By Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board President
Want to become more involved in the neighborhood? Interested in meeting more of your friendly VaHi neighbors? Have you always wondered what VHCA does but were afraid to ask? Now is your chance to learn the answers to these burning questions!
VHCA is hosting a Committee Open House on Sunday, January 29 at DBA BBQ from 3:00-5:00 pm. We’ll provide the snacks and stimulating conversation – all you have to do is show up. We’ll have VHCA Board members and representatives from our Safety, Planning, Communications, Parks, Summerfest and Tour of Homes Committees to explain what these committees do and how you can get involved. We’ll also be seeking volunteers for our new Business District Task Force, which will be comprised of commercial property owners, business owners and VaHi residents and will focus on revitalizing and improving our commercial district.
This is a great opportunity to become involved in the neighborhood. Thanks to DBA, a frequent supporter of the neighborhood and a Tour of Homes sponsor, for hosting this event.
Hope to see you on the 29th!
Following are lists of accomplishments of the various committees of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association as reported by the respective committee chairs.
Communications Committee (reported by John Becker)
- Published 312 original articles to the VHCA website in 12 months, ensuring that all content was in support of VHCA activities, goals and objectives.
- Actively engaged other board members and non-board members as appropriate to provide content.
- Personally wrote or edited most articles.
- Actively supported Summerfest and Tour of Homes committees in developing their communication plans, as well as content for their respective websites and/or pages on the VHCA site.
- Based primarily on content posted to the website, published 27 issues of The Voice e-newsletter in 12 months, (meeting goal of publishing at least 2 issues per month).
- Grew Voice subscriber base from 2,966 email addresses in October 2012 to 3,051 in September 2013 (3% increase).
- Generated $5,300 in revenue from Voice advertisers. Signed The Intowners up for new ‘skyscraper’ premium ad space for six months; another advertiser has committed to leasing the space when Intowners’ agreement is up in November. Grew number of sidebar square advertisers from 3 to 7 (currently).
- Revised/updated The Voice masthead. Masthead revision included creation of new ‘skyscraper’ premium ad space and moving premium ad space from masthead to sidebar (providing greater focus on the fact that the newsletter comes from the VHCA).
- Served as admin for three VHCA Facebook pages (VHCA, Summerfest and Tour of Homes) and VHCA’s Twitter account. Actively used social media to promote neighborhood events, promote The Voice newsletter and other website content and provide timely alerts as needed. Posted content as appropriate to neighborhood message boards like Nextdoor VaHi and VHLIST. Also created a blog account on VaHi Patch and posted neighborhood-related content to it as appropriate.
- Took hundreds of photos of numerous neighborhood events and activities. Created 13 online Google albums with photos from different events that are archived through the VHCA website for future reference.
- Managed our two primary communications committee volunteers: Ida Centner (website), and Mary Johnson (website, e-newsletter). Solicited additional committee involvement and have talked to a few people who are interested in helping.
- Along with safety chair Peggy Berg, implemented WelcomeMat service where each month new VaHi residents receive a welcome flyer from the VHCA that includes instructions to visit a welcome page on the VHCA website to learn more about the neighborhood, sign-up for The Voice e-newsletter, safety updates and more. Also designed and built the new welcome page to support the service. Flyer is delivered to roughly 200 addresses each month and we get 20-30 hits per month on the welcome page in the days following the mailing.
- Established positive relationships with editors at VaHi Patch and Atlanta INTown resulting in those sites picking up VHCA website content on several occasions.
- As part of initiative to establish relationships with other civic association communication chairs, met and talked with counterparts from Inman Park and Piedmont Heights and now have reciprocal arrangement to share information and ideas as appropriate.
Safety Committee (reported by Peggy Berg)
- Hold an annual Street Captain’s meeting and Safety public meeting. The meeting was held on September 14, 2013
- Maintain a working relationship with FBAC and encourage that group to be highly visible, effective at outreach, integrated with the community on a daily basis, financially viable, responsive to quality of life issues, and viewed as a neighborhood asset. FBAC has been submitting regular reports to its members and operating consistently.
- Provide opportunistic support (holiday dinners, e.g.) to local Public Safety personnel. John Wolfinger organized this for our first responders at the end of 2012.
- Advocate for public policy changes in the city that both encourage the city to assume formal responsibility for and fund sidewalk repairs and greatly simplify the capacity of citizens to make their own repairs as desired. We chaired a sub-committee on sidewalks for City Council, researched red tape and neighborhood initiatives for Atlanta and provided comparison to other communities, developed detailed recommendations which were presented to City Council and DPW, met with DPW and Parks about the recommendations. Some changes have already been implemented.
- Continue to participate on the City Council Sidewalk Committee and advocate for safer pedestrian and cycling measures.
- Continued to monitor the anticipated CoA bond issue that contemplates funding for sidewalk repair.
- Push the city to fulfill its commitment to complete the sidewalk repairs on St. Charles Avenue identified and funded in 2012 by residents and VHCA. Repairs completed.
- As practical, develop a similar program in a second section of the neighborhood. Second bundle delivered to the City; a supplement is complete and will be delivered by August 21, 2014.
- Using the methodology developed by VaHi resident Dr. Randy Guensler and his grad students at Georgia Tech, inventory the neighborhood’s sidewalks and provide that data to the city’s Public Works department. This is in progress. Participated in volunteer initiative to inventory sidewalks and will again.
Traffic & Transportation
- With the Planning Committee, develop a formal transportation plan for VaHi. This is in progress.
- With the Education Committee, work to improve pedestrian safety along Briarcliff near Spark. This is in progress. We extended the sidewalk bundle to improve sidewalks along Briarcliff and hope to have significant improvement between St. Charles and Ponce on the VAHI side of Briarcliff.
- Work with the CoA to restore and enforce the directional signage at the Triangle. Worked with the CoA to restore multiple street signs and traffic indicators around the neighborhood.
Planning Committee (reported by Lola Carlisle)
Committee Members: Mark Arnold, Chip Bullock, Lola Carlisle, Karen Feigh, Genny Ferrero, Jenifer Keenan, Jess Windham, Jack White
- Reviewed applications for variances, special exceptions and liquor licenses and made recommendations to the board.
- Represented VHCA at NPU-F, BZA meetings.
- Monitored the development of public policies in the city that might impact VH – including Beltline related activities, CDP updates and other transportation and development initiatives.
- Monitored developments in NC zones.
- Began compilation of NC zone database of business types and contacts and allocated parking for each business.
- Responded to citizen concerns about building code violations.
- Notified City of hazards in the neighborhood such as broken sewer drains, hazardous trees, etc.
- Reviewed public education policy and planning that effect VH. Advocated for inclusion of the VH Planning committee in planning meeting for Inman expansion and will continue to monitor and be involved .
- Approved plans and engaged Market + Main to develop a master plan for VH and formed a steering committee – called out for focus group participation.
- Continued to address traffic implications resulting from overcrowding at Inman.
- Identified original subdivisions of VH with intent to support historic efforts by subdivision.
- Maintained updated vahi.org site with planning reports and database of information.
- Met with new director of Callanwolde and director of Laurel Heights to ensure transfer of history regarding stormwater issues from Callanwolde and potential issues with expansion of Laurel Heights.
History & Preservation Committee (reported by Lola Carlisle)
Committee Members: Paul Burks, Rachel Blacher, Lola Carlisle, Karri Hobson-Pape, Judy Potter, Jack White, Jess Windham
- Continued to add to VH historic archives.
- Met with an archivist to discuss best practices for archiving images and documents.
- Added historic maps to archives and development map online.
- Served as a resource as needed for those concerned about preservation in VH.
- Encouraged creation of and provided preservation content on vahi.org relevant to VH.
- Called out to community to identify subdivision champions to gather history and promote preservation by subdivision. Resulted in the identification of several research projects which will result in content creation. Also resulted in the creation of a Historic Designation Steering Committee for “F.A. Ames Property / Virginia Highlands.” This committee will pursue HD for that area.