Monday, March 29, 2021

April Newsletter and Events

In this month's issue, we have:

  • Upcoming Events
    • Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park - Sat, 4/10 (Rain date 4/17)
    • Virtual Monthly Meeting - Living Shorelines - Thurs, 4/15
    • Future Dates
  • Other News
    • Action Alert: Proposed zoning change for Used Car Dealership
    • Holiday "Main Street" Event Planning Committee
    • Indian River Small Area Plan status
    • Great American Cleanup results
    • Conservation Landscape Funding


Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park

Date: Saturday, April 10, 9 am to Noon
Location: Indian River Park entrance
at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2001 Rokeby Ave.) which is located just south of Military Highway, i.e. across Military Highway from the Fire Station.


We'll be tending to the native plant garden at the park entrance.  We may also do some  trail work, pruning, weeding, and cleanup.  Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves. If you can, bring shovels, rakes, pruners, saws and other gardening tools.  We'll have water and snacks available but we also always encourage folks to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize use of plastic bottles and cans. 
 
Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.

All participants should follow Covid-19 safety precautions.  If you are sick or have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 please stay home and contact your doctor's office for care and proper quarantine procedures.  Masks must be worn properly during the cleanup.  Strive to maintain a minimum physical distance of six feet from others not in your household.  Wear gloves during the cleanup and sanitize your hands before removing your mask and/or touching your face
.
To speed up registration and improve social distancing at the start of the cleanup, please review and complete the online safety release form at least one day before the event.

Rain date: April 17



Monthly M
eeting - Urban Forestry

Date: Thursday, April 15, 7 pm
Location: Zoom Meeting, Pre-register

Our guest speaker will be Steven Traylor, Norfolk City Forester discussing importance of trees in urban environments.

We'll have updates on the latest community news.

Please pre-register for the event to get the Zoom meeting URL. https://forms.gle/FBM8D61xLLzfQGkc6.



Future Dates - Mark Your Calendar
  • Monthly Meeting - Joe Rieger, Elizabeth River Project speaking on Living Shorelines - Thurs,  5/20
  • Clean the Bay Day - Indian River Park, Sat, 6/5
  • Monthly Meeting - Topic TBD - Thurs, 6/17


Other News.


Action Alert: Used Car Dealership - 
The proposed Zoning Change and Conditional Use Permit to allow opening another Used Car Dealership at the corner of Indian River Road and Elder Ave. is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, 4/14.   The Friends of Indian River and the Norfolk Civic League are speaking out against this proposed use of the property.   

One key goal of the Indian River Small Area Plan is to revitalize the business district along Indian River Road, re-establish it as our "Main Street", and make it a much more walkable, bikeable, and attractive destination for the more than 30,000 residents who live nearby.  Another Used Car Dealership is not consistent with this goal.  We are advocating for land uses that support the revitalization of the local community as recommended in the draft plan.  

You can submit your own comments to the Planning Commission online about this proposal at https://cityofchesapeake.jotform.com/210536857544057.   Comment on Application Number "PLN-REZ-2020-027" for the zoning change and/or Application Number "PLN-USE-2020-045" for the associated conditional use permit.  (There are two agenda items associated with the proposal).  Indicate that you Oppose the changes.   You can use the talking points in the previous paragraph above, but the more you can personalize your comment the better.    

The agenda for the Planning Commission is found at https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/pc    


Holiday "Main Street" Event - 
We're pulling together a planning committee to look at organizing a holiday event along Indian River Road this December.  The basic idea is to plant a live evergreen, potentially at the entrance to the Indian River Shopping Center, as a Community Christmas Tree, and hold an event to "light" the tree.  We need folks to help take this from an idea to a reality.   Contact us at info@friendsofindianriver.org

Benjamin Camras from the Planning Department gave our group a good briefing on the Indian River Small Area Plan's status at our March monthly meeting.   The planning document, which will be about 100 pages altogether, is nearly ready for release.    Once it is released, which we're hoping for in April, there will be a two week public comment period, outreach to major stakeholder such as Chamber of Commerce and Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, and presentations at work sessions of the City Planning Commission and City Council.  All that feedback will go into preparing the next draft of the document with the goal of bringing it to formal public hearings at the Planning Commission and City Council - and votes to approve the plan - over the summer.   We'll send out notice about the plan as soon as it is released!

Thank you to the volunteers who came the Great American Cleanup at the Indian River Library and School Campus organized by the Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council - CEIC and Green Drinks Chesapeake in late March.  A couple of dozen volunteers spent Saturday morning removing about 800 lb. of trash and debris, or more, from the areas around the schools, library, and around the lake, making a major improvement in the situation.

Interested in improving the natural value of your property?  Would you like to add beauty while helping the environment?  The 
Elizabeth River Project is still offering matching funding for installing living shorelines (up to $4000), buffers (up to $1500), or maybe a Rain Garden (up to $2000). The Friends of Indian River has limited funds to kick in up to another $250 toward these projects in the Indian River section of Chesapeake.  Learn more at https://elizabethriver.org/river-star-homes

While our regular Adopt-A-Road cleanups are suspended, we always encourage you as individual to pick up any stray litter that you come across along our roads, parking lots, and in our parks.  Every piece of trash collected is one less that causes harm to wildlife in our natural areas and waterways.  And just as important, reduce your use of single use packaging to not create litter in the first place.  Take The Pledge to keep Virginia Litter Free at https://loversnotlitter.org/pledge/

Sunday, March 7, 2021

March Newsletter and Events

In this month's issue, we have:

  • Upcoming Events
    • Virtual Monthly Meeting - Indian River Small Area Plan - Thurs, 3/18
    • Great American Cleanup @ Indian River Civic Campus - Sat, 3/27
    • Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park - Sat, 4/10
    • Future Dates
  • Other News
    • Virginia Trees for Clean Water Grant Award
    • Proposed zoning change for Used Car Dealership
    • Indian River High School Scholarship
    • Pop-up Nature Program at Plymouth Park, Wed, 3/24
    • Agape Feast Community Meals for the Homeless
    • Action Alert: Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area
    • Conservation Landscape Funding



Monthly M
eeting - Indian River Small Area Plan

Date: Thursday, March 18, 7 pm
Location: Zoom Meeting, Pre-register

Our guest speaker will be Benajamin Camras from the Chesapeake Planning Department and we'll review the latest on the Indian River Small Area Plan.  This will be an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed plan.

We'll have updates on the latest community news and hold a brief business meeting to approve our budget for 2021-2022.

Please pre-register for the event to get the Zoom meeting URL. https://forms.gle/TpQvjQgf92DyEGkd6 



Great American Cleanup

Date: Saturday, March 27, 10 am to Noon
Location: Indian River Library, 
2320 Old Greenbrier Rd

The Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council and Green Drinks Chesapeake will be hosting a cleanup at the Indian River "Civic Campus"  (the area around the Community Center, Middle School, Library, High School, and Lake). 

Meet at Indian River Library Parking Lot at the end by the Middle School.  

Please dress in appropriate clothing and shoes for the weather. Be sure to bring your reusable water bottle. We'll provide bags, gloves, and trash grabbers. We will be covering areas around the IR Library, Middle School, Annex building & ballfield. This is a family-friendly event.

Please practice physical distancing and wear your mask when you are in close proximity to others.




Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park

Date: Saturday, April 10, 9 am to Noon
Location: Indian River Park entrance
at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2001 Rokeby Ave.) which is located just south of Military Highway, i.e. across Military Highway from the Fire Station.


We'll be tending to the native plant garden at the park entrance.  We may also do some  trail work, pruning, weeding, and cleanup.  Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves. If you can, bring shovels, rakes, pruners, saws and other gardening tools.  We'll have water and snacks available but we also always encourage folks to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize use of plastic bottles and cans. 
 
Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.

All participants should follow Covid-19 safety precautions.  If you are sick or have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 please stay home and contact your doctor's office for care and proper quarantine procedures.  Masks must be worn properly during the cleanup.  Strive to maintain a minimum physical distance of six feet from others not in your household.  Wear gloves during the cleanup and sanitize your hands before removing your mask and/or touching your face
.
To speed up registration and improve social distancing at the start of the cleanup, please review and complete the online safety release form at least one day before the event.

Rain date: April 17


Future Dates - Mark Your Calendar
  • Monthly Meeting - Steven Traylor, Norfolk City Forester discussing importance of trees in urban environments - Thurs, 4/15
  • Monthly Meeting - Topic TBD - Thurs, 5/20
  • Clean the Bay Day - Tentative - Indian River Park, Sat, 6/5
  • Monthly Meeting - Topic TBD - Thurs, 6/17


Other News
.
Virginia Trees for Clean Water - We are very proud to report that we have been selected to receive funding through the Virginia Trees for Clean Water grant for the planting project planned at the Indian River Gateway on the east side of the Oaklette Bridge.  This fund will fund the trees and shrubs in the project.  We plan to apply to the Chesapeake License Plate Beautification Fund for additional support from the city for the site preparation and additional plants and flowers.  If all goes to plan, we should be doing this planting in October/November.  We will be needing volunteer support at that time for the planting effort.  Stay tuned for more info!

Used Car Dealership - A proposed Zoning Change has been submitted to the Planning Commission and City Council to re-zone the property at the corner of Elder Avenue and Indian River Road from B-1, Neighborhood Business District, to B-5, Urban Business District, to use it as a used car dealership.   We oppose this re-zoning.  One key goal of the Indian River Small Area Plan is to revitalize the business district along Indian River Road, re-establish it as our "Main Street", and make it a much more walkable, bikeable, and attractive destination for the more than 30,000 residents who live nearby.  Another Used Car Dealership is not consistent with this goal.  We are advocating for land uses that support the revitalization of the local community as recommended in the draft plan, incorporate.   We'll be providing more information on how you can help in the coming weeks.

Indian River High School Scholarship - 
The Friends of Indian River is again sponsoring a $500 Education Scholarship for a current Indian River High School senior who will be a college freshman next year.  The scholarship will recognize a senior who excels in leadership, citizenship, extracurricular activities and academics.  All completed applications must be returned to the IRHS Scholarship Coordinator and then given to the Indian River High School Awards Committee for final selection of the recipient. Get more info at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/friends-of-indian-river-scholarship.html

Pop-Up Program in Pocket Parks  On March 24, join Parks, Recreation and Tourism at Plymouth Park (605 Pond Lane) to learn about the local wildlife in the area.  Feel some animal furs, see animal skulls, and more! Please maintain physical distancing when approaching the table. Masks required. Hand sanitization required before touching the props.  From 2 - 4 pm. https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/Assets/documents/departments/parks_rec/Chesapeake+Outdoors+Newsletter.pdf

Agape Feast Community Meals - Homelessness is a pervasive problem in our nation.  In Chesapeake, many area churches have banded together to help alleviate the situation through the Chesapeake Area Shelter Team (CAST) program.  But with the pandemic, those programs were greatly modified as the Chesapeake Department of Human Services took on direct responsibility to house homeless guests over the winter.  Volunteer efforts have continued to augment this program through the Agape Feast Community Meals program.  They can use help, learn how at https://cast.abbalist.org/get-involved

Action Alert: Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act - The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act is one of the most important tools in Virginia to protect our waterways and shorelines from over-development.  In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed changes to strengthen these regulations with regards to protecting mature trees and incorporating climate resilience.  These regulations are now being finalized and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is asking for support in making sure these are well implemented.  Visit their Action Alert page to submit comments!

Interested in improving the natural value of your property?  Would you like to add beauty while helping the environment?  The 
Elizabeth River Project is still offering matching funding for installing living shorelines (up to $4000), buffers (up to $1500), or maybe a Rain Garden (up to $2000). The Friends of Indian River has limited funds to kick in up to another $250 toward these projects in the Indian River section of Chesapeake.  Learn more at https://elizabethriver.org/river-star-homes

While our regular Adopt-A-Road cleanups are suspended, we always encourage you as individual to pick up any stray litter that you come across along our roads, parking lots, and in our parks.  Every piece of trash collected is one less that causes harm to wildlife in our natural areas and waterways.  And just as important, reduce your use of single use packaging to not create litter in the first place.  Take The Pledge to keep Virginia Litter Free at https://loversnotlitter.org/pledge/

Sunday, February 7, 2021

February Newsletter

 We have some good news to report this month.  The Indian River got a significantly improved score on the latest Elizabeth River "State of the River" report.  Improving from a Failing "F" grade in 2014 to a "C" in 2020.  Read all about it below!

Also in this month's issue, we have:

  • Upcoming Events
    • Great Backyard Bird Count - 2/12 - 2/15
    • Virtual Monthly Meeting - Guest speaker, Mary Russo Riley, Chesapeake Community Programs Administrator - Thurs, 2/18
  • Other News
    • State of the River Report
    • Indian River Small Area Plan Update
    • Chesapeake Environmental Awards Nominations
    • Chesapeake Clean and Green Poster Contest
    • Conservation Landscape Funding


Great Backyard Bird Count

Date: Friday, 2/12 thru Monday 2/15
Locat
ion: Everywhere and Anywhere

We won't be holding our usual guided hike for the Great Backyard Bird Count this year.  But you can still participate, right from your backyard or anywhere you are next weekend.  Reporting birds you see is fun, easy, and provides very useful science data.  To learn how to participate using your phone, tablet, or computer, visit https://www.birdcount.org/

We'll also have a post open on our Facebook page and we'd love to see comments reporting your bird sighting, including photos if you have them.  Keep a watch on our page at https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofIndianRiver/



Monthly Meeting - Guest speaker, Mary Russo Riley, Chesapeake Community Programs Administrator

Date: Thursday, February 18, 7 pm
Location: Zoom Meeting, Pre-register

Our guest speaker is Mary Russo Riley from Chesapeake Division of Community Programs. We'll be discussing services offered by the City to support the homeless, community development, youth programs, and more.

We'll have updates on the latest community news.

Please pre-register for the event to get the Zoom meeting URL.  https://forms.gle/TtJG8sZygSzApLmi6



Other News
.
River Health Improves: The Indian River got a significantly improved score on the latest Elizabeth River "State of the River" report, improving from a Failing "F" grade in 2014 to a "C" in 2020.  The Indian River has seen a significant reduction in Nitrogen pollution (from excess fertilizer) and a corresponding improvement in levels of Dissolved Oxygen (vital for marine life) and  Phytoplankton. 

But there is still lots of work to be done: we're still seeing a failing score on Bacterial Contamination.  Past testing as shown that this contamination, which makes the river unhealthy for recreation activities that involve water contact, is mostly due to pet waste.  So congrats to us all on the progress - and scoop that poop!  




The 
Indian River Small Area Plan is starting to wind its way through the approval stages and formal public hearing at City Hall.  The first step was a presentation by the city staff from the Planning Department to the appointed members of the Planning Commission.  You can see the 
pre-recorded presentation at https://youtu.be/HW8h8p4KDQw and a copy of the presentation material at https://bit.ly/2MJxdC6.  Work is underway to finalize the plan document, which will kick off public hearing before its final approval.

The 
Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council (CEIC) is accepting nominations for its Annual Awards Program to recognize those individuals, groups, or organizations that have been involved in outstanding recycling, beautification, litter control, and environmental projects in Chesapeake.  You can learn more and submit nominations at https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/Boards-Commissions/full-listing/ceic/award-programs-contest/Environmental-Awards-Program.htm

The CEIC is also holding its annual Clean and Green Poster Contest, open to students in grades K-12.  A great opportunity for youngest to show off their artist abilities.  Lean more at https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/Boards-Commissions/full-listing/ceic/award-programs-contest/Clean-and-Green-Poster-Contest.htm


Interested in improving the natural value of your property?  Would you like to add beauty while helping the environment?  The 
Elizabeth River Project is still offering matching funding for installing living shorelines (up to $4000), buffers (up to $1500), or maybe a Rain Garden (up to $2000). The Friends of Indian River has limited funds to kick in up to another $250 toward these projects in the Indian River section of Chesapeake.  Learn more at https://elizabethriver.org/river-star-homes

Thank you to the team that went out and cleaned up under and around the Indian River Oaklette Bridge last week.  Reports are that the area was quite a mess and the family group that went out removed 10 bags of trash.  There efforts are very appreciated!



While our regular Adopt-A-Road cleanups are suspended, we always encourage you as individual to pick up any stray litter that you come across along our roads, parking lots, and in our parks.  Every piece of trash collected is one less that causes harm to wildlife in our natural areas and waterways.  And just as important, reduce your use of single use packaging to not create litter in the first place.  Take The Pledge to keep Virginia Litter Free at https://loversnotlitter.org/pledge/




Now is a great time to become a member or renew your membership, or just make a donation online at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/membership.html