Friday, January 27, 2023

February Newsletter and Events

  • Upcoming Events
    • 2/11 - Saturday - Adopt-A-Road Cleanup along Indian River Road
    • 2/18 - Saturday - Great Backyard Bird Count Hike @ Lake by Indian River Civic Campus
  • Other News
    • Annual Meeting Recap
    • 2023 Calendar
    • Volunteer Needs


Upcoming Events

Adopt-A-Road Cleanup along Indian River Road

Date: Saturday, February 11, 9 am

Location: Meet at Lilac Avenue and Indian River Road. Park along Lilac Avenue by the Norfolk Highlands Primary School

We need your help for our quarterly cleanup.   Join us for a few hours to clean up the mile of Indian River Road from the city limits at Wingfield Avenue all the way to MacDonald Road. We are also asking all business owners along Indian River Road - and everywhere really - to make sure they sweep up in front of their storefronts as part of the effort.   And if you can't make it out for our organized cleanup please take 15 minutes and cleanup the street and ditches in front of your home; pass the word to your neighbors!

For our main cleanup on Indian River Road, the city will provide garbage bags and orange safety vests.  Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.  Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.

To save time and allow for better social distancing, please pre-register at https://forms.gle/GjBDAVuBdUJzecKs9


Great Backyard Bird Count Hike @ Lake by Indian River Civic Campus

Date: Saturday
, February 18, 8:30 am to 10:30 am

Location: Meet at the Indian River Community Center, 2250 Old Greenbrier Rd.

It's the weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count, a worldwide effort to identify the distribution of birds; as part of this we'll be leading a guided bird walk around the lake between the Indian River Community/Rec Center and the High School.

When scouting the site, a variety of birds were spotted including Cormorants, Mallards, Pied-Bill Grebe, Bluebirds, - Yellow-Rumped Warblers, Woodpeckers, and more.

We'll have some binoculars and a spotting scope, but do bring your own if you have some!

Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/8nLaBXvwvV7PpTyk7



Other News

Annual Meeting Recap

Our Annual Meeting was a chance to get together with our members and discuss plans for the coming year and hold election for our officers and board members.   We had strong engagement from the attendees and had a great conversation.  

Two main goals were highlighted for 2023
  • Build Volunteer Base and Membership to meet existing commitments and build our advocacy power,
  • Engage with partners in the implementation of the Indian River Planning Area Study 
Regarding the Planning Area Study, we're expecting the City to kick off a Steering Committee in the coming month; this has been long delayed due to staffing shortages.  The City now has a Request for Bids out to get Commercial Design Guidelines drafted. One priority we want is establishing an Overlay District for the area to strengthen planning and zoning guidelines for the community.    

We also talked about progress, or lack of progress, in areas such as redesigning Indian River Road, improving connectivity within our neighborhoods with paths and greenways, improved signage, and other goals identified in the plan.  As part of the Great Bridge Village Plan, the City set aside funding to provide facade improvement grants in that part of the City; that's something that needs to be looked at for Indian River.   

Around parks, the City has a revised Request for Bids out for the new Blue Heron Landing Park on the Indian River.  And at Indian River Park, they are continuing improvements; new trail signage is a next step at the park.   Another area where there has been no action so far is in talking with Chesapeake Public School about ideas to create a "civic campus" around the lake by the Indian River Community Center/Middle School/High School/Library.  

One key goal will be to improve our outreach to engage more and new members and volunteers.  This will help us complete our many volunteer efforts and bring more people to the table to push forward improvements in the quality of life for all the residents of the Indian River neighborhoods.

2023 Calendar

Here is a first look at the Friends of Indian River planned calendar of events for 2023.   Dates are subject to change, so please visit http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/calendar.html for details on upcoming events.




Volunteers Needs

Thank you to the volunteers who came out in January to help manage English Ivy at Indian River Park.  This is an on-going effort.

We need volunteers to help with removing invasive plants at the Park. We also need volunteers to help with weeding at the new landscaping at the Oaklette Indian River Bridge and at the native plant garden at Indian River Park. There are also other volunteer opportunities listed on our website at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/volunteer.html.  If you can help out on any of these, please contact us at info@friendsofindianriver.org


 

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

January Newsletter and Events


  • Upcoming Events
    • 1/19 - Thursday - Annual Meeting
    • 1/21 - Saturday - Adopt-A-Park - Invasive Species Workshop
  • Other News
    • Year in Review
    • "Main Street" Indian River Holiday Decoration Winners
    • Volunteer Needs


Upcoming Events

Annual Meeting

Date: Thursday, January 19, 7 pm

Location: Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive

Please join us for our Annual Meeting to help us plan for 2023 and hold elections for our Board.  All are welcome.
 
We'll also have the latest community news and updates!  There will be light refreshments.

Adopt-A-Park - Invasive Species Workshop

Date: Saturday, January 21, 9 am to Noon

Location: Indian River Park trailhead, 2003 Rokeby Ave., which is located just south of Military Highway

Learn to identify various invasive plant species that threaten Indian River Park and natural areas across the Tidewater region.  Those found in the park include English Ivy, Chinese Privet, Multifloral Rose, Linden Viburnum, and others.  

Then we'll have a work effort to clear some outbreaks of the English Ivy. The more volunteers that come out the more that we can accomplish! 

Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves. We'll be working both to remove Ivy on the ground and on trees.  Bring pruning clippers, loppers, screwdrivers (which are amazingly useful in prying ivy off tree trunks) and/or pruning saws if you have them.  We will have water and snacks but we also always encourage folks to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize use of plastic bottles. Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.

Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/6kppJtmRnWK1Agty5



Other News

Year In Review

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Friends of Indian River.  Over the past decade, hundreds of volunteers have performed nearly 8000 hours of service in projects in our community organized by the Friends of Indian River.  We are sincerely thankful for everyone's contribution.

In 2022, our signature project was the Indian River Gateway Tree Planting by the Indian River Oaklette Bridge.  By the numbers, some highlights for this past year include:
  • 46 Native Trees and Shrubs Planted, plus dozens of Perennials and Flowers
  • 2000 lbs. Trash Removed over Multiple Cleanups
  • 6 Hikes and Nature Walks and 1 History Walk
  • 4 Guest Speakers
  • 1 High School Scholarship Awarded
  • 1 Environmental Award Received
  • Overall 72 Volunteers performed 680+ Volunteer Hours

"Main Street" Indian River Holiday Lights & Decorating Contest

The winners of our fourth annual "Main Street" Indian River Holiday Decoration Contest were Midway Veterinary Hospital, Vohringer & Bryant Chiropractic, and Trade Team USA.  Winners were selected based on overall appearance, festiveness, and decorations being fresh and appropriate for the site. 

Honorable Mentions go to Affordable Transmission, Botanica Spiritual House,  Colorscapes Painting and Design, Direct Auto Insurance, Moulton Tax Service, The Pig Shop BBQ Eatery, Popeyes, Hair2O Studio, Fast Food Mart, and the NAE Federal Credit Union.

Thanks to all the businesses that help make Indian River Road sparkle for the Holidays!

Volunteers Needs

We need volunteers to help with weeding at the new landscaping at the Oaklette Indian River Bridge and at the native plant garden at Indian River Park.   We also need volunteers to help with removing invasive plants at the Park.  There are also other volunteer opportunities listed on our website at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/volunteer.html.  If you can help out on any of these, please contact us at info@friendsofindianriver.org


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

2022 Year In Review

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Friends of Indian River.  Ten years ago, we called a meeting with the goal of finding like-minded people who wanted to improve the quality of life for all the residents of the Indian River neighborhoods.   Many turned out for that first meeting, and many kept coming back.  Over the past decade, hundreds of volunteers have performed nearly 8000 hours of service in projects in our community organized by the Friends of Indian River.  We are sincerely thankful for everyone's contribution.

In 2022, our signature project was the planting over 40 native trees and shrubs, plus various grasses and flowers in the Indian River Gateway Tree Planting by the Indian River Oaklette Bridge.  Funded by grants from the Virginia Department of Forestry Virginia Trees for Clean Water Grant and the City of Chesapeake License Plate for Beautification and Conservation Fund, this was a major project to beautify the area.  

Some other highlights of the year include: 

  • On-going efforts at Indian River Park including maintaining the Native Plant Garden, Invasive Plant Removal, Trail Maintenance, and working on planning efforts with the Parks, Recreations and Tourism (PRT) Department.
  • Planting 5 trees and shrubs and maintaining entrance landscaping at Plymouth Park  
  • 2000 lbs. of trash removed from our streets, parks, and waterways during multiple volunteer cleanups around the area as part of our Adopt-A-Road program on Indian River Road, Clean the Bay Day, and the International Coastal Cleanup.  
  • Seven hikes and walks including a First Day Hike, the Great Backyard Bird Count, several Second Saturday Hikes at Indian River Park, and a History Walk through parts of the Norfolk Highlands and Oaklette neighborhoods. 
  • Four guest speakers at our bi-monthly meetings and a spring picnic.
  • Fourth annual "Main Street" Indian River Holiday Decoration Contest in December
  • Friends of Indian River Education Scholarship Award to a worthy graduate of Indian River High School for third consecutive year
  • The Friends of Indian River received the Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council's Environmental Award for Community Organizations
  • Altogether, 72 volunteers performed over 680 hours of service in the community.
On the flip side, there were some important priorities that saw little progress in 2022, especially around the Indian River Planning Area Study.  Early in 2022, the City approved capital funding to create Commercial Design Guidelines and to implement bike lanes along Indian River Road called for in the Study, but neither effort has progressed much due to staffing shortages in both the City Planning and Procurement departments.  Likewise, plans to create a steering committee to coordinate work around the Planning Area Study are still pending.   A Request for Bids on the construction of the new Blue Heron Landing Park on the Indian River was put out early in 2022, but the bids came in far above the projected budget and the City decided to modify the Request to put it out for re-bidding; that new Request is also still being reviewed by Procurement.  In 2023, we also hope to see work start on developing a City-wide Trails and Open Space Plan and an Urban Forestry Management Plan.  These are all key efforts to which the Friends of Indian River hope to support in 2023.  

Please join us for our Annual Meeting to help us plan for 2023 and hold elections for our Board.  The meeting will be on Thursday, January 19 at 7 pm at Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive.   All are welcome.

The Friends of Indian River is an all-volunteer, local 501(c)(3) non-profit.  You can support our efforts by becoming a member, renewing your membership, or just making a contribution online at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/membership.html

Year in Review

Indian River Gateway Tree Planting

The east side of the Indian River Oaklette Bridge is identified as a key Recreational/Civic Node in the Indian River Planning Area Study, serving as a Gateway to the community and the river.  In 2021, the Friends of Indian River won grants from the 
Virginia Department of Forestry Virginia Trees for Clean Water Grant and the City of Chesapeake License Plate for Beautification and Conservation Fund to redo the landscaping in this area.  Working with a professional landscaper in the spring of this year, we landscaped and planted 14 native trees (magnolias, red cedars, fringe trees, a red bud, and a black gum) 27 native shrubs, 30 native muhly and fountain grasses, and hundreds of daylilies.  Just before our planting, Hampton Roads Transit installed a new bus shelter at the site and City Public Works installed new turn chevron signs on the bridge approach.  Now our volunteers are doing the on-going work to keep the landscaping weeded and good looking.  

Still on the books is rehabilitation work by the Public Works Department on the Oaklette Bridge, installing "pile jackets" to protect the bridge piling from corrosion and doing bridge joint, deck and beam small repairs.  As with several other projects, work on this is still pending and now targeted for completion in 2023.  

Volunteer Events

We got back into the swing of things with volunteer events this year.   We held four Adopt-A-Road Cleanups along Indian River Road, held a Clean the Bay Day event at Indian River Park in partnership with the Southern Auto Volkswagen Dealership in the spring, and did a waterborne International Coastal Cleanup on the river in the fall.    All together our volunteers removed about 2000 lbs. of trash from the community's streets, parks, and shoreline

We held several Adopt-A-Park events at Indian River Park, both to tend to the Native Plant Garden at the trailhead and do invasive plant management in the park.  We had on-going efforts by trained individuals and small groups to manage and remove English Ivy, Japanese Stilt Grass, Linden Viburnum and Chinese Privet in the park.  For Earth Day, a team from Dollar Tree came out with one of our trained volunteers to cut English Ivy encroaching on the park trees.  

We also continued trail maintenance activities, removing minor trail blockages and working with Parks, Recreations and Tourism (PRT) Department to deal with any larger issues.  PRT continued work to rebuild several key bridges over the creeks in the park, including several on the north end of the park and the key bridge at the power lines.  

In September, PRT held a well-attended Public Planning Meeting to gather input on opportunities for improving visitor experience for the many user groups who love the park. Some of the key comments we heard: What do folks love about the park?   The mature forest, the location nearby, the multiple use options.  What changes would you like to see?  Better trail maintenance and signage, removal of invasives, some requests for more "wooden features" for bikers, better erosion control, port-a-potties, a water station, and more trash cans.  The Friends will continue to work with PRT on planning and implementing improvements at the park.  

At Plymouth Park, another volunteer focused on caring for its flower bed, keeping an eye on the tree plantings, and doing ad hoc litter cleanups.   We also did a volunteer tree planting at Plymouth Park, planting 2 Persimmon Trees, 2 Hazelnut Trees, and a False Indigo Bush, all of which are native to this area.   On the same day another effort led by the Chesapeake Tree Board, planted saplings along Border Road which will eventually help absorb runoff as part of a stormwater swale.   

And of course, there was various "back office" work to keep up the organization and do outreach and communication.  All told, our 72 volunteers reported more than 680 hours of effort this year.

We also want to thank the Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council also organized another cleanup at Indian River Park for the Great American Cleanup in March.  Also, the Chesapeake Master Gardeners and Cooperative Extension Office which worked with local residents to the Plymouth Park neighborhood to do residential tree plantings in both the spring and fall. 

Connecting with Nature

We had several more Second Saturday Hikes at Indian River Park in 2022 and plan to continue with these in 2023.   We also did a hike around the Indian River Civic Campus (Community Center/ Library/ Middle School/ High School/ Lake area) for the Great Backyard Bird Count in February.  These hikes provide an opportunity to learn about the history of the park, the native trees and plants in this century old forest in the park, discover some of the local butterfly, bird, and wildlife populations, and just get together with other folks interested in exploring our natural areas.

Civic Engagement

In 2022, we switched to a bi-monthly meeting schedule.  Guest speakers this year included:
Norfolk Highlands Primary
School c. 1913
  • Rogard Ross giving a presentation on the History of the Indian River Area
  • Mickie Nance, Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve
  • Karen and Steve McCurdy, Butterfly Society of Virginia
  • Mayor Rick West, City of Chesapeake
In June, we had held a picnic instead of a regular indoor meeting.   We'll discuss making this an annual event.  In October, we organized a History Walk around Norfolk Highlands and Oaklette area, talking about how the name Indian River originated, some of the initial colonial land grants, and the development of the community from a trolley-car suburb in the early 1900's to today.  

Of course, we continued our online outreach through our monthly newsletter, Facebook, Instagram, Next Door, and our website.  

The Friends of Indian River also sponsored the fourth annual "Main Street" Indian River Holiday Decoration Contest.  Winners were selected based on overall appearance, festiveness, and decorations being fresh and appropriate for the site. 
Winners this year were Midway Veterinary Hospital, Vohringer & Bryant Chiropractic, and Trade Team USA.

Honorable Mentions go to Affordable Transmission, Botanica Spiritual House,  Colorscapes Painting and Design, Direct Auto Insurance, Moulton Tax Service, The Pig Shop BBQ Eatery, Popeyes, Hair2O Studio, Fast Food Mart, and the NAE Federal Credit Union.

Indian River High School Scholarship

This was the third year of the Friends of Indian River Education Scholarship Award.  The Scholarship is awarded to an Indian River High School graduating senior who embodies the spirit of the Friends of Indian River mission and excels in leadership, citizenship, extracurricular activities and academics.  The award this year went to Abigale Sloniker, who is interested in pursuing Biochemistry or Chemistry as an area of study in college.  Among other accomplishments, she was a student representative to the City's Human Services Advisory Board.  

Graduates in the class of 2023 will be able to apply for this scholarship in the coming months.

Awards and Recognitions

The Friends of Indian River received the Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council's Environmental Award for Community Organizations, recognizing our restoration work in our watershed.  

Active Supporting Members and Volunteers 2022

Affordable Transmissions M
Jill Arnone M
Kevin Bailey M
Gary Ball MV
Susan Ball M
Madison Barton V
Andrew Bates V
Larry Bender V
Mark Bunker V
Diane Burke MV*
Joe Burke M
Margie Carraway M
Dollar Tree V
Brian Easley MV
Vickie Easley MV
Lynn Gilbert M*
Grace Gonzales V
Sarah Kelly Gonzales V
David and Lynn Greenfield M 

Gilbert Griffin MV
Helene Haluska MV*
Jim Haluska M
Jim Harrison M
Jim Hartle MV*
Eric Holsinger V
Jill Jamison MV
Lisa and Tom Kennedy M
Janet Kerns V
Elizabeth Kessler M
Rachel Knight V
Sharon Komenda MV*
Mella Leibrand V
Shamar Mason V
Chris MathewMV
Ed MathewMV
Barbara McCane M*
Nicolas McConlogue V
Karen and Davis Mellott M
Debbie Moore M 
Keith Moore MV
Michael Nerino M
Vic Nichols M
Amy PetersenM
Jennifer Raymond MV
Dennie Reno M
Rogard Ross MV*
Jack Saladino V
Shore Consulting Group, LLC M
Edward Sorey and family V
Susan and Emily Vitale V
Carol Warren MV*
Amy Weber MV*
Shirley Whitehurst M
Alex Whitney V
Chris Whitney MV*
Jayne Whitney MV*
Shaun Wynn-Bouder M


M – Supporting Member       V – Volunteer     
* - Completed more than 100 lifetime volunteer hours with FIR