Tuesday, August 31, 2021

September Newsletter and Events

 In this month's issue, we have:

  • Indian River Planning Area Study
    • Final Draft going to Planning Commission on Sept 8
  • Upcoming Events
    • Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park - Sat, Sept 11, 8 am
    • Monthly Meeting - Benefits of Trees - Thurs, Sept 16, 7 pm
    • International Coastal Cleanup - Sat, Sept 25, 9 am
    • Field Trip - Hermitage Museum and Gardens, Sun, Oct 17, 1 pm
  • Other News
    • Indian River Road Tree Planting
    • Preview of Fall Activities


Indian River Planning Area Study Public Hearing

The Final Draft of the Indian River Planning Area Study will be reviewed at a Public Hearing at the Planning Commission on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 7 pm at City Hall.

We are asking citizens to speak out in support of the draft plan at Public Hearing. Visit http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/2021/08/action-alert-indian-river-planning-area.html for info and key points for submitting your comments.

The Planning Department incorporated the bulk of our comments into this draft.   The target timeframes for achieving the some of the goals in the plan are not as aggressive as we asked for, but that means we'll just need to push that much harder to make sure the City follows through on the plan in a timely manner.  Overall the plan provides a strong blueprint for the future of our community and provides importance guidance for the City when making future zoning, policy, and funding decisions.  

The Study lays out a plan with a strong, interconnected combination of actions that, when implemented, should improve the quality of life of our community.   Key themes that we support throughout the Plan include:
- Redesign and revitalization of Indian River Road, including the Indian River Shopping Center, as our Main Street
- Preservation of the residential character of our community
- Interconnecting the community with parks, the civic campus, and open space
- Increasing the overall environmental quality of the community through increased tree canopy, natural areas and shorelines, and green infrastructure.




Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park

Date: Saturday, Sept 11, 8:00 am to 10:00 am
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.

For our next Second Saturday Hike, the Friends of Indian River are teaming up with the Cape Henry Audubon to lead this hike and see what migrating birds we may spy.  This hike will start at 8 am.

Learn about the history of the park, the native trees and plants in this century old forest on the Indian River flood plain, and its value to maintaining the health of local butterfly, bird, and wildlife populations. Note: the forest trail has uneven surfaces and minor elevation changes.

Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/LoACy7XddofLUBi37



September Monthly Meeting - Benefits of Trees

Date: Thursday, September 16, 7 pm
Location: Zoom Meeting

Our guest speaker will be Meghan Mulroy-Goldman, our local Community Forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry.  She'll be discussing the benefits of trees in the community.

We'll also have the latest community news including updates on the Indian River Small Area Plan.

Please pre-register for the event to get the Zoom meeting URL. https://forms.gle/8pmK8UZoT87o1UnR9



International Coastal Cleanup

Date: Saturday, September 25, 9 am to Noon
Location: Meet at Lilac Avenue and Indian River Road.  Park along Lilac Avenue by the Norfolk Highlands Primary School.  It is a No Parking zone along Oleander Avenue (parallel to Indian River Road).

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: https://forms.gle/PRigjLy6jkEuHD699

As part of the International Coastal Cleanup, we will be cleaning up around and underneath the Indian River - Oaklette Bridge and the site of the future Blue Heron Landing Park.  

The city will provide garbage bags and orange safety vests. We encourage folks to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize use of plastic bottles.  

Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.  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. 

We will be following all recommended Covid-19 safety precautions in place at the time of this event.  



Field Trip to Hermitage Museum and Gardens

Date: Sunday, October 17
Location: Hermitage Museum and Gardens, 7637 North Shore Road, Norfolk, VA 23505
Meet at the museum at 12:45 pm, tour will start at 1 pm.

Space is limited; you must Pre-Register at https://forms.gle/Bjfa45RmbG6PGokY8

This year's field trip will be a guided tour of the Sloane mansion and collection and walking tour of the gardens and grounds.  We'll learn about the garden history and the many varieties of plants that have a home at the Hermitage and see their living shoreline restoration efforts.

CDC does recommend wearing a mask in public indoor settings.

Trip is Free for Members (and immediate family of members at the Family Membership level).  Not a member?  Join today at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/membership.html



Other News
.
Indian River Road Tree Planting 

Planning is moving along for the tree planting project just to the east of Indian River Oaklette Bridge.  This project will plant 14 native trees and about 30 native shrubs along the median between Indian River Road and Oleander Avenue.   We're still finalizing the date for, but the goal is to do the tree planting on a Saturday in October or November and we will need volunteer help on this date.   We'll announce the date as soon as possible.

The project is being funded through a combination of the Virginia Department of Forestry Virginia Trees for Clean Water grant and the City of Chesapeake License Plate Beautification Fund.  While the State and City are providing funds, the Friends of Indian River are responsible for managing this project, rallying volunteers for the plantings, and covering upfront costs.  

Preview of Fall Activities

With COVID disruptions continuing and planning for the tree planting still underway, we're keeping our fall schedule flexible.   But here are dates that we're planning for:
  • Saturday, Oct 9 – Second Saturday Hike, Indian River Park
  • Sunday, Oct 17 - Field Trip to Hermitage Museum and Gardens
  • Thursday, Oct 21 – Monthly Meeting - Backyard Habitats
  • Saturday, Oct 23 – Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park (Volunteer Event)
  • Saturday, TBD - Tree Planting Event (Volunteer Event)
  • Thursday, Nov 16 – Monthly Meeting – City Council Member Susan Vitale
  • Saturday, Dec 11 – Second Saturday Hike, High School Lake


The Elizabeth River Project has several programs to help home owners upgrade their yards to become better stewards of a healthy environment. The Friends of Indian River is stepping up to provide a little extra funding support for such projects in the And now in the Indian River area of Chesapeake.  Such projects include creating rain gardens, vegetated shoreline buffers, and living shorelines. See the flier in the attached image for more info, visit https://elizabethriver.org/river-star-homes or contact us at info@friendsofindianriver.org 

We always encourage you as an 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, August 29, 2021

Action Alert: Indian River Planning Area Study

The Final Draft of the Indian River Planning Area Study will be reviewed at a Public Hearing at the Planning Commission on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 7 pm at City Hall.

Tell the Planning Commission that you support the Draft Plan which provides a strong, interconnected combination of actions that, if well implemented, will improve the quality of life of the community.   The plan revitalizes Indian River Road, including the Indian River Shopping Center, and redesigns the road as our "Main Street", preserves and rehabilitates the residential character of our community, provides connections between our neighborhoods, parks, the river, and a new civic campus, and increases the overall environmental quality of the community through increased tree canopy, natural areas and shorelines, and green infrastructure.

Key elements to support in the plan include:

    "Main Street"
  • Redesign Indian River Road to be our “Main Street” including features such as buffered bicycle lanes and  streetscape enhancements to reduce speeding, improve safety, and spur economic activity.
  • Pursue the addition of shopping and restaurant tenants to enhance the “main street” feel of the corridor.  Look at redeveloping Hazel Ct. with a mix of uses that complement its waterfront location
  • Establishing tax-increment financing and/or other incentives to encourage redevelopment of business corridor
  • Work toward redevelopment of the Indian River Shopping Center and possibly surrounding commercial properties into higher density mixed-use development
    Neighborhoods
  • Implement a strong set of actions to encourage and enable the preservation and rehabilitation of the area’s existing residential housing
  • Develop a residential pattern book to provide guidance on the recommended look and design for new development
  • Ensure that infrastructure for water, sewer, and stormwater are sufficient to accommodate any infill development
  • Install signage to identify historic areas such as Oaklette, Queen City, Norfolk Highlands, Seminole Park, and Foundation Park
    Community and Environment
  • Incentivize tree preservation and planting
  • Preserve, restore, and expand riparian/shoreline buffer vegetation 
  • Reach out to homeowners about restoration and flood mitigation funding such as Virginia Conservation Assistance Fund, Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund, the Elizabeth River River Star Program, and other such programs.  
  • Educate homeowners on the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area
  • Install “wayfinding” signage along Military Highway to show direction to local destinations such as Community Center, Library, Rokeby Center, Indian River Park, Conference Center, etc.
  • Identify bus stops that need improvement and increase bus frequency 
    Open Space and Greenways
  • Create a “civic campus” including the Indian River High School, Community Center, Middle School, Chesapeake Center for Student Success, and Library with the lake at its center
  • Complete Blue Heron Landing Park, develop a trail management plan and add amenities at Indian River Park, and create an overlook at Plymouth Park
  • Establish a network of “greenways” along  Indian River neighborhoods streets including sidewalks, bikeways and green stormwater infrastructure
  • Create a bike route along Lilac Ave. and crosswalk at Lilac Ave. and Indian River Road to provide link from Indian River Road bike paths and Blue Heron Park to Rokeby Ave. and Indian River Park
  • Provide a safe pedestrian and bicycle crossing at Rokeby Ave. and Military Highway to connect to Indian River Park
To support the plan, you can attend the Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, Sept. 8, 7 pm at City Hall or you can submit comments for Agenda Item "PLN-COMP-2021-002"  on line at https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/Boards-Commissions/full-listing/11planningcommission.htm (See the **NEW** Electronic Comment Form)





Sunday, July 25, 2021

Summer Newsletter and Events

Hope everyone is having an enjoyable summer and staying cool!

In this month's issue, we have:

  • Upcoming Events
    • Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park - Sat, Aug 14, 8:30 am
    • September Monthly Meeting - Benefits of Trees - Thurs, Sept 16, 7 pm
  • Other News
    • Preview of Fall Activities
    • Blue Heron Landing Park
    • Moth Night Results
    • Indian River Park Wildlife Sightings


Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park

Date: Saturday, August 14, 8:30 am to 10:30 am
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're starting a new series of hikes, tentatively on the second Saturday of each month, at Indian River Park and other local nature spots.  

Join us for our first hike along the nature trail and through the park. Learn about the history of the park, the native trees and plants in this century old forest along the Indian River floodplain, and its value to maintaining the health of local butterfly, bird, and wildlife populations.  Note: the forest trail has uneven surfaces and minor elevation changes.

Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/yrrAwibENCB2SiuX8



September Monthly Meeting - Benefits of Trees
Date: Thursday, September 16, 7 pm
Location: TBD (we hoping to be back in person)

Our guest speaker will be Meghan Mulroy-Goldman, our local Community Forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry.  She'll be discussing the benefits of trees and we'll review the tree planting plans for the public right-of-way next to the Indian River Oaklette Bridge.

We'll also have updates on the latest community news.




Other News

Preview of Fall Activities

We are still finalizing our fall calendar, but we're planning for a full calendar of volunteer events and hopefully in-person monthly meetings.   In addition to Ms. Mulroy-Goldman from the Department of Forestry in September, we looking to discuss Farmers' Markets in October and have Council Member Susan Vitale as our guest in November.    

We're looking at an event for the International Coastal Cleanup in September, the tree planting activities - volunteers will be needed - in October by the Indian River Oaklette Bridge, and our on-going gardening efforts at the Native Plant Garden at Indian River Park and the Oaklette Bridge.  We also need to do an Adopt-A-Road cleanup along Indian River Road.  

We're expecting the Indian River Planning Area Study Plan to go to the Planning Commission in September and then the City Council; this will definitely be a top priority for our group and we may be asking for folks to submit comments.  Parks, Recreation, and Tourism will also likely schedule a Public Meeting to discuss improvements for Indian River Park.  And we're keeping our eyes open for possibly another zoning application for another used car dealership.

And we're going to be doing more of the Second Saturday Hikes through the fall.  Hope to see you at these various events!

Blue Heron Landing Park

The future park along the Indian River, just east of the Indian River Oaklette Bridge, completed one of the first permitting steps with approval by the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Board in late July.   There is still quite a bit of permitting work to be done and restoration work is not expected to start before 2022, but process is underway.   Here is the latest site plan for the future park.


Moth Night

We had a lot of fun with Moth Night at Indian River Park in June.   On a fine evening, 10 "citizen scientists" identified about 2 dozen species of moths and other insects at Indian River Park, including this Tulip-tree Beauty.  See more photos at https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofIndianRiver/posts/4271386366260015

Indian River Wildlife

We've been updating the list of Indian River Park Wildlife Sighting on our website with data from Moth Night, eBird, iNaturalist, the 2019 BioBlitz and other sighting.   The list of different species now has 120 bird, 5 mammal 12 amphibian and reptile, 36 butterfly and moth, 9 dragonfly and damselfly, 8 spider and mite, 35 other insect, and 1 crustacean species.  See the full list at  http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/wildlife-in-irp.html

We always encourage you as an 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/

Thursday, May 27, 2021

June Newsletter and Events

 In this month's issue, we have:

  • Upcoming Events
    • Clean The Bay Day @ Indian River Park - Sat, June 5, 9 am
    • Moth Night @ Indian River Park - Sat, June 12, 9 pm
    • June Monthly Meeting - Nansemond River Preservation Alliance - Thurs, June 17, 7 pm
  • Other News
    • Indian River Planning Area Study Update
    • Proposed zoning change for Used Car Dealership Withdrawn
    • Local Tree Plantings



Clean The Bay Day/Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park

Date: Saturday, June 5, 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.


The Friends of Indian River's will be hosting a cleanup at Indian River Park.  This will help to spruce up the area, collect trash that will otherwise get washed into the river and impact wildlife. The city will provide garbage bags. We'll have water and snacks available. 

Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.   There is also trash to be collected from the flood plain of the creek, which is wet; bring rubber boots if you can help in this area.  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. 

We will be following all recommended Covid-19 safety precautions in place at the time of this event.  Please wear a mask if you have not yet been fully vaccinated. 
.
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.



Moth Night @ Indian River Park

Date: Saturday, June 12, 9 PM to 10:30 PM
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're working with the Butterfly Society and Parks, Recreation, and Tourism to host a Moth Night at Indian River Park.  At the event we'll attract, identify, and document moths, like the tuliptree silkmoth pictured here. 

This will be after dark, so please bring a flashlight.

We will be following all recommended Covid-19 safety precautions in place at the time of this event.  Please wear a mask if you have not yet been fully vaccinated. 

Event is limited to 25 persons.  Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/QENiGRchbJ4z6kcd8.



June Monthly Meeting - Nansemond River Preservation Alliance
Date: Thursday, June 17, 7 pm
Location: Zoom Meeting, Pre-register

Our guest speaker will be Elizabeth Taraski with Nansemond River Preservation Alliance.  It will be a chance to hear what this like-minded organization is doing in Suffolk and gets some ideas for ways to improve our programs here in Chesapeake.

We'll have updates on the latest community news.

Please pre-register for the event to get the Zoom meeting URL. https://forms.gle/WB3xX8EsRDC4Kezy7



Other News

Indian River Planning Area Study Public Feedback

The City was collecting comments on the final draft of the Indian River Planning Area Study in May.  The Study is a proposed strategic plan for our community.

The Study laid out a plan with a strong, interconnected combination of actions that, when implemented, should improve the quality of life of our community.   Key themes that we support throughout the Plan include:
- Redesign and revitalization of Indian River Road, including the Indian River Shopping Center, as our Main Street
- Preservation of the residential character of our community
- Interconnecting the community with parks, the civic campus, and open space
- Increasing the overall environmental quality of the community through increased tree canopy, natural areas and shorelines, and green infrastructure.

The Planning Department will review all comments received and factor them into the next draft of the plan.  That version will then be presented to Planning Commission and City Council for their consideration during formal public hearings.   Those are expected to happen over the summer.  


Zoning Change for Used Car Dealership was Withdrawn by the applicant and did not proceed to the City Council. 

Tree Plantings!  Thank you Bethany Baptist Church in Campostella, Oaklette United Methodist Church, and everyone involved for a pair of tree plantings for Earth Week back in April.  The effort was coordinated by one of our members, who will also be the new Tree Board Chair for the Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council.  Altogether, 31 trees were planted at Bethany Baptist Church and Oaklette United Methodist Church.   The trees were a mix of native and select non-native trees provided by the Chesapeake Extension Office from their nursery.   Church members helped with the planting and will now care for the trees as they grow and flourish, doing their part for the Care of Creation.  


The Elizabeth River Project has several programs to help home owners upgrade their yards to become better stewards of a healthy environment. The Friends of Indian River is stepping up to provide a little extra funding support for such projects in the And now in the Indian River area of Chesapeake.  Such projects include creating rain gardens, vegetated shoreline buffers, and living shorelines. See the flier in the attached image for more info, visit https://elizabethriver.org/river-star-homes or contact us at info@friendsofindianriver.org 

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/

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

May Newsletter and Events

In this month's issue, we have:

  • Upcoming Events
    • Indian River Planning Area Study Public Feedback - thru Sun, May 23
    • May Monthly Meeting - Living Shorelines - Thurs, May 20, 7 pm
    • Clean The Bay Day @ Indian River Park - Sat, June 5, 9 am
    • Moth Night @ Indian River Park - Sat, June 12, 9 pm
    • June Monthly Meeting - Nansemond River Preservation Alliance - Thurs, June 17, 7 pm
  • Other News
    • Action Alert: Proposed zoning change for Used Car Dealership
    • Chesapeake City Budget
    • Adopt-A-Park Update


Indian River Planning Area Study Public Feedback

Date: Monday, May 3 thru Sunday May 23
Location: Online

The Indian River Planning Area Study is a proposed strategic plan for our community to  achieve the vision of being a place known for its well-connected communities and vibrant commercial areas, to identify ways to enhance overall quality of life in the area, and to accommodate a broad range of future mobility options.  It looks to embrace the City’s Comprehensive Plan and its three cornerstones: responsible growth, infrastructure, and quality of life.

We've been working with the City's Planning Department for over a year to develop the draft plan.  The Planning Department will be taking feedback on the proposal through May 23.  To see the draft plan, the associated presentation, and to submit comments, visit https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/city-departments/departments/Planning-Department/Planning-Library/Indian-River-Military-Highway-Corridor-Study.htm

Also, we at the Friends would love to hear your thoughts as we finalize our response.  One area we're going to be focusing on is tightening up the Implementation section at the end of the document so that we all have clear understanding of when we can expect these plan's goals to happen.   Send us your thoughts at info@friendsofindianriver.org



May Monthly Meeting - Living Shorelines
Date: Thursday, May 20, 7 pm
Location: Zoom Meeting, Pre-register

Our guest speaker will be Joe Rieger from the Elizabeth River Project discussing the latest advances in Living Shoreline design.

We'll have updates on the latest community news and take some time to discuss the Indian River Planning Area Study.

Please pre-register for the event to get the Zoom meeting URL. https://forms.gle/GqimXTU48K5fGGrb6.



Clean The Bay Day/Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park

Date: Saturday, June 5, 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.


The Friends of Indian River's will be hosting a cleanup at Indian River Park.  This will help to spruce up the area, collect trash that will otherwise get washed into the river and impact wildlife. The city will provide garbage bags. We'll have water and snacks available. 

Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.   There is also trash to be collected from the flood plain of the creek, which is wet; bring rubber boots if you can help in this area.  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. 

We will be following all recommended Covid-19 safety precautions in place at the time of this event.  Please wear a mask if you have not yet been fully vaccinated. 

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.



Moth Night @ Indian River Park

Date: Saturday, June 12, 9 PM to 10:30 PM
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're working with the Butterfly Society and Parks, Recreation, and Tourism to host a Moth Night at Indian River Park.  At the event we'll attract, identify, and document moths, like the tuliptree silkmoth pictured here. 

This will be after dark, so please bring a flashlight.

We will be following all recommended Covid-19 safety precautions in place at the time of this event.  Because we will be gathering together, masks will be required for all attendees.


Event is limited to 25 persons.  Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/QENiGRchbJ4z6kcd8.



June Monthly Meeting - Nansemond River Preservation Alliance
Date: Thursday, June 17, 7 pm
Location: Zoom Meeting, Pre-register

Our guest speaker will be Elizabeth Taraski with Nansemond River Preservation Alliance.  It will be a chance to hear what this like-minded organization is doing in Suffolk and gets some ideas for ways to improve our programs here in Chesapeake.

We'll have updates on the latest community news.

Please pre-register for the event to get the Zoom meeting URL. https://forms.gle/v2GaewWM1ER5ZKh29



Other News.


Zoning Change for Used Car Dealership - 
Based on the recommendation of the Planning Staff - and the comments you all submitted last month - the Planning Commission voted 9-0 to Deny the proposed zoning for another Used Car Dealership at the corner of Indian River Road and Elder Ave.  Thank you to everyone who submitted comments.  But the City Council has the final say on the application and will review the proposed request at one of its May meetings.   As soon as it is scheduled, we'll put out another Action Alert and request folks to send comments to the City Council.

One key goal of the Indian River Planning Area Study 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, which is why we have been opposed to this zoning change.

The Chesapeake City Budget is being reviewed by the City Council right now and they will be holding another public hearing on it on May 11.  Some highlights in the  Capitol Improvement Budget that affect our area:
  • Blue Heron Landing Park and Canoe Launch - continues funding development of new park, totaling $906K thru 2023.
  • Open Space and Recreation Program - funds playground throughout City; includes call-out for Splash Park to be installed at Cuffee Center.  
  • Norfolk Highlands Elevated Tank Rehabilitation - $1.5M slated for 2026
  • Sewer: Gracie Road Force Main Relocation - $1.28M slated for 2026
  • Water Renewals: Waterline Upgrades - Phase II - citywide including North Indian River
  • Broadlawn Apartments (Stormwater) Outfall Improvements (Campostella) - $1.82M for 2022
  • Citywide Trails and Open Space Connectivity Plan (Citywide) - $375K
  • Norfolk Highlands Drainage Improvements - $1.2M for 2022-2023
  • Oaklette Bridge (Indian River Road) - Replacement/Repairs - $3.446M for 2022     https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/city-departments/departments/Public-Works-Department/Active-Public-Works-Projects/active-transportation-street-projects/Oaklette-Bridge-Rehabilitation.htm
  • Residential Traffic Calming Program (Citywide) - $100K for 2022 
Also the Operating Budget finally provides funding for developing and adopting an Urban Forest  Management Plan and filling a new Urban Forester position on staff.  We've been advocating for this for some time.

Thank you to the nine volunteers who came out for our Adopt-A-Park event in April to work on the Native Plant Garden.  We cleared the winter weeds from the garden area and made ready the area for the summer.  Black-eyed Susans, Bee Balm, Coneflowers, Yarrow, and Irises and more are starting to come up.


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/

Action Alert: Indian River Planning Area Study

The City is accepting comments on the Indian River Planning Area Study through Sunday, May 23.  The Indian River Planning Area Study is a proposed strategic plan for our community, mapping out actions to improve our community in the coming years.  The Plan provides a strong, interconnected combination of actions that, if well implemented, will improve the quality of life of the community.  

You can submit comments at https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/city-departments/departments/Planning-Department/Planning-Library/Indian-River-Military-Highway-Corridor-Study/virtualcommunitymeeting.htm

Tell the City that you support a plan that revitalizes Indian River Road, including the Indian River Shopping Center, and redesigns the road as our "Main Street", preserves and rehabilitates the residential character of our community, provides connections between our neighborhoods, parks, the river, and a new civic campus, and increases the overall environmental quality of the community through increased tree canopy, natural areas and shorelines, and green infrastructure.

Also ask that they improve the implementation section of the document to set a specific target timeframe for each individual action of the plan.

Key elements that should be included in the plan are actions to:

    "Main Street"
  • Redesign Indian River Road to be our “Main Street” including features such as buffered bicycle lanes and  streetscape enhancements to reduce speeding, improve safety, and spur economic activity.
  • Pursue the addition of shopping and restaurant tenants to enhance the “main street” feel of the corridor.  Look at redeveloping Hazel Ct. with a mix of uses that complement its waterfront location
  • Establishing tax-increment financing and/or other incentives to encourage redevelopment of business corridor
  • Work toward redevelopment of the Indian River Shopping Center and possibly surrounding commercial properties into higher density mixed-use development
    Neighborhoods
  • Implement a strong set of actions to encourage and enable the preservation and rehabilitation of the area’s existing residential housing
  • Develop a residential pattern book to provide guidance on the recommended look and design for new development
  • Ensure that infrastructure for water, sewer, and stormwater are sufficient to accommodate any infill development
  • Install signage to identify historic areas such as Oaklette, Queen City, Norfolk Highlands, Seminole Park, and Foundation Park
    Community and Environment
  • Incentivize tree preservation and planting
  • Preserve, restore, and expand riparian/shoreline buffer vegetation 
  • Reach out to homeowners about restoration and flood mitigation funding such as Virginia Conservation Assistance Fund, Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund, the Elizabeth River River Star Program, and other such programs.  
  • Educate homeowners on the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area
  • Install “wayfinding” signage along Military Highway to show direction to local destinations such as Community Center, Library, Rokeby Center, Indian River Park, Conference Center, etc.
  • Identify bus stops that need improvement and increase bus frequency to at least once every 30 minutes during rush hour
    Open Space and Greenways
  • Create a “civic campus” including the Indian River High School, Community Center, Middle School, Chesapeake Center for Student Success, and Library with the lake at its center
  • Complete Blue Heron Landing Park, develop a trail management plan and add amenities at Indian River Park, and create an overlook at Plymouth Park
  • Establish a network of “greenways” along  Indian River neighborhoods streets including sidewalks, bikeways and green stormwater infrastructure
  • Create a bike route along Lilac Ave. and crosswalk at Lilac Ave. and Indian River Road to provide link from Indian River Road bike paths and Blue Heron Park to Rokeby Ave. and Indian River Park
  • Provide a safe pedestrian and bicycle crossing at Rokeby Ave. and Military Highway to connect to Indian River Park

And you can see our series of Facebook posts on highlights of the draft plan at

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day 2021

Here is a list of 50 Ways to Help Our Planet for Earth Day - and everyday!


Garden

1.       Eliminate or minimize use of herbicides and pesticides
Pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, are designed to kill weeds, insects, rodents, and mold.  By definition, these toxic chemicals can be poisonous to wildlife, pets, people, and especially children.  So use best practices in your garden to reduce or eliminate the need for these chemicals.  https://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/files/reducewastepesticides.pdf
2.       Reduce use of fertilizers
Plants need fertilizer to grow, but most homeowners use much more than necessary.  When too much fertilizer is used or when it is applied at the wrong time, rainfall will wash excess fertilizer out of yards and into our streams and rivers.  This fertilizer overload causes severe issues like algae blooms and dead zones that kills aquatic life. https://elizabethriver.org/reduce-lawn-fertilizers
3.       Reduce storm water runoff
Stormwater runoff – excess rain draining from properties - is a leading cause of water quality problems. Rainfall or snowmelt from suburban lawns, golf courses, and paved surfaces picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, washing them into our waterways and into ground waters.   Capturing and keeping more rainwater in your garden allows it to soak in or evaporate, thus reducing both pollution and flooding.  Learn about projects you can do to reduce runoff at https://vaswcd.org/vcap
4.       Reduce size of your lawn
There are about 40 million acres of lawns in the U.S., making it the largest irrigated “crop” in the country.  Americans spend about $30 billion –and countless hours – every year tending to their lawns.  And lawns are ultimately biological deserts of minimal ecological value.   Replacing areas of your lawn with more plants can yield significant environmental benefits.  https://content.yardmap.org/learn/removing-lawn-to-make-way-for-more-habitat/
5.       Grow a vegetable garden
Creating a vegetable garden rather than mowing a lawn has many health benefits, provides you with the freshest fruits and vegetables, and let’s you manage what fertilizers and pesticides touch your food.   Such gardens can come in many sizes from balcony container gardens to mini-farms.   https://ext.vt.edu/lawn-garden/home-vegetables.html
6.       Protect existing trees
There is nearly an endless list of benefits from trees including providing shade, cutting electric bills for cooling, improving air quality, reducing stormwater runoff, enhancing beauty, providing homes for wildlife, increasing property values, and even improving mental health and happiness.  Read the “owner’s manual” on how to keep your trees strong and healthy. https://www.treesaregood.org/treeowner/treeownersmanual
7.       Plant more trees
We need to protect the existing trees and we need to plant more trees.   As the proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”  It is also important to pick the right tree for the right place.  Learn more about selecting trees and proper planting techniques at https://www.arborday.org/trees/tips/
8.       Plant native plants/plant pollinator garden
Your choice of plants is a big factor in how much environmental benefit they provide.  Plants are at the base of the food web for wildlife and research clearly shows that plants that are native to an area – plants that co-evolved with local insects – provide dramatically more wildlife benefit than ornamental plants from distant lands.  So go native as much as you can!  https://www.yesmagazine.org/environment/2020/02/07/yard-sustainability-native-plants/
9.       Live in harmony with wildlife
As human populations grow and our cities and towns expand across the landscape, so have our interactions with wildlife.  Many species have adapted to living alongside people in our suburban and even urban areas.   Hundreds of species of birds, countless insects from beetles to bees to butterflies, snakes and lizards, and larger creatures such as foxes and raccoons make their homes and live their lives in our communities.  With proper care and respect, observing these creatures can enrich all our lives.  https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/habitat/
Home
10.   Become a River Star or Bay Star Home
Make a commitment to be a better steward of the environment, get more tips on how to use better practices, and in some cases be eligible for financial support on projects. 
https://elizabethriver.org/river-star-homeshttp://askhrgreen.org/programs/bay-star-homes/
11.   Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  But Most of All – Reduce.
The average American throws away 4.5 lbs of stuff every single day, 365 days per year.  Only a small fraction of all this stuff ever gets recycled and much of it is not easily recyclable.   We’ve all heard of the 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  But perhaps the most important step is to Reduce first – avoid getting single use products and packages that you’ll toss almost immediately.    https://www.nrdc.org/stories/reduce-reuse-recycle-most-all-reduce
12.   Donate old items in good condition to thrift stores
Before you throw away that item, consider whether it has a second life.  Is it in good condition?  Would it be something you would give to a friend?  If so, consider donating it to a local thrift store.   It can then benefit the charity, provide a low cost item to someone else in your community, keep it out of the landfill, and make you feel good!  https://www.today.com/style/what-thrift-stores-want-you-know-you-make-donation-t162979
13.   Share tools and equipment with neighbors rather than buying your own
Ever need that one tool that one time?    Should you really hop on your favorite e-commerce site and order it?   How about hopping on your local community group on social media and asking if you can borrow the tool.  Odds are someone has it and may be willing to let you borrow it for the afternoon.  https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/how-to-start-a-neighborhood-tool-share/
14.   Opt out of junk mail
Americans receive millions of tons of junk mail every year.  That’s cumulatively, but many may feel they get that much just themselves.  And much of it goes straight into the recycling bin.  Here are some options for cutting down on how much you get in your mailbox.  https://green.harvard.edu/tools-resources/how/4-tips-reducing-your-junk-mail
15.   Turn off unused lights and switch to LED light bulbs
Starting with the oldest tip – turn off unused lights – to the newest – replace light bulbs as they fail with LED bulbs.   The price of LED’s has dropped dramatically over the years, they use 90% less electricity than incandescents, they have no toxic chemicals, and they practically last forever. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/led-lighting
16.   Adjust your thermostat
You can save 10% to 15% of your heating and cooling bill by adjusting your thermostat for at least 8 hours per day.    And heating and cooling costs can easily be more than half of the average home’s electric bill – usually much more during our hot and humid summers.  https://www.directenergy.com/blog/how-much-can-you-save-by-adjusting-your-thermostat/
17.   Wash full loads of laundry in colder water
Most of the cost – and energy usage – in doing laundry goes to heating water.  Washing in cold water uses 90% less electricity.  Also washing in cold water gets the clothes just as clean in typical situations and is more gentle on the clothing.  https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/The-Simple-Dollar/2012/0119/Here-s-exactly-how-much-you-ll-save-doing-laundry-in-cold-water
18.   Look for the Energy Star label when buying new appliances
When you're shopping for appliances or electronics, you have to think both short term and long term.  There is the cost of buying the appliance but also the cost of operating it year after year, which is usually much more than the cost to buy it.   Looking at the Energy Star label, you can see how much it will cost to run the product so you can buy the more efficient products.  You’ll save money year after year and save the planet.  https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/appliances-and-electronics/shopping-appliances
19.   Winterize your home for winter and summer savings
“Winterizing” your home actually saves you money both in the winter and the summer.  Taking steps to insulate your home and seal cracks keeps warm air inside in the winter, but it also keeps cool air inside in the summer.   Both can result in major cost and energy savings! https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/interior-projects/how-to/g52/winterize-home-tips-energy-461008/
20.   Get a home or workplace energy audit to identify where you can make the most energy-saving gains
You can work with Dominion Energy to have a professional do a Home Energy Assessment of your home and identify more ways to save energy and money.  https://domsavings.com/va/rhea/
Shopping/Eating out
21.   Say no to single use plastic bottling – bring your own reusable bottle or mug
In a nation where almost all Americans (but sadly not all) have access to clean, safe drinking water, we consume water in single use plastic bottles at the rate of 100,000 PER MINUTE; 50 billion bottles per year.   And 77% of these bottles never ever reach the recycling center.   Be healthier, save money, save the planet - bring your own water from home!   https://gogreentravelgreen.com/bring-water-bottle/
22.   Avoid single use plastic packaging
Our society is drowning in single use plastic items – from plastic bags to impossible to open “blister” packs, from plastic water bottles to fruit clamshells.   These items will last nearly forever but are trash after the initial use.  Most are not readily recyclable.  Plastic production from new petroleum resources is projected to increase by 40% over the next 10 years, and the oil and gas industry is expecting this to be a major revenue source.  Take action to reverse this trend.  https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
23.   Shop local          
By shopping local you support your local community and reduce transportation costs.   And when buying locally produced food, such as from farmer markets, you support local agriculture. https://www.independentwestand.org/what-happens-when-you-shop-local/
24.   Combine online deliveries into a single delivery
Online shopping is convenient.  But having a steady stream of delivery vehicles cruising city streets to drop off more and more cardboard boxes and bags at your door is certainly not ideal for reducing waste or pollution.    Reduce your impact by combining your orders and deliveries into as few shipments as possible, such as by setting an “Amazon Day” https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/online-shopping-carbon-footprint-1.4914942
25.   Go Meatless at least once a week
Livestock operations have significant negative environmental impacts, from the amount of land and water consumed to the amount of animal waste produced.   Skipping meat once a week can have a major benefit for the ecosystem. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/going-meatless-once-a-week
26.   Buy organic and local whenever possible
The USDA Organic certification gives you confidence that it was grown pesticide-free.  Locally grown food helps local farmers and reduces transportation costs.  Locally grown organic is the best of both worlds.   Learn about your food choices and make the best choices! https://www.food.ee/blog/is-it-better-to-buy-local-or-organic/
27.   Bring your own reusable container for leftovers at restaurant
Want a do-it-yourself solution to avoid getting those Styrofoam containers for leftovers when you go to a restaurant?  (Remember back when we ate out).   Come prepared, bring your own reusable food storage containers in a small bag and fill them yourself with your leftovers.   https://www.kitchenstewardship.com/monday-mission-pack-reusable-containers-for-restaurant-leftovers/
28.   Buy second hand from thrift stores or friends
Why buy new when there are perfectly good items looking for a new home at your local thrift store?  You avoid the need to manufacture a new product using raw materials, keep an item out of the landfill, save money, and likely help a local good cause.  http://www.greenandprosperous.com/blog/2017/10/11/how-does-thrift-shopping-help-you-save-the-environment
29.   Buy Less, Live More
Focusing on life’s simple pleasures-  like spending time in nature, being with loved ones, making a difference to others – can  provide more purpose, belonging and happiness than buying and consuming.  https://www.tbd.community/en/a/consumerism-benefits-buying-less

Transport
30.   Bike instead of driving for some of your trips
Choosing your bike over your car has multiple benefits – reducing fuel use and carbon emissions, saving wear and tear on your vehicle, reducing traffic congestion, and providing you with exercise.   https://biofriendlyplanet.com/green-alternatives/transportation/environmental-reasons-to-start-riding-your-bicycle-more/
31.   Walk instead of driving for short errands
Ever drive from one side of a parking lot to the other?   Take the car to go to the post office down the street?   By walking instead of driving you again reduce pollution from your car and get great exercise.  So park that car and get moving!  https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/walk-more-drive-less#1
32.   Combine trips to reduce driving
When you do drive, combine several errands in one trip.   And plan your route in advance to line up destinations efficiently and avoid having to backtrack.  And a tip from UPS – when planning your trip, minimize making left turns because they result in more wasted time and fuel. https://afdc.energy.gov/conserve/behavior_techniques.html
33.   Improve your gas mileage by taking care of your car
There are many easy ways to improve your gas mileage, starting with making sure your tires are properly inflated and your air filters are clean.   Also go easy on the gas pedal, avoiding “jack rabbit” starts and driving too fast. https://www.theautochannel.com/news/2007/06/29/053777.html
34.   Make sure your next car has better gas mileage
When it’s time for a new car, look for one with better gas mileage.  https://www.consumerreports.org/fuel-economy-efficiency/the-most-fuel-efficient-cars-best-mpg/
Business
35.   Telecommute
A lot of businesses have been required to practice telecommuting for the first time this year.  If they decide to retain this option for employees long term, at least some of the time, they can provide significant environmental benefits to the world.   Thousands of cars could be removed from the road and traffic congestion relieved.  Employers could also save costs on heating and cooling buildings.  And employees could save hundreds of hours of time commuting each year.  https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/telecommuting-sustainability-how-telecommuting-is-a-green-job/
36.   Reduce energy consumption
Businesses can also save money by adopting a variety of energy saving practices, some as simple as making sure unused lights and equipment are powered down.  https://www.dominionenergy.com/our-stories/energy-saving-tips-at-the-office
37.   Switch to renewal energy providers
Renewable solar and wind energy continue to decline dramatically in cost, making them competitive with gas powered and even coal powered generation.    Business can either install solar and wind directly or buy via renewal energy contracts. https://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/emily-folk/10-ways-renewable-energy-can-save-businesses-20190208
38.   Establish a workplace recycling program
Businesses often generate large amounts of recyclable materials.  To be a good corporate citizen, the first step for a successful program is a waste audit, including reviewing how to reduce waste before it happens.   For items you can’t reduce/eliminate or reuse, the next step is setting up a recycling program.   Learn how at https://www.inc.com/guides/2010/04/start-office-recycling-program.html
39.   Reduce waste and improve your company’s environmental footprint
Reducing waste saves money while conserving both natural resources and energy – “waste not, want not”.  Reducing your waste is also a practice that provides positive customer public relations for businesses.  More than just recycling, waste reduction looks for various ways to reduce a company’s environmental footprint. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/how-your-business-can-cut-costs-by-reducing-wastes
40.   Reduce business travel
Traveling long distances for business meetings has a major environmental impact, not to mention being expensive and time consuming.  Sometimes there is nothing that can replace the impact of a face to face meeting, but with today’s technology a tele- or video conference will often be sufficient. https://www.trondent.com/sustainable-business-travel/
Advocacy
41.   Never litter – and lend a hand by picking up litter when you are out and about
Litter happens … whether from carelessness, neglect, irresponsibility, or mistakes.  Make a pledge to never litter.  And when you see litter, pick it up if you can.  Research shows that people are less likely to litter if an area is already litter free.   And discourage the use of single use, disposable packaging when possible.   https://kab.org/goals/end-littering/
42.   Join community cleanups
Many locales have regular cleanups through programs like Adopt-A-Highway, Adopt-A-Park, The Great American Cleanup, Clean the Bay Day, and the International Coastal Cleanup.  Go out and lend a hand! https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/Boards-Commissions/full-listing/ceic/Environmental-Events/beautification-cleanups.htm
43.   Follow the Friends of Indian River on Facebook
Get the latest environmental tips and updates from the Friends of Indian River.  Follow us on Facebook.  
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofIndianRiver/
44.   Volunteer with the Friends of Indian River and other local environmental organizations
We are always looking for volunteers to help on a broad array of activities.  From cleanups to advocacy, the efforts of volunteers are what makes non-profits effective.  Check with our  volunteer calendar at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/calendar.html or browse https://www.volunteerhr.org/
45.   Participate in the activities of city boards and commissions
There are several city boards and commissions, in addition to the CEIC, that deal with environmentally related issues.  These include the Chesapeake Agricultural Advisory Commission, Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CPBA) Board , Chesapeake Bicycles/Trails Advisory Committee (BTAC) , and the Stormwater Committee.  http://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/Boards-Commissions/full-listing.htm
46.   Make your voice heard at the Planning Commission and City Council
The Planning Commission and City Council deal with many land use issues and overall city policies.  The Planning Commission has public hearings on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.  The City Council has public hearings on most Tuesday evenings. 
http://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/Boards-Commissions/full-listing/11planningcommission.htm
http://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/council/council_meeting_info.htm
47.   Become an environmental and conservation advocate
As a citizen and a constituent, you have the power to contact your elected officials at the city, state, and federal level about issues that are important to you.    Tools include e-mails, letters, in person meetings, comments at public hearings, and even letters to the editor of local newspapers.  https://maineaudubon.org/advocacy/tips-for-effective-citizen-advocacy/
48.   Share the Knowledge/Be a Good Example
Share what you know and be a good example for others.   Model good behavior and others are more likely to trust you and change their own behaviors https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/six_ways_to_help_people_change.
49.   Vote
Elections matter.  Research the candidates running for office and support candidates who best support your goals.  And make sure you register and vote.  If you can’t get to the polls, make sure you apply for an absentee ballot. https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation
50.   Go outside, enjoy nature, and bring a friend – building a love of nature will encourage everyone to protect our Earth
Study after study shows that getting out in nature improves health and happiness.  And people won’t protect the natural world around us unless they learn to appreciate it.   One lesson we hopefully take from the recent crisis is that we need more natural areas in our cities.  (Please follow physical distancing rules as required).  
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_happens_when_we_reconnect_with_nature




Originally published for Earth Day 2020 - the 50th Anniversary.  Now with updated links.