood’s parks and became involved with small groups that took on maintenance of areas like the Triangle and John Howell Park. I currently serve informally on the parks committee with Jack White, Lauren Fralick and Laura Voisinet. One of my most gratifying volunteer duties is keeping the doggie waste bag dispensers in John Howell Park full.

I’m a sports fan, racquetball player, and dog lover. If you’re looking for me and I’m not at home, there’s a good chance my dog Dakota and I are on the patio at Taco Mac enjoying something cold to drink.

I’m very excited about the opportunity to continue my service to our neighborhood as a member of the VHCA board. If fortunate enough to be elected, I’d like to continue my focus on Summerfest, communications and parks. I’d appreciate your support.

Peggy Berg

I moved to Virginia Highland in 1984 and have a home, rental property and had a business in the neighborhood. My husband and I raised our two sons here and I served on PTAs for Morningside Elementary, Inman Middle and Grady High Schools. We have always been active in our neighborhood.

Our family is in the hotel business (we own the Hampton Inn Northlake Mall) and I have also been a partner in a consulting firm and an international CPA firm. I have a strong business background. I have chaired several industry and professional organizations. I recently completed a Masters degree from Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy.

I believe that our individual involvement is what makes our neighborhood such a good place to live so I served on the VHCA Board in 2012. I work on sidewalks and streets. This year, the City has responded to requests from us with regard to pedestrian signs, street signs, traffic lights and other maintenance items on the streets. We have also been working on a program to improve sidewalks in Virginia Highland and expect to have 29 sidewalk segments replaced by year-end with collaborative funding from VHCA, the City and property owners.

Lola Carlisle

I am currently on the VHCA board. I have volunteered with various organizations in Virginia-Highland since 1997. My husband, Tom Beisel, and I have lived in Virginia-Highland at 1030 N. Virginia Ave. since 1993, being the second family to live at this address! We have a daughter who is 16 years old.

Over the years I’ve volunteered with VHMPA, VHCA History & Preservation efforts, PLAN – reporting to the City of Atlanta from Virginia-Highland as the zoning code was revised, the VHCA Planning Committee and various fundraising efforts of the VHCA. Karri Hobson-Pape and I co-authored the Images of America – Virginia–Highland history book.

I hope to continue working with the planning and preservation committees helping to ensure that development in the area supports the neighborhood’s vision. Through proper planning and oversight, Virginia-Highland can represent the best Atlanta has to offer in a vibrant intown neighborhood.

Arturo Cruz-Tucker

I was born in Mexico and grew up in El Paso, Texas. I graduated from New Mexico Military Institute, where I received a commission as a 2LT in the US Army Infantry. My wife Dominique and I moved into Virginia-Highland in 2004 to raise our son Triston, who attends Springdale Park Elementary. I have been a small business owner and now work in Sales for Starwood Hotels.

Most recently, I chaired the Virginia-Highland Summerfest Kidfest and have committed to another year in 2013. I also joined the ToH committee under Kris Smith. I sit on the Board for The Carlton Homeowner’s Association and was able to bring FBAC into this community.

Atlanta has been my home for 14 years and I’ve loved every minute of it. My family and I have reaped the benefits of this community’s hard work for many years and feel it is now time to return the favor. We not only want to live in this great neighborhood, we want to be woven into the fabric that holds it together. The people I’ve met and friends we’ve made on the other committees and board only reinforce my desire to be involved and run for the Association. Kidfest was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve been a part of in a long time, and I can’t wait to have many more just like it.

Lauren Wilkes Fralick

Lauren and her husband Frank moved to the neighborhood in 2011. They live on Highland View with their dog Abner. Lauren works in Government Relations for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. On the weekends, you may find her working on one of the many “do it yourself” projects they have going on at their home.

Lauren enjoyed her last year of service on the VaHi board and looks forward to another year serving the neighborhood.

Genny Ferrero

Genny is a returning Board member of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, having served as Board secretary in 2011-2012. She is a member of the Planning Committee and the Tour of Homes. By way of background, Genny and her husband purchased their home in Virginia Highland in 2011. She is relatively new to Atlanta, having relocated to Atlanta from Chicago with her family in 2009. In Chicago, Genny was a commercial real estate and finance attorney with the law firm of Baker & McKenzie. She also devoted time to the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. She is now a stay-at-home mother to her three-year-old son and devotes her time to the community.

Nicole Foerschler Horn

Nicole Foerschler Horn is a business owner, a mom, and an active community volunteer. She has served on the VHCA board the last year and the Planning committee for the past year and a half. Over the past 10 months, Nicole led the Association’s response to the Atlanta Public Schools’ redistricting efforts. This summer she organized a cross-cluster meeting to discuss middle school capacity issues and became the first chair of the new VHCA Education Committee. Nicole looks forward to working closely with this committee to more fully engage the civic association in education issues.

In addition to her work with VHCA, Nicole has served on the Springdale Park Elementary PTO board for two terms, this year as co-president. She was an organizing member of Step Up for Public Schools (formerly Step Up or Step Down), which monitors the Atlanta Public School’s board. Nicole is also a graduate of United Way’s VIP board training program.

Nicole is co-owner of JMH Consulting, a firm that works with universities across the country to launch certificate programs for adult students and enhance online marketing efforts for continuing education departments. Nicole is married to Jon Horn and is the mom of two amazing kids: Gavin (age 6) and Hayden Grace (age 4).

Jenifer Keenan

I am a mom, wife, lawyer, and community activist who has lived in Virginia Highland for almost 10 years. I take great pride in our neighborhood and have been an active neighborhood advocate on the BeltLine and important neighborhood issues. Many may remember me from the “Flowers Not Towers” grass roots campaign opposing the 40-story towers that a developer wanted to build at Piedmont Park near 10th & Monroe.

I have served as the Secretary of NPU-F for the past several years and in that capacity have formed strong relationships with community leaders, including VHCA board members. My service as NPU Secretary has also allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the issues facing our neighborhoods and the most effective ways to deal with those challenges. My neighbors, friends, work colleagues and fellow NPU board members would all describe me as a “go-getter” – when I see something that needs to be improved or changed, I work hard to make it happen!

I am currently on the VHCA Education Committee and would like to become a member of the Board. If elected, I would like to focus on education, parks, zoning, and the BeltLine. I appreciate your vote and would be honored to serve on the VHCA Board.

Pamela Papner

Colin and I have lived in Virginia-Highland for over 10 years. In my first year on the Board, I served as VHCA Secretary, PR Chair for Home Tour, and Co-Chair for recruiting Summerfest volunteers.

From 2007 to present, I served as VHCA President (2007-2011), co-chaired the successful Neighborhood Commercial Zoning initiative (2007-2008), have been Summerfest Co-Chair or Director since 2007. (Net revenues exceeded $110K in 2007 and grew to estimated $170K in 2012). I also led the initiative to purchase additional green space for New Highland Park, which closed in late 2008. I focused on fundraising to construct that new green space, and our fundraising activities resulted in ~$150K to build that project, which began construction last month. With a group of neighbors, I also worked to successfully raise ~$240K for the recent Orme Park renovation. In the years prior to 2012, I played an active role collecting and writing content for the Va-Hi Voice quarterly newsletter.

Next year, if elected, I would like to focus on securing capital grants for New Highland Park. I am also willing to work with the stellar committee we put in place this year (including Co-Chair Ann Guy) to deliver another successful Summerfest. I like fundraising and am proud that our efforts have achieved such tangible results. I enjoy “giving back” to the community and working with so many talented residents who are willing to roll up their sleeves and contribute. It’s what makes our neighborhood special!

David Rein (alternate)

David Rein rented in Virginia Highland from 1997 to 2001, briefly moved to Midtown, and returned to Virginia Highland as a homeowner in 2005. He and his wife Maria have two children that attend (or soon will) Springdale Park Elementary (Spark). David has served as the PTO President, Vice-President, and Fundraising Chair of Spark. David works as a Research Scientist in the Atlanta office of the National Opinion Research Center, a research affiliate of the University of Chicago. David currently serves on the VHCA Education Committee. On the board, he plans to pursue his interests in education and public safety.

Jack White

When my (then four-year old) daughter and I moved from Midtown to Virginia-Highland in 1984, we were the two youngest people on the half-block. If I am not now the oldest, I’m certainly pretty close. My particular interests are planning, parks, and public resources, particularly water use and stream issues, a field in which I’ve worked for several decades. Our neighborhood schools that both my kids attended are pretty high on the list too.

I’m grateful for the association and appreciate its role in shaping the history of the community. If the residents of the late 60’s and early 70’s hadn’t organized and stood together with their allies to the north and south, it’s very likely that most of us wouldn’t be living in – and might not even recognize – this neighborhood today. The idea of a huge interstate highway cleaving the Old Fourth Ward, clipping the Inman School lot, splitting Orme Park, and blasting through Morningside seems even more preposterous in retrospect than it did then, but I believe it’s accurate to say that preventing its construction represented the first defeat of its scope for the Georgia Highway Department. (Thankfully, there would be more, the Presidential Parkway among them.) It took endless energy and an almost illogical faith in the potential of citizen movements to pull it off.

The tradition of openness and belief in the power of organization that were so critical then are still with us and still very important. The challenges of the moment are not as dramatic – thank goodness – but the need for a strong and democratic community organization that capably advocates for the neighborhood remains very clear.

I’ve enjoyed serving on the board this year. Serving as President gave me a lot of insight into the Association’s wide range of activities and the volume of effort that our volunteers expend. It’s been a rewarding experience. The challenges and occasional frustrations have been more than counterbalanced by the chance to work with large numbers of energetic, humorous, and hardworking optimists who like to get things done. I’d be pleased to serve another year.

David Wolfson will serve as the Board member appointed by Atkins Park.

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Have You Checked Your Storm Drain Lately?

by Peggy Berg, Traffic/Transportation & Sidewalks chair

We live on hills and are shaded by trees. Which means rainwater runs past our homes, picking up leaves and debris, and goes down our many many storm drains, clogging the drains as it flows. I met Riley, from Atlanta’s Watershed Department, at the storm drain on Bellevue because I thought it needed a grate. He brought his shovel and in minutes dug through composted leaves to show me the existing grate, which was completely blocked. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, I’ve seen the drain on Briarcliff Terrace blocked by everything from leaf bags to old fence parts to basketballs.

Storm drains that are not maintained fill with debris and allow flooding, which can be severe. Although the City has emergency crews to deal with blocked drains and pays special attention to catch basins that flood regularly, they can neither keep ahead of random blockages nor predict where they will occur. Once the drain is blocked and floods, surrounding property owners have an expensive and messy problem.

As a prudent part of maintaining your home, look for your storm drain, check it regularly, and keep it clear. A storm drain should have a clear and visible grate (catch basin cover) which is a metal grill. The grates sit on the drain and are held in place by gravity. They get clogged with leaves, other debris, toys, and other trash up to and including full yard waste bags. Sometimes the grates get dislodged or shifted and need to be pushed back in place.

To clear a storm drain, dig it out with a rake and shovel. You will be working mostly with leaves and compost suitable for a yard bag or to use as mulch. It is not difficult to rake the grates and put the debris in a yard bag. If the grate is missing or is beyond your ability to clear, call the City Watershed Department for assistance at 404.330.6340.

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In memoriam — Mike Moloo

The night of Thursday, August 16 Mike Moloo, owner of the ATL Food Mart at 730 Barnett Street between St. Charles and Ponce de Leon Avenues, was shot and killed outside the store during an apparent robbery.
 
The VHCA joins the many residents and friends of Mr. Moloo in their shock and sadness at this  tragedy. Memorial vigil at the store (at 730 Barnett) at 8 PM on Sunday, August 19th.
 
We offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife and three children.   A memorial fund has been established to help them. There is also a memorial page on Facebook.

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New Highland Park construction

After nearly four years of fund-raising, designing, permit applications, and contractor selection, the Virginia Highland Civic Association and the Virginia Highland Conservation League are proud to announce that construction will soon begin on the long awaited New Park at the corner of N. Highland Avenue and St. Charles Place!

Until the mid-1980s a public library was located on this site, which included a parking lot for the library. The library was demolished, but parts of the old foundation and parking lot are still evident. The property was then sold to a private owner and was in private hands for many years.

Purchased in December, 2008, with a loan from the State of Georgia’s Land Conservation Program, by the Virginia Highland Civic Association, (VHCA) the 0.4 acre property became a privately owned (By VHCA) park for the enjoyment of the entire neighborhood.

View the landscape plan in detail (click to open in new tab/window)

The plan is to create a Bio-retention demonstration project, where a very slight slope will be created to capture storm-water on the site and to re-direct this stormwater to the north edge of the property and away from the storm drains. The center of the site will be excavated to remove ground level concrete, old parking lot materials and debris that would inhibit the ability of water to stay on the site. A rain garden will be built on the center of the site, by scooping out a large area and then backfilling it with amended soils. Rain water will then flow to the graded down area at the north end of the property. Native Georgia plants will be placed on the periphery of the property. The large center of the park will be covered with local zoysia spreading grasses that are drought tolerant, requiring no additional watering, other that rain water, and no chemical fertilization will be done. So, the main area of the park will be used much as it is today for a variety of recreational and community activities. A granite seatwall will line the eastern boundary of the park and a granite dust pathway will follow from the southeast corner of the park from St. Charles Place all the way over to the alley entrance off of N. HIghland Avenue.

A 4 foot tall iron fence will extend the west side of the park from the Gateway at St. Charles Place to the alley entrance, with intermittent short granite columns mimicking the Gateways. Three decorative light poles will also be placed on the border of the park for added security. There will benches and picnic tables and no trees will be removed from the site.

The firm of Escape Outdoor Lifescaping, Inc, owned by Ryan Tracy, has been selected through a competitve process to construct the new park. The VHCA has signed a contract with Escape Outdoor Lifescaping and construction should commence on August 23, pending the city inspector go-ahead.

Many people in our neighborhood have done a great deal to make this park a reality.

First, the VHCA, under the leadership of President Pamela Papner made the decision in 2008 to purchase the park, and now under the leadership of President Jack White is moving forward with construction. Much has been done in the way of fundraising, led by Pamela Papner through the sale of engraved bricks (approximately 400 so far, and more can still be ordered), large donations by businessess and homeowners, and a very generous grant from Park Pride Atlanta of $50,000. Also, we have received pro bono assistance from our neighbors in park design. Civil Engineer Peter Hughes donated his time to provide the initial site engineering and Peter Frawley, of Frawley Associates, Landscape Architecture, has spent the past 3 years designing the park and modifying the design to meet the needs of the neighborhood as well as assisting us through the lengthy city permit process.

While money has been raised for the park construction, there is a continuing need to pay off the initial purchase price, as well as have some money in the bank for park maintenance and lighting costs. The Virginia Highland Conservation League was established as a IRS tax-exempt 501(C) 3 in 2009, for the purpose of accepting tax deductible contributions for each of the parks in our neighborhood-New Park, John Howell Park, and Orme Park. Also, as mentioned above, engraved bricks may still be purchased for $100 each. Continued donations are needed and we ask any and all to continue to contribute to our parks. Just make your check out to the “Virginia Highland Conservation League”, and send it to 1143 Saint Charles Place, Atlanta, GA 30306!

If all goes well, the park should be completed in 4-6 weeks from the start date. So, take a walk down to the corner of St. Charles Place and N. Highland and watch a park being made. And by the way, as you may have noticed, the park has no name. For anyone who donates enough money to pay off our loan, we will be happy to name the park for you!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Paul Burks, President of the Virginia Highland Conservation League, paulrburks@gmail.com

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VOICE to go all digital

In the August 2012 VHCA Board meeting, the Board voted to immediately discontinue publication of the VOICE as a printed magazine, although special editions may be published in the future as warranted. This decision came after audience discussion as well as a notice on the cover of May's printed edition of the VOICE. VHCA will realize cost savings of over $10,000 a year, money that will now be available to benefit the community in other ways. Since moving to our new e-newsletter format in December 2011, we have received much positive feedback about them, which provide residents more timely information.  Remember to tell your neighbors to sign up for the e-newsletters on this site and to look for the red box. If you have neighbors without email access that would like to receive printouts of the e-newsletters, please let us know at communications@vahi.org.

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PDF copies of VOICE 1990-1995

Thanks to Nan Hunter for providing us with most back issues of the VOICE from 1990 through 1995. We've scanned them and uploaded them to this website. You can find them by going to News/Events and selecting VOICE (Print Edition) Archive, or by following this direct link. We have provided a summary listing of most articles in each VOICE. You can also use the topic index on the right side of the page to find editions with articles on topics of interest to you.  Nan Hunter worked on the newsletter and for the VHCA for many years, and you can find her recycling and environmental columns in these issues.

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The Barnett Street Slaying

Thursday night, August 16th, saw a tragic snuffing out of a human life here in VaHi at the ATL FoodMart on Barnett Street. Rather than retyping the details – I’ll give links to the media stories about the senseless killing of Mushtaq “Mike” Moloo.

CBS AtlantaWSBAJCand this follow-up story from channel 46
Going along with this last story is a link I forgot to put into the last Safety Report about our additional police coverage

That same evening also saw another very similar tragedy in northwest Atlanta, when yet another well-liked businessperson’s, Vanessa Thrasher, life was ended.

There was a very well thought-out essay posted on the VaHi nextdoor message board, that I would like for the entire community to see and think about, written by Robert.

“Perhaps it’s time that we, as citizens, begin to accept our part of the blame for the surge of vagrants and thugs in the southern VaHi area. The police have noticeably increased marked patrols, but we are doing little to assist them in cleaning our own streets by believing we are helpless and too afraid to stop it ourselves. Our complete reliance on uniformed police and undercover patrols is proving to be destructive. Anyone that lives on St. Charles Avenue can sit outside for an hour and see the evidence.
There was an instance earlier this week of inappropriate, sexually-based activity in a supermarket where many of us go. A police officer, the store manager, and the entire neighborhood were all notified (via the vhlist), but nothing was ever said to the man causing the problem. I guarantee that loudly asking the man what he was doing, would have stopped him immediately, gotten more attention from the officer in the store, turned the heads of a few of the husbands and boyfriends whose partners were being openly disrespected. I don’t mean to bash the person involved in that instance, it’s just an example of what seems to be the overall neighborhood mentality of reliance on others to keep our lives orderly for us.
Two days ago a man that had no business in our neighborhood was rifling through a truck bed parked on St. Charles Avenue. Simply asking him what he was doing stopped him and sent him on his way. If he had a gun, would he have started shooting because someone noticed him? Possibly, but probably not. If no one had said anything would he have stolen something and continued coming to the neighborhood, escalating his activity with time? Almost certainly. Hopefully he will now know that the neighborhood is not an open field of frozen and frightened deer for the hunting, and he will take his activity elsewhere. The criminals interested in robberies and random violence are only here in the first place because we are perceived as easy targets.
Assuming that we’re helpless victims will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but if we speak up as people that are responsible for what happens around us then we may start carrying our weight in our own lives.”

This neighborhood came together and was stronger than ever, after the December 2010 slaying on Virginia Avenue, and I expect the same outcome after this tragedy. Being more alert and aware is one way we can honor the life of Moloo.

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Crime Reports

The following reports are gleaned from our APD Zone 6 (http://www.atlantapd.org/zone6.aspx ) crime stats for the 2012 weeks 30 and 31 (7/22 to 8/4). Again, I state that these reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to make you aware of what happens around us everyday, and to raise your level of awareness and alertness. The emphasis is on our Beat 601, but with news from around the Zone as it applies to us. Most of us are mobile and do not stay here in VaHi every day.

Aggravated Assault – There was a scary incident on 7/28 that I am surprised did not receive some attention, There were 3 pedestrians crossing North Highland Avenue @ Briarcliff Place at 9:40 p.m. when 2 were struck by a passenger car. After the collision, the passenger in the car got out and struck the male pedestrian victim in the face, the vehicle then drove on northward. The victims were not seriously hurt and refused treatment or a ride to Grady.

Auto Theft – No reported incidents from Beat 601

Auto Theft Recovery – No reported recoveries from Beat 601

Commercial Burglary – No reported incidents from Beat 601

Residential Burglary – A rental house on Elkmont Drive was entered via a rear sliding glass door that evidently had been left unlocked. No signs of forced entry. A Monroe Drive home was entered via a broken window next to a door, with APD response due to an alarm. A Park Drive home was entered via an unlocked front door – no signs of forced entry. A Virginia Avenue home was entered by using an axe taken from the backyard tool shed to break a side window. All of these break-ins reported only small items being taken (or nothing at all at Monroe Drive) – no electronics or flatscreen tv sets. A report about the Virginia Avenue break-in at http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/19157160/atlanta-police-release-suspect-photo-in-virginia-ave-burglary
Morningside has also had several recent residential break-ins and a backyard security camera captured this pic of one of the intruders at –
http://xa.yimg/kq/groups/13292409/1724708672/name/BackYard_01.jpg Call 911 immediately if you see this guy wandering any of our neighborhoods with a physical description and which way he is traveling.

Commercial Robbery – No reported incidents from Beat 601

Residential Robbery – No reported incidents from Beat 601

Larceny From Vehicle – Vehicles were entered on Amsterdam Walk (2), Greenwood Avenue (3), North Highland Avenue (3), PDL Place, Virginia Avenue (this perp was caught via a 911 suspicious person call – thanx to this caller!), PDL Avenue (a license plate taken at the Open Door Community), and Maiden Lane (2) – one of these incidents was a bait operation in which officers placed a city-owned bicycle in the back of a city-owned pick-up truck. An arrest was made as the perp rode away on the bike – he also was on active probation.

Larceny Other – A chained bicycle was taken from a Drewry Street front porch. Small items (jewelry and collectables) were taken from homes on Virginia Circle and Rupley Drive, with workpersons suspected.
Elsewhere in the Zone – lots of activity. A male walked out of Green’s Liquor Store with 28 cartons of cigarettes (I can’t understand how that could have happened). A person was arrested at the check cashing store at PDL Avenue @ Boulevard for trying to cash a fraudulent check.

The following is a list of unwatched cell phones and wallets taken elsewhere in the Zone – a wallet and cell phone taken from the men’s room sink at Dad’s Garage on Elizabeth Street, a wallet from a JavaJive coffee shop table in L5P, a parking lot valet’s cellphone in L5P, a cell phone from a North Avenue laundromat, and a cell phone taken at a Boulevard Community Center.

Pedestrian Robbery – A female pedestrian on North Highland @ St. Charles Avenue had her purse snatched at 11:30 a.m. A witness alerted APD as the perp fled in his car. The car broke down on PDL Avenue @ Moreland Avenue and as he pushed it into the Exxon station – he was spotted by APD. The perp fled on foot, but was caught behind apartment buildings on Briarcliff Road with the stolen wallet on his person, which was returned to the victim. The victim was on her way to Van Michael Salon, so after this frightening incident, they did not charge her for her visit. We have kind and caring merchants in VaHi. There was another purse snatching on PDL Avenue at 12:30 a.m.

Elsewhere in the Zone – snatch and grabs of purses, wallets and cell phones continue. Stay alert when walking and no texting or talking on cell phones when walking. A Euclid Avenue pedestrian talking on her phone had it snatched by force at 9 a.m. A texting Poncey Highland pedestrian had his cell phone snatched on North Highland Avenue at 12:30 a.m. Another Poncey Highland pedestrian had her phone snatched at 6:30 p.m. A phone was snatched from the hand of a passenger in a Jeep Wrangler waiting for a traffic lite on Boulevard at 10 p.m. A baby sitter lost her phone in Coen Park at 4:30 p.m.
Do not loan your phone to someone who asks to make a call!!! This ruse was used to take phones on Edgewood Avenue at 3:20 p.m., inside Candler Park at 1:15 p.m., and on McLendon Avenue at 3:30 p.m. A cellphone was taken from a baby buggy in Candler Park – but these perps were caught. http://eastatlanta.patch.com/articles/police-arrest-youth-in-candler-park-mobile-phone-snatch-and-run
A pedestrian had her wallet snatched on Euclid Avenue as she was feeding a parking meter at 2 p.m.. Also on Euclid Avenue at 7:40 a.m. a purse was snatched and later found in Reynoldstown via a posting on their yahoo message board. A purse was taken by force on Flat Shoals Avenue in EAV at 11:30 p.m. Two females were robbed at gunpoint at 1:00 a.m. on North Highland Avenue in Inman Park and two females had their purses snatched on PDL Avenue in front of the Rite-Aid store at 12:30 a.m.

Slow down and stay alert while driving on our neighborhood streets now that school is back in session

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The Briarcliff Summit Building Is Sold!!!

Finally – after 4 years of negotiating and arranging financing – this beleaguered building is in the hands of Evergreen Housing Associates of Scarborough, Maine – a national leader in senior citizen’s housing. The deal was just inked last week and it is still too soon for a lot of details about the changes, but this signals a lot of positive karma on their corner of PDL and North Highland Avenues. The current manager of the building will be retained to help with the transition from one owner to another.

The story with as many details that are available now is at – http://vahi.patch.com/articles/renovations-to-historic-ponce-apartments-set-for-september

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Run – Hide – Fight

These are the main suggestions for you to follow if you are ever in active gunfire from a sniper in a public place. This short film from the City of Houston, Texas is a very informative and eye-opening watch. Thanx to Midtown’s MPSA for alerting me to this safety piece. Take a short time to watch –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VcSwejU2D0
Going along with this same subject – an interesting read in the op-ed page of the AJC on 8/3 about the pros and cons of gun ownership.
http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/2012/08/03/firearms-evil-in-the-wrong-hands-good-in-others/

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The Bamboo Grove Alongside The BeltLine

Sunday morning, August 5th, saw a small, but dedicated group tackle and begin to remove the bamboo grove north of Park Drive along the BeltLine. This has been a long-time hiding place and urban campground, and its removal has a positive public safety aspect. Most of the energetic volunteers were from Concentric Restaurants led by Shereen Herrington, general manager of Two Urban Licks. There will have to be several more such removal sessions to clean out this grove – look for the next one sometime in mid September. I’ll be letting you know and hope that we will have more community participation the next time (especially from the parkside section of VaHi).

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Crime Report

The following reports are gleaned from our APD Zone 6 (http://www.atlantapd.org/zone6.aspx) crime stats for the 2012 weeks of 28 and 29 (7/8 thru 7/21). Again, I state that these reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to make you aware of what happens around us everyday and to raise your level of awareness and alertness. The emphasis is on our VaHi Beat 601, but with news from around the Zone as it applies to us.

Aggravated Assault – No reported incidents in Beat 601

Auto Theft – One vehicle stolen from Frederica Street

Auto Theft Recovery – No reported recoveries from Beat 601

Residential Burglary – No reported incidents in Beat 601
However there were at least 3 such incidents in the next week not on this report. These were daytime break-ins. Lock ALL doors and windows at your house before going to work in the daytime.

Commercial Burglary – No reported incidents in Beat 601

Residential Robbery – No reported incidents in Beat 601

Commercial Robbery – No reported incidents in Beat 601
However at the SunTrust Bank in East Atlanta on Flat Shoals Avenue a would-be robber gave the teller a note stating “Give me yo money $500” – the teller requested he fill out a withdrawal slip for that amount from his account. The wannabe robber left the bank with a withdrawal slip in his hand. No weapon reportedly shown.

Larceny From Vehicle – OK – here is where we have a BIG problem, not only here but all over Zone 6. Vehicles here were entered on Frederica Street, PDL Avenue, PDL Place, North Highland Avenue (4) and Greenwood Avenue (3). When filing a report for a break-in at the North Highland Avenue parking lot behind the American Roadhouse, Officer Bowser noted that out-of-the-area license plates are being singled out as opposed to local license plates, as these are more likely to have things to steal.

To give you an idea as to how BIG this problem is – in the two weeks of this report Zone 6 investigated 125 such break-ins!!! I would venture to guess that 75% (and probably more) of these incidents could have been prevented if there were no visible items left for stealing from these vehicles. If anyone has a fantastic idea as to how to curb these thefts by making more drivers aware – let me know. Yeah, we could have big signs all over the neighborhood stating that you have to park at your own risk since you are in a high crime area – but there has to be a better way to reach careless and unthinking drivers. The break-in incidents seem to be fewer in the parking lot behind the Post Office since owner Scott Stern let me put up a Clean Car Campaign banner at the back of that lot. Don’t know whether it is just luck or if folks really are reading that banner. These banners are about $100 if anyone else wants one for their off-street parking area – let me know.

Larceny Other – Two bicycles were stolen from a common area at a Greenwood Avenue apartment complex. Bikes need to be HIDDEN when not in use – not just propped up alongside the house. Yeah – your backyard or common area at condo/apartment complexes should be off-limits to unwanted visitors, but that is not the case anymore.
An unwatched purse was taken at a North Highland Avenue bar by another patron – with an arrest made. Another unwatched open-top purse at Noche had the billfold taken out.

Pedestrian Robbery – Two male pedestrians were walking away from Piedmont Park on Park Drive (west of Monroe) at 3 p.m. when another male pedestrian tried to take the backpack from one. A scuffle ensued as the victim fought back and he was cut on the wrist with a broken beer bottle. The perp fled on foot and the victims sought aid from a Monroe Drive resident who administered first aid and then called 911. The victim was taken to Grady for treatment. Thanks to the Monroe Drive resident who took care of these victims.

Nearby in L5P a purse was snatched at 5:30 a.m. in front of the Moreland Avenue Starbucks – the perp escaped in the darkness. An iPad was stolen from a bench-sitter at the Carter Center, and another purse was snatched from a Glen Iris Drive resident as she was walking to her apartment at 6:30 p.m. Two Masquerade patrons were robbed at gunpoint at 11:30 p.m. behind the PDL Avenue Kroger store.

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The Triangle, Then and Now

By: John Becker

This photo was taken in June 2009. This was during the latter phase of street scape improvement and this picture shows how that project impacted the triangle island before anything was replanted.

This photo was taken in February 2010. I think this was after the last phase of street scape improvement had been completed. A few trees had been replanted.

This picture and the next two were taken in March of this year and they show the impact of our initial planting session and some of the volunteers who were involved.

This picture and the next two were taken in April 2012 and they show the impact of our second planting session and the volunteers involved in that.

I took this picture Aug. 7 (2012) - and I think it really shows how much the area has improved. Look how all of the wonderful plants Nonie selected have taken hold and grown thanks to the rain we’ve had and some volunteers filling in during the dry periods.

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Voice – August 2012 – Volunteers Needed to Help Boot the ‘Boo from the BeltLine

By: John Becker

If laying waste to a pesky patch of bamboo sounds like your idea of fun on a Sunday morning, we have one heck of an opportunity for you.

A major BeltLine clean-up effort – with emphasis on removal of an existing bamboo grove – is scheduled for Sunday August 5 from 9 AM until Noon. Efforts will be focused on the area from Park Drive northward to Evelyn Street. The area has long been a hiding place for urban campers and was the site last winter of an out-of-control campfire. As such, clean up of the area is considered a top priority for neighborhood security and safety.

Volunteers are needed to make this three-hour project a success and anyone who can help is encouraged to show up Sunday morning at 9 AM. The work area can be accessed from behind the Park Drive Bridge or from the Amsterdam Walk parking lot. If you park at Amsterdam Walk, please advise the security folks by putting a note on your windshield stating you are at the BeltLine cleanup.

Volunteers should wear long pants; loose-fitting, long-sleeve shirts; heavy shoes; and gloves and bring along a water bottle. If you have a pair of sturdy hedge trimmers, please bring them. The Atlanta Community ToolBank will provide other tools and supplies.

Anyone who can help with this important community project is asked to RSVP to organizer Shireen Herrington at sherrington@ctrxhs.com. Please RSVP so that organizers know how many tools to have on hand.

While this project represents a good chance for high school students to earn community service hours, the venue is not suitable for younger children.

On-going clean-up efforts such as this – sponsored by community groups who have signed up to be stewards of sections of the BeltLine through the Adopt-the-Atlanta BeltLine program – are an essential part of the ongoing progress of the BeltLine trail system, and contribute significantly to the safety of the trail’s users.

Adopt-the-Atlanta BeltLine is a partnership between Park Pride, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

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Landscape Architect Tour of Proposed Changes to John Howell Park

See the article about proposed improvements and maintenance to John Howell Park,

“FOCUS ON JOHN HOWELL PARK: Comments Solicited For Proposed Improvements”

Peter Frawley

Landscape architect Peter Frawley will conduct walking tours at 7 PM on Wednesday, July 18th, and Monday, July 23rd.

Parks Co-Chairs Lauren Wilkes Fralick and Jack White will conduct tours at 7:30 AM on Tuesday, July 31st and 9 AM on Saturday, August 4th..  Please come to those if you are interested.  You may also write us at parks@vahi.org.

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Voice – August 2012 – City Installs New Signage Along North Highland Avenue

By: John Becker

Thanks to the efforts of VHCA Graffiti Task Force chair Laura Voisinet, city workers recently installed ten shiny new traffic signs along North Highland Avenue. A new speed limit sign and new fluorescent signs warning motorists to look for pedestrians in the crosswalk replace ones that were damaged and plastered with stickers and graffiti. Several mid-crosswalk pedestrian warning signs were also replaced or repaired, and signage was added alerting motorists to the possible presence of senior pedestrians.

“The new signage is the result of a fruitful exchange between our task force, the city of Atlanta’s graffiti task force, and the city’s public works department,” says Voisinet.

“We want to especially thank Officer Brad Etterle, the Atlanta Police Department’s designated graffiti abatement officer, and Keith Fleming, chair of the city’s graffiti task force, for helping get these signs installed and for their ongoing help fighting graffiti in our neighborhood,” Voisinet adds.

Voisinet encourages all residents to help keep the new signs looking good by removing any stickers that are applied, and contacting the task force at graffiti@vahi.org to report any tagging that needs to be removed.

Way to go Laura and task force!

City of Atlanta workers recently replaced damaged and tagged street signs like the two above on North Highland Avenue…

…with brand new fluorescent signs like the ones in the photos below.

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Voice – August 2012 – The VH/Morningside Parent Association: A Valuable Community Resource

The Virginia-Highland Morningside Parent Association (VHMPA) provides a link between the parents of these respective neighborhoods for the sharing of parental interests and concerns and to provide information, activities and support that enhance the members’ child-rearing efforts. The VHMPA communicates to its membership by publishing a monthly newsletter and operates an email network to facilitate information sharing among members. Currently, the VHMPA has more than 900  members.

Among the many VHMPA services are:

  • supports local events with volunteers;
  • provides a sales platform for household goods and other items;
  • facilitates the exchange of information on community services and resources;
  • organizes social events;
  • partners with local businesses (restaurants, etc.);
  • financially supports local schools;
  • organizes playgroups;
  • serves as a neighborhood security exchange.

Participation in the VHMPA requires residence in the Virginia-Highland or Morningside/Lenox Park neighborhoods. Dues for participation are $20 annually. For further information go to www.vhmpa.com.

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Voice – August 2012 – A New Garbage Can Today; A More Beautiful Neighborhood Tomorrow

New Volunteer Group To Focus on Upkeep of VaHi’s Commercial Areas

By: John Becker
A shiny new garbage can made its debut last week on the southwest corner of North Highland and St. Charles avenues. The new receptacle – provided by Keep Atlanta Beautiful and paid for by Atlanta-based UPS – is the first tangible byproduct of the efforts of a new neighborhood group that seeks to spruce up VaHi’s commercial nodes.

According to its mission statement, Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful is an informal group of volunteers committed to keeping VaHi an inviting and well-maintained neighborhood that residents, business associates and visitors enjoy – and criminals avoid. Specifically, the group plans to make sustainable improvements to litter control and weed removal around the neighborhood’s commercial districts.

Peggy Denby, Executive Director of Keep Atlanta Beautiful, (l) and John Wolfinger, Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful member, apply a decal to the new garbage can at N. Highland and St. Charles avenues.

While it’s working loosely with the VHCA’s Public Safety Committee chaired by John Wolfinger, the group currently has no formal ties to the civic association. Wolfinger explains why the group formed.

“Many of the businesses and property owners in the commercial areas along North Highland do an excellent job of maintaining their property – not just the storefront, but all the way to the street. They keep litter picked up, sweep their sidewalks and curbs, maintain plantings, remove illegal handbills from poles, and more. Sadly, some owners do not share this focus.”

Wolfinger says the inconsistency creates a poor public image and contributes to the “broken window” theory that says poorly maintained properties send an inviting message to criminals. Wolfinger points out that, while a few dedicated residents have taken it upon themselves to periodically clean up problem areas to supplement the efforts of many business owners, a more sustainable solution is needed.

“Our goal is to expand the regularly scheduled clean-up services that occur in certain commercial areas to include all commercial properties in the neighborhood, including those where upkeep is lacking,” says committee member Kay Stephenson. “We plan to hold special resident and merchant cleanup days and will be contacting property owners – including owners of a few foreclosed storefronts that have become unsightly – to request help. We also hope to develop a kit of resources so that each property or business owner can easily maintain their part of the streetscape.”

Stephenson points out that the group is just getting started and cautions not to expect dramatic change overnight.

“Informally we’re looking first at the St. Charles node,” Stephenson says, “but over time we intend to address all the commercial areas throughout the neighborhood.”

Anyone who shares the committee’s vision of creating a more sustainably beautiful Virginia-Highland is encouraged to get involved. Send an email to Stephenson at kay.stephenson@gmail.com or committee member Tim Langan at t_langan@hotmail.com and you’ll be kept up to date on group activities. If you have thoughts about how the committee can accomplish its goals, Stephenson says, include them in your email.

VOICE tips its hat to the committee for checking the first item off its to-do list with placement of the new garbage can at N. Highland and St. Charles. We look forward to seeing more improvements in the weeks and months ahead.

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Ga. House Electoral Forum 7/24

The VHCA will host a moderated non-partisan forum for candidates running for the two Georgia House of Representative seats – Districts 57 and 58 – that serve our neighborhood (and many others). All the candidiates have been invited, and most have confirmed their attendance. We’re hoping that all of them will be there to speak to and take questions from citizens.

Date: Tuesday, July 24
Time: 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Location: Inman Middle School auditorium

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Street Captains Get Together

The Safety Team Street Captains will get together Wednesday, July 25, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Aurora Coffee on North Highland Avenue to network and get to know each other. Zone 6 and FBAC personnel have been invited to meet and greet also. Also invited are our VaHi businesses, and neighboring public safety folks who would like to see how our VaHi neighborhood watch system works. We also welcome folks who would like to become more involved and assist their Street Captain to attend, or if you live on one of the few VaHi streets that do not have a Captain – come and see how you can become a Street Captain. Our diligent Street Captains are the folks who really make this neighborhood watch system be a model for the city and I am thankful for each and every one of you.

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Residential Break-ins

We have had relatively few of these break-ins lately, but please do not let down your guard in keeping your home secure this summer. The Morningside Patrol reported 3 such break-ins earlier this month on Cumberland Circle, North Highland Avenue, Helen Drive and Piedmont Heights reported a break-in on Rock Springs Road. Keep up the good work at reporting to 911 suspicious persons and activity – we are the extra eyes and ears of APD and you never know when the unusual thing you observe and report may save you or your neighbor from becoming a victim.

Keep ALL doors and windows locked at ALL times and keep your security system activated. If you are going to be away on vacation – let your trusted neighbors know of your plans, and stop the mail and newspaper deliveries.

Note the two residential burglaries in this report. The Greenwood Avenue incident implies to me that the rear window was not locked, since the screen was removed to reach the window. The Park Drive incident says to me that since the back door window was broken – the thief just reached in to open the door and then the front door was found unlocked and ajar. This tells me that this homeowner did not have double locks on these doors. I learned the hard way many years ago to have door locks that require a key on both sides of the door. My thief just broke the back door window and reached in to open my door.

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Renaissance Park

If you have not been by this beautiful wooded parkland at Piedmont Avenue @ Pine Street lately to see how this has become an urban campground – take a look the next time you are in this area. The neighbors in this area have set up a on-line petition to ask for the Mayor’s help in controlling the safety and public health problems here. Thanx to my friend Catherine Chase for alerting me to this petition. Go to
http://www.change.org/petitions/mayor-kasim-reed-city-of-atlanta-resolve-the-homeless-issue-in-and-around-renaissance-park and lend some support to our Central Atlanta Neighbors folks in the Old 4th Ward area.

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Crime Report

The following reports are gleaned from our APD Zone 6 (http://www.atlantapd.org/zone6.aspx ) crime stats for the 2012 weeks of 26 and 27. Again, I state that these reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to make you aware of what happens around us everyday, and to raise your level of alertness and awareness. The emphasis is on our VaHi Beat 601, but with news from around the Zone as it applies to us.

Aggravated Assault – No reported incidents in Beat 601

Auto Theft – Vehicles were stolen on North Highland Avenue and a botched attempt on Barnett Street. The attempt though, left the car owners with a damaged ignition switch assembly.

Auto Theft Recovery – No reported recoveries in Beat 601

Residential Burglary – Incidents were reported on St. Louis Place with an ex-boyfriend suspected – Greenwood Avenue with entry via a rear window, with the screen removed and on Park Drive with entry via broken back door window.

Commercial Burglary – No reported incidents in Beat 601

Residential Robbery – No reported incidents in Beat 601. However there was a vicious home robbery on Estoria Street in Cabbagetown on 7/3 http://eastatlanta.patch.com/articles/parents-turn-in-alleged-cabbagetown-gunman

Commercial Robbery – No reported incidents in Beat 601. However, nearby the North Highland Pub was robbed along with the patrons on 6/25 at 11:30 p.m. http://eastatlanta.patch.com/articles/atlanta-police-release-photo-of-one-north-highland-pub-robbery-suspect

Larceny From Vehicle – Vehicles were entered on PDL Place (2), St. Louis Place, and on Maryland Avenue where the license plate was stolen and replaced with another plate. Keep walking behind your vehicle every day or so to make sure you still have a license plate (or the right one). Remember the Clean Car Campaign and keep ALL parked cars cleaned out at ALL times and remind your careless friends and neighbors. We all pay for all of these incidents through our vehicle insurance premiums.

Larceny Other – A cell phone was taken from an unwatched purse at Atkins Park restaurant. A backpack and clothing were stolen from an unlocked storage area under the Druid Hills Presbyterian Church with the victim fingering a suspect who had been arrested on another charge earlier that same day. I am assuming this is some sort of service for homeless folks – am I right?

Around the Zone there were reports of more snatched cell phones – several at the Starbux on Moreland Avenue in L5P and at the San Francisco Coffee on DeKalb Avenue – with an arrest made. An unwatched cell phone was taken from the bar at The Albert on Austin Avenue in Inman Park. A phone was snatched from a texting driver who was waiting for a lite on Boulevard – the window was open quite obviously.

The PDL Avenue Kroger evidently has a couple of job openings now. One employee took $1143 in cash from a register and left before his shift ended. Another employee cashed out $1000 of gift cards and also took $100 from a register – then he had the nerve to come back in a few days to pick up his paycheck. When he was confronted he fled in a waiting car. The Wendy’s on Boulevard is missing $551 in cash taken by an employee who disappeared.

Pedestrian Robbery – No reported incidents in Beat 601.
However there was a nearby recent incident early on 7/22 – the story at http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/women-shot-robbed-near-inman-park-restaurant/nP2DJ/

Almost forgot to mention the forum at Inman School Tuesday evening 7/24 at 6:30 p.m. for candidates for our statehouse reps. Remember we now have two different house districts in VaHi. http://vahi.patch.com/articles/candidate-forum-set-for-tuesday-44e25533

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Proposed revisions to VHCA bylaws

Here are links to:

(1) the existing bylaws

(2) the proposed new bylaws, for the membership’s consideration (and potential adoption) at our Annual General Meeting on September 13th at Inman Middle School; and

(3) some explanations and commentary on the changes by their primary authors, board members Genny Ferrero and Jack White.

We suggest starting with the Commentary and proceeding from there.

Your comments and suggestions are requested and welcomed:: planning@vahi.org

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PEDS Sidewalk Repair Forum

Town hall forum with Atlanta’s Public Works Commissioner and City Council hosted by PEDS to discuss sidewalk repair. Free and open to the public. Come let the City know that safe sidewalks and pedestrian access are important in Atlanta.

Time: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 6:30PM until 8:00PM
Location: City Hall old council chambers
Address: 55 Trinity, Atlanta

More information at the PEDS website

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Graffiti News

At the urging of our NPU “F” assistant chair, Gerry Neumark, I applied for and received a graffiti eradication grant. I have now ordered and we will soon have a LOT of supplies for this process. I will now be contacting all of our sister NPU neighborhoods, as well as close-by communities, asking for a point person to head up a graffiti team for that neighborhood. Thanks to the diligence of our VaHi graffiti czar, Laura Voisinet, we are pretty clear, and on top of this vandalism, and I hope that we can help our close-by areas rid themselves of this blight also. Now – I need to find a location to store these supplies that can be available for neighborhood folks as they need them for eradication. Is there a business, church or non-profit in our general area that has a closet-sized area that can be used as a storage site? Please let me know, as these supplies will be coming here in the next week.

The city-wide anti-graffiti effort that was started with Officer Ari Bleifeld at the helm made huge steps in curbing this vandalism will have a new man in charge now as Bleifeld has gotten a promotion and is moving on. We welcome Officer Brad Etterle into this position and wish him luck in continuing Bleifeld’s successful work. The story at http://eastatlanta.patch.com/articles/apd-names-new-graffiti-abatement-officer

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Benefit Event on 7/10 for Zone 6 Officers Bandy and Toomer

This event at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club in L5P on 7/10 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. will be in honor of Officer Bandy who tackled a mean drunk on North Highland Avenue and Officer Toomer who was ambushed outside the L5P Zesto’s. They both have a lot of healing ahead, but I hope to see both of them in attendance. More details at http://www.facebook.com/patrick.apoian#1/events/246844668751991/ I’m sure that the Yacht Club will be the safest place in Zone 6 that evening, what with all of the fire-power there, so should be a fun event.

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Safety Team Street Captain Get Together Planned

Due to the success of last year’s informal social gathering of Street Captains, Eleanor Barrineau and Kay Stephenson are planning a repeat gathering this year on 7/25 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Aurora Coffee on North Highland Avenue. I’ll be inviting some Zone 6 (http://www.atlantapd.org/zone6.aspx ) and FBAC (http://www.fbacvahi.com/) folks. Don’t feel that this is just limited to just our diligent Street Captains as anyone in the community is welcome. In fact, we would also welcome folks from other neighborhoods to meet our Street Captains – the folks who really make our neighborhood watch system work.

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Crime Report

The following reports are gleaned from our Zone 6 crime stats for the 2012 weeks of 22, 23, 24 and 25, Note that this is a month’s worth of crime, instead of the usual 2 weeks of reports. Again, I state these reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to make you aware of what happens around us everyday and to raise your level of alertness. The emphasis is on our VaHi Beat 601, but with reports from around the Zone as they affect us.

Aggravated Assault – There was a domestic incident at a North Highland Avenue apartment.

Auto Theft – Vehicles were stolen from Amsterdam Avenue, Greenwood Avenue (2), Barnett Street, and PDL Avenue

Auto Theft Recovery – No reported recoveries in Beat 601

Residential Burglary – A Rosedale Road residence was broken into via a brick thrown thru the living room window at 2:25 a.m. – the thief reached in and grabbed a laptop from a desktop and fled.

Commercial Burglary – No reported incidents in Beat 601

Residential Robbery – No reported incidents in Beat 601

Commercial Robbery – No reported incidents in Beat 601. Closeby, though, the Burger King on North Avenue was robbed at gunpoint and the perp fled on foot.

Larceny From Vehicle – Vehicles were entered on Greenwood Avenue (3), North Highland Avenue (2), Maiden Lane (3 and all at the same time period), PDL Avenue (2) and catalytic converters were sawed off on Maryland Avenue and Highland View (2).
Yet another unwatched landscaper’s truck had tools taken on Springdale Road in Druid Hills. Please warn your lawncare guys of this danger.

Larceny Other – A cell phone was taken from a Hand in Hand employee while she was at work. A flat screen tv was stolen from a Briarcliff Summit apartment after the door was left open by exterminators, and the Rosemont 310 store on North Highland Avenue reported a shoplifting incident.
Nearby, $15,000 worth of checks and money orders were stolen from the rent drop box at CityScape apartments on North Avenue.

Now – the big problem all over Zone 6 (and elsewhere too), snatch and grabs from unsuspecting and unalert victims. Amazingly enough, there were only two such reported VaHi incidents in this 4 week period where one MJQ Club patron lost an unwatched purse off the bar and another lost a phone. But elsewhere in the Zone in this 4 week time period these thefts were rampant. At a North Highland Avenue Inman Park coffee shop a laptop, iPad and iPhone were snatched from a table. A Righteous Room patron lost an iPhone from a table. In the Old 4th Ward Park a Macbook, iPhone and purse were snatched. A cell phone was snatched from a Boulevard BP station gas pumper (http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/18700025/police-say-phone-thefts-on-the-rise ) A Ralph McGill pedestrian lost a phone. A phone was stolen from an outside table at El Azteca on PDL Avenue. Perps asked to use a phone at Moreland and Austin Avenues and fled on foot. A phone was stolen from a table at Fritti on North Highland Avenue. A phone was taken from a table at Willie’s Mexican Grill at the Edgewood Retail District. A Colquitt Avenue pedestrian in Inman Park lost a cell phone. A purse was stolen from the bar at the Yacht Club in L5P. Laptops were snatched from the Moreland Avenue Starbucks in two different incidents. A laptop was snatched from a table at the Poncey Highland San Francisco Coffee shop. A phone was snatched from a pedestrian at a bus stop at Boulevard and Ralph McGill. A phone was snatched from a table at Fox Brothers BBQ on DeKalb Avenue. A phone was snatched from a table at the Flat Iron restaurant in East Atlanta Village – the phone was in a case that also had the victim’s debit card and driver’s license. I urge all servers and employees at our many, many VaHi bars and restaurants to watch for patrons leaving their phones, laptops, purses, etc on their table or on the bar to kindly ask them to put those items out of sight in a pocket or sit on them. Cell phones and laptops are NOT status items anymore and do not have to be left out to impress other folks.

Pedestrian Robbery – There were two of these frightening incidents here in Beat 601 in this time period. On 5/30 at 2 a.m. a lone male pedestrian was robbed at gunpoint by two males on North Highland Avenue north of Virginia Avenue. No injuries reported. Then on 6/3 another lone male pedestrian was robbed at gunpoint near Glen Arden at 11:30 p.m. with no injuries reported. Please, please, if you have been having a few drinks at one of our many bars/restaurants and decide to walk home solo – DO NOT!!! Any of our responsible hospitality establishments will gladly see that you get some safe way home – this is why cabs are stationed here every nite.

Elsewhere and nearby in the Zone – there were several other such incidents. On 6/4 at 12:30 a.m. a lone male pedestrian was robbed at gunpoint on North Highland Avenue south of PDL Avenue. On 6/6 at 6:30 p.m. two joggers were robbed at gunpoint on a Freedom Park path. On 6/7 on Highland Avenue at Jackson Street a lone female was robbed at gunpoint. In Glenwood Park on Garrett Street a lone female pedestrian was robbed at gunpoint at 2:15 p.m.

Some of the lessons to take away from these reports – stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at ALL times. If your cell phone rings while you are walking – let it go and wait til you are in a place where you can talk and not risk having your phone snatched. We cannot talk on the phone and walk at the same time and stay alert – it just does not work. If you have had a few drinks and are tempted to walk home solo – please call a cab instead. Just look at that cab fare as an insurance policy, and don’t become a target.

Remember the Clean Car Campaign and keep your parked car cleaned out at ALL times.

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Focus on John Howell Park

Comments Solicited for Proposed Improvements

It has been a busy and productive year on the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Parks Committee.  Forming a new committee, coordinating with the City Parks Department, addressing challenges at the corner of Virginia and N. Highland, and doing a long-overdue comprehensive analysis of what was working and not working at John Howell Park have made for a very active spring and summer.  In each of these efforts, we’ve had tremendous support from a variety of volunteers – experienced and new – and professionals. We’re excited to report on what’s been done thus far and what lies in front of us, and we need your ideas, thoughts, and support, particularly at John Howell Park.

The year began in winter with the establishment of a new committee – John Becker, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Laura Voisinet, and Jack White – and the repair of a half-dozen damaged benches in the Streetscape near our namesake intersection.  Several benches there had lost a significant number of slats from their back frames, and several more were about to do the same.  One of the causes was a mortise and tendon joint that could have been stronger.  The bench manufacturer shared our disappointment that the benches’ strength was less than expected and provided new backs at cost and additional metal braces for free.  Those were installed, but as an extra measure of support, the craftsman making the repairs – Gary Jones, recommended to us by the woodworking crew at Highland Hardware – added new reinforcement strips along the backs of all the benches and the fronts of several others in high-use locations.  The results have been excellent so far; the new backs will soon age to grey to match the original parts, this design is significantly stronger than the original, and the cost of bringing every bench up to this standard was less than the price of even three new benches.  The visual and functional improvements were obvious, and feedback and results thus far has been excellent.

Of course, no design will withstand deliberate abuse, so if you see any such behaviors, please call the police and let us know.

An even more dramatic change at this same corner was VaHi resident Nonie Daniel’s design and supervised volunteer installation of a planting in the Triangle in front of Taco Mac’s, in and around the Virginia-Highland sign.  Nonie is a longtime resident of the neighborhood; her professional landscaping skills have been on display for many years at the corner of Hudson and Lanier.  At the Triangle she created a lovely mix of perennials and annuals, with a lot of different colors and textures and led an enthusiastically-supported planting effort and a carefully-monitored ongoing watering plan.  This formerly drab space is now lovely and peaceful-looking.  There will be additional work there this fall; like all successful planting sites – especially public ones – ongoing maintenance is part of the project.

It would be easy to underplay the importance of Nonie’s establishing a support team of volunteers who are invested in the work at the Triangle and provide a host of eyes upon the results.  This model has been wildly successful over the last decade at Orme Park, where a vigilant and enduring band of neighbors and enthusiasts have been instrumental in the redesign and remaking of that park.  That sort of organized support is critical to the success of neighborhood parks; helping that happen in all our public spaces is a major goal of the new Parks Committee.

With Orme functioning well and the Triangle humming along under Nonie’s direction, the preponderance of our effort has been directed to John Howell – which is appropriate, because (as several citizens have pointed out, in thoughtful detail), it needed it.  This park holds a special place in this neighborhood’s heart and history.  It sits upon land redeemed from the successful early 70’s highway fight that saved and defined this community.  (The VHCA was created specifically 40 years ago to fight the road.)   It is named for and is a tribute to the vision and courage of neighborhood resident (and VHCA President) John Howell, whose early work in leading and establishing the fight against AIDS made him a revered figure far beyond the boundaries of this city.   And it’s the site of the Cunard Playground, which memorializes the three members of that Virginia-Highland family who were killed in a tragic accident nearly a decade ago.

Constructed on two levels, it is our largest and most-visited park; its lower half contains two separate playgrounds, two volleyball courts (that also serve as the city’s largest children’s sandboxes when not used for sport), two small grassy areas, and winding walkways.  The upper half (the part nearer Barnett) was designed with lawns and larger open areas to allow assemblies and quieter sitting and strolling spaces away from the oft-busier and noisier lower one.

The neighborhood and civic association put a huge amount of effort and money into establishing the park, but very little has been spent there for the last half-decade, with obvious and painful results.  The Parks Committee began by repeatedly walking through and talking to users about what they liked and didn’t, what they’d change, and – curiously – where they were from.  All the responses were informative and interesting; we met tons of neighbors and folks we knew, but we were also surprised by the number of people that travel from distant neighborhoods to play there and the variety of distinct groups that use the area at different times and days.  The enthusiasm for the park displayed by lots of people and ages was fortifying and great to hear.

And we needed to hear it, because the more time we spent with citizens, potential contractors and landscape professionals, the longer the list of challenges became.  It included – take a deep breath – the need for long overdue pruning of the original plantings, the removal of numerous invasives and volunteer-installed plants (some in odd and inappropriate locations), the need to stabilize and replace several sections of fence, address broken light globes, replace missing bricks, clean and sand benches covered with mold, repurpose a granite box that once served as a sandbox but had become a litter box, fix eroding and unplanted banks along Virginia, re-establish grassy areas that had not been fertilized or aerated for years and were filled with a variety of weeds, mulch trees and plantings, and address the highly-visible challenge of either re-planting –  or changing to a path – an eroding gully functioning as a dry-weather connection between the two levels.

Around the volleyball courts, there are more challenges.   Sand spilling unchecked from the courts onto Arcadia makes planting on that side impossible; the same situation exists at the back of the first court, where sand migrates freely up to and through the fence.   Also problematic is the absence of good delineation between the volleyball courts and the adjacent playground; children not infrequently are on the volleyball side of the granite wall and bumpers during warm-up and play, a situation that makes no one happy.

We found good news, too – lots of supportive citizens willing to volunteer time and money, and knowledgeable contractors (even the ones we didn’t wind up using) who thought the park was fundamentally beautiful and offered useful suggestions.  The City of Atlanta Parks Department is and has been helpful and enthusiastic, even though we and they wish that their overall budget – particularly on infrastructure issues like leaky water lines and electrical work – was larger. Their maintenance crews have been thoughtful and communicated well with us.  Challenges abound and will continue, but their effort – particularly at carefully not cutting the grass so low – has been great.  The Parks Director, Doug Voss, and Design Director, Paul Taylor, could not have been more supportive.

Another key partner in this area has been Volleyball Atlanta, the group that built and has maintained the courts from day one.  Reconnecting with them was critical to make sure that any changes meet their needs and in having them as a partner in fundraising for work on that end of the park.   Lauren Wilkes Fralick has spent a huge amount of time on this, with excellent results.

Our contractor, Walter Bland of Rock Springs Farm, is a knowledgeable and experienced professional with particular expertise in native plants and horticulture.  His crews have done an excellent job reacting to unexpected challenges under variable conditions.

Quarterbacking all this has been the park’s original landscape architect, Peter Frawley, who lives nearby and is also the designer at New Highland Park.  Peter’s knowledge of the park’s original design goals has been a key in this, both in contemplating solutions and in evaluating and validating the priorities and perspectives offered by various contractors.

Here’s the way we approached it.  With Peter and Walter’s guidance, we divided the list into short-term and long-term projects.  We first addressed as many as possible of what we identified as park ‘quality of life’ issues: pruning, mulching (still underway, as fast as the city can get chips to the park), relocating maverick plantings, sanding, sealing, and cleaning benches (still underway, with some easily visible results), fixing broken bricks and undercut sidewalks and the worst sections of fence (nothing easy about it), removing invasive plants, and planting the littered and abandoned planter.  We also aerated, fertilized, and removed weeds from the grassy areas, to see and support what useable lawn was still there, and to set the stage and to define the scope of what we needed to do on the lawns this fall.

While these efforts to protect and enhance John Howell’s existing features (planted and built) have been underway, the Parks Committee has been working with Peter and Volleyball Atlanta on some potential solutions to the long-range challenges.  They do not represent any fundamental changes to the park’s original master plan, but some of them will be noticeable, particularly around the volleyball court.  The city is very much in the loop; all of the ideas – there are likely to be more as we hear from more users – have been vetted through the Parks Department.  We didn’t want to spend time discussing ideas in the neighborhood only to discover later that Parks had objections.  They had some useful comments, but are fine with the concepts.

A more detailed plan view of them is available on the web site here:

And here’s a brief summary of the more notable changes:

Around the volleyball courts and along Arcadia:

1.      Need:  Sand spilling off the court through the fence onto Arcadia, making planting impossible and smothering trees.

2.      Need: Sand spilling off the rear of the court onto the walkway, making planting impossible.

Response:  Move the court nearest Arcadia 10’ toward Virginia Avenue. Remove the existing fence and ugly sandbags and replace with a u-shaped granite sitting wall around 3 sides of the court nearest Arcadia, with a new fence atop it.  The granite wall will contain the sand; plantings can be installed behind them.  The new fence will be about 18’ from the curb on Arcadia; there should be room for plantings and a new sidewalk connecting to Virginia Avenue, if we want that.  The new fence atop the wall (with the same net currently in use) will contain more volleyballs.

3.      Need:  There is insufficient separation between the volleyball courts and playground.

Response:  Extend the existing granite wall on both ends; install appropriate plantings around the existing light pole, for shade and delineation purposes.  When the courts are empty, children can still walk around the extended wall to access the sand, but the break between the two areas will be clearer.  An additional new sandbox can be installed on the lightly-trafficked piece of the playground walkway on the end nearest Virginia, if desired.

4.      Need:  A second fence along Virginia to catch errant volleyballs that clear the first fence and go into traffic.  There’s room for the fence, but the JHP sign would be behind it.

Response: Peter had suggested moving that sign in any case, and Parks Department concurs. Install a new wrought iron fence to match the once across the street at Inman between the easing columns.  Raise those columns slightly, if needed.  Move the sign toward the now more-spacious corner, where it will be more visible and can be part of a design that includes a formal planting of annuals and perennials to match a similar planned for the Barnett corner.

5.      Need: The upper-level banks above the sidewalk along Virginia Ave. are barely planted and often used as a pedestrian shortcut.  It’s hard to keep mulch or pine straw there; when events are held, those doing set-up and teardown often use the hillsides instead of the walkways.

Response: Install low granite curbs along the sidewalks to hold the soil, and plant appropriately.  Monitor access during growth and events until the plantings are established.  A wrought iron fence would work too, even a low one.

6.      Need:  The upper level walkway is partly bricked and partly not.

Response: Sell and install inscribed bricks there, bringing closure to a project initiated a decade ago and giving another generation of citizens a chance to be memorialized in the park.

7.      Need:  There’s an eroding gully between the upper and lower level that conveys water and silt in rainstorms and is frequently used as a shortcut, though it can be slippery and tough to walk on.

Response: Citizens appear to be voting with their feet for a pedestrian connection here, and many interviewed users were supportive of the option.  Install granite steps; connect them to the existing upper walkway via stepping stones amidst low plantings that will absorb flows.  Plant the areas along the sidewalk to absorb water there too.

There are other contemplated changes; these are the major ones, at least in our view.  The VHCA web site will have detailed pdfs; links will be readily visible on our home page.  There are many ways you can provide input.  Landscape architect Peter Frawley will conduct walking tours at 7 PM on Wednesday, July 18th, and Monday, July 23rd.  Parks Co-Chairs Lauren Wilkes Fralick and Jack White will conduct tours at 7:30 AM on Tuesday, July 31st and 9 AM on Saturday, August 4th..  Please come to those if you are interested.  You may also write us at parks@vahi.org.  If none of those times work for you, let us know.  We’re there a lot, and we’ll find a time to meet you.

Your thoughts and concerns are welcome.  These ideas are a synthesis of many different observations and ideas, but they are very much notset in stone.   Please let us hear from you – what you like and what you don’t, and your new ideas.

“What might all this cost, who will pay for it, when might it happen?”

Good questions, every one.  Obviously final costs will depend on whatever plan is adopted.  Costs vary with fits and finishes; there are some variables there, but the broad conceptual criteria were that the proposed changes address the known problems, were practical, needs as little maintenance as possible, and were consistent with the park’s overall standards.  We went through a similar process at Orme and approved a plan with much broader changes than those currently on the table here without a specific notions of how we’d pay for it; then we costed it (with some options) and went out in search of grants to support it, did fundraising internally, and asked for help from other groups.  Some of these solutions stand alone and can be sequentially; some are closely-related and need to be done together.

Searching for specific support requires an approved plan; until you have one, we’re still talking.  We think it’s all doable, as it proved to be at Orme.  For openers, we’ll look to our colleagues at Park Pride for grant opportunities, possibly as early as this fall if we’re ready; perhaps we can be.  Volleyball Atlanta will be going through similar processes to raise money for their part of the changes around the courts.

Many grants require matching funds; we’re hoping that twixt all these parties and citizen volunteers, we can bring some good grant applications with substantive support to the table.

Please write us: parks@vahi.org

For the Parks Committee,

Lauren Wilkes Fralick and Jack White

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