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.

Share

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.

Share

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

Share

Volunteer Now for Summerfest 2017!

By John Becker

In 1983, MASH ended an 11-year, 251-episode TV run, Vanessa Williams became the first African-American crowned Miss America and McDonald’s introduced the Chicken McNugget.

Did you know ‘83 was also the year a group of Virginia-Highland merchants – led by late Atkins Park owner Warren Bruno – got together and threw a block party that would eventually become Summerfest?

Yes, it’s really been 34 years since the first Summerfest, and organizers are hard at work planning this year’s festival set for the weekend of June 3. Featuring a 5K Road Race and Tot Trot, one of the largest juried artist markets in the South and a variety of local, regional and national acts performing on the music Summerfest stage, our festival has become one of Atlanta’s most eagerly anticipated seasonal events.

Aside from simply attending the event, how can you get the most out of your Summerfest experience? Why, volunteering, of course! Summerfest volunteer shifts are generally 2-3 hours long and you can choose to help with:

Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones, and also help ensure the success of VHCA’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Volunteering can be a great way for high school or middle school students to get service hours. You can even sign up for multiple shifts if you like (and many do). Encourage your friends and neighbors to volunteer. Come join in the fun and go home with the coveted volunteer t-shirt!

We’re using SignUp.Com (formerly VolunteerSpot) again this year for volunteer registration and management. The tool is great at helping us organize our various tasks and shifts and is very easy to use. (Note: SignUp.com does not share your email address with anyone.)

Here’s how it works in three easy steps:

  1. Click here to access the Summerfest area on VolunteerSpot.
  2. Review the different tasks and shifts listed and identify the tasks/shifts that work for you.
  3. Sign up – it’s easy and you won’t have to register or leave a password on SignUp.com.

Have questions or need more information? Contact volunteer coordinator John Becker at jnbecker@me.com. Please don’t delay – volunteer today! We look forward to seeing you in June!

John Becker is a past VHCA board member and serves as Summerfest volunteer coordinator.

Share

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.

Share

Police Reveal Cool Camera Features at VHCA Safety Meeting

And body cameras modify behavior on both sides of the lens

On Saturday, March 4th at Church of Our Saviour, a good turnout of VaHi safety captains and other interested residents gathered for the annual Safety Captains’ meeting. In attendance were police experts to explain how they are using cameras to fight crime. There was also a discussion led by the VHCA Safety Committee about what residents and businesses can do within our neighborhood to reduce crime.

Street Cameras and Tag Readers

There are now 9 street cameras installed in VaHi, including 3 purchased by VHCA with financial support from Alex Wan. These cameras are the ones that show the blue lights, and they run all the time. There is also a plan to have cameras and lighting all up and down the Beltline.

The Police Foundation’s Video Integration Center has computer monitors that pull up streaming video from street cameras. The purpose is to support first responders and investigations. When there is a 911 call, the 4 closest street cameras are instantly activated. Two can be rewound 5 minutes to help begin an investigation. The real-time ones show what is happening right now—for example, a victim on the ground.

The Atlanta Police Foundation’s Video Integration Center

There are also 200 tag readers city-wide. They ping if a suspect car passes them, so police can head over there. These have been very successful and are pretty cool: they snap pictures of tags, transform them to data, upload them to the cloud, and check to see if the owner is wanted. According to the police experts in attendance, there has been a 40% reduction in crime where cameras and tag readers are installed. Blue lights and signs serve to warn would-be criminals that they are under surveillance.

Business and resident cameras

In addition to using the police street cameras, the police Video Integration Center (VIC) can take advantage of business cameras if they are integrated into the system. (This has already happened at Lenox Mall.) Therefore:

  • VHCA plans to do a survey of all businesses in the neighborhood to see who has cameras, and what type, to see if they are compatible with the VIC. If not compatible with the VIC, they would be eligible for our registry (see below).
  • We will also reach out to residents to see if they are willing to identify theirs—those would not be integrated because of privacy and because home cameras have lower quality than police cameras. But they could be a useful resource, and in some cases already have been.
  • Accordingly, VHCA has started a registry (both residential and business) of who already has cameras in the neighborhood. This is a voluntary program: You are not obligated to turn video to police. But they may contact you using the registry if there is an incident near your location.

Anyone interested in helping with this project, or who has a camera, can get in touch with Safety Committee Members Kay Stephenson and Eleanor Barrineau by emailing safety@vahi.org.

Body Cameras

Officer Joseph Mercado of the APD gave a demo of police body cameras

Officer Joseph Mercado of the APD led a discussion and demo of police body cameras, which have now been rolled out in Zone 6. Body cams not only provide transparency, but they serve as a behavior modifier for both ends. Police are able to see how they interact with the public and learn how they could have interacted differently. Also when a person realizes they’re being recorded, it tends to improve the tone of that person when talking to the police.

Zone 6 has had their cameras since the beginning of January. By summer, all officers who answer 911 calls will have body cameras. Officers wear them their entire shift and if they are working off duty (like FBAC) they wear them then as well.

How the body cam video is used. If there is an incident, officers can later enter information into the recording about the incident, which goes into a database that can be part of a wider query later. The hope is to get better prosecution. Video can show the judge that the person has done something multiple times. The judge can see the actual video, not just a report, and this has more impact. Footage cannot be deleted by the officer. The recordings are also encrypted—they only work on supervisors’ docks. So no one can download to their computer. There is an automatic audit trail of who viewed a video and that audit trail can’t be deleted.

A body cam records exactly what the officer sees, so his perspective is what can be demonstrated. If the officer is looking into headlight glare, then that’s what the camera sees, too. There are no filters, by design. It’s a critical part of fairness to show exactly what the officer was seeing. Officers have guidelines on when to turn the body cam on. When an officer activates a body cam, it automatically includes the prior 30 seconds in the recording. In addition, the Police Foundation is currently working with the manufacturer to possibly create a trigger—for example, turning on the police car blue lights could automatically start the camera.

Safety Committee Tips

In the second part of the meeting, the VHCA Safety Chair Eleanor Barrineau led a discussion on Safety Committee Initiatives that we want all residents to be aware of:

1. Lighting.  We want to be sure that bikers, pedestrians and people getting in and out of cars are safe. So we are looking to improve lighting in dark areas. On your own street, keep porch lights on. We recommend dusk-to-dawn light bulbs (Home Depot has them—they look like regular light bulbs and screw into a regular light fixture, but they automatically come on at dusk and off at dawn. No timers, no special wiring!).  We also encourage you to have driveway lights.

2. Graffiti. If you see any, send to graffiti@vahi.org. Include a picture if possible. Dept of Corrections crews work on those under the supervision of an APD officer. These crews can remove debris as well, such as sometimes appears on Maiden Lane.

3. Event impact. To let neighbors know when events are coming up that affect traffic and parking, the vahi.org calendar at the bottom right of the home page has been expanded to include many different events that could affect traffic. You might even want to participate, knowing an event is going on. In addition, the VHCA safety committee is working to make sure traffic and parking guidelines are enforced during events.

4. Homeowner cameras. Email safety@vahi.org to let them know you have a camera. The Safety Committee can then include these on a registry that police can use.

5. When to call 911 and when to call 311. For any crime, call 911. 311 is very effective for things about which you don’t need immediate police action, such as potholes, leaks in street, street services. You can get a ticket number and their follow-up seems to be good.

About the Police Foundation

Our meeting was attended both by APD and Police Foundation representatives. The Atlanta Police Foundation supports police. It’s a private-public relationship, like the Piedmont Park Conservancy and City of Atlanta- owned Piedmont Park. The Police Foundation runs the Video Integration Center described above, among other initiatives like the Crime Stoppers Program. One of its initiatives is to evaluate police cameras before they are purchased, and help determine how they are used.

Thank You

Our thanks to Michael Faughnan, Sgt. Julio Reyes, and Officers Mercado and Evans of the  Atlanta Police Department, and to Marlon Trone, VP of Programs for the Atlanta Police Foundation, who helped make the meeting a success.

Share

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.

Share

Neighborhood Watch and Safety Meeting March 4th

By Eleanor Barrineau, VHCA Safety Chair

Atlanta Video Integration Center. Photo courtesy Aftermath News.

Public safety continues to be a high priority for Virginia-Highland residents. On Saturday, March 4th at 10 am at Church of Our Saviour (N. Highland at Los Angeles), come and hear from experts about how the Atlanta Police Department (APD) is using cameras to fight crime, and participate in a discussion about what we can do within our neighborhood to reduce crime.

Experts will describe how the city’s Video Integration Center (VIC) uses information from thousands of cameras to track potential crimes in progress and for subsequent investigations.  Then APD officers will demonstrate the bodycams that are now being used.

After these presentations, discussions will include:
1) Maximizing the effectiveness of our VaHi Neighborhood Watch Program, including discussion of best practices/challenges from our Street Leads/Street Captains;
2) Private security cameras and how they can assist the police with their investigations;
3) How lighting or other environmental factors that reduce crime can be improved.
All interested residents are encourage to attend!

Share

More Relay Bike Stations Coming to Our Neighborhood

By Stephen Cohen

We’ve seen them around, those bright blue bikes with the basket on front. I saw a young couple the other day, each wheeling their blue bike from the Trader Joe’s parking lot onto the BeltLine, and each with a Trader Joe grocery bag in their front basket. They lived in Midtown and told me they had rented a relay bike on Piedmont Road and ridden over to TJ to do their grocery shopping.

We’re going to be seeing a lot more of those bikes. From the one relay station near the corner of 10th and Piedmont, we are going to be seeing as many as eight more stations in Virginia-Highland, Atkins Park, and Poncey-Highland. (The attached flyer shows the upcoming locations. These are subject to approval and zoning review).

What is Bike Share?

Page 2 of the flyer shows proposed locations for new bike relay stations

Bike Share is touted as a fun, affordable way to get around Atlanta. Hundreds of public bikes are available to rent for short rides. You can lock a Relay Bike at one of their hub stations or at any public bike rack. Cost is $8 an hour, or $15 a month with 60 minutes’ daily usage, or $20 a month with 90 minutes’ daily usage, or $25 a semester with 60 minutes’ daily usage for students. Unused minutes roll over. So if you rent for an hour and only use 40 minutes, you have 20 minutes left to use another time.

You can use them for commuting, for errands, or to enable visiting friends and family to join you in toodling through Piedmont Park, onto the BeltLine, and around our pretty streets.

For more information, visit www.relaybikeshare.com.

Share

For Primed Performance Training, Beltline Means More Than Fitness: It’s About Community

When David Mauer opened his first gym back in 1999, he knew he wanted to contribute to the community but he had no idea where that journey might take him. After 18 years of building on the successes of the fitness businesses he’s founded such as P.E. Midtown, Urban Body Fitness, and Urban Body Studios, he’s applying his fine-tuned approach to create a special spot named Primed Performance Training.

Primed Performance Training (PPT) is a personalized fitness studio located on the Atlanta Beltine, just off Ponce de Leon Place. David Mauer and his staff of trainers provide small-group and personal training serving clients of all abilities. The PPT team is dedicated to helping each client achieve his or her individual fitness goals, whether it’s recovering from an injury, setting an example for one’s children, excelling in a particular sport, or pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Mauer’s approach is science based and focuses on sport-specific and functional fitness. The atmosphere is laid-back, friendly and refreshingly attitude-free.

Mauer laughs, “From a location perspective, the journey has not been very far. I’ve been on the Beltline or the old train tracks my entire career!”

David says he loves being part of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. “It’s such an amazingly supportive community. Owning a business on the Beltline is really incredible and it’s been awesome to witness the tremendous impact that it has made on bringing the community together and inspiring people to exercise. At Primed, a big part of the beauty of what we do is the community we create through encouragement, commitment and mutual respect. This location makes perfect sense on so many levels.“

Primed is located in Urban Body Studios (which Mauer co-founded) at 730 Ponce de Leon Place. Primed welcomes new clients and encourages them to try a free introductory session. Currently there is a special introductory offer — 3 small group sessions for $20. Visit their website at primedpt.com, call 404-216-8601 or email david@primedpt.com for more information.

Photos courtesy Primed Performance Training

Share

Parties Reach Settlement in Todd Memorial Litigation

By Jenifer Keenan

I am very happy to report that the parties have reached a settlement in the Todd Memorial Litigation.  A copy of the settlement agreement can be viewed here.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the defendants will pay $25,000 and VHCA’s insurers will contribute an additional $5,000.  The settlement proceeds will be used for “the re-construction of the Monument on property located off and separate from the Property [defendants’ residence], reimbursement of Plaintiffs’ legal expenses related to the Lawsuit, as well as an application for construction of a Georgia Historical Society historical marker or other sign for the Property [defendant’s residence].”

The Todd/Liddell family are taking the lead on the design of the new memorial and application for an official Georgia Historical Society marker on the property where the original monument was located.  Additional information on the location of the new memorial will be provided in the coming months.

Share

Make Monroe Safe – Come to the 2/28 Meeting and Support the Monroe Road Diet

Featured

by Jenifer Keenan, VHCA President

The dangerous conditions on Monroe have led to two fatalities on the quarter mile section of the street in VaHi the last year. That is two deaths too many. The best way for each of us to improve the safety on Monroe is to attend the February 28th Renew Atlanta Meeting on the Monroe Complete Streets Project and demand that a road diet be implemented on Monroe from 10th to Piedmont.  (Tuesday, 2/28 6:00 – 8:00 Big Bethel AME Church, 220 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303).

What is a Road Diet?

To be clear, a road diet does not mean fewer cars. It’s a restriping done in such a way that traffic flow is improved, with cars moving more evenly, and it therefore makes the road safer and more efficient. In a nutshell, the “road diet” on Monroe will restripe the lanes and reduce it from 4 lanes (two in each direction) to three lanes (one in each direction with a dedicated turn lane). These diagrams from the Virginia-Highland Master Plan illustrate the concept:

How will a Road Diet improve conditions on Monroe?

It may seem counter-intuitive that reducing lanes could make a street better, but there are real-life examples from throughout the country that show that road diets not only reduce crashes by up to 47%, but also improve traffic flow.  Indeed, a study on the Ponce de Leon road diet found that after the road diet was implemented, there was a 25% decrease in overall crashes, with morning travel times decreasing by almost a minute and afternoon travel times increasing by only a bit more than a minute.

A road diet for Monroe isn’t a new concept – it has been part of the BeltLine Plan, the Connect Atlanta Plan, and the Virginia-Highland Master Plan. And although the Monroe Road Diet has been a part of these comprehensive plans, and is a proven way to improve safety and traffic flow, there are still skeptics. Some are fearful that it will lead to cut-through traffic. Cut-through traffic, however, is a problem now. Keeping Monroe as-is will not improve cut-through traffic. Improving traffic flow on Monroe and eliminating the conditions that have led to fatal crashes should actually help with cut-through traffic, not make it worse.

Others have insisted that temporary measures such as increased police enforcement, or measures that may reduce speed such as speed humps, will be sufficient. That is simply not the case, because even if speed is reduced, the weaving in and out to avoid the left-turn queue still creates dangerous conditions for both vehicles and pedestrians. The road diet is the best and only solution that will provide 24-hour-a-day improvements to safety on Monroe by slowing traffic, eliminating weaving in and out to avoid the left turn queue (and thereby improve traffic flow), eliminating the left-turn blind spot caused by the lack of a dedicated left-turn lane, allowing pedestrians to safely cross three lanes of traffic instead of four with a “safe haven” in the middle provided by the dedicated turn lane, allowing bikes to travel in dedicated bike lanes away from traffic, and making sidewalks safer by having them bordered by bike lanes instead of speeding cars. Neither increased police ticketing nor speed humps can provide 24-hour-a-day improvements to all these safety issues.

What if the Road Diet doesn’t work?

In December, the project manager for the Monroe Complete Streets Project attended the Virginia-Highland monthly meeting and announced that the traffic counts for Monroe were within the acceptable limits for a road diet. Thus, there is no reason for there not to be a road diet on Monroe. Nevertheless, if the Monroe road diet is somehow different from the hundreds of other successful road diets that have been implemented throughout the country and does not improve the dangerous conditions on the street, the “diet” can be undone by simply re-striping Monroe and converting it back to four lanes.

What Can I Do To Improve Safety on Monroe?

The best way to improve conditions on Monroe is come to the February 28th meeting and show your strong support a road diet on Monroe.  We must stand together and demand the proven and permanent safety improvements of road diet for Monroe. We as a community cannot tolerate any more fatalities on this broken street. The Road Diet is a key component of the Complete Street project.

What Is a “Complete Street”?

The full name of the Monroe project is actually the Monroe/Boulevard Complete Streets Project.  The project is being funded by the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond that was approved by city voters in 2015.  “Complete Streets” are designed to enable safe access for all users – pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users. Complete Street projects implement comprehensive design changes including light synchronization, intersection realignments, and landscaping, lighting, and crosswalk improvements. They often also include traffic calming measures and design changes to make streets safer.

The Virginia-Highland Master Plan

The Master Plan contains more details, and pages 81 on are especially pertinent for the Road Diet. Note: This is a large file and may take a little while to load.

Share

Summerfest 2017 – June 3 & 4 – Save the Date!

By Pamela Papner, Summerfest Co-Chair

Mark your calendars and be sure to attend Summerfest 2017 on June 3rd and 4th!  The community dinner, movie and parade will be held Friday, June 2nd in John Howell Park.  Details will be posted online as plans are finalized, at vahi.org/summerfest.

Presented by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association and organized by neighborhood volunteers, Summerfest celebrates the arts with a juried Artist Market featuring more than 250 artists from the Southeast displaying works in an variety of traditional media and representing numerous price ranges to appeal to any level of collector.

For 2017, Summerfest will offer a re-vitalized Kidsfest, sure to please families with many fun, educational and artistic activities – many free! The Local Market, a popular new feature last year, will be expanded and will feature local Georgia vendors who produce hand-made products like soaps, honey, baked goods, gourmet food and other unique items. The 2017 music line-up promises to be the best ever, and the 5K road race is back (sign up today here). The tot trot will be held Saturday at John Howell Park, with all registrations on-site this year.

Best of all, proceeds from the event go directly back into our neighborhood, enabling the VHCA to lead and support planning and zoning initiatives, support/maintenance of North Highland Park, along with other neighborhood initiatives such as recent improvements to John Howell Park, sidewalks, safety, lighting and crime prevention programs. The VHCA also provides financial support to local schools, public library, historic firehouse and other organizations serving Virginia-Highland residents.

Share

Dude, It’s Only a Mile…

Run The Morningside Mile on Mar 26 – We’re So Close Now to Saving our Fire Station – Help Push Us Over the Finish Line!

By Robin Ragland, VHCA Board Member

Since we moved to Virginia-Highland in 2006, I’ve been hearing about the need to raise funds for critical improvements to our local Fire Station. Now, after many Breakfasts with Santa, Santathons, Morningside Miles, last year’s Firefest, selling Fire Station 19 t-shirts, and personal donations, we’re only ~$15,000 away from reaching the community’s $120,000 fundraising goal!!

For those of you who are new to Virginia-Highland, Fire Station 19 is Atlanta’s oldest continuously operating station. Located in the heart of Virginia-Highland, it has been a local landmark for more than 90 years.

The Race

Rick Chey (owner of the Osteria 832 and Doc Chey restaurants) is once again hosting this year’s 7th annual Morningside Mile on March 26–and it’s a lot of fun. In addition to being Atlanta’s only competitive one-mile run, it has cash prizes and a killer post-race party.  Runners of all levels, from competitive runners to moms with jog strollers and kids, are welcome.  Register here for this year’s race.

Here’s a sneak peak at the prizes:

  • Overall Top 3 Male & Female Winners: $200/$100/$50 cash & gift cards
  • Masters Top 3 Male & Female Winners: $100/$50/$25 cash & gift cards
  • Age Group Winners: $25 local merchant gift card to top male & female finisher in each age group: under 6, 7-9, 10-14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60+.
  • SweetWater 420 Challenge: runner with closest time to 4:20 wins a deluxe SweetWater prize pack including 4 tickets to the brewery & tasting, SweetWater apparel & other goodies.

The first 500 registrants will receive a commemorative premium athletic T-shirt, a $60 value.  All runners can show their race number at the block party to get a free SweetWater beer at Doc Chey’s, OR a free treat at Alon’s.

Keep up-to-date during the countdown to the race on Facebook.

The Block Party: Noon – 2pm

Doc Chey’s Noodle Eating Contest!

Whether you run the race or not, plan to show up at the finish line for a neighborhood Block Party at Morningside Village (1424 N. Highland Ave). Invite your friends and family to cheer you on, meet your neighborhood firefighters, and enjoy the festivities planned for all ages!  Neighbors are encouraged to “go green” and walk or bike to the event.

There will be music, food by Doc Chey’s (don’t forget to bring cash!), and other festivities hosted by local firefighters and merchants. Sign up early to compete in the kids’ or adults’ Doc Chey’s Noodle Eating Contest that occurs at 1:30.  Fastest adult speed eater wins a $100 gift card, and the kid winner gets a $25 gift card.

Be sure to check the Morningside Mile website regularly for an updated list of festivities.

Fun Facts

“Dude–It’s only a mile!”  Some fun facts from the morningsidemile.com website.  How long is a mile?
* 1,760 yards
* 5,280 feet
* 63,360 inches
* 1,609 meters
* 1,609,344 millimeters
* 14,762,889 dollar bills stacked
* 5,280 Osteria pizzas laid side-by-side
* 7,920 Doc Chey’s noodle bowls
* 21,120 Doc Chey’s basil rolls laid end-to-end

Can’t make it to the race?  Donate here to help reach the $120,000 goal.

 

Share

The Training Room – “The Swiss Army Knife of Fitness”

The Atlanta Beltline has been coined a living, breathing part of the fabric of Atlanta. If you find yourself using the Beltline that cuts through Virginia-Highland and Piedmont Park, chances are you’ve seen people running, pushing, pulling, throwing, and lifting in the parking lot that leads up to the main gym of The Training Room ATL.

Owner and head trainer Amber Goppert (pictured) says the most interesting feature of the gym’s location in Virginia-Highland is the diversity the residents lend to the gym. “We have people from every walk of life, with an endless variety of goals,” she says.

Aspirations vary as widely as competitive powerlifting, to ultra-marathons, to the weekend warrior just looking for a leg-up, or someone new to fitness beginning their wellness journey.

“I wanted to create a gym where, whether you’ve been an athlete since birth or you’ve never broken a sweat in your life, you have a place here. “

The facility, which Amber established in 2013, has two levels totaling 15,000 square feet of training space filled with every piece of practical training equipment one could ever need.  Amber has gone to great lengths to recruit some of the best and brightest minds Atlanta has to offer, while constantly innovating the training methodology.

She believes that this multi-faceted facility is unlike any other. “My philosophy from the start,” she says, “was that I wanted to field a team of competent trainers and coaches from all backgrounds. There are no two trainers alike and, as a result, I feel we can exceed the needs of any individual who walks through the door.”

That team includes former collegiate athletes, a Pilates instructor, a former NBA strength coach, and a certified Physical Therapist. Certifications range from kettlebells to Olympic lifting to postural restoration.

“My team is the Swiss Army Knife of the fitness industry, adept for all of our clienteles’ needs,” says Amber proudly.

The Training Room, located at 742 Ponce de Leon Place, offers group classes, with varying focuses and skill levels, and personal/small group training for more specific needs and goals.

Visit The Training Room’s website here: http://www.thetrainingroomatl.com

Share

Joint VaHi-Morningside Security Forum with APD Coming Up on Feb 6

By Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board President

APD Command staff from Zone 2 and Zone 6 and the office of the Chief of Police will give brief presentations and answer questions at a Security Forum hosted by MLPA and VHCA on February 6th from 7:00 – 8:30 pm at Haygood Memorial United Methodist Church 1015 East Rock Springs Road.

Originally organized by MLPA for residents of Morningside and Lenox Park,  upon the suggestion of Councilman Alex Wan, I contacted MLPA President Sally Bayless about VHCA joining in the forum, and she graciously agreed.  With two neighborhoods participating in the forum, Councilman Wan has been able to secure the attendance of Police Chief Shields and Deputy Chief Glazier.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to hear from APD leadership and express concerns about crime in our neighborhood.  Thanks to MLPA for organizing this event and Councilman Wan for his continued leadership and advocacy for District 6.

Share

Monroe Complete Street Meeting – Note Location Change

The second community engagement meeting on the Monroe/Boulevard Complete Street project will be held on Tuesday February 28th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Big Bethel AME Church, 220 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303 (previously announced at Ebenezer Baptist Church). The meeting is hosted by Renew Atlanta along with Council Representatives Alex Wan and Kwanza Hall. The outcome of the complete streets project will have a profound impact on the safety of all residents using the Monroe corridor. Please make time to attend and make your voice heard. More information is available in Alex Wan’s monthly newsletter.

Share

Inman Middle School Frosty 5K Set for December 10

Are you ready for the Yeti??  

The 2016 Inman Middle School Frosty 5K is open for registration!  The Frosty 5K is set for 9:00 am, Saturday, December 10 and is always tons of fun!  Come join us for some running, strolling, jumpin’-jackin’ fun for the 2016 Inman Frosty 5K supporting the teachers and kids at your favorite intown middle school!

frost-5k

Same route as last year – along the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail – and we’re hoping for the same wonderful weather.

You can sign up here: http://www.active.com/…/distance-runni…/inman-frosty-5k-2016. Students run for just $10, and teachers for FREE!

This is also a super fun event to volunteer, you can sign-up here: http://signup.com/go/MTdi6N.

Share

Take Your Leftover Halloween Candy to Worthmore Jewelers

The name Worthmore Jewelers may be familiar to you after their recent anniversary celebration a few months ago that resulted in a $1,000 donation to the Fire Station 19 restoration project. They are also a repeat sponsor this year of our annual Tour of Homes.

candy-crawl_paper_sourceEach November, Worthmore Jewelers also supports Operation Stars and Stripes with its Halloween candy drive. OSS is a not for profit organization that supplies care packages to deployed service men and women who will be away from their homes and families during the holiday season.  Please take your leftover Halloween candy to their Midtown location, where it will be sorted it out and sent to OSS. For the last five years, Worthmore’s midtown and Decatur locations have been competing to see which neighborhood can donate the most candy. MIDTOWN is the undisputed five-time heavyweight champion.

Last year, between the two stores over 1,000 pounds of candy were collected!

candy_crawl_outside_fire_stationWorthmore Jewelers’ involvement with Operation Stars and Stripes started 8 years ago when Harris and Geri’s daughter Molli needed a service project and wanted to focus on an organization that works with our deployed troops. After a search to find the perfect volunteer opportunity for their young daughter the family decided on OSS and have supported the organization ever since.

Everyone who drops off candy in either location can register to win a $50 Worthmore gift card. One winner from each store will be chosen at the close of business on Sunday, November 8.  You can drop off candy starting Sunday, November 1 (they are closed Monday and Tuesday) and Wednesday the 4th through Sunday the 8thWorthmore Jewelers is located at 500-L3 Amsterdam Walk.

If you would like to help OSS but candy isn’t your thing, you can visit them online at www.operationstarsandstripes.org where they regularly post a list of items they currently need.

By the way, Worthmore Jewelers is also a 2016 Tour of Homes sponsor and will be giving away a $25 gift card in a drawing as part of their sponsorship. Stop by the store anytime after November 1 to enter.

Share

First-Ever Candy Crawl – “This is What a Neighborhood Should Feel Like”

By Stephen Cohen, VHCA Communications Committee Member

candy_crawl_flyerIt was a wonderful family experience. On October 26, the Virginia-Highland business district had its first-ever Candy Crawl. Families gathered at the Fire Station at 5:30 and set out to trick-or-treat, walking all the way down Virginia-Highland to St. Charles, stopping at businesses marked by orange balloons. Over 35 businesses participated.

The idea originated with Doria Roberts from Tipple and Rose, who had done something similar at her sandwich shop in East Atlanta. She was excited about its first-year success here in VaHi.

“Based on my past experience, this was a great turnout for the first year!” said Doria. “I heard several parents say something to the effect that this is what a neighborhood should feel like.”

candy_crawl_outside_fire_station

There were a lot of unknowns coming in. How many would come? How could all the pedestrians be kept safe in rush hour?  To that end, the Virginia-Highland Business Association asked the VaHi Civic Association to organize 6 crossing guards. The guards used safety vests and stop signs kindly provided by Joel Markwell, an Inman Middle School parent who coordinates their crossing guard program.

One of our crossing guards was Kay Stephenson. “I noticed several kids who were mesmerized by our big hand-held stop signs. They appeared to be pondering how that thing that is usually on a post ended up in a person’s hand!

candy_crawl_setting_off“And there were smiles on the faces of many drivers, perhaps charmed by the children into not minding that their commute was being delayed. Several parents mentioned that this made a great dry run for Monday night to see what was working with costumes. One adorable told me, “I’m a raccoon, but I couldn’t wear the mask because it’s too itchy”!

Every participating business had two bags of candy donated by Sysco.  And kids in costume even got to eat free at Atkins Park restaurant.

Truly, not only was this an evening of family fun, but it was an opportunity for parents to visit local stores they may never previously have been aware of.

candy-crawl_paper_source“Everyone was so upbeat and the beautiful weather was definitely a plus,” said crossing guard volunteer Margaret Ross, who was stationed in Atkins Park. “Kristi, from The Warren, interacted with all the kids at her stop; they loved having their character recognized, and were quite polite. All in all, a wonderful neighborhood experience for the participants and onlookers alike. “

candy_crawl_wolfIn fact, many business owners enjoyed it and talked with the parents & kids at their stops. Commented business owner Lynn DeWitt: “EVERYONE enjoyed this event!  Kids loved the candy.  Parents had a terrific time walking with their families, browsing the shops and restaurants.  Stores were buzzing with business. Streets were crowded but safe. Atkins Park Tavern had happy and hungry customers for dinner. Let’s repeat this next Halloween.”

Concluded a very happy Doria: “Next year we hope to add costume contests (for kids, adults and pets) and maybe a pumpkin-carving contest.”

So if you missed the first-ever Virginia-Highland Candy Crawl, be on the lookout for the second one next year!

Share

Agenda Posted for Tomorrow Night’s VHCA Monthly Board and General Meeting

at-the-corner-of-9.5X24-MECHThe agenda for tomorrow night’s monthly general meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association is posted below.

As a reminder, tomorrow night’s meeting will be held at Church of our Saviour, corner of N. Highland and Los Angeles Avenues, starting at 7 PM. The meeting will be held in Pettway Hall which is accessed off of Los Angeles. We hope to see many residents at the meeting, which will be the first held under the newly elected board of directors.

Here is the agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting:

  • Election of VHCA Board Officers – Kevin Cronin
  • Reports from City Department Representatives
  • Comments from Elected Officials
  • Guest Presentations
  • Secretary Report
  • Treasurer Report
  • Committee Reports
  • Planning – Jess Windham
  • Variance Application(s)
    • V-16-260; 797 Greenwood Ave. NE. RG-2; BL OL
    • Applicant Kelly Reilly of Wright Gardner Architect (on behalf of owner Michael Jenkins) seeks variances to (A) reduce the required front yard setback from 40 feet to 18 feet 10 inches (pre-existing); (B) reduce the required half-depth front yard (on Bonaventure) from 20 feet to 7 feet 11 inches; and (C) reduce the
    • V-16-266; 560 Cresthill Ave. NE; R-4
    • Applicants Earl Jackson and Susan Johnson of Metro Atlanta Permits (for owner David Taylor-Klaus) seek a variance to reduce the required western side yard setback from 7 feet to 2.9 feet (existing on rear deck) to add second story addition in the existing footprint to a single-family dwelling and to expand the rear deck entirely over an existing patio.
    • V-16-224. 695 Cooledge Ave. NE; R-4 – Withdrawn
    • V-16-232; 834 Clemont Dr. NE; R-4 – Deferred until November
    • V-16-239; 1079 North Highland Ave. NE; R-4 – Deferred until November
    • V-16-242; 866 Arlington Pl. NE; R-4 – Deferred until January
  • Monroe Drive Complete Streets Update
  • Fire Station 19 Update
  • Fundraising
  • Summerfest – Paige Hewell
  • Tour of Homes – Robin Ragland
  • Parks – David Brandenberger
  • Safety – Eleanor Barrineau
  • President Report
  • Unfinished Business
  • Todd Memorial and Lawsuit
  • New Business
  • Proposal for Survey of Association Members – Kay Stephenson
  • Adjournment
Share

Shine a Light on Homelessness

Shine a Light on HomelessnessGrab your lantern, your flashlight, or your blinking hat – if it lights up, it qualifies – and join Journey Men’s Shelter on Sunday, October 2 from 7:00-9:30 p.m. for a kick-off event to their year-long campaign, “Shine a Light on Homelessness.”  The kick-off event includes a 1-mile lighted walk starting at the shelter and ends with a reception at the historic Highland Inn ballroom for drinks, coffee, and dessert.

You can participate in the walk only, the reception only, or both. The goal is to come together to show support for reducing the homeless population within our community by raising money for the critical programs offered by Journey.

Journey Men’s Shelter is located in Virginia-Highland at 1026 Ponce de Leon Ave, NE, behind Druid Hills Presbyterian Church and has been providing services to homeless men for more than 30 years.

You can learn more or register for the event on our website.

And please share with your friends and neighbors. We hope to see many lights shining for this worthy cause.

Share

Community Grants Awarded at VHCA 2016 Annual General Meeting

The annual general meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association was held September 22 at Inman Middle School. As always, the Spark Choir – led by Music Director Brianne Turgeon – warmed our hearts with a few songs to kick off the meeting.

img_6494 img_6491 img_6487

Along with electing a new slate of board members, VHCA awarded $25,525 in grants to local schools and non-profits who serve our Virginia-Highland residents. Included in our grant awards was Open Door Community who will be leaving Virginia-Highland after 35 years of service to the homeless community in our area. They will be missed.

Scroll down to review a list of this year’s grant recipients.  You can view a video of the entire meeting here.

grants

Share

Atlanta Streets Alive Returns to VaHi

Atlanta-Streets-Alive-200x200Atlanta Streets Alive welcomes you to walk, bike, roll, run and play in the streets from 2:00pm to 6:00pm, September 25, on N Highland Ave., Highland Ave. and Boulevard! This event is organized by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. For more information, please visit AtlantaStreetsAlive.com/sept_25_route .

The street closure for the September 25 Atlanta Streets Alive on N Highland, Highland and Boulevard will begin at 12:30pm and streets will reopen by 7:30pm. Atlanta Streets Alive welcomes you to walk, bike, roll, run and play in the streets from 2:00pm to 6:00pm. 

Volunteers are still needed to support the event. To volunteer in advance or on the day of the September 25 Atlanta Streets route, please visit AtlantaStreetsAlive.com/volunteer_opportunities_sep_2016_route.

Scroll down to view a few photos from last year’s Atlanta Streets Alive in VaHi.

Here are some additional links you may find useful if you wish to follow this event.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/156656048076943/

Facebook page: @ATLStreetsAlive

Twitter: @ATLStreetsAlive

Instagram: @AtlantaBike #AtlantaStreetsAlive

neighborhood-notification-atlanta-streets-alive-sep-2016

dsc_0227 dsc_0226 dsc_0215 img_2763

Share

Briarcliff Terrace Apartments Redevelopment Plans on Hold

Briarcliff Ter Apt signThe developerrs at Briarcliff Terrace Apartments Place have communicated (attorney to attorney) that they will not be introducing ‘at this time’ a proposal to redevelop their site from its existing designation of RG2 to either RG3 or to a PDH (Planned Development Housing) zoning category.

(This site is located downhill below the Highland CVS, bounded by Rosedale Drive on the north, Rosedale Road on the east, Briarcliff Place on the south, and Arlington Place on the west. It contains about 145 one, two, and three-bedroom units, plus two small homes, all built in the 1960’s. One small street bisects the property north-south, which for many years has been a quiet and stable home to a group of mostly Latino residents, including many children.)

This decision does not mean that the owners or developers won’t change their mind in the future, even the near future. One can always ask to change the zoning or land use, as they were contemplating. Or they might choose to redevelop it within existing density guidelines, which was and is a readily available option. (More on that in a moment.)

Some form of redevelopment here has seemed certain for years, and the zoning and land use were reviewed during our Master Plan Process. No changes in either category were suggested then, and no compelling reasons for new ones have been identified since.

Looking at how this process played out offers a chance to see how the VHCA Board and Planning Committee have approached issues of this type over the last few years.

Briarcliff Ter Apt 2

The ownership and development group met several times with VHCA and its zoning and planning consultants. The VHCA Planning Committee has made such meetings standard in the last five years; they are a useful way to understand goals. After the first meeting, we immediately checked in with our councilmember to make sure that he had the same understanding that we did (many developers meet first with the local councilmember on issues like this), and we did the same with the NPU Planning Chair, who had also met with them. And we carefully looked at the physical features of the site.

The applicants emphasized that while their plans were not final, they anticipated increasing the amount of developed space – the density, defined in the code as FAR, Floor Area Ratio – by about 50%, even though the number of units would be about the same. (Obviously – and as one might expect – the new units were going to be a lot larger.) The use of Planned Development Housing as a design tool was mentioned.

PDH is a useful concept, and it can be employed in any zoning category. It offers architects the chance of creating unique and innovative plans that can protect natural resources (perhaps voluntarily save trees or protect riparian areas), maximize green spaces, and (conceivably) avoid boxlike designs.

But the City of Atlanta has a long-standing policy that controls PDH rezonings that limits the allowable density to the level already in place on a property. This property’s density was RG2; in this case, the City support of a rezoning to PDH would remain capped at the RG2 density, which is .348

Their proposal – at least as presented – had a much higher level: a FAR of about .57

As we examined this with our consultants, an even more fundamental concern with the proposed new density emerged. This particular site represents a small fraction of the total amount of property within the Virginia-Highland neighborhood that is zoned RG2. While many of them are smaller, these properties have much in common with Briarcliff Terrace: they are inside the neighborhood (not fronting along major thoroughfares), are surrounded by single-family residential, and are historically small-scale walk-up apartment types of buildings. There are over 60 acres of “other” RG2-zoned land in the neighborhood, in addition to this 7-acre site.

Briarcliff Ter Apt

The outcome of a rezoning application here would set a precedent for those remaining properties in the neighborhood. Planner Aaron Fortner summed it up thusly: What determinative arguments would support the re-zoning of this site from RG2 to RG3 that wouldn’t also apply to the other similarly zoned properties? He concluded that there were no standards or criteria utilized by the City of Atlanta that would meaningfully distinguish this site from the others.

And rezonings are not variances. We take variances seriously and visit every site in an effort to ensure that new proposals will not improperly diminish the value of adjacent properties, but variances are common and are not precedents. Zoning changes are, and they’re tracked carefully by those in the business.

Because what is done on this RG2 property (of 7 acres) would set a precedent for what can happen on the other RG2 properties (60+ acres), a rezoning here would be a powerful tool for supporting similar changes on the other properties.

Nor were there any persuasive arguments offered as to why this property should be rezoned, other than the desire to get more density on it. It certainly has value as an RG2 property. If the existing buildings were removed, the current RG2 zoning would allow about 108,000 s.f. of new development on the site (approximately 10% more than is there now), which could include one or more combinations of the following development types:

Approximately 100+ units of apartments (assumes 1,000 sq. ft/unit);

Approximately 50+ units of townhomes (assumes 2,000 sq. ft/unit);

Approximately 35+ units of single-family houses (assumes 3,000 sq. ft/unit).

There is one last consideration. The NPU-F Comprehensive Development Plan acknowledges that many nonconforming properties are in place and can remain (or be redeveloped at the existing density), but this site’s underlying land use is single-family – a designation that reflects the fact that 100% of the surrounding properties are just that: single-family. Increasing the density (as was being contemplated) would require a land-use challenge to the CDP, an issue that the NPU and all its neighborhoods – including VaHi – take very seriously. Two separate attempts of that type have been rebuffed in NPU-F the last two years. (We wrote about them in the Voice and hosted one large NPU meeting and vote at the VaHi Church.)

This NPU also successfully opposed a similar attempt at Monroe and 10th in 2009. Planning according to the tenets and themes of our Master Plan and the CDP has been a principle for us and NPU-F.

Among our consultants’ goals was investigating whether the City Planning Department was considering changing their own policy to allow a PDH use here that increased density. Once we were confident that the policy was firmly in place and knowing that Councilmember Wan was steadfast in his support of following the existing guidelines, we were hopeful that the developers might rethink their plans, even after they made an unusual private presentation to adjacent neighbors that omitted some key points.

Let’s be clear: Attempts can be made to rezone even in these conditions. But it’s easier for us to make an effective and strong case when we make plausible planning arguments year after year, are consistent and logical in our reasoning, synched with local and city plans, and supported by our local councilmember. Those aren’t guarantees, but those factors matter a lot.

It appears that – for at least the time being – this plan will not be pursued. Of course, that could change, and a new plan could be presented. We’ll be glad to work with the owners and help evaluate it if that happens.

Some of these theoretically public processes tend to be opaque. Hence this article, which aspires to make clearer the sorts of rationales and approaches we use to analyze significant changes in zoning or land use. Having the assistance of knowledgeable planners and land use attorneys costs money, but when it helps the neighborhood evaluate proposals in an orderly fashion according to known principles, it’s money well spent.

(The developers are spending a lot of money, too. Of course, they often stand to get a lot more back.)

A final thought: Employing the Master Plan and CDP and doing methodical systematic reviews of city processes benefits the whole community, not just the closest neighbors. Nearby citizens are often wisely engaged – they would bear the brunt of changes in traffic and noise, and we appreciate hearing from many of them here – but it’s everyone’s battle. The impacts of such projects extend way past the adjacent streets, just as will the outcomes at 10th & Monroe/Cresthill. These are issues that require unblinking attention and real vigilance.

We again salute and thank councilmember Wan for his consistent and supportive stand on issues like this. Many a community has had decent plans but only defended them in a crisis (“Here comes the Big Box Mart”), and many communities have not been consistently supported at the council level. Alex has been a stalwart and a strong advocate for public planning, and it has made his neighborhoods a much better place to live in and encouraged and rewarded citizen involvement.

It’s a long article, and if you’ve read this far, you may be ready to join the Planning Committee. But understanding and identifying the constituent parts have helped us understand this a lot better. It’s an issue (like many) that can for a long time seem like it doesn’t matter much – until suddenly it does, and then it matters a lot.

Your comments and questions are welcome. We frequently discuss these matters at the Planning Committee and Board meetings; those schedules are listed on our calendar at vahi.org.

Share

VHCA Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers

2016-17 BOD Candidates Announced, Candidate Bios and Absentee Ballot Available

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association Annual General Meeting will be held September 22 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria from 7:00pm – 9:00pm. Please try to arrive at 6:30 to sign in. Grants will be awarded and the 2016-17 Board of Directors will be elected.

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 11.03.31 AM

The SPARK Advanced Chorus will perform before the annual general meeting, as they have the past few years.

The Springdale Park Elementary Advanced Chorus, led by Music Director Brianne Turgeon, will kick off the meeting again this year, so be sure to arrive early to hear them! They will start at 7:00pm.

Candidates for the 2016-17 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.

(I) indicates incumbent

Eleanor Barrineau
Peggy Berg (I)
David Brandenberger (I)
Lola Carlisle (I)
Emily Gilbert (I)
Paige Hewell (I)
Cindy Kaufman
Jenifer Keenan
Catherine Lewis (I)
Steve Messner
Robin Ragland (I)
Debbie Skopczynski
Kay Stephenson
Jack White (I)
Jess Windham (I)
George Zirkel

Brief biographies of candidates for this year’s BOD can be reviewed here.

Members of the association (18 years of age residing within the official boundaries of Virginia-Highland) may vote at the Annual General Meeting to be held September 22, 2016 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria starting at 6:30pm to allow time for signing in. 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 September 22 or to the Annual Meeting by its start time at 7:00pm. 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.

You can download a copy of the absentee ballot here.

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

Jess Windham, Kevin Cronin and Lola Carlisle serve on the Nominating Committee. Jess Windham and Lola Carlisle are current VHCA board members.

Share

VHCA 2016-17 Board of Directors – Candidate Bios

Following are brief bios from the announced candidates for the 2016-17 VHCA Board of Directors:

(I) indicates incumbent

Eleanor photoEleanor Barrineau

Eleanor moved to her current home in Virginia-Highland in 1983 with her husband Stephen Cohen and raised two children here.  She retired last year from her career with the Social Security Administration and has enjoyed having more time to devote to her interests and her volunteer work, including her work for our neighborhood.  She is in her 6th year as volunteer coordinator for the Tour of Homes and was one of the original Street Captains for our safety program.  She has served for many years as the Street Captain coordinator.  She loves meeting and working with the great neighbors we have in Virginia-Highland.

If elected to the board, she would like to include safety and the Tour of Homes in her areas of focus, to look for new ways to engage the community, and overall to work with other board members and Va-Hi residents to maintain and improve our great quality of life here in Virginia-Highland. 


board_peggy

Peggy Berg (I)

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 and am currently on the Board of Little Creek Farm Conservancy. I have a Business degree, am a CPA, and have a Master’s degree from Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy.

I believe that our individual involvement is what makes our neighborhood such a delightful place to live so I served on the VHCA Board in 2012 – 2015. I work on sidewalks and streets and the first project was doing 227 sidewalk improvements with the help of our residents and the City. As co-chair of the Safety Committee, I work with the City on pedestrian signs, street signs, traffic lights and other maintenance items on the streets. We generate the Safety Stats reports with Holly Lybeer and Shannon Mehl. We worked with the Atlanta Police Foundation to fund additional cameras for their program. I have been VHCA treasurer for the past several years, and would like the opportunity to continue serving the neighborhood in this capacity.


David_BrandenbergerDavid Brandenberger (I)

I have been a homeowner in Virginia-Highland on Rosedale Road since 1999. I have been on the VHCA Board for the past three years, serving both on the Planning Committee and – for the last two years – as Chair of the Parks Committee.

In that role, I lead a group of volunteers and professionals who sustain and improve both city-owned spaces – John Howell, Orme, and the Triangle at N Highland and Virginia – and one that belongs to the Civic Association, North Highland Park at St. Charles and N Highland. They each present different challenges and opportunities.

VHCA owns North Highland Park and we are responsible for its upkeep, an often challenging task given the diverse usage it gets.  The effort I led – with Atlanta Celebrates Photography – to create a display of local photographers’ photos at that site (still on display) was part of an ongoing strategy to promote both the Park and the Atkins Park business district.  It’s been successful; more projects like that are important, both for the park space and to work with Councilmember Wan on Renew Atlanta improvements for the street.

John Howell Park is a very diverse and successful park, really several parks in one. The Park Pride matching grant we wrote, won and are now administering is heavily focused on improving functionality of the park – installing a new sitting granite wall along Virginia to control erosion, completion of the brick walkways for safety, planting of new perennial foliage and installation of several rain gardens to reduce stormwater runoff. (A related outcome of this work will be new knee-high fencing to mitigate pedestrian intrusion into the Triangle at Virginia and N Highland.)  I was happy to lead the application process that wrote and won this most recent grant to further improve John Howell, and I look forward to completing its’ implementation this fall and winter.

Our plans are then to move to our next target: which will be addressing some challenges in Orme Park, especially on the hillsides under Brookridge Drive, which are full of extraordinary trees and spaces that are hard to access yet easy to under-appreciate. The 2009-10 playground project at Orme (started and funded by neighbors, VHCA, and Park Pride) has been extraordinarily successful, and several neighbors (two of them go to Inman Middle) have now proposed a cool additional usage on the playground side of Orme Park that we are now working with our landscape architect and the Parks Department to make happen.

Our neighborhood public parks depend on elements of public support (the city’s increasingly productive Parks Department) and private enhancement whose efforts the City Parks Department has approved. Coordinating these requires a lot of communication and attention.  Our strategy has been to leverage our effectiveness by partnering with Park Pride and Trees Atlanta whenever possible and not missing the unglamorous longer-range challenges – erosion, stormwater runoff and functionality – that are hard for the city to keep up with.   Public spaces whose design preserves their resources are both more enjoyable and easier to sustain in the long run and that is ultimately our goal with the Parks Committee.

Like all board members, I work very hard on fundraising efforts to create the funding that we need for all of the work we do, both in and outside of our parks and public spaces. To that point, and like all VHCA Board members this year, I supported the decision to challenge the destruction of the Todd Historic Monument and believe it is in the public interest to keep this important part of our neighborhood intact and accessible to all.

I’d appreciate your vote for the Board.


Lola CarlyleLola Carlisle (I)

I moved into Virginia-Highland in 1993. My first volunteer efforts were focused around involvement with our daughter’s activities through VHMPA, DHUMP, and at Morningside.

I’ve been a partner in a marketing firm located in VaHi for most of that time.  Our business fundraising motto is “We’re Givin’ Where We’re Livin.’” We’ve have raised nearly $10,000 for Fire Station 19 renovations over several years, including $5K at Santathon last year. Our marketing firm has enthusiastically donated countless hours of conceptual thinking and design services over the years to causes here, and I am a member of the Virginia-Highland Business Association.

My earliest planning efforts were a study of infill development trends and impacts in 2006. Out-of-scale development has been one of the top concerns in the neighborhood for years. An ideal solution has been elusive, but not for want of effort.  The VaHi Master Plan was a key achievement for this neighborhood; our longtime planning consultants on that process moved on to an examination of residential overlay type concepts based on this community’s examples.  This same consulting team is now participating in the City of Atlanta’s ongoing revision process of the entire city zoning code.  

Many intown neighborhoods are trying to find a balance between appropriate development and maintaining their historic character, and that remains a personal focus for me.  This neighborhood is as hot as ever, and being prepared for the upcoming large-scale development ventures – like those at Monroe and 10th –  is vital.  So too are all the  pieces of the Master Plan; calming Monroe Drive is critical, and we also need to prepare for more development along the Beltline between Ponce and Virginia.   

Success in such fields requires successful fundraising; it’s a very important topic for all board members.  Summerfest and Tour of Homes have been extraordinarily effective over the years.  Robin Ragland’s great idea for a 2015 Tour of Homes history driving tour gave me a chance to write the pamphlet for the event which was a sell-out. Summerfest’s historically huge numbers dropped this year, and it’s time for another careful examination of the event to maintain it as one of the top festivals in the area. 

I also serve on the Preservation & History Committee, an outgrowth of the book that Karri Hobson-Pape and I wrote on the history of the neighborhood that spurred the creation of an extensive historic archive of Virginia-Highland images and documents. We are working on a second book and continue to build and digitize the neighborhood’s archives.

There’s a rich heritage of safety initiatives here; our street captain process goes back to the 1990’s.  There are a lot of variables at play regarding crime, and often the relationship between spending and measurable results is not obvious.  It was easy for VHCA to match  Councilmember Wan’s offer to pay half of the cost ($38K total, half ours) for three safety cameras on Ponce de Leon, sites selected by the Atlanta Police Foundation.  We hope the long term study the Foundation is doing on this topic will demonstrate that they are very effective as a crime tool. I’ll be very willing to examine any other safety measures that come from a robust safety committee looking at all factors resulting in crime in our neighborhood and potential solutions.

One event made this year difficult: the destruction of the Todd Cemetery Memorial. Initially access to the memorial was blocked by a fence. Our attorney researched the issue and negotiated a seemingly simple, low impact solution – and then we were stunned to learn that the monument had been destroyed. We have worked to negotiate its restoration in good faith including official mediation approaches which, while initially constructive, unfortunately achieved no helpful results in the end. Since then the board has turned the issue over to the court system and we hope a positive solution is on the horizon. As distracting and stressful as this has been, we felt that sanctioning it by walking away and hoping that someone else would take it on was not in the best interests of this neighborhood. I am thankful to have been part of a strong Board that has acted reasonably on this in coordination with the Todd family. We hope to reach an agreement to restore the monument as soon as possible.

I’ve spent 20 years actively volunteering in VaHi. My focus will be on Planning, Fundraising, and Preservation and History. If elected, I’ll be glad to spend another year helping Virginia-Highland and its residents as we continue to grow.

In closing, I urge you to get involved. If you’re not on the board, there are plenty of places where your time is needed to work beside your neighbors. With so many committees, there’s a spot for everyone and I look forward to working with anyone who wants to make Virginia-Highland better and better.


Emily_GilbertEmily Gilbert (I)

I am an attorney who graduated from Emory and Georgia State Law School and have lived in Atlanta for almost 22 years. I’ve loved Virginia-Highland since I was an undergrad and was fortunate enough to move here in December 2013. I particularly love our great mix of homes and businesses, both of which create the Virginia-Highland culture we all create and enjoy. I understand that consistent planning choices help us protect, but still appropriately evolve, our unique neighborhood. While Virginia-Highland was one of the very first intown turnaround places to be – we need to evolve as Atlanta evolves around us. I believe our board plays a vital role in managing and envisioning how Virginia-Highland can continue to cut a unique path in urban development. If we can also work with the local businesses and commercial properties proactively, we can do great things. I serve on the safety committee and think that my legal perspective can be of benefit there. I look forward to working with others in the neighborhood who have worked on safety initiatives here for years. With our diverse skill sets we should be able to propose some worthy approaches to help maintain a safe environment for all those who find themselves in Virginia-Highland – for a day’s visit or for the years it takes to raise our children here. I hope to continue to be part of the board that works to build on Virginia-Highland’s heritage to make our neighborhood better and better.


PicCivicAssoc-124x150Paige Hewell (I)

I have lived in the neighborhood on Virginia Circle for nearly two decades. A native Atlantan, I grew up in Buckhead and had little exposure to Va-Hi. I truly love our community and sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of it.  My dog, Leon, feels the same way. 

For the past 5 years, I’ve worked on the Summerfest organizing committee – from building fences to appearing in TV promos, it has been a fun and crazy ride.  It’s through my Summerfest participation that I became involved with the board of the VHCA.  I’ve served for 2 years as a board member with some of the most passionate and dedicated folks – it has been amazing. 

I look forward to continuing my involvement with both Summerfest and the board of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. 


Cindy Kaufman has been a resident of Virginia-Highland several times in her 30 years in Atlanta, finally becoming a homeowner in 2007. She served as a Tour of Homes committee member for 5 years, and has run for the VHCA board before. She is currently Director of Marketing for Interface Hospitality, and is an Interior Designer as well as experienced marketer. She is passionate about many causes, including pet rescue, access to healthy/locally-grown food, and community quality of life.


Keenan-jeniferJenifer Keenan

I am a mom, wife, lawyer, and community activist who has lived in Virginia-Highland for over thirteen years. I take great pride in our neighborhood and have been an active neighborhood advocate on the BeltLine and important neighborhood issues.

I served as the Secretary of NPU-F for 7 years and was a member of the VHCA Board for several years. My service as NPU Secretary and on the VHCA Board 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 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!

At various points over the past four years, I have served on VHCA’s Planning, Safety, Summerfest and Tour of Homes committees, and was the co-chair of the VHCA Master Plan subcommittee. In my role as the Co-Chair of the VHCA Safety Committee in 2016, I helped spearhead the effort to get funding for additional police video surveillance cameras and coordinated with the City on street and sidewalk safety issues in our neighborhood. 

I would like to make VHCA a more inclusive and transparent organization.  In particular, I would like to increase community input on projects that are funded by VHCA.  Virginia-Highland is a wonderful neighborhood.  If elected to the VHCA board in 2016-2017, I will work hard to help make it an even better place to live, work, and play.    


Catherine_LewisCatherine Lewis (I)

I have lived in Virginia-Highland since 1995, and in our house on Lanier Boulevard since 1998. I am a graduate of Emory University and have been in Atlanta since 1986. I am an incumbent, having served on the VHCA Board last year. My main role is to coordinate the renovation of the No. 19 Fire Station, which will be a key part of our activities this year. In 2015-2016, we have enjoyed a very strong board with committed leadership and there are a lot of issues that need careful, thoughtful attention. I’m happy to continue to serve with my colleagues who have done so much for our neighborhood.

In my work life, I am the Assistant Vice President of Museums, Archives & Rare Books at Kennesaw State University and the Bobby Jones Curator and Special Projects Coordinator at the Atlanta History Center.

Our family is very committed to the historic fabric of this neighborhood and hope to help it continue to grow and thrive. You will see my husband, John, and daughter, Emma on a bicycle, on foot, or on a razor scooter in the neighborhood. I would be honored to continue serve the neighborhood with this very dedicated group of friends and colleagues.


Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 4.44.27 PMSteve Messner moved to Virginia-Highland in the summer of 2007 with his partner of 19 years, Chris. He has been involved in cleanup efforts on the Beltline and with graffiti removal and takes pride in his home’s and the neighborhood’s appearance. When he’s not tending to the needs of his young patients as a pediatrician, Steve is often out biking and running on the Beltline and catching up with neighbors. If elected to the VHCA board, Steve will work to make Virginia-Highland an even more vibrant, safe and beautiful neighborhood through thoughtful planning and use of resources.

 


 

RBR-VHCARobin Ragland (I)

After joining my husband in retirement in 2006, we relocated to Virginia-Highland from Gwinnett County. We arrived just in time to enjoy our first Dogwood Festival as locals, relax with our new Elmwood neighbors at the annual street party, and volunteer for, as well as have a blast at our first Summerfest!  It quickly became apparent that a key component to keeping our neighborhood so vibrant is the continued contributions of volunteers organized and focused through the VHCA.

I’ve continued to volunteer for Summerfest each year in various capacities. In 2012, I began participating in fundraising for the neighborhood by creating items to sell from recycled Summerfest t-shirts. I organized a tree lighting event last December in N Highland Park, which was jointly hosted by VHCA and VHBA to raise money for Fire Station 19, and the APD Zone 6 Toy Drive.  We had a wonderful evening, and raffled off over $2,000 in donated gifts from our local businesses.

I joined the Tour of Homes committee in 2013 and 2014, chairing the sponsorship sub-committee; we raised over $30,000 each year.  I co-chaired the 2015 tour committee–we had record gross proceeds of $75,000 ($40,000 in sponsorships).  We also had fun adding a docent-led history tour of VaHi, and providing a shuttle service.  I am chair of the 2016 tour committee, and we’re in the midst of preparing for a great tour. Pledged sponsorships currently exceed $46,000. I’ve been successful over the last several years raising money for the neighborhood, and look forward continuing such efforts in 2017.


Debbie SDebbie Skopczynski

I have been a resident on Rupley Drive with my husband, Tom Budlong, and my 3 furry kids since 1991. For more years that I can remember, I have volunteered for Summerfest and the Tour of Homes  and have actively participated, advocated or opposed many zoning, variance and tree preservation issues. Currently, I am completing my second term as chair of NPU-F and represent the NPU on the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board (APAB) and the Outdoor Events Quality of Life Working Group initiated by Council members Alex Wan and Kwanza Hall. Previously, I served as a member of the VaHi Board in the early 90’s, NPU F Zoning Chair (2010 to 2014), NPU Chair (1996-97), and the BZA (1997-2000). Now retired, I have worked in the HR departments of The Coca-Cola Company and BellSouth/Cingular/AT&T, specializing in workforce compensation and salary analysis.

Virginia-Highland is a terrific place to live, work and play, much due to the efforts of previous VaHi boards, neighbors and business owners.  Next year, I plan to focus on sustaining what makes us great by leveraging my associations in City Hall and throughout the city on planning and development issues (especially along the Beltline),  as well as tackle the proliferation of outdoor events which are always fun, but sometimes sacrifice quality of life. In addition, I’d like to harness the tremendous amount of hidden talent available to take on VaHi projects and committees so that we have a steady stream of leaders ready to take on the future challenges of the neighborhood.


Kay_HeadShotKay Stephenson moved to Virginia-Highland in 1996 with her husband Mark Gilliland. After more than 25 years in sales, product management and marketing for tech companies, she now devotes her time to quilt design, writing, and many volunteer causes focused on parks, trees, the Beltline, pet rescue, and public safety. 

Since 2009 Kay has served as a street captain for our neighborhood watch program and handles communication for both neighborhood watch and FBAC (Virginia-Highland Security Patrol).  She has a close relationship with law enforcement and the criminal justice system and was named the 2016 CourtWatcher of the Year for Fulton County.

In addition to public safety I will focus on increasing resident and business engagement with VHCA so that we know we are investing in the projects that are most important to residents, and that yield the greatest benefit. 

Virginia-Highland is a great neighborhood. With a strong and transparent board, and with the full support of the community, we can make it even better.


Jack WhiteJack White (I)

When my then preschool daughter and I moved from Midtown to Virginia-Highland in 1984, we were the two youngest people on the half-block; I am now the oldest. My particular interests are planning, parks, and public resources, particularly stormwater and stream issues, a field in which I’ve worked for several decades. Our neighborhood schools that both my kids graduated from are pretty high on the list too.

I’m grateful for the Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s role in helping shape 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 threat then was a huge interstate highway that would have run through Orme Park with a cloverleaf exit on top of the Inman School parking lot. It seems preposterous, but it almost happened.

Two generations later, our community’s success has brought with it challenges that then seemed unimaginable; as one planner put it, we now face the threat of being loved to death. Auto traffic wasn’t an issue then; today the volume of cars, cyclists, and pedestrians challenge us every day of the week. Three decades ago it was our wits and our determination versus longstanding political forces. We’re still determined today, and we’ve added to that the ability to use professional planners and land use lawyers to help level the playing field.

This isn’t at all an academic question. Some of the ideas we’ve heard from developers for Monroe and 10th pose grave implications for the west side of our community and beyond.

An educated and involved citizenry and the Civic Association’s organizational skills in framing issues are the most important assets we have. In tandem, they can be very effective, and we’re going to need them.

As we prepare for and address these challenges, I would appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve on the Board.


Jess at 4th and SwiftJess Windham (I)

For about the last three years – even before officially moving in – I have been active with the neighborhood Civic Association, primarily through the VHCA Planning and the Master Plan creation process. My role in that process was to keep everything on the rails: organizing and communicating the public meeting schedule, sharing information and clarifying inaccuracies, coordinating the steering committee, and feeling out consensus every step of the way. 

Since the Master Plan was adopted by council, I have been focusing on the implementation of the highest priority items outlined in the Master Plan. This has involved follow up with various city departments and nonprofits. I’m excited to be part of a vibrant urban community with a rich diversity of residents and incredible history. Currently I’m also serving as ambassador between the neighborhood and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for the Atlanta Streets Alive event in September.

In terms of style, I have a diplomatic approach, a true desire to contribute, and would appreciate the opportunity to serve the neighborhood. I’d like to continue to be involved on the board so that I can support the neighborhood with broad initiatives, from master planning to fundraising for our parks. Having served on the Planning Committee, I understand the time, patience, and dedication needed to create positive changes that keep the neighborhood vibrant. Change is inevitable and the desirability of VaHi is only going to grow. I’d like to be on the board to ensure the character and quality of life in Virginia-Highland continues to get better each year.


GeorgeZirkel_WebRes_007George Zirkel 

George moved to Atlanta from New York in 2009 and lives on Rosedale Drive with his husband JD Garcia.  Prior to recently joining Transaction Network Services (TNS) as Senior Vice President and Head of Global Payment Strategy, he worked at TabbedOut, a start-up advancing hospitality mobile payments.  When he’s not exploring one of the many new restaurants or attractions in Atlanta or tending his garden, he enjoys collecting Tibetan and Himalayan art and has amassed an enviable treasure trove of unique, historic pieces. George shared these additional comments about why he’s running for the VHCA board:

A Neighborhood Association is founded on transparency, empathy and a solid representation of the broad variety of views and voices in a community.  The Association exists to listen to and serve the neighborhood in advancing the many important causes of the community.  

My goals, if elected to the VHCA Board, are to continue to work to make it a more progressive, inclusive and transparent organization.  We can do so much to build on the wonderful neighborhood we have created and the VHCA is a great vehicle from which to do that.  

First and foremost, we should solicit feedback from the community to confirm what residents view as the right priorities for the VHCA.  We can strive to improve public safety by working with and assisting the neighborhood watch system and our off-duty patrol group.  We can modernize our community and communication within Virginia-Highland using technology and social platforms that fit more easily into the busy lives our residents lead.  We can create strategies to increase community input on projects that are funded by VHCA.  We can help revitalize and strengthen the Commercial Districts and the community’s relationships with local business owners.  And while we do all of this hard work, we can make sure we have fun and create new memories with our neighbors.  

We live in Virginia-Highland because we know what a special place it is and so I would like to join the VHCA Board to help our special piece of Atlanta be the place everyone wants to live, work and play.

Share

VHCA Grant Application Deadline Approaching

By Peggy Berg, VHCA Board Member and Safety Chair

VHCA Grant & Community Gift Program

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s grant program supports not-for-profit organizations and public initiatives that benefit the Virginia-Highland community. 

Funding: In its annual budgeting process, VHCA establishes funding for the grant program. In addition, the Board may on occasion vote to provide a unique grant for a specific purpose.

Applying: Grant applications are available online at www.vahi.org and should be submitted to budget@vahi.org no later than the deadline established by the Board, which this year is August 26, 2016.

Process: VHCA grants are awarded at the discretion of the Board, which reviews all applications. Each year the budget for grants will vary based on the Board’s consideration of other VHCA commitments.

Selection Criteria: Proposed grant benefits and accomplishments should be accessible and beneficial to a wide range of citizens without regard to race, religious preference, gender, or sexual orientation. 

While exceptions may occur – permanent or long-lasting installations of publicly visible art, for example – funding is not typically considered for projects on residential or individually owned sites.

Successful applicants also meet all or some of the following criteria:

  • Promote Virginia-Highland or physically improve the public spaces of the neighborhood.
  • Support education, life-long learning, sustainability, healthy living, ecological health, art and aesthetics,  historic preservation, environment, recreation, or safety in Virginia-Highland
  • Include and demonstrate other sources of support.

Accountability and Restrictions: Unless other arrangements are made, grant and community gift recipients are expected to report on the use of the funding by May 1st of the year following the award is announced and provide specific results and (where applicable) photos.

You can view and download a copy of the VHCA grant application here.

Share

Inman, Grady Students Excel in Acedemics, Arts, Atheletics

By Susan Rose

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of The Candler Park Messenger and is reprinted with the kind permission of the author and the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization. 

As the 2015-2016 school year comes to a close, here are some highlights of student achievements since January. 

DSC_0003Inman Middle School 

The Georgia Department of Education proposed changes to the 6th grade Social Studies curriculum standards that included the elimination of the study of slavery and the Holocaust. Inman 6th grade students organized a campaign to oppose that proposal. They made posters, spoke with parents, and appeared on 11Alive news with reporter Donna Lowry. The 6th graders celebrated their efforts in April when it was announced that the study of slavery and the Holocaust would remain in the state standards.

In January, Inman Middle School principal Dr. Betsy Bockman reported that Inman was recognized for the best monthly student attendance of all APS middle schools for the previous four months.

Two 8th grade students, Jay Hammond and Issac Turner, joined Grady jazz musicians to record and release a jazz CD from which all proceeds from sales will go directly to the Inman Band program and Citizen Advocacy. The recording is available both digitally and as a physical CD.

The Inman Reading Bowl team won the APS District Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl Championship for the middle school division in February. Four students read 20 books (over 4,000 pages) and answered detailed questions to win.

Both the girls and boys basketball teams qualified for playoffs. The girls team finished the regular season with a 10 – 2 record and entered the playoffs as a top seed.  The boys squad finished the regular season 4 – 7 – 1. Both teams competed in the APS Middle School Championship at Corretta Scott King on February 6 and each team came in second place in the entire district.

The Inman Debate team won first place in the city tournament on March 5 at Emory University. The Inman Math team won the gold medal in the APS Middle School Math Competition held at King Middle School in March.

Inman 7th grader Lauren Silcock won first place in her age division in the National Carol Marsh Mystery Writing Contest for her story A Beautiful Scent which was recognized for creativity and exceptional writing.

The Inman girls track team placed 2nd in the city at a meet in early April. Nkoiva Dawson won 1st place in the long jump and the high jump.  Nikita Laye placed 2nd in the high jump. Lindsay Schroeder won 1st place in the mile and 2nd place in the 800m. Emily Sands placed 2nd in the mile, and Ameah Richardson won 2nd place in the 400m. The boys 4×4 team (Zaire Thornton, Jehdia Hosley, Jackson Sexton and Justin Wilborn) placed 2nd.  Justin Wilborn won 1st place in the 400m and the long jump.

The Inman Art team won the rain barrel art contest at the Dogwood Arts Festival in April. The Chattahoochee River Keepers who sponsored the contest awarded the team a trip on the Chattahoochee River Keepers floating classroom.

The Girls Lacrosse team finished the season with two wins against Marist and Pace, closing the season 8 – 2. The team is ranked 2nd in the South Division and is advancing to the playoffs on April 30.

The Boys Lacrosse team defeated St. Pius for the first time in almost 3 years.The Inman tennis team beat Carrollton Middle School on April 10 as the boys won 9-6 and the girls won 7-4. On April 13 the team split against Woodward Academy as the boys lost 2 – 10 and the girls won 6 – 5. The girls team won all matches against Paidea on April 14.

The Inman Golf team had a record number of players, 14, this season and included the first two girl players in recent memory. The team finished with 4 wins and 4 losses, including an 8th place finish in the Sutton Invitational, the unofficial State Middle School Golf Tournament, on April 23. The team was undefeated on its home course, Candler Park Golf Course, with tournament victories over Sutton Middle School and Drew Charter Middle School.

Henry_W_Grady_High_School_AtlantaGrady High School

Grady student Clarrissa Mullig’s play, In and Out, from last year’s Grady Writing Center playwriting workshop, was chosen out of thirty entries to be used at the Georgia Thespian Conference Playworks program.

In December, the Grady JROTC cadets won one 1st place, two 2nd place and two 3rd place trophies at the JROTC Christmas Invitational Drill Meet.

The Grady Knights swim team won the City Championship Title with a score of 1,421.6 to 1,221.5 as the regular season concluded. The girls team received the 1st place trophy with a score of 768 as they placed 1st in every event they entered. The boys team won the 2nd place trophy.

Grady sent 19 swimmers to the Georgia High School State Swimming Championships on February 5 at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.  Two swimmers qualified for finals. Melissa Brown placed 3rd in the 50 Free and 16th in the 100 Free. Justin Cucchi placed 15th in the 200IM and 12th in the 100 Back, which represents the highest placements in Grady history.

Congratulations to the Grady Mock Trial team on its 18th consecutive win at the Georgia State High School Mock Trial Regional Competition. Six team members won individual awards such as best witness and best attorney. The team proceeded to the state championship on March 19 and finished in the final four. Grady had not qualified for the state championship since 2013. Several team members won individual awards.

As of April 10, the Grady boys lacrosse team was undefeated with eight consecutive wins. The team has 30 players, which is the largest roster ever. Grady aims to be a “lacrosse powerhouse.” Grady Senior Mack Hodges will be recognized as one of four finalists for the 2016 Georgia Poet Laureate’s Prize. The Governor, First Lady of Georgia and the Poet Laureate will officiate a ceremony at the State Capitol on May 12. 

Seventeen Grady High School juniors have met the requirements for the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program. These students will be recognized in the fall and have the opportunity to compete for 7,400 National Merit Scholarships to be offered in 2017. To qualify for this recognition, these students were among the 50,000 highest-scoring performers on the PSAT/NMSQT test among 1.5 million program entrants nationwide.

Share

Alex Wan’s Latest Newsletter Anticipates Piedmont Traffic Resolution at New Development in 2-3 Weeks

by Stephen Cohen

In his latest newsletter, Alex Wan notes that many of you have contacted his office regarding the lane configuration on Piedmont Road in front of the Modera Morningside/Sprouts development. He goes on to say, “I share everyone’s frustration with the traffic situation that the construction has created, and we have been in close contact with both the developer and the city’s Transportation Department throughout this project regarding this matter.”

Alex states that he is hopeful that once the construction is completed – which the developer anticipates will be within the next two to three weeks – the final Piedmont Road lane configuration will alleviate the congestion that is currently occurring in that section of Piedmont.

For more details, and for other articles in Alex’s newsletter, click here. These articles include:

  • City Council Approves New Intergovernmental Agreement with Atlanta Public Schools
  • ‘A CHaRMing Evening’ – Thursday, March 10th!
  • Modera Morningside / Sprouts Traffic Configuration
  • Curbside Glass Recycling Update
  • APD Hiring Police Officers

Stephen Cohen is Editor of the Voice.

Share

2015 VaHi Tour of Homes

The 2015 Tour of Homes is set for the first weekend in December, Saturday and Sunday the 5th and 6th.

Our line-up features six incredible homes and an historic tour of the neighborhood via an electric car. Each home is uniquely designed and decorated and represents the charming characteristics of our Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

One of the highlights of the Tour remains the delicious food tastings served in each home. Local favorites like Marlow’s Tavern, Murphy’s, Highland Tap, Fontaine’s, Atkins Park, and San Francisco Coffee are back. New this year: Savi Provisions and The Cook’s Warehouse.

To make the Tour more festive this year, we are very excited to have the Grady High School Chorus and Jazz Band, the SPARK choir, KNOCK Music House, the Virginia-Highland Church, City Church East, and Grace Lutheran performing live holiday music and carols throughout our community streets, restaurants and shops.

Each year the Tour just keeps getting bigger and better. So many people make this fundraising event possible in order to improve the quality of life in our community. The funds raised by the Tour of Homes go to support various projects in our neighborhood, including playground/park improvements, sidewalks, safety, traffic concerns, planning and preservation and other community efforts.

So far, 2015 ToH has raised $40,000 in sponsorships alone. This does not include tickets sales. Hopefully, Mother Nature will provide the clear skies and perfect temps to bring out tour goers. We know businesses and residents will give them a warm welcome.

Please visit our special Tour of Homes website for more detailed information on the times, the homes, the sponsors and the restaurants. There’s a map of the tour and some “teaser” pictures of our featured homes. You can purchase tickets on the website, as well.  Also follow us on Facebook for many opportunities to win gift certificates and free tickets.

This is a great weekend to kick off the holidays. TOUR, EAT and SHOP in the charming neighborhood we all call home. Remember, ToH tickets make great gifts, day dates, girls’ trips and family memories!

Hope to see you all out & about!

Share

It’s Time for Caroling in Orme Park!

by Stephen Cohen

For several years now, neighbors have gathered around the “Christmas Critter Tree” in Orme Park on a Sunday evening to drink hot chocolate and sing carols. It’s especially magical for the children, who sit in a circle around the tree in the dusk while the adults stand behind them, and everyone sings.

The event is organized by Friends of Orme Park.

This year, the caroling is at 6:00 pm on Sunday, December 6 in Orme Park in the picnic/playground area. Bring a dessert to share. Friends of Orme Park will provide the hot chocolate.  After a short period of greeting neighbors and snacking on desserts, singing should start by 6:15.

Song Sheets
In previous years, printed song sheets have been used (which usually run out due to the growing number of attendees, and which require flashlights in the dusk). This year, however, the caroling event has gone digital! In the attached flyer, there is a link to a Google doc that will bring up the songs on your smartphone or tablet–which, of course, is backlit!

Here is a link to the flyer that contains the Google doc link and other information.

And here is a link for just the song sheet embedded in the flyer. Bring your smartphone, or, if you are really old-fashioned, print out the songsheet and bring it with you to read by flashlight–or to shine a light on it via a flashlight app on your smartphone.

Decorating the Critter Tree
Saturday we will decorate the Critter Tree – bring your little ones to decorate the tree with wildlife friendly ornaments from 10 to 11 am – fun crafts!

Stephen Cohen is the editor of the Voice.

Share

5th Annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on Sat, Dec 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership invites all fitness levels to participate in the 5th Annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on Saturday, December 5th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Proceeds from the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K will benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, the nonprofit organization committed to raising funds to support the Atlanta BeltLine and working with neighborhoods, community organizations, faith organizations, businesses and other groups to raise general awareness and broad-based support for the Atlanta BeltLine.

The Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K is a Peachtree Road Race qualifier and will also provide challenges to attendees showcasing the most spirit throughout the day. For the neighborhood challenge, register at BeltLine.org/races and form your neighborhood team or join the team if it already exists. Register for the race, communicate with your neighborhood and show your spirit! There are 3 ways to win cash prizes: be the fastest, the largest or the most spirited. Winning teams will be announced at the end of the race, must be present to win.

For full details: https://vahi.org/?p=13982

Photo courtesy beltline.org via Googke images.

Share

NPU Vote of Importance at VaHi Church this Monday Night, Nov 16

by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Planning Committee

Tomorrow night (Monday, November 16th), our local Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU-F) will meet at the Virginia-Highland Church opposite Inman Middle School for a vote on a proposed rezoning off Cheshire Bridge road in the neighborhood of Lindridge/Martin Manor (LMM). The vote will be held between 8:00 and 8:30 PM.  (Try to get there at 7:30 to sign in.) We ask that you read and consider what follows and oppose this rezoning.  (Proof of residence – a government ID or local utility bill indicating your residence in Virginia-Highland – will be needed.)

WHY THIS MATTERS  (Please bear with the alphabet soup.)

What’s proposed?
This is an attempt by Pulte Homes to rezone 17 single-family residences they have under contract on Elizabeth Ann Lane, a small cul-de-sac a block off the Cheshire Bridge/Sheridan intersection. If their rezoning request is successful, they will tear those houses down and build 89 townhomes.

It’s not in our neighborhood; how can it matter?

This proposal conflicts massively with NPU-F’s Comprehensive Development Plan (the CDP), which each neighborhood creates and revises regularly.  (NPU-F’s next major review will occur next year.)

Why does the CDP matter?

NPU-F’s CDP is the city’s master zoning and land use document.  Our recently-passed Master Plan had no conflicts with the CDP. The CDP is approved by City Council and is part of the code.  It is the basic document that guides the City of Atlanta Planning Department.

Rezonings do occur from time to time; they’re typically small changes with minimal impacts and implications. This rezoning is a very large and will have large impacts well beyond this street.

Major rezoning should be accompanied by serious independent planning studies that allow the larger community to understand and prepare for overall impacts and results.

Why is the rezoning bad for Lindridge/Martin Manor?

Pulte met with the NPU-F Zoning Committee a month ago and promised to return to the NPU-F Zoning Committee with a revised proposal that addressed many of the challenges that Lindridge/Martin Manor identified.  Instead they did not return to the neighborhood and went forward in the process for approval of the existing plan.  We were at the meeting and heard their promises. This was not anticipated by anyone, and it caught Lindridge/Martin Manor by surprise.

Lindridge/Martin Manor has several very specific arguments, and they are listed in their position paper below.  The Virginia-Highland Civic Association has several other problems with the rezoning proposal.

Why is this rezoning problematic for VaHi?

This CDP has a macro component in its approach to planning issues.  It examines overall land use, transportation (automobile, cycling, walking) impacts and alternatives, development trends, and impacts on nearby neighbors – i.e., it tries to be comprehensive. No plan solves all these problems, but a good plan anticipates and minimizes them.

If the homeowners are willing to sell, why shouldn’t this go forward?

It may be a good financial deal for those homeowners. That is their decision, and anyone can appreciate a slightly higher price.  But the way this process is being handled sets a very bad precedent for this NPU and treats the CDP as a minor position paper rather than a major planning document.

We are not suggesting that major rezonings can never occur; we are saying that major rezonings require thorough independent planning evaluations that take into account the impacts to the entire neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Is there a recent parallel in the NPU?

Last fall NPU-F opposed a similar attempt to rezone the Oak Knoll Apartments, just south of Fat Matt’s on Piedmont.  Our position then was identical; major conflicts with the CDP needed to be preceded by an independent study of large issues and should not occur merely for the convenience of the developer.

(In that instance, the NPUs recommendation of denial was followed by a compromise that was acceptable to the developer and was not inconsistent with the CDP.)

Has it applied recently in VaHi?

Yes, empathically yes. The CDP was the anchor of the recent initial discussions about the contemplated re-development at Monroe and 10th.  At the landowners’ request, those discussions are on hold, but our approach there was exactly the same; large-scale changes should be accompanied by proportionate planning studies that anticipate and prepare for outcomes beyond the borders of the development.  That future discussion will be very different if the CDP is casually changed in NPU-F.  There is no precedent for that, and it is one of the most important reasons we need to recommend denial of this proposal.

Is this just blind opposition to higher-density development by a bunch of NIMBY neighbors?

It is not; higher density development is a part of the future for all.  But it should occur in the places where neighborhoods and NPU have carefully studied and approved it.  That’s because there are significant repercussions to consider with increased density. It should occur in places that have, or will have in the near future, the infrastructure to handle all that comes with density – increased traffic, stormwater concerns, implications for adjacent properties and more.

This is not an impractical or unreasonable expectation; it was the process used in the BeltLine Subarea 6 Plan.

We hope to see you at the VaHi Church tomorrow night, where this will be discussed (beginning at 7:30) and voted upon between 8 and 8:30 PM.

APPENDIX
Lindridge Martin Manor (LMM) Neighborhood Association Board of Directors statement about Z-15-050 (Sheridan Road/Elizabeth Ann Lane Rezoning):

It has been a longstanding policy of LMMNA and NPU-F to preserve and protect the single family R-4 zoned properties in our neighborhoods (4 houses to an acre).

The upzoning from the existing R-4 zoning category to MR-3 that Pulte is requesting has never occurred in LMM and NPU-F.

Equally troubling, is the assemblage of an entire single family neighborhood.  Allowing this to happen on Elizabeth Ann Lane/Sheridan Road creates enormous pressure on other areas in LMM, and NPU-F generally, and threatens the long term character and stability of our intown neighborhoods.

The City’s long term Comprehensive Development Plan calls for the Elizabeth Ann Lane area to remain at the current density ratio. It has never been contemplated that this area would be redeveloped at the higher densities proposed by Pulte.

The Sheridan Road/Cheshire Bridge Road area already suffers from extreme traffic congestion.  The redevelopment proposed by Pulte will make a bad situation far worse.

Although Pulte categorizes its proposal as “single family” because the 89 townhomes are intended to be occupied by individual families, the density of their proposal moves it far outside of the existing single-family density.

The existing Sheridan Road/Elizabeth Ann Lane neighborhood consists of 18 homes. Under the existing zoning the required minimum lot size is 9,000 square feet with a minimum street frontage of 70’ wide and a density ratio of .50 (50%).

Pulte’s proposal is for a multi-family zoning category (MR3) that permits 89 townhomes and a density ratio of .696 (approximately 70%)

There is a reasonable alternative, consistent with the existing single family density that would permit the residents of Elizabeth Ann Lane/Sheridan Road to sell, allow redevelopment of the existing housing stock and preserve the current single-family density ratio of .50 but allow up to 35 homes, nearly double the existing number.

This alternative would involve a rezoning to the PD-H category is consistent with other redevelopments and rezonings along Sheridan Road in the last several years and preserves the existing density of the neighborhood.

LMM is the most vulnerable of the four NPU-F neighborhoods to this type of assemblage and upzoning. If this proposal succeeds, it will be extremely difficult in the long term for LMM to prevent similar proposals in other areas of the neighborhood.  This will ultimately lead to the loss of significant parts of the Lindridge Martin Manor neighborhood.

Share

Don’t Miss the Santa Speedo Run

by Stephen Cohen

It’s the most hilarious run of the year – the Atlanta Santa Speedo Run, a charity event that began in 2009 and is now entering its 7th year. This year, the run is raising money for BlazeSports, and it has a goal of $100,000.

I stumbled upon it one December, a few years back, when I was walking along North Highland. I watched with delighted amazement, as did many others who happened to be walking by. It was absolutely priceless, both for the runners and the spectators. Not to be missed!

In 2015, the Atlanta Santa Speedo Run is excited not only to be back on North Highland, but also to be hosting the event at Manuel’s Tavern — just before it closes for renovations.

So please join them at 2:00 PM on Saturday, December 12, 2015 at Manuel’s at 602 N Highland Ave NE. The course is 1.5 miles, and runs along North Highland from Manuel’s to Highland View and back.

For registration information, event history, and a gallery of very amusing photos from past years, visit the Atlanta Speedo Run website.

Share

Volunteer Opportunity – Plant 150 Trees in VaHi and Morningside, Sat Nov 14

We have a volunteer opportunity to add 150 trees to our neighborhood on Saturday, November 14th (9-11am). 175 volunteers are needed to achieve this goal!

Boy Scouts of America Cub Scout Pack #17, along with the Morningside and Virginia-Highland communities and Trees Atlanta, will be planting and mulching over 150 trees in both neighborhoods. This is the 3rd consecutive year both communities have collaborated to plant & mulch new trees.

Three planting locations will be set up with tools, trees, and mulch on Saturday Nov. 14th from 9-11am. We need your hearts and muscles to make it happen!

Contact: Pierce Pape – Cub Master, Cub Scout Pack 17: pack17scouting@gmail.com

Click here for further information and to sign up online.

Share

Tour of Homes Giveaways from Local Businesses

by Robin Ragland

Do you follow the Tour of Homes on Facebook?  Many people have discovered a wonderful facet of the Tour that’s been growing in popularity since its inception last year–giveaways from many of our sponsors.

Free tickets for the tour as well as a number of gift certificates for local businesses will be given away via the Tour’s Facebook page up until the weekend of the tour.  For example, win tickets or a gift certificate from Fit: To Be and Bla Bla Kids within the next couple of weeks.

Other giveaways include gift certificates to restaurants such as Murphy’s, Marlow’s Tavern, Highland Tap, Fontaine’s, and Diesel Filling Station.  Don’t miss out on a chance to win certificates to local businesses such as 310 Rosemont, Dakota J’s, The Great Frame-Up, and more! Here’s a link to the entire giveaway schedule–the sooner you starting following along, the more chances you have to win!

Virginia-Highland History Tour

Remember we’ve added a docent-led historical tour of the neighborhood to this year’s tour. The authors of Images of America: Virginia-Highland have planned this special tour.  Virginia-Highland is on the National Register of Historic Places and filled with great architecture and stories. Don’t miss this special opportunity to learn about its development and those who made it such a treasure. Advance ticket purchase required to sign up for the tour.

Oh – and look who’s flocking to the neighborhood for the Tour of Homes! You may see some of these flocks in various gardens around the neighborhood! Hopefully you’ll enjoy our bit of whimsy as we remind everyone it’s tour time.

Please visit our special Tour of Homes website for more detailed information on the times, the homes, the sponsors and the restaurants. Click here for information on purchasing a ticket.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee.

Share

Volunteers Needed for 2015 Tour of Homes

by Eleanor Barrineau

One of the most helpful things you can do for your neighborhood is to volunteer at the Tour of Homes. It benefits you, too – for the Tour of Homes, you get two free tickets for working one shift in one of our beautiful neighborhood homes. And it’s a great opportunity to meet other neighbors who will be working along with you.

Our Tour is coming up on December 5th and 6th. Thanks to those neighbors who have already signed up, but we still need more volunteers.

Signing up to volunteer is easy – go to vahitourofhomes.org/volunteer and click on the blue VolunteerSpot button.  We especially need volunteers for the afternoon shifts and for Sunday.  Volunteers who are working later shifts can pick up their tickets at John Howell Park any time during Tour hours Saturday and Sunday and can go on the Tour before their shift.

If you can’t volunteer, be sure to buy tickets and encourage your friends and neighbors to do so.  Our combination of wonderful homes and delicious food tastings is unique!  Tickets are available at www.vahitourofhomes.org.

Eleanor Barrineau is the VaHi Tour of Homes Volunteer Coordinator.

Share

Residential Overlay Zoning Exploration Continues

by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Planning Committee

The exploration of Residential Overlay Zoning for Virginia-Highland came about as a direct result of the Master Plan process. One of the top concerns of residents expressed was the impact that teardowns and rebuilds present in the redevelopment of our residential areas. You can download a copy of the Master Plan. In particular, see sections (#4.6 on page 98).

What is residential overlay zoning?

Residential overlay zoning makes existing codes more neighborhood-specific.  It is very specifically not historic district regulation. It can apply to both new construction and renovation.

What types of things would overlay zoning regulate?

Among the most common factors residents have identified are what designers call mass and scale, issues that often arise due to the relatively small size of this neighborhood’s R-4 (residential) lots.  This city’s current zoning was written three and a half decades ago; it was an improvement over what preceded it, but (among many challenges) it does not acknowledge the vast differences in the size of R-4 lots.  Structures that average 35’ high with 50% lot coverage can feel very different on a small lot than on a large one.  Relatively straightforward features like front porches, door placement, and garage siting (for example) can be the type of elements considered when approaching overlay zoning.

How would overlay zoning be enforced?

The process for residential overlay zoning functions much like existing zoning processes.  In some cases, it might lead to less process than what we have now. For example, many residents currently go through a variance process to create a second floor within the footprint of their existing home. While these are routinely approved by the city, the process itself can be expensive and add two to three months to the renovation process.  The residential overlay zoning could be created in a way that allows certain routinely-approved renovations wholly within the existing footprint to proceed without a variance, saving a bunch of time.

There are other less obvious examples too.  Builders of brand new homes are today rather ironically incentivized to follow the setback rules precisely to avoid the variance process, even when the result is a structure whose dimensions and placement do not resemble those of nearby houses in any way.  The purpose and importance of setbacks are obvious, and they will not be abandoned.  But can the letter of the law be written in a fashion that rewards and incentivizes renovations or new homes that fit in with existing conditions far better than they often do today?  It’s worth a look.

A variance process will always exist (as it does now) to address unusual or specific needs or hardships.

Your opinions and ideas are needed

As was the case with the Master Plan process, there will be varied and numerous opportunities for residents to help fashion and evaluate any new ideas. We want to hear from as many of you as possible. We’ve all had experiences with redevelopment, and all those unique perspectives will help us come up with new ideas and decide if they have value. As ideas begin to take shape, we’ll share them in ways that are easy to evaluate – providing graphics and rationales.

What to expect next

We want to keep moving, but the busy holiday season is upon us.  The first round of input will probably be electronic. With the help of our consultants, we’re creating a website that provides explanations, examples and a method for initial reactions.  The ideas you’ll see online are the result of resident input and recent sessions with local architects and builders. We’ll also include ways for you to provide any and all your ideas and insights on the site. There will be a number of public meetings open to all as the process proceeds.

Thanks for your interest. As always, if you have questions about development in the neighborhood please reach out to the Virginia-Highland Planning Committee at planning@vahi.org

{For more information please see previous article about the ongoing Residential Overlay Zoning exploration. As the process develops, we’ll continue to update you through the Voice and through a website the consultants are slowly putting together.}

Share

2015 Inman Middle Frosty 5K returns on December 12

You’re invited to run – in Virginia-Highland and along the Beltline – to benefit Inman Middle School students and teachers. Experienced runners, beginners, and families are welcome.

Early registration is $25, ‘day of’ registration is $30. Check-in and number distribution begin at 8:00 AM at Inman on Virginia Avenue.

The race begins at 9 AM at the school and goes down the Beltline from Piedmont Park to the Old Fourth Ward Skate Park and back. Click here to view a map of the course route.

Click here for more information or to register.

Share

New Virginia-Highland House Number Signs

by Lola Carlisle and Peggy Berg

Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) announces custom house numbers designed for Virginia-Highland. Signs are available to order here.

You can see examples of two of the new sign models at 899 Arlington Place and 1105 Rosedale Drive. The signs use elements of the latest Virginia-Highland logo and are the result of artistic collaboration between the sign makers and the logo designers.

Identifying your house with its number is an important safety concern – it helps emergency services like Police, Fire Department and Emergency Medical find your house. It also helps your friends and colleagues arrive on time for dinner parties.

The signs are made to order and we place orders in batches. Payment is needed in advance, and we will have the signs made as soon as the minimum order is reached. Of course, if we don’t reach the minimum order, your money is refundable.

The signs were showcased at Summerfest and we even noticed interest from folks in other neighborhoods, which we welcome of course. Some are purchasing signs as gifts as well.

Several folks worked on the project, including Peggy Berg, Ernest Lessinger, Brandon Patterson, Angelika Taylor and Lola Carlisle.

Lola Carlisle and Peggy Berg are VHCA Board Members.

Share

Community Grants and Spark Choir Highlight 2015 VHCA Annual General Meeting

by Jack White

The 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association was held on Thursday, September 17 at the Inman Middle School cafeteria. A variety of messages and welcomes were furnished by elected officials and their representatives, Board members were elected (you may see them and a list of officers here) and community grants were presented (more on that in a moment).

For the fourth year in a row, the evening began with a lovely and moving performance by the Springdale Park Advanced Chorus, led by Music Director Brianne Turgeon. First on the agenda and first in our hearts, the choir did a lovely presentation of half-dozen songs.  You can hear them on the meeting video here, but nothing compares to hearing them in person.  Their presence alone makes the attending the meeting worthwhile.

The business portion of the meeting may be viewed here.

Over $27,000 in community grants were presented.  Each of our three public schools got $4100 for a variety of programs – PTO support at Spark, the Girls in Engineering, Science, Math program at Inman, college counseling and theater improvements at Grady, among others.  Nonprofits and public institutions who play a major role in improving the quality of life – Trees Atlanta, PEDS, and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition – got grants, along with a donation to the Ponce de Leon library (one of the system’s busiest), which has suffered funding cuts in the last few years.  It is a pleasure to be able to support so many people who are working for the public good in this community.

All these donations were raised through the efforts of citizens in projects organized by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, primarily Summerfest and Tour of Homes.   A full list of this year’s grants – and those of the last decade, totaling over a quarter-million dollars – may be found here.   They are a very tangible manifestation of the extraordinary volunteer efforts in this community, one that we can all be proud of.

Jack White is a Board Member and President of VHCA. 

Share

Latest Safety Report

by Peggy Berg and Jack White

Here is the latest snapshot of key statistics through August, 2015.

Reports for prior months are also available here.

APD Deputy Chief Joseph Spillane and Zone 6 Commander Timothy Peek spoke extensively about crime and APD responses to it at the October VHCA meeting. They were the evening’s first speakers; you may hear them here:

October 12, 2015: Monthly Meeting Minutes Part 1, Part 2.
Peggy Berg and Jack White are VHCA Board Members.

Share

SPARK Kids Preparing for October 30 Fun Run

by Sara Zeigler

Once a year, SPARK students solicit donations for the PTO as part of SPARK’s Fun Run. This year’s Fun Run will be held on October 30, 2015 on the Springdale Park Elementary campus. Funds raised through the Fun Run will support a number of programs and other learning enhancements, such as writing coaching, professional development opportunities for teachers, and numerous reading and math digital curriculum tools. These curriculum resources are essential to the SPARK faculty and without the PTO’s assistance, would not be available to the students. APS does not provide for the necessary curriculum resources.

There is no door-to-door selling or delivering of products with Fun Run. Students simply gather pledges from friends, family and neighbors. Sponsors will pledge a per-lap amount or a flat donation amount towards their student. Students will typically run 30 laps (2 miles) with a lap cap of 36 at the Fun Run. Per-lap pledges will be multiplied by the number of laps run by their sponsored student, typically 30 laps or $30 for each $1 pledged per-lap. SPARK is a school that focuses on Wellness.  Parents, teachers and the students love that the Fun Run promotes physical activity and makes it easy to raise critical funds for our school.

SPARK will kick off our fundraising effort seeking pledges or flat donations for the Fun Run on Friday, October 16th.  Students will be seeking pledges and we want to encourage openness/receptivity of the neighbors to students asking for their support. Maybe even a neighbor offering to sponsor their SPARK student next door!

Also, anyone who wants to just make a donation to SPARK  can click here to pledge donations for SPARK.

Please help us raise needed curriculum funds for SPARK and keep this neighborhood gem shining brightly!

Sara Zeigler is on the SPARK PTO and is leading the Fun Run event

Share

Trick-or-Treat in VaHi for UNICEF (Knock Music House)

by Amy Harward

As you make your Halloween plans, consider participating in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. It’s so easy and so rewarding, as this clip shows.

For the trick-or-treaters: Stop by Knock Music House before Halloween to pick up your Trick-or-Treat collection boxes. On Halloween, trick-or-treat for candy AND coins! Then you can either bring your donations back to Knock Music House to be submitted on your behalf, or you can submit your donation yourself. Easy!

For the candy givers: be prepared for our Intown kids by having your coins (and dollars!) waiting by your candy bowl.

Everyone: Spread the word! There will be plenty of boxes. The more kids participating, the better.

UNICEF is a great way for kids to help kids around the world. Trick-or-treating can be about more than just candy; it can be a time for us to teach our kids about charity and being good global citizens.

This Halloween, wouldn’t it be amazing if our Intown kids, armed with their UNICEF boxes, collected more than just candy? Can you imagine the good we could do?

Visit unicefusa.org/trick-or-treat for more information and resources.

Visit KnockMusicHouse.com for pick-up location and directions.

Amy Harward is a Virginia-Highland parent coordinating the UNICEF Trick-or-Treat drive for Knock Music House.

Share

VHCA Board and General Meeting

This is the monthly combined Board and General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. The public is invited to attend. Note: The October 12, 2015 meeting will be held at the Church of Our Saviour on N. Highland Ave. across from Fire Station #19 due to holiday closure of the public library.

Meetings are generally held on the second Monday of each month, 7:00 PM, at the public library located at 980 Ponce de Leon Ave. If the public library is not available, the meeting is generally relocated to the Church of Our Saviour on N. Highland Avenue, across the street from the fire house. Meeting relocations will be listed here and also communicated to the neighborhood via social media.

 

Share

VHCA Monthly Planning Meeting

The VHCA Planning Committee meets with residents seeking zoning variance requests to discuss the impact of the variance on neighboring properties. Approval or denial recommendations are then made for consideration by the VHCA’s full board of directors.

Meetings are held at 7 PM on the Wednesday before the second Monday of every month at the Church of Our Saviour, 1068 N. Highland Ave. (across from the fire station).

Share

Plant Swap on Elkmont Drive

Start Planning Your Spring Garden Now: Plant Swap on Oct 3

By Alice Gepp

My next door neighbor with whom I share a driveway, Sabrina Serafin, and I are hosting a plant swap on October 3rd from 11:00 to 4:00 at 684 Elkmont Drive NE, near the west end of Orme Park.

It will a fun day and we would love to have you come by at some point during the day!  It will just be a fun community gathering and we’d love see you.

We got this idea from a neighbor’s church bulletin that had a Midtown plant swap, so we thought we’d do one here for our area.

More details here.

Share

Inman Middle School LSC Meeting

The Local School Council (LSC) for Inman Middle School is a collaborative group of parents, teachers, and business partners, whose purpose is to advise and make recommendations to the principal, local board of education and local school superintendent on matters relating to school improvement and student achievement.

The establishment of school councils, under Georgia’s A+ Education Reform Act of 2000, is intended to help local boards of education by bringing parents and the community together with teachers and school administrators to create better understanding and mutual respect for each other’s concerns.

The Inman LSC generally meets on the third Monday of every month at 4:15 PM in the Media Center. Meetings are open to all members of the Inman community.
You may contact the Local School Council at LSC@inmanmiddleschool.org.

 

 

Share

VHCA Street Captain Meeting

The annual Virginia-Highland Street Captain meeting will be held Saturday morning September 19th from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon at Church of Our Savior church on N. Highland. Entrance to the hall is from Los Angeles. We will meet and greet from 9:40 and begin the meeting at 10:00.

This is an excellent opportunity for new street captains to learn from those who have been doing the job for many years, or for anyone interested in public safety to learn about our neighborhood watch program. All residents and businesses are welcome to attend. This year’s speakers will include Danielle Simpson to speak about Citizen’s CourtWatch, and Chad Gurley, APD detective to answer questions about his perspective on crime as a resident of the neighborhood.

Share

VHCA Annual Meeting Election Results

Here are the results of the Board of Directors vote taken at last night’s Annual General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. The 2015-16 members of the VHCA Board of Directors are:

Peggy Berg
David Brandenberger
Lola Carlisle
Lauren Wilkes Fralick
Paige Hewell
Jenifer Keenan
Catherine Lewis
Jenifer Keenan
Robin Ragland
Angelika Taylor (alternate)
Jack White
Jess Windham
Thanks to the residents who came out to this important annual meeting.
Here is the video:
September 17, 2015: Annual General Meeting Minutes – Business Meeting and Spark Elementary Choir Performance
Share

Pink Barre Opening Event to Benefit North Highland Park

One of Atlanta’s top barre studios will be opening its fifth location in Virginia Highland at the intersection of Virginia and North Highland Avenue, with plans to open its doors sometime early this fall.

If you’re interested in learning more about Pink Barre and barre fitness, join Tara Joiner, the founder, for two free demo classes on 9/18 and 10/2 at 9:30am at the North Highland Park located at the corner of St. Charles and North Highland.

Barre is a high-intensity, low-impact workout that sculpts and tones the body using low-impact, high-intensity exercises.

Please bring your yoga mat and water!  Suggested donation of $15 will benefit future maintenance in beautifying this park! Reserve your mat by emailing studio@pink-barre.com.

Let’s pack the park and support greenspace preservation in VaHi!  For more information, please visit www.pink-barre.com or www.facebook.com/pinkbarrevahi.

Share

VHCA Street Captain Meeting Sat Sep 19

by Peggy Berg and Eleanor Barrineau

The annual Virginia-Highland Street Captain meeting will be held Saturday morning September 19th from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon at Church of Our Savior church on N. Highland. Entrance to the hall is from Los Angeles. We will meet and greet from 9:40 and begin the meeting at 10:00.

This is an excellent opportunity for new street captains to learn from those who have been doing the job for many years, or for anyone interested in public safety to learn about our neighborhood watch program. All residents and businesses are welcome to attend. This year’s speakers will include Danielle Simpson to speak about Citizen’s CourtWatch, and Chad Gurley, APD detective to answer questions about his perspective on crime as a resident of the neighborhood.

Peggy Berg is a VHCA Board Member and she chairs the Safety Committee. Eleanor Barrineau, a long-time resident, is on the VHCA Safety Committee.

Share

Streets Alive Returns on Sept. 27 (N. Highland Closed South of Virginia)

By Jess Windham

Atlanta Streets Alive returns to North Highland Avenue on Sunday, Sept. 27th from 2:00 pm-6:00 pm. Road closures begin at 1:00 pm and end at 7:30 pm.

North Highland, Boulevard, and North Ave will again host this popular event. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and its partners will close the streets to cars and create a space for people-powered transportation, with fun activities for all ages and spaces to engage in a healthy way with your surrounding community.

With over 100,000 people attending in 2014, this event enables us to re-imagine our streets and the way we get around town. Bring your bicycle or just your feet, and get ready to explore your community streets in a safer, healthier, more livable way.

Here is an overview of Streets Alive.

Here is a link specific to the street closings on September 27.

Jess Windham is on the VHCA Board and Planning Committee.

Share

Tea or High Tea: A Visit to Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary

By Peggy Berg
Tea or High Tea? Yes, please!

Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary offers tea and high tea, and there is a difference.

Tea is that lovely beverage you sip hot or cold. Tipple + Rose has 84 varieties and there is a menu with details like ingredients and caffeine levels, plus there is a sniff-bar to give you a preview before you make your final choice. Seasonal teas will be a coming attraction, and chai will be a unique house blend made on site. A special hot water machine adjusts the temperature to optimize the flavor of each individual tea. And all teas can be iced. Tea is available to take home, sit and sip, or enjoy with a scone, slice of cake, or sandwich.

High tea is a ritual: it’s a cultured midday offering of special savories, like cucumber tea sandwiches, quiche, scones with clotted cream and lemon curd.  An assortment of treats comes on a 3-tiered cake stand and is served with tea. For occasions when you want to savor high tea, Tipple and Rose serves from 2:30 to 5:30, but reservations are required. They need a little notice to make all those delectable bites fresh.

Whether you come for tea or high tea, the scones are homemade and delicious. An assortment of cakes from Southern Sweets is ready to serve by the slice for dessert or after theater. Quiches and sandwiches are also homemade and offered for brunch and lunch. Breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon delights, and evening dessert are available. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm.

The Apothecary aspect of the shop includes special bath and tea items and vintage mercantile. Doria calls it comestible gifting, so enjoy for gifts or indulgence.

The proprietors of Tipple and Rose, Doria Roberts (pictured) and Calavino Donati, met in Virginia-Highland and are delighted to have moved back into the neighborhood recently to live and build their new business. Meet Doria as she talks about the essential ingredients for an ideal neighborhood store on TEDX.

Tipple and Rose Tea Parlor 806 North Highland Avenue near Greenwood; 678.705.7995

Peggy Berg is a VHCA Board Member.

Share

Virginia-Highland Business Owner Meet & Greet

The Virginia-Highland Business Association (VHBA) is holding a Meet & Greet for the Virginia-Highland business community on September 22 at Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar. Whether you’re a already a member or interested in hearing more about VHBA, we’d love to see you. We’ll also talk about opportunities to showcase your local business.

Join us for coffee on Tuesday, September 22nd at 8:30 AM at Atkins Restaurant & Bar. The meeting will officially begin at 9:00 AM.

Learn more about the association at www.virginiahighland.com.

Share

VaHi: Loved to Death

by Jack White

Virginia-Highland’s Master Plan became part of the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan in July of 2014. The plan was the result of a great deal of work in the community. Click here to see the Plan.

The initiatives in the Master Plan cover a wide range of topics and challenges. A few – like installing storm drain signage (“Only rain in this drain”) – need only coordination with the appropriate municipal agency. Some are longer-range planning issues awaiting full funding – the bike lanes along Kanuga Street and Virginia Avenue and supporting the Monroe Drive Complete Streets program. (Fixing Fire Station 19 was such a given that it didn’t make the plan.)

The Master Plan referred some topics for further study. Those include the concerns that citizens voiced during that process about the impacts of neighborhood redevelopment, often expressed as the fear of losing the very characteristics that made this community so attractive in the first place. (“VaHi is being loved to death” was a popular line.)

In the past, the only City of Atlanta mechanism for addressing such challenges was historic designation (“HD”), which was what the Atkins Park section of VaHi adopted after a nice discussion several years ago. Atkins Park was built as one subdivision over a few years, and HD appears to have worked well for them, as it has in several other neighborhoods.

Last fall some VaHi citizens organized their own look at HD for other portions of the neighborhood. That idea predictably produced both support and opposition; even more interestingly, it focused attention on another, more flexible approach (sometimes called – among other terms- an Urban Design District) that some planners and city officials suggested might be useful for neighborhoods like Virginia-Highland.

Such a concept isn’t new to the metro area; Hapeville and Roswell have versions. Such plans can be as simple as identifying five to ten special elements that typify a community: garage placements, front porches, height and lot coverage requirement, et al. Or they can address scale instead of specific design; it depends on what any given neighborhood’s defining features are and what the residents think is important.

Nomenclature aside, the question is whether any approach can be found that identifies and describes common construction elements – both ones that are widely desired and widely disliked – in a manner that both allows homeowners the flexibility to effectively and innovatively renovate and still preserve the essential characteristics of VaHi. Are there guidelines that work and still allow for the inevitably needed exceptions?

It’s a question worth asking and answering for several reasons. The first has already been mentioned; it was a very common comment in the Master Plan process.The second is that the current code is a mess. A large percentage of houses in our neighborhood do not conform to their own current zoning, a result that shreds the underlying logic of the approach and creates so many time-consuming variances that even the city has acknowledged that the entire zoning code needs to be re-written.

We welcome the idea (it’s way overdue), but that very lengthy process will not address the concerns our own residents have identified. If this neighborhood has certain features that deserve to be protected, there is no group more likely to know them than our own citizens.

We are living  – and have lived – with design overlays for years, mostly without knowing it. VaHi’s commercial areas along North Highland have a zoning overlay: the Neighborhood Commercial (“NC”) districts. They allow flexibility in rebuilding and expansion (including building a full-story higher than current conditions) while maintaining many of the characteristics we associate with the area today:  street-facing entrances, shop windows, walkable sidewalks, active street life, etc. The BeltLine overlay addresses similar features.

The VHCA board has asked Canvas Planning Group to lead an examination of potential responses to the redevelopment challenges that citizens have raised. Canvas’ founder, Aaron Fortner, has consulted with Virginia-Highland on several initiatives, including NC (Neighborhood Commercial), development at 10th and Monroe, the Master Plan, and many other related topics.  All of his outreach work has been characterized by a measured pace and the inclusion of citizens in the process; it’s one of many such things he does very effectively.

As ever, deliberative and reflective will be the order of the day.  Nothing else would match the democratic tradition in this neighborhood, or be effective in the end – nor has any board ever approached such challenges in any other way. The last two processes in VaHi –  the Master Plan and the Neighborhood Commercial (NC) process – illustrate the process. There were a ton of chances and ways to be involved; that will be the case here too. The content of both ideas evolved and changed along the way; that’s what happens when there is good engagement on things that folks care about.

Beginning with analysis and discussion means something else, too: there are no pre-determined proposals or outcomes. Whatever the end product, the process itself is certain to produce a vastly better understanding and appreciation of what makes this community unique and special. We look forward to that part with confidence and optimism.

Jack White is a VHCA Board Member and Planning Committee Member.

Share

Why I Serve on the VHCA Board (and Why I Don’t Like Social Media)

by Jenifer Keenan

I have been a proud member of the VHCA Board for three years.  People often ask why I do this “thankless job” and the answer is always the same – I love Virginia-Highland and want to give back to our great neighborhood.  The things that VHCA and the hundreds of volunteers who support VHCA accomplish are pretty amazing – we put on Summerfest and the Tour of Homes, meet with home owners and neighbors on all construction variances, coordinate and finance major improvements to John Howell Park, funded over $100,000 in grants to the public schools in our neighborhood, and own and maintain North Highland Park.

VHCA also acts as a liaison (or instigator!) for projects big and small, whether it’s working with the city on one-sided parking for a narrow residential street, improving sidewalks, requesting (and getting) weed abatement from the City for our neighborhood and surrounding areas, facilitating safety improvements on our streets, organizing and funding supplemental clean-up and maintenance of our business districts, helping with runoff from poorly regulated construction projects, spearheading efforts to preserve the fire station on North Highland, leading the Master Plan, meeting with all kinds of city agencies, or helping neighbors with concerns about renovation and development occurring in our neighborhood.

In spite of all of these wonderful accomplishments, “the Board” is often criticized or attacked on social media.  In my role as a Board Member, I have been accused on social media (never in person or on the phone) of “pursuing my own agenda” – a particularly strange claim given that I don’t have an “agenda” for our neighborhood.  And recently, someone on social media even suggested that the Board members should be sued for voting on, and approving (at a meeting that was open to the public) an expenditure for a project to explore the development of design guidelines/overlay for VaHi.

Rather than asking “what is a design overlay,” people assumed that it was the same as historic designation.  And although a few vocal voices on social media claim that “the majority of the neighborhood” is vehemently against any building restrictions or development guidelines, the emails and calls that the Board constantly receives asking us to “do something to fight the McMansion going up next to my house” or “prevent the modern design proposed by my neighbor” show otherwise.  In fact, during the Master Planning process, more people said that the destruction of historic properties/in-fill development is the biggest challenge facing our neighborhood than any other issue.

And yet, all of this really misses the point, because the Board has not proposed any guidelines – we have hired a consultant to explore the possibility of guidelines.  Why not simply ask for more information on this, or any other of the dozens of projects undertaken by VHCA, rather than accusing the Board on social media of pursuing some nefarious agenda?  At this point, the consultant has merely taken an inventory of existing structures in VaHi.  If, and when, any guidelines are developed, they will go through the same process used for the Master Plan – there will be a series of small meetings and large public meetings and various opportunities to determine if guidelines are appropriate, and if so, what those guidelines should be.

The Board has also been accused of “doing things in secret” – a claim that I find particularly disturbing given all of our efforts to keep the neighborhood abreast of all VHCA activities.   During the Master Plan process, I personally wrote six articles for The Voice, as well as attended over a dozen meetings on the Master Plan.  Furthermore, all of our Board meetings are videotaped, and all committee and board meetings are open to the public.  Remarkably, there has even been criticism of our use of videotaped minutes of our meetings, even though videotape minutes certainly provide a more complete picture of what transpired at the meeting than the cursory summary that is typically found in written minutes.

I often invite these critics of VHCA and the Board to sign up for a VHCA committee or attend a VHCA meeting, and am always met with the same refrain:  “I don’t have time.”  I don’t have time either.  I’m a full time lawyer at a large law firm, mother to two wonderful daughters at SPARK, and a wife to a busy marketing professional.  And yet, I make time.  I can’t even count the number of times I have brought my daughters to VHCA meetings when my husband has been traveling or at work, but I have done it because VaHi is important to me and I want to show my daughters that I am willing to be a leader and work to make our neighborhood a better place.

Before you go onto social media and chastise “the Board” or suggest that we should be sued for taking a position that you may personally disagree with, I suggest you take a step back and remember that we are your neighbors and are all volunteers who are trying to do our best for the neighborhood.  Come to a meeting and meet us, or give us a call if you have questions . . . that is certainly more effective – and a lot more neighborly – than complaining about us on social media.

Jenifer Keenan is a VHCA Board Member and she chairs the Planning Committee.

Share

Latest Monthly Safety Report

by Peggy Berg

VHCA’s monthly safety reports track crime incidents reported by the Atlanta Police Department for Zone 6, Beat 601 (Virginia-Highland). Here is the July 2015 Safety Report.

The number of incidents reported by category for July is shown in the first section of the report.

The second section shows trends for the categories with the most incidents by month for 2015, with a comparison to the average for the past 5 years.

The third section shows year-to-date trends over the past 5 years for the same three categories.

Peggy Berg is a member of the VHCA Safety Committee and Board. Thanks to Shannon Mehl and Holly Lybeer for creating the Safety Stats Report.

Share

2015-16 VHCA Board of Director Bios

board_peggyPeggy 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 and 2013. 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 227 sidewalk segments replaced by year-end with collaborative funding from VHCA, the City and property owners.

David_BrandenbergerDavid Brandenberger

I have been a Virginia-Highland homeowner on Rosedale Road for fifteen years. I, my wife and my son, truly love our neighborhood and are committed to supporting, preserving and enhancing its character.

Since living in Virginia-Highland, I have been active with various local activities, including helping to organize block parties, street yard sales, volunteering at SummerFest and the Tour of Homes, and—at various times—working with the City, DeKalb County and other adjoining neighbors to try to remedy various rainwater and sewer-related runoff issues of concern to several homeowners on our street. I have a keen interest in preserving our unique intown neighborhood and the quality of life for all residents it provides.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with family, gardening, cooking, coaching my son’s soccer team and enjoying our awesome neighborhood and surrounding communities. While serving on the Board this past year, I have had the pleasure to serve on the VHCA Planning Committee and the Parks Committee. I have been involved with and participated particularly in the ongoing renovation work started prior to my time on the Board at the West end of John Howell Park (volleyball court area) and look forward to helping to manage a successful project completion in the near term.

Looking forward, I would like to focus my efforts on the Board specifically with the Parks Committee—where I would be pleased to work with the rest of the Board on other ‘parks and youth sports field-related’ improvements to the neighborhood at John Howell Park, North Highland Park, Orme Park, and potentially the Inman Middle School fields.

Ultimately, I am eager to be of service wherever needed most upon being re-elected and am always open to communication and thoughts from neighborhood residents.  I appreciate your support.

TRP_Lola_pic_croppedLola 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, and are the second family to live at this address! We have a daughter who is 17 years old and has taken advantage of the amazing quality of life we all enjoy here in Virginia-Highland.

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 VHCA. Having a passion for preservation, I co-authored Images of America – Virginia–Highland history book with Karri Hobson-Pape. The Virginia-Highland History Center, while looking for a better permanent home, is housed at my offices – Tailfin Marketing. Feel free to stop by and talk history.

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.

Emily_GilbertEmily Gilbert

I am an attorney who graduated from Emory and Georgia State Law School and has lived in this city for almost two decades. I moved to Virginia-Highland because I appreciate its great mix of homes and businesses, both of which are important. This community is unique and vibrant, and I want it to stay that way. While the Civic Association has accomplished a lot, there are even more things it can do, and I hope to be part of that.

 

angelika and flowers 4584x6Angelika Hedlund Taylor

Hi…I’m Angelika Taylor. My husband Joe and I moved to Virginia-Highland four years ago with our girls Ally, 16, and Kenzie, 14, to start a new life in the city! Two years ago, we welcomed a baby boy named Jack into our family.

We jumped right into Virginia-Highland headfirst. We bought a house in desperate need of love and affection. I have owned my own business as an interior designer for 14 years. Together, my husband and I run our own company, Taylor and Taylor Homes. We have a passion for renovating homes, selling them and changing neighborhood streets, one house at a time.

Our family is committed to our neighborhood and community. Our girls have both gone through Inman Middle School and are now at Grady High, and Jack attends International Pre School. We believe in shopping local and we can often be spotted at many of the restaurants, bars and shops around VaHi.

Three years ago I took on the challenge of chairing the Tour of Homes committee for the VHCA. TOH is the neighborhood’s second largest fundraiser and, since I’ve chaired the event, proceeds from the tour have grown from $15,000 to over $50,000.  This year should be even better.

If elected to the VHCA board, I’d like to continue my leadership of the Tour of Homes committee, and also look forward to finding new ways to serve the residents of the community that my family and I have grown to love so much.

PicCivicAssocPaige Hewell

I have lived in the neighborhood on Virginia Circle for over a decade. A native Atlantan, I grew up in Buckhead and had little exposure to Va-Hi. I truly love our community and sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of it. Leon, my puppy, is loving the neighborhood as well.

My professional background is marketing. I worked primarily in telecom for 10 years before following an old boss to healthcare. I’ve loved the challenges and education I’ve gained from the switch.

Though a latecomer to neighborhood volunteerism, I have really enjoyed working on the Summerfest organization committee. I became involved in many activities that I had never imagined I would, such as appearing in a TV promo and even fence building. I’ve gotten to know some great people whom I might not have met otherwise. I’ve loved every minute of it.

I look forward to continuing my involvement with Summerfest and serving on the board of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association.

Catherine_LewisCatherine Lewis

I have lived in Virginia Highland since 1995; and in our house on Lanier Boulevard since 1998. I’m an alumna of Emory University and have been in Atlanta since 1986. I hope to serve the VHCA by helping to coordinate the community effort as we begin to renovate the No. 19 Fire Station. This is such an important local resource, and many of us are committed to making sure it remains a vibrant part of our neighborhood. This is a big project; one in which the VHCA has played a central role. In my worklife, I am the Assistant Vice President of Museums, Archives & Rare Books at Kennesaw State University and the Bobby Jones Curator and Special Projects Coordinator at the Atlanta History Center. Our family is very committed to the historic fabric of this neighborhood and hope to help it continue to grow and thrive. You will see my husband, John, and daughter, Emma on a bicycle, on foot, or on a razor scooter in the neighborhood. I would be honored to serve the neighborhood with this very dedicated group of friends and colleagues.

RBR-VHCARobin Ragland

After joining my husband in retirement in 2006, we relocated to Virginia-Highland from Gwinnett County. We arrived just in time to enjoy our first Dogwood Festival as locals, relax with our new Elmwood neighbors at the annual street party, and volunteer for, as well as have a blast at, our first Summerfest! I soon lost count of how many times we said “what took us so long to move here” while walking to local restaurants and shops. It quickly became apparent that a key component to keeping our neighborhood so vibrant is the continued contributions of volunteers organized and focused through the VHCA.

I’ve continued to volunteer for Summerfest each year in various capacities. In 2012, I began participating in fundraising for the neighborhood by creating items to sell from recycled Summerfest t-shirts. I joined the Tour of Homes committee in 2013, chairing the sponsorship sub-committee; we raised over $30,000! The tour committee is in the midst of preparing for the 2014 tour, and my sub-committee is once again on track to raise another $30,000 for the neighborhood. We are eager to show off our neighborhood during the 2014 tour, and create another great tour next year! I also look forward to expanding my participation in the VHCA by joining the board.

IMG_2755Jack 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 pretty close. My particular interests are planning, parks, and public resources, particularly stormwater 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 Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s role in helping shape 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 parking lot, splitting Orme Park, and blasting through our neighborhood and Morningside seems even more preposterous in retrospect than it did then, but it almost happened.

Since then the neighborhood has flourished and matured; today we are trying to keeping the community vibrant while retaining its unique character. Three decades ago auto traffic wasn’t an issue; today the growing number of cyclists and pedestrians challenge us to find a way to safely accommodate multiple uses. Three decades ago the battles felt very uneven: it was our wits and our determination versus traditional political forces.  It’s helpful that we can now afford learned professional consultants, but in the end, the determination of the citizenry and the Civic Association’s organizational capacity are still the most important assets we have.  Together, they can be very effective.

I’d be glad to serve another year.

Lauren Wilkes FralickLauren 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 has been a board member for two years and has been a driving force on the Parks Committee. Lauren looks forward to another year serving the neighborhood.

Jess at 4th and SwiftJess Windham

For about the last three years – even before officially moving in – I have been active with the neighborhood Civic Association, primarily through the VHCA Planning and the Master Plan creation process. My role in that process was to keep everything on the rails: organizing and communicating the public meeting schedule, sharing information and clarifying inaccuracies, coordinating the steering committee, and feeling out consensus every step of the way. 

Since the Master Plan was adopted by council, I have been focusing on the implementation of the highest priority items outlined in the Master Plan. This has involved follow up with various city departments and nonprofits. I’m excited to be part of a vibrant urban community with a rich diversity of residents and incredible history. Currently I’m also serving as ambassador between the neighborhood and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for the Atlanta Streets Alive event in September.

In terms of style, I have a diplomatic approach, a true desire to contribute, and would appreciate the opportunity to serve the neighborhood. I’d like to continue to be involved on the board so that I can support the neighborhood with broad initiatives, from master planning to fundraising for our parks. Having served on the Planning Committee, I understand the time, patience, and dedication needed to create positive changes that keep the neighborhood vibrant. Change is inevitable and the desirability of VaHi is only going to grow. I’d like to be on the board to ensure the character and quality of life in Virginia-Highland continues to get better each year.

 

Share

Bob Coomes: A Life Well-Lived

Bob Headshot for ObitBy John Becker

Editor’s Note: John Becker is a former VHCA board member and Voice editor who recently moved to Poncey-Highland. John remains involved in the neighborhood and is a close friend of the Coomes family.

Longtime Virginia-Highland resident Bob Coomes passed away recently, finally succumbing to the cancer monster he fought for an incredible seventeen years.

Bob was that rare individual who always had a smile on his face and never met a person he didn’t like – and the feeling was almost always mutual. His constantly upbeat spirit and can-do attitude were infectious and an inspiration to many who stood by him during his long and often difficult battle with the disease that ultimately took his life.

Bob, who would have been 64 in October, shared his love of people with his undying love for dogs. He could often be seen walking his chocolate lab mix Fudge along the sidewalks of VaHi. After a successful professional career that included a 27-year stint with AT&T, Bob and his wife Nancy formed a business around their creation of LickALots, a healthy frozen treat for dogs. LickALots was as much a labor of love for Bob and Nancy as it was a business.

4434_86331041772_4641705_nBob had a sense of community and was always willing to roll up his sleeves and get involved. In addition to volunteering for seventeen years with Meals on Wheels, Bob served several years on the VHCA board, was at one time editor of The Voice newsletter and volunteered with Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful. In recent years Bob and his wife Nancy devoted their time and talents to making the Saturday morning Tot Trot one of Summerfest’s most anticipated events. Bob was the consummate Tot Trot master of ceremonies.

No description of Bob would be complete without mentioning that he was a passionate and knowledgeable sports fan. The Atlanta Braves and Louisville Cardinals lost some major fan mojo with Bob’s passing.

A service in Bob’s memory will be held at Morningside Presbyterian Church (1411 N. Morningside Dr.) at 3 PM on Thursday, September 10th. Anyone wishing to celebrate the life of Bob Coomes is welcome to attend.

Bob Coomes’ full obituary follows.

473504_10150598685126773_1227160640_oBob (Robert T.) Coomes, with his bright smile, enthusiasm, and optimistic spirit is in heaven now.  His 17 year battle with renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) was epic. As he had wished, Bob was at his home in Atlanta when he died on August 17, 2015.  He was 63.

The Service to give thanks and celebrate Bob’s life will be held on Thursday, September 10, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. at Morningside Presbyterian Church.  The Church is located at 1411 N. Morningside Dr. NE in Atlanta, GA 30306 (www.morningsidepc.org).  A reception at the Church will follow the service.

Bob loved dearly his father, Thomas Coomes (deceased), his mother, Agnes Coomes, his wife, Nancy Phillips Coomes, his daughter, Chelsea Coomes, and his siblings, Barbara Coomes(Jim Johnson), Rick Coomes (Sally), Pat Coomes (Nanci) and their families, as well as his sister-by-marriage, Gena (Demaree) Jones.  Throughout his life he was surrounded and sustained by the strong bonds of a large extended family, many dear and supportive friends and neighbors and a strong church family.  He treasured being known as “Bobby”, “Brother Bob”, “Dad”, “Uncle Bob”, “Cousin Bob”, “Neighbor Bob”, “Friend Bob” and “Beer Rat Bob”.   To Nancy, he was “Puffy”.  To his beloved dogs, Kisses (deceased), Fudge and Chris, with whom he had a close and special bond, he was “Daddy Bob”.

Bob was a proud native of Louisville, Kentucky and lived there until 1988 when he relocated to Atlanta.  He held a masters degree in electrical engineering from the University of Louisville and was a loyal supporter of the school throughout his life.  His professional career included 27 years as a manager with AT&T.   In more recent years, he partnered with Nancy to create a healthy treat for dogs called LickALots.  That business was sold to King of Pops in 2010.  The product continues to be manufactured, sold and enjoyed by dogs throughout the Eastern United States.

Bob volunteered his time to the Meals on Wheels program for 17 years. He not only delivered food to the seniors he served, he brought them cheer with his sincere interest in their lives.  He formed friendships and lasting bonds that were very important to him.

Bob and JohnBob participated as a volunteer for programs sponsored by the Virginia Highland Civic Association in an effort to give back to the community he called home.

In his battle with kidney cancer, Bob focused on being Empowered, Educated and Engaged.  He studied in great detail the development and availability of new treatments, their side effects, and potential benefit.   He worked in close partnership with his physicians and care-giving teams to select and follow treatment plans that had the greatest potential efficacy for him.

He joined the M.D. Anderson Network for patient and caregiver support in 2002.  This group of volunteers, who are current and former cancer patients, are available to talk with someone with cancer who has had a similar diagnosis or treatment as the volunteer. Bob spoke with dozens of patients in an effort to help them and their loved ones make the transition from diagnosis to survivorship.

In 2004, Bob became a patient advocate for one of the National Cancer Institute’s Cooperative Groups that develop and implement cancer clinical trials.  Patient advocates include survivors who provide input to the cancer clinical research process.  They remain current on new treatment research and ultimately ensure that the patients’ perspectives and needs are at the center of clinical trial decisions. 

Those wishing to honor Bob via donations can send checks made payable to First Presbyterian Church Atlanta with the designation that the money is for the “Meals on Wheels Program in memory of Bob Coomes”.  Envelopes should be addressed to:

First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta

Attn: Meals on Wheels Program

1328 Peachtree St.

Atlanta, GA 30309-3209

Share

New Monthly Snapshot of Crime Statistics in VaHi

by Peggy Berg

Did you know that the VHCA website carries a running report of crime statistics in our area?

We have just revamped the monthly report to make it easier to read.

Here is the link.

You will note that Auto Larceny continues to lead the way by far. People are often confused about the differences among robbery, burglary and larceny, so here are the distinctions.

Robbery is taking something from someone using intimidation, force, or threat. In order for robbery to take place, a victim (or multiple victims) must be present at the scene.

Burglary is unlawful entry to a structure to commit theft or a felony. A victim does not have to be present, but a structure – which includes business offices, personal homes, and
even external sheds – must be involved.

Confusingly, Burglary is not the term used for crimes committed on cars. See below.

Larceny is similar to Burglary, but without the element of a structure. The exception to this rule is the burglary of a motor vehicle, which is referred to as larceny. Under all conditions–whether a vehicle is left with the doors locked or unlocked, the windows are open or not, or the security system is or is not engaged–vehicle burglary crimes are referred to as larceny.

Peggy Berg is a member of the VHCA Safety Committee and Board.

Thanks to Shannon Mehl and Holly Lybeer for the Safety Stats Report.

Share

VHCA Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers set for September 17

by Lola Carlisle

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s annual general meeting and election of officers will be held Thursday September 17th in the Inman Middle School cafeteria, starting at 6:30 PM. Please be sure to bring your ID or recent utility bill in your name as proof of residency. Regular civic association business will be conducted at the VHCA’s monthly board and general meeting to be held September 14 at 7:00 PM at the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave.

The VHCA board consists of ten members and one alternate who are elected to one-year terms by residents at the annual meeting. There’s also an ‘Atkins Park designee’ board member who is chosen by the Atkins Park Homeowners Association prior to the annual meeting.

The alternate member has historically functioned as a full board member, but formally votes only if another member is not present. The VaHi resident getting the fewest votes of the top eleven residents receiving votes in the election serves as the alternate member.

Our neighborhood thrives because of a high level of volunteer involvement by residents in a variety of areas. The framework for much of this volunteerism is provided through VHCA’s committees: Budget, Fundraising (Summerfest, Tour of Homes), Planning, Preservation and History, Parks, Safety, Education and Communications.  Click here for a complete list of the association’s committees, their areas of responsibility and their current chairs/members.

Click here for a list of those serving on the current VHCA board. Any of these board members would be glad to talk with you about the responsibilities and time commitments associated with board service and will be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Many citizens reach the board after serving on a committee, but this is not a specific requirement for running.  If you’d like to run for a seat on the board, please send an email to communications@vahi.org with your name, contact info, a short bio, and a few comments on how and why you’d like to get involved. A list of all residents running for the board with bios will be published on vahi.org and included in The Voice e-newsletter prior to the September 17 annual meeting.

We encourage all VaHi residents to attend the annual meeting and make your voice heard. Again, please be sure to bring your ID or recent utility bill in your name as proof of residency. The more residents we have at the meeting, the more the VHCA’s 2015-16 leadership will reflect the collective thoughts and goals of our community.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our annual meeting in September.

Lola Carlisle is a member of the VHCA Board.

Share

What is Hillside? – Part 2

by Stephen Cohen

Conclusion of a 2-Part Series

In the August 1 edition of The Voice, I described how, after 32 years of driving by Hillside at the bottom of Courtney Drive and wondering what it was, I was recently taken on a tour and discovered that it is a 13-acre residential campus, right on our doorstep, offering services for children and adolescents who have emotional and behavioral issues.

It doesn’t look like a psychiatric facility. The intent is for kids to arrive onto a cheerful and inviting campus that is a place of growth and healing.

The need for community support
The Manager of Community Relations, Katrina Word, and the Director of Business Development, Mark Pulliam, explained more about Hillside’s place in our community, including the kind of help they need, and how they have recently expanding their offerings.

Since not all parents have the resources to pay all the costs, even when insurance provides coverage, community support from citizens is a real need, and this support can take the form of donating time, items, or funds.

Let’s take as an example the community garden, which is filled with herbs, vegetables, and flowers. The children work in it alongside a horticulture therapist, planting food that they then harvest and take to the Dining Hall for preparation.

“When I was growing up,” observed Mark, “I used to sit and stare at the green beans on my plate, refusing to eat them. These kids now will just pick the vegetables right off the plant and sample them to see what they grew tastes like, and learn to make healthy choices when eating.”

(It is worth noting that apart from incorporating life sciences into the gardening, such as using marigolds as natural pesticides, there are bigger lessons that the children learn, too, as they struggle to find their feet: growth is not instantaneous, either for the plants or the children; it requires patience and painstaking effort.)

There is more work to do in the garden than the children have time for, so one way volunteers could help would be to work in the garden to supplement those efforts.

Volunteering time could also take the form of such activities as sorting incoming clothes in the clothing center, or maybe helping out on campus with sports, art, or other recreational activities.

Donations can be in the form of either funds or needed items, which may be as small as teddy bears for children, or fleeces for adolescents, that can provide comfort at that time of night when we settle in to bed and the anxieties start to crowd in on us.

For more information how you can support Hillside by donating time, items, or funds, click here. You may also call Katrina Word at 404-875-4551 x 321.

Some donation examples:
* Rated G and PG movies for their lending movie library
* E-rated video games for PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii
* Board Games
* Puzzles
* Finger paints and craft items
* Canvas and sketch paper
* Books (series for young adults)
* Fleece blankets
* New stuffed animals

Examples of  volunteer opportunities:
* Help in the on-campus clothing store
* After-school clubs (rotating schedules) for knitting, scrapbooking, photography, art, nature, etc. Any special interest that one might have.
* Take the lead and help Hillside find materials for a soccer group/club on the weekends

Note that VHCA has regularly donated to Hillside in appreciation of their providing a meeting room for the NPU – almost $4000 over the last decade.

Children giving back
Children also learn that giving is a two-way street. When people give back, it helps them grow and heal. So, for example, with the assistance of a volunteer from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the children working in the garden recently painted on rocks things they would want others to have. The rocks were then placed in the Zen garden at the Emory Cancer Center.

“Activities like this teach empathy,” said Katrina. “It’s empowering: The kids need help but they also help others in need.”

Services Hillside can provide to the community at large

Hillside has recently expanded its community services beyond psychiatric residential care. Today’s children, especially adolescents, are under social and academic pressures largely unknown to their parents: pressures to achieve, to appear successful, and to take on a huge array of activities and courses. So Hillside  opened up Hillside DBT, an outpatient clinic in Buckhead designed not for residential, psychiatric care like the Courtenay campus, but just to help ordinary kids and their parents cope with the unrelenting pressures of adolescence.

Hillside has found that the same DBT training that is used on Courtney can help these kids, too. The Hillside DBT clinic also offers training and workshops for parents on how to raise kids in these highly competitive times.

For more information on the Buckhead clinic, click here.

For more information on how you can help Hillside on Courtney, click here.

Touring the campus

Hillside welcomes anyone in the community to tour the Courtney campus. Email Katrina Word (shown at right) at kword@hside.org  or call her at  404-875-4551 x 321 if you would like to take a tour or discuss volunteering.

Notes:

The perspectives in this article are those of Hillside, and are described in this article to help further an understanding of the organization’s sense of mission for its surrounding communities.

How this article came about: After Hillside’s new President and CEO, Emily Acker introduced herself at last month’s meeting of NPU-F, which for a decade has met there, our VHCA representatives to the NPU suggested that the Voice carry an article about them. In the clothing store picture in this article, Emily is shown at right working with a volunteer.

Stephen Cohen is the Editor of The Virginia-Highland Voice.

Share

Pedestrian and Safety Improvements Coming to Inman

by Jack White

From December of 2013 through the following spring, local parent and resident Mary Stouffer chaired a multi-neighborhood PTO effort to promote pedestrian safety at Spark. It resulted in the school’s selection as one of two Georgia sites for a Safe Routes to School study of traffic and pedestrian challenges. That study – which included GDOT (property owners of Briarcliff Road) – was part of the process that led to the signal and crosswalk modifications at that school. To the best of our knowledge, those changes have worked out well.

A by-product of that process was a separate ‘Safe Kids’ study of the same issues at Inman, supported by Children’s HealthCare of Atlanta. Its main focus was similar – improving pedestrian safety. The eventual recommendations included upgrading  the Virginia Avenue and Arcadia crosswalks to ADA standards and adding a HAWK crossing signal, both to make the pedestrian trip safer and to moderate the tendency of some drivers to speed down that road’s long unimpeded stretch from Park to Barnett.

Children’s Healthcare also provided much of the project funding. Because the city is supplying the rest, implementation seemed uncertain – until this past week, when Public Works informed Inman and our council member that the money would soon be available and that (since the school year had just begun) the project would begin as soon as possible, perhaps over the next few weekends.

The goals are laudable; Inman Principal Betsy Bockman has wanted pedestrian improvements on Virginia for some time. Having the Public Works Department react too promptly has not been a widespread challenge in this city; it’s a general concept that all citizens can support, as we do sharing plans in a measured way.

As noted, these crosswalks are at the Arcadia corner of John Howell Park. During that park’s recent rehabilitation, the local citizens made sure that all parties were aware of the stormwater improvements the city had made in this area over the last two decades. The construction around the volleyball courts did not alter stormwater flows at all, and neither will these changes, Public Works assures us.  Nor should they diminish the capacity of the newly-widened corner plaza to accommodate small groups of kids waiting to be picked up after school (or just socializing), which was a specific park renovation goal.

We will share further updates and details on vahi.org.  You may see the conceptual plans – they are not construction documents – here.

Jack White is a member of the VHCA Planning Committee and Board.

Share

Atlanta Moon Ride Raises $45,000 for Terminally, Chronically Ill Children

by Stephen Cohen

On Friday, June 19, 2015, nearly 4,000 people of all ages from across Atlanta participated in the third annual Atlanta Moon Ride benefiting Bert’s Big Adventure, a local nonprofit organization. This photo, courtesy Joseph Wong Photography, shows what 4,000 cyclists look like at the start of a race!

The festivities began at 6 p.m. in Piedmont Park, kicking off the fun-filled evening with live entertainment from Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics, delicious food options from The Fry Guy, Burger ATL, Tikiz of Cobb County and Tex’s Tacos and a variety of premium drinks from ShockTop and Deep Eddy vodka.

Then the ride began, and thousands of intown cyclists, from children to adults, some dressed outlandishly and some a tad more conventionally, had a blast on a 6.5-mile ride that began at 10:00pm on a perfect evening in Piedmont Park under a crisp new moon and ended up in Virginia-Highland. This photo, also courtesy Joseph Wong Photography, shows the colorfully dressed crowd spreading out as it wound through our neighborhood.

Afterward, bars and bike racks along North Highland were packed, as exuberant cyclists capped off a wonderful evening. If you want to get the full flavor of the ride, click here.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the night went directly to Bert’s Big Adventure, a nonprofit organization that takes children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families on an all-expenses-paid trip to Walt Disney World.

Share

Citizen open houses on the Connect Atlanta Plan Appendices

Citizen open houses on the Connect Atlanta Plan Appendices, including the Cargo Atlanta Citywide Freight Study, the Cycle Atlanta Phase 1.0 Study, the Atlanta Transit Oriented Development Study, and the Move Atlanta Design Manual for Active Streets. All from 6-7:30 PM, as follows:

Tuesday, June 18: Agape Community Center, 2351 Bolton Road SW

Tuesday, June 23: Atlanta Plaza, 950 E. Paces Ferry Rd., Suite 850, 8th floor

Monday, June 29: James Orange Recreation Center, 1305 Oakland Dr. SW.

Share

It’s Time to Summerfest!

SummerfestWho’s ready for some Summerfest?

The 32nd edition of VaHi’s summertime celebration of art, music and food is just days away. Here’s the 411 on this year’s event:

Friday

It all gets kicked-off Friday June 5 with resident-only events, starting with the Community Parade (this year’s theme is “Rock Stars and Divas”) which kicks off from Intown ACE Hardware at 7 PM. Parade participants should arrive no later than 6:30 PM. If you have not yet registered for the parade and would like to do so, click here and complete the form at the bottom of the page. On-site registration will also be available.

DSC_0036For those cheering on the participants, the parade will proceed down Drewry, turn right on Barnett and end up on the eastern side of John Howell Park where the community dinner and movie will be held this year. Please note that this event has been moved from the Inman Middle School ball field where it has been held in recent years. The dinner starts at 7:30 PM, and the movie will start around dusk (usually around 8:45 PM). Admission to the dinner/movie is free to VaHi residents with an ID. Non-resident guests (date, houseguest, babysitter, etc.) are welcome when accompanied by a resident. Cost for guests: $10 for adults, $5 for children. If space is available, non-resident neighbors may enter the area after dinner (around 8:15 PM) to watch the movie. This year’s movie is Big Hero 6.

DSC_0103There will also be live music on the Acoustic Stage at the intersection of Virginia and N. Highland Ave.’s on Friday night from 8-11 PM.

Saturday

DSC03397Don’t stay out too late Friday night because the popular Summerfest 5K Road Race gets going at 8 AM Saturday June 6. For more information on the race or to sign up to participate, click here. On-site registration will also be available this year. If you have aspiring runners too young for the road race (ages 5 and younger), bring ’em over to the eastern section of John Howell Park following the 5K’s conclusion (around 9:15 AM) for this year’s Tot Trot. Click here to pre-register for Tot Trot or you can register on-site.

Summerfest 2015 officially opens at 10 AM Saturday. Festival-goers can choose from events like the Artist Market and Kidsfest (please note Kidsfest ends at 3 PM and the Artist Market closes at 6:30 PM on Saturday).

DSC05195The Music Stage gets going at Noon Saturday with a performance from Sans Abri. Here’s the rest of Saturday’s music lineup:

Please note that this year’s Music Stage will be located on the eastern side of John Howell Park and not on the Inman Middle School ball field.

And after Southern Gothic wraps things up on the main Music Stage, the Acoustic Stage at Virginia and N. Highland Ave.’s will be the place to be again Saturday night with entertainment provided from 9-11 PM.

Sunday

IMG_0716Get ready to do it all over again on Sunday June 7 when Summerfest reopens at 10 AM. Before you hit the festival, though, why not participate in the 2015 Warren Bruno Summerfest Celebration Bike Ride? The ride starts at 8 AM at North Highland Park (corner of St. Charles and N. Highland) and you can choose to ride a 9.5 mile loop (once or twice) or a 20-mile loop. Cyclists of all ages and levels are welcome. For more information or to register, click here.

DSC01436If you’re up for a little music on Sunday morning, grab your coffee and bagel and head over to the Acoustic Stage where the spotlight will be on two fun and unique groups featuring young performers from our area:

  • 10:00 AM: Performers from Eclectic Music
  • 11:00 AM: Irish Dancing with Burke Connolly Dance

The Music Stage gets going Sunday at 12:15 PM with Taylor & Ciara performing. The rest of Sunday’s music lineup:

DSC01429And, since you probably didn’t have enough time to enjoy all the activities on Saturday, be sure to stop by the Artist Market and Kidsfest area on Sunday. Kidsfest closes at 3 PM Sunday and the Artist Market closes at 6 PM.

Just a reminder that Summerfest’s Artist Market is a juried show of gallery-quality art featuring 230+ of the Southeast’s finest artists. You’ll find artists specializing in painting, sculpture, jewelery, textiles/fiber arts, photography, clay, wood, metal, graphics and mixed media (click here to view a list of exhibiting artists). Please be sure to visit the Artist Market and support the 2015 Summerfest artists by making a purchase or two.

VHCA Summerfest Store

11080256_978523362211018_332461056547736383_oThis year we’re making it even more convenient to buy your commemorative Summerfest t-shirt and help support the neighborhood. We’ll be selling Summerfest t-shirts at Friday night’s Community Cookout & Movie and at the Acoustic Street Party. Ladies, you’ll have three designs from which to choose: two in a fashionable ladies-cut and another in a traditional unisex t-shirt cut. Guys, you’re sure to enjoy the 2015 Summerfest design. T-shirts are available in sizes S thru XXL. Get one before they’re gone! And if you’re unable to join Friday’s resident-only events, or you lost sleep regretting not having purchased a t–shirt, be sure to stop by one of the two Summerfest stores during the festival on Saturday or Sunday.

11165072_978523358877685_1823068065588305904_oIn addition to the always popular Summerfest t-shirts, we’ll also be carrying Virginia-Highland branded car tags, address plaques, framed neighborhood posters and signed copies of History of Virginia-Highland, written by VaHi residents Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle. The store will also display samples of several Virginia-Highland branded items now available for purchase at the VHCA’s’s Zazzle store.

Free Bike Valet at Summerfest

imageAnd don’t forget that you can help alleviate Summerfest traffic congestion by cycling to the festival. We’ve made that easier to do by partnering with Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to provide free bike valet parking during festival hours. This year the ABC bike corral will be located at the “Field of Dreams” on the southwest corner of Virginia Ave. and Ponce de Leon Pl. (adjacent to the festival’s western entrance).

For more information on Summerfest, click here.

We look forward to seeing everyone this weekend at Summerfest 2015!

Share

Inman Middle School Expansion Meeting Set for May 5

DSC_0004What: Inman Middle School Expansion Meeting

When: Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Where: Inman MS Auditorium, 774 Virginia Ave., NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

April 16, 2015

Dear Inman Middle School Family,

In February, we met as a community to discuss the space and enrollment issues at Inman Middle School.  We had good dialogue about the current situation, potential scenarios for addressing our issues and explored new ideas (many from you) for solutions.

A big part of our discussion also included weighing the effect that the potential annexation of the Druid Hills community would have on the enrollment zone.  The annexation proposal did not pass the legislature, and now our planning will turn solely to developing solutions within the existing Grady Cluster.

We have scheduled another Community Meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, in the Inman auditorium to continue these discussions.

We appreciate your energy and continued support as we work to develop a long-term plan for meeting the enrollment growth projected.

Along with our superintendent and area Board of Education members, I look forward to seeing you.

Sincerely,

Betsy Bockman, Ph.D., Principal

Share

Some Thoughts from My Own Business Experiences with Security Cameras

By: Peggy Berg, VHCA Safety Committee

logitec_alert_750e-11372307Using security cameras to provide additional information for police investigations came up at the Atlanta Police Department safety presentation at the VHCA meeting in April. We’ve had cameras at our business for a while, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time listening to comments and thoughts from the professionals who’ve installed and maintained ours.  Here are a few points from them – and some other professionals I’ve spoken to – that might be of interest if you’re thinking of this approach and aspire to have a chance to provided information for the police. (The professionals are mentioned for purposes of attribution and without any implied endorsement at all. I thank them for their time.)

  1. Watermarks: To be admitted as evidence in Court, according to I-Tech Security, the footage or images should be watermarked and time stamped to show that they are genuine. Camera system clocks sometimes get out of sync, and police may need to see the camera system as well as the footage. Not all systems use watermarks or time stamps, but these are good features if you are shopping for security cameras. The presenter should be able to show that the integrity of the footage is not compromised, which means showing that it has been properly stored and presented.
  2. Pixels: Resolution of security video is measured in pixels per foot. The minimum for facial recognition is 40 PPF, explain our friends at Aronson Security. The range is from hundreds to millions of PPF. More is better, particularly if you want to zoom.  The new cameras at my business make it obvious how much cameras have improved. We used to get grainy footage of barely recognizable people; we now have a chance to capture license plates and faces at some distance. Basically,  the security footage is only as good as the camera’s resolution.
  3. Infrared: Not all security cameras record clearly in the dark. If you want coverage at night – particularly if you want it to have value for security purposes – select cameras with infrared.
  4. Color: Not all security cameras record in color. The oldest of my old business cameras provided grainy black and white footage, resulting in our spending a lot of time looking at images that were only vaguely discernable. The new camera images are much more crisp and useful.

Of course, no cameras can take the place of a range of security measures that discourage break-ins in the first place, but if things go wrong at our homes, video can be instructive both in apprehension and in trying to prevent this from happening again.  VHCA is pleased to work with the Atlanta Police Department in asking citizens for camera footage from residents when crimes occur.

Share

Show Your VaHi Pride – Shop at Our New Zazzle Store!

virginia_highland_pillow-rf0a80da6e5df465287c9946220daf0b9_i5fbw_8byvr_512After creating the new VHCA logo last year, our design team has been working to apply the new branding across all of our messaging channels. Last summer we created fun Virginia-Highland posters that were received very well at Summerfest. And now we’ve created and populated The VaHi Zazzle store with fun Virginia-Highland branded merchandise.

whats_cookin_virginia_highlands_apron-rcfa56cb555e24a3899509133c50288e7_v9wh6_8byvr_512Twenty-five percent of every purchase will go directly to the Virginia-Highland Civic Association to support the work they do in the neighborhood. A few of the items are shown here, but we encourage you to go to the store and check out all that’s there. If we know Virginia-Highlanders, you’ll have a few ideas of your own for new products. We welcome your suggestions at communications@vahi.org.

viewSpecial thanks to VaHi resident Ernest Lessenger for helping us get the store off the ground!

Share

Orme Park Turtle Release a Success!

DSC_0272We had a successful release of five turtle hatchlings at Orme Park today. With a crowd of about 40 on hand (including many fascinated children) Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Mark Mandica led the event, allowing the children to touch and handle the turtles before they were released. You’ll remember that Mandica and his staff, along with concerned residents, were instrumental in the rescue and care of the hatchlings. Go to vahi.org for articles on how the turtle nest was discovered and protected and how the hatchlings were saved from an almost certain demise.

DSC_0313Thanks again to Mandica and his staff for all their care and concern for the Orme Park turtles over the past few months. The five young hatchlings they’ve nurtured are now fending for themselves along the creek in Orme Park. Mandica gives them an excellent chance for survival and a long life. We sure hope he’s right.

Here’s a link to photos from today’s release event.

Share

Surviving Orme Park Turtles Thriving, Release Event Set for Sunday

Orme_Park_Snapping_Turtle_Rescue_2015sLast June, Paige Cucchi and her husband Sean discovered a buried turtle nest during one of their regular walks through Orme Park. Concerned residents – including Cucchi, her husband and VHCA board member Lola Carlisle – set up a protective fence around the nest so that no one would disturb the turtles until they could hatch. Click here to read about the discovery and the steps taken to protect the hatchlings from predators.

When the turtles hadn’t hatched by early fall, residents became concerned. Click here to read how staff from Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Amphibian Conservation Program, Carlisle and other VaHi residents worked together to remove the turtles from the nest and save them from what would almost certainly have been a very early demise.

ABG Amphibian Research Coordinator Mark Mandica and his staff have been nurturing the hatchlings since their birth last year, and he sent over a progress report and photograph of the young turtles last week.

“We have five healthy young turtles that made it through the winter,” Mandica said. “They’ve been outside for the past few weeks sunning and getting used to outdoor temperature fluctuations. We did the best we could but lost a few that just couldn’t pull through such a stressful hatching. Fortunately, the five that survived are heathy, active and eating like crazy!” 

Mandica says the young turtles are now healthy enough to be released into the wild, a time we all knew (hoped) would come. Knowing that many in the neighborhood have followed the turtles’ incredible saga and would want to be a part of this momentous event, we’ve scheduled a small release ceremony for 2 PM this Sunday April 26. We’ll meet at the playground on Brookridge Dr. and Mandica and his team will lead us to the best spot to release the young turtles.

If you want to see and be a part of the Orme Park turtles being released back into the wild, grab the kiddies and meet us at the Orme Park playground this Sunday at 2 PM!

Share

Stand Against Racism

Posting this on behalf of our friends at the YWCA:

Please join the staff, board, students, and other members of the YWCA community as we 

STAND AGAINST RACISM

Friday, April 24

Ways to participate:

  • Wear the YWCA “persimmon” (i.e. orange) colors
  • Sign the national Stand Against Racism pledge online http://cqrcengage.com/ywca/app/sign-petition?0&engagementId=78748
  • Sign our banner in front of the agency on North Highland Avenue
  • “Like” us on Facebook and other social media
  • Take a stand and help raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism on our community

Click here to view the YWCA Stand Against Racism poster.

Share

Help!!

at-the-corner-of-9.5X24-MECH-01A Call for Volunteers

By Lola Carlisle

I’m not sure if all who live in the neighborhood know how much the Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) does to help maintain the quality of life we all enjoy. That’s OK – we’re all busy and some are new to the area and have never heard of VHCA. We’re a group of volunteers and we could use your help. Actually it’s really rewarding but can be so much more so if the workload is distributed across more engaged and talented residents.

From the amount of comments one sees on social media channels for our neighborhood, there are many who care a lot about what’s happening around them. We’d sure like to see that positive energy and concern channeled into action!

VHCA Committees in Need of Additional Volunteers

Safety Committee 

Peggy Berg chairs it and in case you didn’t know, she is our sidewalk hero! But there are so many influences on safety and Peggy could use some help. There’s criminal activity, homelessness, appearances that may influence safety (keeping trash picked up and graffiti removed), VHCA’s support of the Neighborhood Watch Street Captain program, traffic/lighting/signage, communication with our elected officials and APD, and more. Reach out to safety@vahi.org.

Communications Committee

This committee is very important and we’re losing one of the neighborhood’s most treasured volunteers (to Poncey-Highland and aren’t they lucky!): John Becker, who’s served as Communications Chair (among other things) for the past three years. As a result of the efforts of many including John, VHCA communications are a best-in-class example of how it should be done. Our website, newsletter and social media communications are effective and important. We’re looking for someone to act as committee chair and others to fill out the committee. These volunteers will need to help steer our communications strategy, update our WordPress website, write and edit articles, manage ad sales and placement, send out the newsletter, tape and upload the board meeting videos and other tasks. If you’re interested in helping with this committee, reach us at communications@vahi.org.

Fundraising Committee (Summerfest / Tour of Homes)

DSC05121A key reason that our neighborhood is so effective at maintaining our culture is our funding. We are able to hire consultants on planning, traffic and development issues; we receive grants to match the funds we put into our parks (see recent JHP improvements); and we give grants to our schools and local non-profits. We plan and execute both the Tour of Homes in winter and Summerfest in the summer; this work is time-intensive but certainly rewarding both in terms of experience and monetary gains for the neighborhood. Both committees need help! Tour of Homes is looking for a volunteer graphics person and someone to help sell sponsorships. Summerfest will need many volunteers so sign up at https://vahi.org/summerfest/volunteers. To get more involved with Summerfest, email summerfest@vahi.org or for the Tour of Homes email angelikataylor@me.com or robin_ragland@bellsouth.net.

Virginia-Highland Preservation & History Committee

DSC_0144This committee does a good bit of scanning and filing and could really use help from someone who has a passion for history. We have 100 gigs of historic images and documents and many physical items that need organizing and attention. When better managed this can become a resource for the entire city of Atlanta as we’ll share it with the Atlanta History Center. If you’re interested in helping, you can reach us at preservation@vahi.org.

Just for fun – and as proof that you’ll learn new things during your volunteer experience – these are things I thought I’d never know, but do because I volunteer with VHCA:

  • Many amazing neighbors!
  • Many city officials personally – lots of whom are professional and energetic and care a lot.
  • How many guns were stolen out of cars in our neighborhood this year so far – 7!
  • Where the Todd Cemetery is and its history – you can visit it, too.
  • What a “quatrefoil” is, and where it appears architecturally in our neighborhood.
  • That the state stream buffer protection line is 25’ and the city stream buffer protection line is 75’.
  • The subdivisions of VaHi.
  • Our neighborhood’s exact boundaries.
  • Many folks that have contributed to things I enjoy – John Howell, Jerry Bright, Tinka Green (who we sadly lost recently), the Coffins, Warren Bruno and so many more.
  • How nice the folks at Open Door Community are.
  • How many neighbors routinely do a lot of thankless tasks that produce a much more liveable community.
  • How city planning constantly evolves, and how hard it is to anticipate the impacts of land use decisions.
  • That there aren’t near enough fields left in VH for our kids to go play on, with or without adults present.
  • How diverse the knowledge base is in VaHi – from aerospace engineers to paleontologists to geologists to dog walkers to master gardeners to screenplay writers to cartographers to…
  • A little more about Robert’s Rules of Order.
  • That Winnie Currie is from the mountains of Appalachia and worked at Sears for years and bought a house in VaHi when many were afraid to and told her she was crazy to do so.
  • How many structures, addresses, and people there are in VH.
  • That there used to be an attack goose owned by one of two feuding neighbors – the goose attacked the neighbor almost daily.
  • Who started VHCA, why it was started, and what highways had to do with that.
  • That Nass Almeleh paid 50 cents for a beer at Atkins Park as long as he lived – no matter what the price of beer was at the time.
  • The difference between Green B. and George W. Adair.
  • That Rooster Foot Alley must have been really cool and I need to find descendants of people who lived there.
  • That the top of Atkin’s Park Tavern is the house that was on that lot but was raised a story when the bar (that started as a deli) was built below it.
  • That we should start a VaHi Trivia game as part of Trivia at George’s!

If you’re not sure what you’d like to do, reach out to board@vahi.org and someone will get back to you. Better yet, attend a planning or board meeting and you’ll start to get a feel for what we all do. Meeting schedules can be found on vahi.org.

Share

APD Officials Listen and Respond to Resident Safety Concerns

IMG_0560The first portion of this month’s regular meeting of the VHCA held on April 13th was devoted to a special discussion of neighborhood safety.  District 6 Councilperson Alex Wan (who organized the meeting and arranged the speakers), APD Asst. Chief Shawn Jones, Deputy Chief Joseph Spillane, Zone 6 Commander Timothy Peek, and other officers made presentations, listened to resident concerns, and spent over an hour answering a wide range of questions.

While acknowledging the well-publicized instances of violent crime in and around Beat 601 that have caught everyone’s attention, the presenters pointed out that violent crime – murders, rapes, robberies and burglaries – is down in our beat when compared with last year, which itself had low numbers.  What is not down is the level of vehicle break-ins; officers encouraged residents and visitors to remove anything of value from parked cars and pointed out that among the items stolen from cars recently were seven handguns.

IMG_0563One resident pointed out that her knowledge of crime came at least in part from social media and asked about actual statistics. VHCA Safety Chair Peggy Berg and Board member Jess Windham graphed the last six years of stats for Beat 601 (solely and entirely composed of VaHi) and prepared and distributed a handout of those numbers at the meeting.  (They may be viewed here on our website, and we will update them monthly as we receive new data from APD.)

The officials thanked residents who told stories of calling 911 when they saw something suspicious, and encouraged everyone in attendance to do the same if they find themselves in a similar situation.  They explained the priority system that governs response to calls and provided average response times for all categories.  They reminded, urged, and pled with citizens not to intervene in crimes being committed, but to call APD.

IMG_0561Officials also commented that common traits of neighborhoods that effectively fight crime are neighborhood watches like the two-decade old one in VaHi. If you are not currently connected with your local Street Captain, please contact safety@vahi.org.

Several speakers were critical of the county role in dealing with juvenile offenders and thought sentences were too light.  Another viewed the problem of keeping criminals off the street as a multifaceted one.  Police, prosecutors, judges, and the state (which runs prisons) all have a role in ensuring that the most dangerous and predatory of criminals are successfully caught, prosecuted, and incarcerated.

What was abundantly clear is that APD is highly informed as to the location and frequency of crimes, with data coming in and being analyzed constantly. The department’s ability and willingness to respond and shift resources around on an hourly and daily basis was impressive.

We appreciate the time and energy that the whole department expends on this effort, and the presentation ended with a warm ovation from neighbors.  We thank all those at APD and Councilmember Wan for the work they do and for making the evening possible.

Click here to view a video of the meeting in its entirety.

Click here for information on participating in the CourtWatch program.

Click here for a link to the Christian Science Monitor article on the Atlanta Police Department referenced by a resident who spoke at the meeting.

Share

Local Teen Wins Second National Writing Award

clarissa-mulligIn May 2013 we posted this article about VaHi resident and then 8th grader Clarissa Mullig who had just won a Gold Medal in the national Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards, the largest and longest-running recognition program for creative teens in the U.S.

Well, Clarissa obviously isn’t one to rest on her laurels as she was recently awarded her second National Medal in a completely different writing category. Click here to read a Grady High School Facebook post about Clarissa’s accomplishment.

Congratulations, Clarissa, on being the only Georgia student in the past six years to win two National Medals across all writing categories!

Share

Traffic Alert: Georgia Publix Marathon and Half Marathon Pass Through VaHi on March 22

Publix_Georgia_Marathon_Logo_copy_2012Expect traffic delays, road closings along the course on Sunday March, 22 between 7AM-2PM

More than 12,000 participants, 2,500 volunteers and 30,000 spectators will be along the course from downtown Atlanta to Decatur and back. Runners will pass through Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia State University, MLK Historic District, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, The Carter Center, Candler Park, Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Druid Hills, Virginia-Highland, Midtown and Georgia Tech.

To view a map of the Marathon and Half Marathon course, click here. For detailed traffic and road closure information, click here. For detailed traffic information and driving suggestions for participants or spectators, click here.

The following excerpt from the road closure document will impact Virginia-Highland residents:

North Highland Ave – North Highland Ave from North Ave to Virginia Ave is part of the course during approximately 7:13am-9:30am. Also, the intersection of North Highland & Virginia is closed to traffic during approximately 7:13am-9:30am. After approximately 9:30am, North Highland Ave is open to traffic from Baker-Highland Connector to Los Angeles Ave. The intersection of North Highland & Los Angeles is closed to traffic during approximately 8:30am-12:45pm, after which all of N. Highland is open to traffic.

Briarcliff Rd – Briarcliff Rd from Stillwood Dr to The By Way is part of the course during approximately 8:25am-12:30pm. During the race, Briarcliff Rd is open to 2-way traffic south of Stillwood Dr and north of The By Way.

Share

VHCA Encourages Support for Tuesday Bond Referendum

Fire Station 19 repair funds confirmed on list

Anticipated light voter turnout means your vote matters more than ever

No. 19 StationAtlanta City District 6 Councilmember Alex Wan confirmed this week that repair funds for Fire Station 19 are included in the infrastructure bond coming up for a vote this coming week. In a meeting with Wan at the station, Atlanta Fire Department Interim Chief Joel Baker assured community members that the station would remain a fixture in the neighborhood for another generation. Noting that the area’s increased growth means additional fire and rescue capacity might be necessary, Baker reported that the department would address those needs through additional facilities, not replacement of FS19.

The infrastructure vote has flown along relatively under the radar, gathering attention only in the last two weeks. Councilmember Wan, chair of the Council’s Finance/Executive Committee, is a strong supporter, as is the VHCA Board, which voted unanimously in favor of it last week. Creative Loafing’s Thomas Wheatley says the city’s aging and crumbling infrastructure leads him to support the vote, notwithstanding the fact that the project list may be adjusted to some degree. Max Blau finds that last point all too characteristic of this administration and wants to send the Mayor a message about more transparency. Neither of them – no one, to our knowledge – has contested the need for the repair work. You can read both their opinions here: http://clatl.com/atlanta/how-were-voting-on-the-infrastructure-bond-vote/Content?oid=13727618.

Greater transparency is a goal we can all endorse, but not fixing broken roads and aging bridges is a costly way to make the point. Our ‘strong mayor’ form of government gives that individual’s personality and style outsized importance – something well worth remembering when we next go to the polls to vote for that office in 2018 – but a ‘no’ vote on infrastructure improvements doesn’t change city government in the least. It just means we will lose at least half a decade in addressing these problems.

Meanwhile, David Pendered notes in the Saporta Report that the city’s improved credit rating enabled the municipality to refinance some of its outstanding water bond debt at a lower rate last month, saving – he suggests – about 10% on the refi amount. You can read his article here: http://saportareport.com/good-news-on-atlantas-water-debt-may-raise-support-for-bond-referendum/.

Taxpayers pay for all public work one way or another, and there can be no absolute guarantee that a tax increase related to these bonds will never be needed. But Reed is opposed to it publicly, and even his harshest critics acknowledge that he has greatly strengthened the city’s financial position. If there is one area in which his credibility is strong, this is it.

Lastly, local impacts. We appreciate the role of Fire Station 19 in this community’s life and are glad its preservation will be ensured by the passage of this vote. But even if it were not on the list, the other repairs and improvements this bond will deliver need to be started now. It is inevitable and appropriate in our representative system that special efforts will be made to ensure that all communities are benefitted in some way, but the needs of this city are so vast that it wasn’t very hard to make sure that occurred. In our neighborhood this includes a host of traffic improvements, including many along Monroe Drive and Boulevard that are supported by communities along the length of those roads.

We urge you to take the time to study these issues and vote on Tuesday, and we hope you will support this referendum.

~ The VHCA Board of Directors

Share

Trees Atlanta Annual VaHi Planting Set for February 21

image001VaHi’s streets are among the most tree-lined of any intown Atlanta neighborhood. We have many years of joint planting events with Trees Atlanta to thank for that wonderful fact. This year’s annual Trees Atlanta/VaHi tree planting will be held Saturday February 21 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM.

DSCF0011The overall focus continues to be to plant in areas of high automobile traffic to help slow down the traffic, reduce pollution and increase the sense of ‘neighborhood’. This year most of the trees will be planted along Greenwood and St. Charles, but a number of fill-in trees will also be planted along Adair and some along Barnett. Click here for a detailed list of what trees will be planted where. All sites where trees will be planted have been leafletted.

DSC_0012Concurrent with the planting of these 85 trees in the neighborhood, neighbors on Clemont and Greencove are sponsoring a mulching of the trees in the back of the field at Inman Middle School. The mulch for both projects will be dropped at that location. If there are enough volunteers, we should be able to mulch all the trees not only in the field, but also the street trees immediately surrounding Inman School.

We need volunteers for both events. If you’d like to help plant trees, come to New Highland Park at 9:00 AM. If you want to help mulch, come to the back of the field at Inman School along Clemont. All ages are welcome and no RSVP is needed – just show up if you can help.

Trees Atlanta will provide buckets, pitchforks, shovels and gloves for volunteers. Let’s bring out the entire neighborhood and celebrate Arbor Day planting and mulching trees, VaHi-style. Special thanks to the scouts and leaders of Cub Scout Pack #17 for their ongoing support of this annual event! Pack #17 has been instrumental in raising funding and providing volunteers for the event, year in and year out.

For more information contact Alex Beasley at Trees Atlanta alex@treesatllanta.org or Stephanie Coffin stcoffin@comcast.net.

Share

VaHi Resident Continues Work on Mosaic at Intown Ace Hardware, Education Event Scheduled for Saturday

Coffin Dedicdation InviteLet’s face it: there’s a Hall of Fame for just about everything. Pro football, major league baseball, country music, even harness racing. If it’s something people follow, then there’s a hall somewhere where the best of the best are enshrined.According to VaHi resident Stephanie Coffin, that’s all well and good. But what about insects?

According to VaHi resident Stephanie Coffin, that’s all well and good. But what about insects?Coffin, Intown Ace Hardware and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association invite you to stop by Intown Ace’s parking lot at 845 N. Highland this Saturday December 13 from 1-3 PM for the dedication of Coffin’s newest mosaic creation which she’s calling the

Coffin's VaHi home is a virtual showcase of mosaic art.

Coffin’s VaHi home is a virtual showcase of mosaic art.

Coffin, Intown Ace Hardware and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association invite you to stop by Intown Ace’s parking lot at 845 N. Highland this Saturday December 13 from 1-3 PM for the dedication of Coffin’s newest mosaic creation which she’s calling the Insect Wall of Fame.

“The name is a play off of the College Football Hall Fame,” says Coffin. “The idea is to specifically honor four insects and present their images in beautiful settings. I hope the mosaic inspires children to learn more about insects, these four in particular.”

Coffin's workshop studio where she creates her mosaics.

Coffin’s workshop studio where she creates her mosaics.

Coffin’s been doing mosaic work in and around Virginia-Highland for years. Her work titled Precious Predators was presented as part of the Art on the BeltLine series (and is now on display at Truly Living Well Gardens), and it can be seen on planters at Sevananda market on Moreland Ave. in Little Five Points. Last year Coffin began work on the planter in the Intown Ace parking lot. For more information on Coffin and her art, click here to read an interview with the artist published last year in The Voice.

Thanks in part to a community art grant awarded this year by the VHCA, the artist was able to recently complete a second planter wall. So, just which insects is Coffin featuring on her Insect Wall of Fame?

“I’m featuring the ladybug, the Monarch butterfly, the praying mantis and the honey bee,” Coffin explains. “I chose the ladybug and praying mantis because of the work they do for us in the garden. I chose the Monarch because it stands in the throes of extinction. The butterfly’s image is surrounded by milkweed which it needs for reproduction and hangs by a thin thread. We can all help preservation efforts by planting NATIVE varieties. Lastly, because of colony collapse and other bee problems, I wanted to prominently feature the honey bee. In addition to these insects I’ve included vegetables and flowers so the insects are shown in a natural setting.”

Not only will Coffin be on hand Saturday to answer questions about her creation, Intown Ace gardening expert Robbie Cotney will provide useful and interesting information about each insect featured in the mosaic.

The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend. Organizers plan to provide hot cider to attendees.

Share

Fire Station #19 Santathon is On!

station19santathonWhen: Saturday, December 6th, 1PM – 8PM (Santa will arrive after he finishes Breakfast with Santa at Osteria 832)

Where: Fire Station #19, 1063 N. Highland Ave., across from Church of Our Saviour

From caroling to roasting s’mores to selfies with Santa, there will be something for everyone to enjoy at this Santathon to benefit Fire Station #19. In the spirit of holiday giving, this festive event – presented by Tailfin Marketing – is a fundraiser with proceeds going to help restore our historic fire station.

Fire Station #19 is Atlanta’s oldest continuously operating fire station, was designed by Atlanta’s City Engineer, C.E. Kaufman, and built in 1925. The station sits in the heart of Virginia-Highland and holds an important place in the hearts of VaHi residents. It is home to a 1925 American LaFrance fire engine, much like the engine that would have operated out of the fire station in its early days. The firefighters have been raising funds for several years and have plans in hand to make repairs and improvements that will preserve this fire station for years to come. Please take part and help preserve our important landmark Fire Station #19!

Starting Nov. 28th visit http://www.station19santathon.com to sign up for Santathon events by appointment. Residents and visitors are also invited to drop by and participate throughout the event.

Share

Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes Committee Thanks 2014 Sponsors

2014-Tour-of-Homes-DatesThe 2014 Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes is only three short weeks away. With ticket sales already booming and our sponsorships locked in, our 2014 tour promises to be another successful neighborhood event. This year we have a total of 75 business/individual sponsors and have raised $35,000 to fund important neighborhood initiatives. THIS IS INCREDIBLE!  In addition to sponsorships, some businesses and restaurants donated TOH tickets and gift certificates via the Tour of Homes Facebook page. We’ll continue to run these promotions right up to event weekend so check our page out daily to have a chance to win!

On behalf of myself and the entire Tour of Homes Committee, we would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to this year’s sponsors. Thank you for your generous contributions at all levels to help ensure the success of our event, support our community and give back to our neighborhood.

This year’s Presenting Sponsor is Muffley & Associates.

Our Premium Sponsors are Keller Knapp and The Real Estate Company.

Our Major Sponsors are Atlanta Intown, Barking Hound Village, Engineered Solutions, DogGoneHandy, Foam South, Home Rebuilders, Lisa Fish Creative, Mark Arnold Architect, Peachy Clean, Phoenix Renovations, Round Here Renovations, The Great Frame Up, The in towners, The Warren, Whole Foods – Ponce and YWCA.

Our Benefactor Sponsors are Abraham Properties, Balance Design, Broad Builders, Centner Consulting LLC, Construction Resources Inc., Copper Sky Renovations, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Interior Evolutions, John Wesley Hammer, Karen Hott Interiors, Liz Lapidus, She’s Wired, Traditions in Tile and Stone, The Suzuki Prepatory PreSchool and Urban Body Studios.

Our Neighborhood Sponsors are 310 Rosemont, Allied Fence Company, Atlanta Active Wear, Bla Bla Kids, Dan DeHart, Muffley & Associates Real Estate, Design BH Architecture, Distinctive Appliances Buckhead – Midtown Vaccum, Fern Valley Landscape & Interiors, Faith Flowers, HOMESTEAD Real Estate Consultants, Intown Hardware, Mike Price, Realtor – The Mike Price Team, MLC Properties, Neptune Pools, Nikie Barfield Design, Nonies Garden Florals & Botanicals, PSB Studio Architecture, Urbana Designs, William Wren and Winter Wren.

Our Giveaway sponsors are Atkins Park, Barking Hound Village, Bla Bla Kids, Disel Filling Station, El Taco, Engineered Solutions, Foam South LLC, Fontaine’s, Highland Tap, Keller Knapp Realty, La Tavola, Moore Farms & Friends, Muffley & Associates Real Estate, Murphy’s, Noche, Tapa Tapa, Ten Thousand Villages, The Rea Estate Company, The Warren City Club, Timmone’s and Whole Foods Market – Ponce de Leon.

Get your tour tickets online NOW at the Tour of Homes website. Plan Dec 6th and 7th as your weekend to EAT, TOUR and SHOP in VaHi. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 day of tour. Your tickets get you access to seven incredibly unique homes, a tour of the historic Church of Our Savior, food samplings from 10 different community restaurants and special coupons and discounts from our local eateries and shops.

This is the perfect weekend to kick off your holiday season. Bring your family and friends out to hear the Grady High School Jazz Band and Choir perform. What an amazing community we live in. It’s time to celebrate in Virginia-Highland.

~ Angelika Taylor, 2014 Tour of Homes Chair

Share

Taste of Atlanta Comes to Midtown October 24-26

Taste of Atl 600x200More than 90 of Atlanta’s best restaurants will participate in this year’s Taste of Atlanta, to be held October 24-26 in Midtown at Tech Square. With eateries featured from both inside and outside the perimeter, festival-goers will be able to savor truly authentic flavors that represent every corner of the city.

New this year, to help attendees pinpoint their local favorites or discover new dining treasures during Taste of Atlanta, the festival will take food lovers on a culinary tour through the city’s many diverse neighborhoods. Whether it’s Buckhead’s St. Cecilia, Virginia-Highland’s The Original El Taco, Roswell’s Little Alley Steakhouse, Decatur’s No. 246, Brookhaven’s THERE, Alpharetta’s Milton’s or Midtown’s Table at Ten, festival-goers will experience a variety of signature sensations from each community.

Keeping with tradition, Taste of Atlanta will kick off the festival’s 13th year of fantastic fare with an exclusive block party on Friday, October 24. The event, themed Culinary Matrimony, will feature local celebrity chefs for an evening of both famed and more obscure flavor pairings. Guests can also look forward to live music from Electric Avenue, a PleaseRock tribute band, and bountiful booze. Select restaurants, including Seven Lamps, Fox Bros. BBQ, The Optimist and Buttermilk Kitchen, will also be onsite to serve up delicious bites.

“I think people will be hard pressed to find more culinary variety in one place,” said Chef and Restaurateur Ron Eyester of Rosebud, The Family Dog, Timone’s and his latest concept, Diner. “With every signature taste, the festival showcases just how diverse and progressive our city’s dining scene really is. I welcome any opportunity to support my fellow chefs and our local food landscape, and that is exactly what Taste of Atlanta brings to the table!”

Click here for more information on Taste of Atlanta.

Share

Let’s Bring Some Fall Color to The Triangle Island Park

DSC_0151Please join us at the Virginia-Highland triangle island park (in front of Taco Mac) on Saturday morning, October 11 to help with light weeding and fall planting. We will start at 10 AM, but feel free to come by any time before noon. We will have some tools on hand, but please bring gloves and spades if you have them. Bottled water will be provided.

Questions or comments? Contact Nonie Daniel at info@noniesgarden.com.

Share

VaHi Celebrates Atlanta Streets Alive

Kudos to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for putting on another outstanding Atlanta Streets Alive event yesterday. Four hours of un-motorized bliss and plenty of fun activities and events for people on foot, bicycle, rollerblades, etc. to participate in.

A broken foot prevented your fearless reporter from cycling the event this time, but I was able to walk the area between Virginia Ave. and Freedom Pkwy. and took pictures along the way – including many from the start of the Bicycle Parade. Here are 15 of my favorites. Click here to view a Google album with more photos. Enjoy!

DSC_0021DSC_0022DSC_0027DSC_0034DSC_0037DSC_0050DSC_0054DSC_0060DSC_0061DSC_0067DSC_0074DSC_0081DSC_0097DSC_0099DSC_0100

Share

VHCA Announces Candidates for 2014-15 Board of Directors; Absentee Ballot Available

VaHi-Logo-Very-Horizontal-Small-RGBThe nominating committee of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association presents the following list of candidates, all of whom have declared their candidacy. Click on the candidate’s name to go to a page with candidate bio’s.

Members of the association (18 years of age residing within the official boundaries of Virginia-Highland) may vote at the Annual General Meeting to be held September 18, 2014 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria starting 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 18 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.

Click here for a copy of the absentee ballot.

Share

Exterior Improvements Underway at Ponce Kroger

Whatever name you use to refer to it, the Kroger on Ponce has announced it will make major improvements to the parking lot area around the store this fall. The improvements will include construction of a gateway to provide access to the adjacent BeltLine Eastside Trail, a “water quality pond” designed to filter storm water, a repaved parking lot surface and a redesigned entrance that will provide better flow of traffic in and out of the parking lot.

The gateway to connect the parking lot to the BeltLine is under construction (see photos below) and work on the other new features should begin soon. Planners hope to have all work complete by November.

Click here to read a whatnowatlanta.com article on the improvements. Click here to view a rendering of what the parking lot will look like when work is complete.

DSC_0748 DSC_0747 DSC_0746

Share

Traffic Alert: Atlanta Moon Ride

AMR logoThe second annual Atlanta Moon Ride will be held this Friday June 13 and will pass through Virginia-Highland. The 6.5 mile ride starts at Park Tavern at 10 PM and proceeds up Kanuga to Virginia Ave. where it turns left. The ride continues along Virginia, taking a right turn at N. Highland Ave. The ride exits the neighborhood at Ponce de Leon Ave.

APD officers will implement lane closures and rolling roadblocks at cross streets along the course route. There will be fixed roadblocks at Virginia/N. Highland and N. Highland/ Ponce de Leon intersections.

Click here for more information on the Atlanta Moon Ride including a graphic of the course route.

Share

Summerfest Tribute Ride: In Memory of Warren Bruno

SummerfestThere could be no better way to celebrate the man and avid cyclist who made Virginia-Highland Summerfest happen than with a celebratory ride through Atlanta’s favorite intown neighborhoods. That’s just what the staff of Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar and Ormsby’s is doing.

profile_warrenbruno122010.jpgIn fitting Warren Bruno style, the restaurants are hosting a bicycle ride during this year’s Summerfest. The ride starts at North Highland Park, at the corner of N. Highland and St. Charles Ave’s. The course continues to Little Five Points, through Old Fourth Ward and onto the BeltLine, into Piedmont Park and over to the Ansley Park Loop. The ride ends, of course, “at home” in Virginia-Highland just in time to enjoy the second day of the annual summer arts and music festival. Riders can take their choice of three loops – anywhere from 9.5 to 19 miles in total. To make sure the course is fun (and just a bit challenging) for all skill levels, the ride starts in waves according to ability, with plenty of markings to follow as well as ride leaders to help along the way.

As an owner of the flagship Atkins Park restaurant and now Ormsby’s, Warren Bruno was one of the founders of Virginia-Highland’s Summerfest. This annual tribute was created to honor and celebrate the man who never missed a chance to bring family, friends and community together – or the chance to enjoy the city by way of bike.

warren_bruno_sidewalk_spray_265hTo participate, riders must be registered with a number. To do so, register online. Fees are $5 for children and $20 for adults. Donations to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are welcomed in honor of Bruno, and go directly to the Georgia Chain Gang team fundraising efforts. Founded by Bruno, the Georgia Chain Gang team rides in his honor to raise awareness for blood cancer research. Riders are also encouraged to bring their own water bottles, as refills along with food will be provided along the route.

Number pick-up and sign-in for the ride begins at 6:45 AM and the ride starts at 8 AM on Sunday, June 8. To register as a rider, visit the Warren Bruno Summerfest Celebration Ride website or visit the Facebook event page for more information. And, of course, get ready for the perfect celebration of Summerfest, community and the life of Warren Bruno!

Share