Thursday, December 27, 2012

Annual Meeting - January 10th

The Friends of Indian River will hold our Annual Meeting at Thursday, January 10th at our usual location at the Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive, Chesapeake, VA.    After a brief review of our accomplishments for 2012 and a Treasurer Report, we will hold elections for the volunteer Officers and Board of the organization.   Everyone is invited to the meeting; supporting members who have paid their membership dues may vote.   

The nominating committee has offered the following slate of candidates.   Most the current board members have volunteered to stand for re-election this year.
- President - Rogard Ross
- Vice President - Diane Burke
- Treasurer - Carol Warren
- Secretary - Helene Haluska
- Director 'At Large' - Amy Weber
- Director 'At Large' - Jayne Whitney
- Director 'At Large' - Sharon Komenda

Nominations will also be accepted from the floor during the meeting.  If you can not attend the meeting but would still like to vote, please respond back to this e-mail by January 1st, 2013, to request an absentee ballot.

The business part of the meeting should take about half an hour.   After this we will have a short video presentation on invasive plants and how to remove english ivy.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Season's Greeting

The Friends of Indian River wish everyone 
a Wonderful Holiday and 
a Happy and Peaceful New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Year End Report

When we put an announcement in the paper for the first meeting of the Friends of Indian River we didn't know what would happen.   We didn't know if anyone would show up.   We were thrilled when 14 enthusiastic residents joined us for that first meeting in February, ready and eager to make a difference in our community.   From that initial gathering we have had a tremendously successful year.   We've gotten organized, held monthly meetings with guest speakers, performed hundreds of hours of volunteer community service, and established working relationships with the City and other local organizations.  Today our mailing list has 57 individuals and we have 53 “Likes” on Facebook


All of this would not have been possible without the spirited support of our membership.   All together we've put in more than 330 hours in projects varying from cleanups to gardening to community outreach.   We also need to thank the dedication of the volunteers who agreed to serve on our Board of Directors and committees.  

Our volunteers worked on multiple in community projects including 4 cleanups along Indian River Road and around Indian River Bridge.  These cleanups collected 80+ bags of trash and debris, about half from along the river shoreline.   Two major planting efforts installed two gardens at southeast and southwest corners of Indian River Bridge, with plans for more in the works.   We've also done scouting trips along the river and into Indian River Park in preparation for future projects.

With the guidance and effort of our volunteer Board of Directors and Committees we established our bylaws and filed the numerous documents to be incorporated as a not for profit organization.  These volunteers committed over dozens of hours for planning, reviewing and filing paperwork, creating fliers and membership brochures, researching insurance requirements, creating outreach materials, getting guest speakers, and much more.

We’ve been trying to leverage our connection to build partnerships with local organizations including the Elizabeth River Project, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the City of Chesapeake.   These efforts include participating in projects like the River Start Home program, Adopt-A-Garden, and Clean the Bay Day. 

Lynnhaven River Now has been one of our early role models and we are working with the Elizabeth River Project to forward the River Star Home program in our neighborhood.  We’ve presented at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Clean Water Breakfast meeting in Chesapeake, participated in the Clean the Bay Day effort, and are trying to serve as a liaison for the CBF to establish deeper connection with the City of Chesapeake.  Discussions are in progress with the Chesapeake Arboretum about possibly creating a nature trail in Indian River Park.  We’re working closely with the City’s Departments of Public Works and Environmental Planning with regards to the Adopt-A-Highway and Adopt-A-Garden programs along Indian River Road.   And we’ve been raising the issue of the plight of the Indian River Shopping Center with members of the City Council.

We’ve been blessed with numerous interesting guest speakers including Helen Kuhns of Lynnhaven River Now, local Kaye Rountrey Herndon discussing our local history, Chris Moore of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Ed Bradley of the Chesapeake Arboretum, and City Councilmember Debbie Ritter.

Looking Forward to the Future

For 2013 we want to build and expand on our early success.  Plans are underway to expand our planting and beautification efforts along Indian River Road and we will continue our cleanup efforts.  We will push to expand participation in the River Star Homes program, encourage river friendly gardening and landscaping techniques, and nominate river friendly gardens for the City of Chesapeake’s Notable Yard contest.  In 2013 we hope to establish a nature trail in Indian River Park in consultation with the local Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association chapter.  One key effort will be to keep attention focused on getting tenants for the Indian River Shopping Center and also starting a program to recognize businesses in the community who work to beautify and improve our neighborhood.  We also plan to continue to bring quality speakers to our monthly meetings. 

We also need your continued support in our efforts through continued participation in our meetings and volunteer activities.  We also encourage you to become supporting members and to encourage your friends and neighbors to learn about our organization and join our efforts to improve our neighborhood.  For more information about our organization, please visit

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Party - Thursday, Dec 13th

We are pleased to invite you to the Friends of Indian River Holiday Party on Thursday, December 13 at 7 PM at the Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive, Chesapeake, VA
  • Bring a desert to share.  This will be our end of year celebration to recognize our many volunteers who have strived to make Indian River a better place.    We'll have a silent auction, so you can finish some Christmas shopping too.
  • Please also consider bringing a donation of non-perishable food items for the Oaklette United Methodist Church food pantry to the meeting this evening.
  • Even if you have not been to a meeting in a while or if this would be your very first meeting, we encourage you to come out and partake in the merriment.  
Thank you for your support!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Indian River Road Cleanup

We did our quarterly cleanup along Indian River Road today.   We were a bit short handed with only six volunteers coming out today.   But the weather was lovely and we accomplished our designated route, picking up trash from Wingfield Avenue to MacDonald Road.  

We also took time to do some cleanup under the bridge which had a lot of trash and debris due to Hurricane Sandy - all that litter on the street was washed into the river.   Bottles, cans, wrappers, and an infinite number of pieces of broken styrofoam.   We couldn't get it all but we made a visible difference pulling out two stuffed bags of trash.

All together, we collected 10 big bags of trash, 2 gasoline containers, and 1 large tire thread.   It was noteworthy that the amount of litter we collected was less than half of what was found on our very first cleanup, so it seems to be getting better.   Hopefully we'll have more volunteers in our next cleanup, very tentatively scheduled for February 9th.   As they say, many hands make light work.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This Week: Regular Meeting and Adopt-A-Road

Please join us for our regular monthly meeting is this Thursday, November 8th at 7 PM in the John Teter Room at the Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive, Chesapeake, VA.   Rogard Ross will make a Photo Presentation about the wildlife along the shores, parks, and back yards of Indian River.   Light refreshments will be served afterwards.  Also consider bringing a donation of non-perishable food items for the Oaklette United Methodist Church food pantry.

On Saturday, November 10, we'll be cleaning up 1 mile of Indian River Road from the city limits at Wingfield Avenue all the way to MacDonald Road as part of the Adopt-A-Road program. This will help to spruce up the area, collect trash that will otherwise get washed into the river and impact wildlife, and give us the opportunity to interact with residents and businesses along Indian River Road.   We'll meet at the side parking lot of Indian River Post Office, 3810 Indian River Road, Chesapeake at 9 AM.  The city will provide garbage bags and orange safety vests. We'll have water and a few snacks available. 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.

And Remember to Vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6.   Polls are open from 6 AM to 7 PM.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

More Beautification around Indian River Bridge

We did it again.

Six volunteers joined us today for our second Adopt-A-Spot beautification event at the Indian River Bridge, this time tackling the southeast corner.   Repeating the design we installed a few weeks ago on the opposite end of the bridge, our team planted beauty berry, verbana, muhly grass, and mums.   We also planted encore azaleas in the planters at both ends of the bridge; they are still small but they'll grow.

Over the winter, we'll be doing more planning with the city to extend and expand our beautification activities along Indian River Road.   A big thank you to our volunteers who put in 23 hours today digging, pruning, planting and watering - working to make our community more attractive.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Council Member Debbie Ritter attends monthly meeting

We had a very engaging discussion with Council Member Debbie Ritter at our meeting yesterday.   The conversation ranged from how the city government is organized (the Council sets policy and the City Manager and Departments execute day to day operations), to the Council's oversight responsibility, to how the state legislature must pass enabling laws for local government to take action because of the 'Dillon Rule'.

Closer to home, we discussed how the Indian River neighborhoods, being a mature community, often feels forgotten by the city when it focuses on new high growth areas.   We have areas - particularly around the old Indian River Shopping Center - that need revitalization, but the city generally is not focused on incentives for retail business.   But we need attention and we need a plan.   Volunteer efforts for block by block beautification are useful, but a more concerted effort with the city is desired.   We left the meeting with the intent to keep the conversation going with City Council members, the Norfolk Highlands Civic League, and the property owner, and other interested parties.

Thank you to Sandy for bringing brownies and Sharon for bringing Banana Bread.

We still welcome more volunteers for our beautification and planting work at the Bridge tomorrow, Saturday, October 13, starting at 9 am.   If you are going to the Indian River High School Fall Craft Show on October 20, we'll have an information display at booth 76; stop by and say hi.  Our next regular meeting will be Thursday, November 8 and will include a slide show about local wildlife; we'll also collect non-perishable food for the Oaklette United Methodist Church food pantry at that meeting.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Indian River Beautification

Volunteers at Work
We had another great event along the Indian River today.   It was the first day of fall and a team of our volunteers assembled for the first phase of our beautification effort around Indian River Bridge.   Our goal is to cleanup the planters at the four corners of the bridge and add new planting in the area around those plantings.  Eventually we hope to extend these beautifcation efforts up and down Indian River Bridge.

For today, our goal was the area around the southwest corner of the bridge, that is the eastbound approach.   The crepe myrtle in the planter was obscured by an old overgrown azalea and a web of weeds and vines.  Nine volunteers gave up much of their Saturday to tear out the overgrowth in the planter and hacking away with hoes and shovels, clear a large patch of wire grass in front of the planter.    We also tackled the wire grass in the sidewalk schemes around the planter.

Into the cleared ground we planted a pair of pink muhly grasses, a beauty berry bush, verbana, and for some immediate color seven mums.  All topped off by a layer of mulch.   As we were finishing up our work, watering the newly installed plants, we were thrilled by residents complimenting us on our new garden.

A huge thank you to all the volunteers for coming out and spending a total of 40 hours at the site.

The next work day at the next bridge corner is scheduled for Saturday, October 13.   Stay tuned for more info.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Upcoming volunteer effort at Indian River Bridge

This Saturday, September 22nd from 9:00 am to noon (perhaps longer if folks are available), for a work day around the Indian River Bridge and fall planting on the bridge approaches. We'll be clearing invasive ivy, doing some pruning, tilling, and soil preparation.   We're adjusting our plans and will probably be doing at least some actual planting on this day.  Bring work gloves, wear closed toed shoes, and dress appropriately for hands-on gardening.  Please bring gardening tools like shovels, hoes, clippers, etc.  Does anyone have a wheel barrel we can use?  (We probably will not be needing a rotor tiller).   If you can come help on this day, please respond back to this e-mail to let us know, if you haven't already.  

September Meeting - Trees of Chesapeake

Those of you who missed our meeting this past Thursday missed an excellent talk by Chesapeake Master Gardener Ed Bradley on the trees of our region.   He talked about the need to reconnect with nature and "bringing the botanical garden to the people".    The layout of nature trails built at the Chesapeake Arboretum and at ODU were detailed.  And Mr. Bradley went on at length about the potential of Indian River Park and its mature southern hardwood forest.   His brief hikes into the park identified 33 species of native trees from the American Beech to the Winged Sumac.  He sees the park as an excellent site for another nature trail as long as we select a location that does not interfere with the existing bike trail system.

Also on Friday, Rogard Ross spoke at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Clean Water Breakfast down in Great Bridge.  This was an opportunity to share the Friends of Indian River mission with other parties across Chesapeake including representatives of the Chesapeake Public Works department and Cooperative Extension Office.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Uranium Work Group comes to Hampton Roads

Over the past year there has been debate in Virginia about whether to lift a statewide ban on uranium mining to allow a uranium mine near Dansville, Virginia.  While physically far away, our community has a direct connection to the area.

The Indian River section of Chesapeake gets its drinking water through Norfolk's water system.  One of the key water reservoirs for Norfolk and Virginia Beach is Lake Gaston, located 125 miles to our west.   Lake Gaston is located downstream of the proposed uranium mine.   The mining activities would include the on-site storage in 'containment cells' of large amounts of mine tailings - the still radioactive waste rock and earth left after the extractable uranium ore has been removed.   The concern is that if catastrophic flooding, such as from a hurricane, breaches the containment cells  then radioactive waste would be washed into Lake Gaston and  threaten the region's water supply.  Many entities including the city councils of Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach have stated that the mining ban should be kept in place until conclusive evidence demonstrates that mining is safe for the environment and the health of residents.

The risk of pollution and the level of threat to the water supply are two of the issues being studied by the Uranium Working Group, established by the governor of Virginia, to provide a scientific policy analysis.   The Uranium Working Group is holding a Public Meeting at the Virginia Beach Convention Center next Tuesday, August 28th, at 6 PM.

Here are some links about the Uranium Working Group, the proposed mine, and the coalition seeking to 'Keep the Ban':

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Adopt-A-Spot Planning Meeting - August 22nd

We're having a planning meeting for the landscaping and beautification around Indian River Bridge! We will develop a landscape plan and a schedule for the fall planting activities. Everyone with an interest is welcomed!

When: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012, 2 PM - 4 PM
Where: Indian River Library,  2320 Old Greenbrier Road, Chesapeake, VA 23325

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August 9th Meeting - Oysters, Crabs, and Fish, Oh My

Thursday evening, Chris Moore, Hampton Roads Scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, spoke to the group about sea life in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries like the Indian River.  He talked about the recovery of blue crabs stocks, some early signs of hope for local oysters, and the state of the key menhaden fishery. 

In our own Indian River, oysters are becoming more apparent, with clusters of squirting oysters apparent along various shorelines.   We even have a commercial harvest of blue crabs in our waters, at least some of which end up at a local favorite, Wicker's Crab Pot Seafood Restaurant.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Indian River Road Cleanup on 8/4

Please join the Friends of Indian River for our quarterly cleanup along Indian River Road on Saturday, August 4th.   Help keep our neighborhood looking good.   Also, the trash we pick up means less plastic, styrofoam, and other debris floating in our waters, entangling wildlife, and entering our food chain.     I hope you can join us:
  • Saturday, August 4th, 2012: Cleanup along Indian River Road 
    • 8:00 am to 10:00 am
    • Meet at Oaklette United Methodist Church,  520 Oaklette Drive, Chesapeake, VA
    • We'll be cleaning up 1 mile of Indian River Road from the city limits at Wingfield Avenue all the way to MacDonald Road.   This will help to spruce up the area, collect trash that will otherwise get washed into the river and impact wildlife, and give us the opportunity to interact with residents and businesses along Indian River Road.
    • The city will provide garbage bags and orange safety vests.  We'll have water and a few snacks available.  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.
    • Contact us for more info.   Please RSVP to

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 12th Meeting - History of the Indian River area

At our July meeting last week, life-long local resident and historian Kaye Rountrey Herndon transported us back in time to the Indian River of the 1880's, back to when Indian River Road was a simple oyster shell paved track and the original Indian River Bridge opened as a narrow wooden toll bridge, back to when the River itself was the primary mode of transportation around the area.    She told us about many of the families that established their farms around the waterfront in those days and the homes they built.   The descendants of many of those families continue to live in our community, and some of those homes still exist today.    Using her excellent story telling technique, Mrs. Herndon truly engaged the audience who asked many questions at the end of the story and discussions which continued afterwards as we enjoyed some cake.

1887 Map of Indian River area.  The original
map is in the Chesapeake Central Library
on Cedar Road.
Also at the meeting, Rogard Ross reported on the progress of getting the Friends of Indian River setup as a non-profit organization.   We have incorporated, established a Board of Directors, and are working on Bylaws.   Mr. Ross asked for and received a vote of approval from the group in attendance for the interim officers who will serve through the until the first full elections, which are slated to happen in January.   The interim officers are:
- Rogard Ross - President
- Diane Burke - Vice President
- Carol Warren - Treasurer
- Sharon Komenda - Secretary

Ms. Komenda, who leads the Beautification Subcommittee, reported that  she met with Roxanne Stonecypher, Environmental Coordinator for the City of Chesapeake, who approved our adopting the area around Indian River Bridge.   Phase 1 of our plan will clear weeds and invasive plants from the planters at the bridge corners and to plant new flowering plants in those planters and the surrounding area.   Ms. Stonecypher is also helping us plan Phase 2 that would expand the beautification effort along the roadside and median approaches to the bridge to turn the area into a "Gateway" to the community.  A meeting of the subcommittee will be held in August to prepare for Phase 1.

Ms. Weber of the Outreach committee shared a draft membership tri-fold brochure which she prepared.   The draft, which explains our mission, activities, and has a membership application was very well received by the group.   Everyone praised her work.

Upcoming Events:

- 7/18 - The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is holding an Oyster Gardening Seminar at 6 PM on Wednesday at Norfolk Yacht and Country Club (along the Lafayette River).   Oyster Gardening is a way for waterfront residents to help the CBF raise Oysters to be planted on various Oyster Sanctuary Reefs around the region.  For more information and to register see

- 7/21 - The Chesapeake Master Gardeners are hosting a Rain Barrel Workshop at the Indian River Library next Saturday at 10 am.   The cost is $40 per barrel for supplies.   For more information and to register, see

- 8/4 - The Friends of Indian River will conduct there next quarterly cleanup along Indian River Road on Saturday, 8/4, at 8 am.    The meeting place is TBD (probably at Oaklette United Methodist Church again).   More details will follow.   RSVP at 

- 8/9 - Friend of Indian River August Meeting - Chris Moore, Science Advocate for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will speak to us about "Oysters, Crabs, Fish, and more".

Saturday, June 30, 2012

River Star Homes

As part of our mission, the Friends of Indian River is encouraging residents of the our neighborhood to join the Elizabeth River Project's River Star Homes program. In this effort resident pledge to take "7 Easy Steps" to help improve the quality of our neighborhood, our river and the Chesapeake Bay.  

Your home does not need to be facing the river to participate!    Everyone's actions affect the cleanliness of the river and its ability to support fish, birds, and other wildlife.   And since your efforts start in your backyard, you are also creating a healthier environment for your family.    Every extra home that signs up brings us one step closer to the goal of vibrant community with a healthy environment.

By signing up for this free program, you will be recognized with a handsome yard flag and will receive additional information about things you can do to help. Sign up via the link below. If you do sign up, it would be great if you let the Friends of Indian River know too: drop us a line at

Learn more and sign up at the River Star Homes website:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Upcoming Events

At our last meeting we had a lively discussion with Ms. Helen Kuhns, Education and Outreach Coordinator for Lynnhaven River Now, about how Lynnhaven River Now got started 10 years ago and steps they took to be successful.  As our Outreach Committe co-chair wrote me afterwards "Dream Big and Set Clear Objectives".   And, thanks to the enthusiam of our volunteers and members, the Friends of Indian River have certainly set off on a road with ambitious goals.

Several upcoming events on this road include
- 6/23, 8am - Explore and Map Indian River Park
- 6/26, 7pm - Meeting of the Board to discuss organizing steps.   To attend, please RSVP to
- 7/12, 7pm - Regular Meeting - Local resident Kaye Herndon to speak about the History of Indian River
- 7/21, 10am - Chesapeake Master Gardeners Rain Barrel Workshop at Indian River Library; make your own rain barrel; $40 per barrel; must pre-register
- 8/4, 8am - Quarterly Indian River Road Cleanup
- 8/9, 7pm - Regular Meeting -  Oysters, Crabs, Fish, and more - presentation by Chris Moore, Science Advocate for the CBF

For more information about volunteer opportunities please see our website at

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lynnhaven River Now presents at our June 14th meeting

Covering the northern half of the City of Virginia Beach, the Lynnhaven River watershed was once world known for its oysters.   But as the city's population exploded in the 20th century and land turned from farmland to suburbia, the water quality suffered dearly.   In 2003 a small group of local residents got together to rally the community to reduce pollution in the Lynnhaven River Watershed.    They worked to mobilize public and private resources to foster improvements.   That original core group has now grown in an award winning organization with over 3000 members called Lynnhaven River Now.   Through their efforts sizable expanses of the Lynnhaven have been re-opened to oyster harvest, land has been preserved from development, and community awareness has been raised.

The Indian River watershed is only a tenth of size of the Lynnhaven, but we share many of the same concerns.   At our next meeting, Helen Kuhns, Education and Outreach Coordinator for Lynnhaven River Now, will come to speak to us about how Lynnhaven River Now got started and their keys to success.     Please join us on June 14th at 7 pm at the Oaklette United Methodist Church for this interesting presentation.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Clean the Bay Day - June 2nd

We had a great time for our Clean the Bay Day Event today.   Twenty volunteers of all ages came out to help make a dent in the trash and debris that has collected over the years around the Indian River Bridge.   One team tackled each end of the bridge and were soon working their way into the stands of phragmites to pull out the assorted flotsam and jetsam.   Two canoes plied the shoreline picking up harder to reach items.  

We had several new volunteers come out and join us today.    Our canoeists also made friends with the commercial crab boat that works the river and supplies some of the crabs to Wickers.

We were amazed at some of the items we found - clothing, blankets, venetian blinds, a teddy bear.   There were also parts of an old bicycle, some tires, rugs, and a vacuum cleaner.    There was also an unfortunate amount of broken glass under the bridge.  Of course, there were lots of plastic bottles netted by the phragmites.    I doubt anyone who works on such a cleanup is ever careless about littering again.    

All in all, we collected about 40 bags of trash, and a lot of debris that didn't fit in bags - from rugs to lumber.   We estimated the weight at 1000 lbs of trash and, including the area covered by the canoes, we cleaned about half a mile of shoreline.    That's a whole lot of trash that won't sully our shorelines or be ingested by wildlife.

Thank you to the City of Chesapeake for sponsoring the event and providing trash bags and other supplies.   Kudos to Tanner Council at the CBF for some last minute logistical support.   And especially, a really huge Thank You to all the volunteers who came out today and did the really hard work of digging out trash and making our community better.   

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Save the Bay - and the Indian River

At our meeting  on May 10th Rogard Ross donned his CBF hat and gave a presentation on 'Saving the Bay'.   Starting with a Chesapeake watershed-wide view of the challenges facing the Bay, he dove in and looked at the state of the Elizabeth River and Indian River in particular and look at the Watershed Improvement Plan being developed for the City of Chesapeake.   The presentation closed with steps you can take to help improve water quality in our neighborhood.   A copy of the presentation is available on our Resources page.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Successful Cleanup along Indian River Road

Bright and early this morning, 16 volunteers gathered at the Oaklette United Methodist Church to participate in the Friends of Indian River's first big event.   As part of the Great American Cleanup and Chesapeake's Adopt a Highway program, we were there to cleanup trash along Indian River Road to spruce up the neighborhood.   Getting the debris off the street would also keep it from being washed into the river and harming wildlife.

After a brief safety orientation and announcements, the group split into three teams, one heading west from the river, the other two working their way across the Indian River Bridge to the business district.   Bottles, cans, food wrappers, a lawn chair, and thousands of cigarette butts awaited us.  The worst areas for larger pieces of trash were along bridge abutments.   The cigarette butts - which are NOT biodegradable -  were everywhere, even on the fresh mulch under the pretty landscaping by the new Nationwide and Changing Trendz Hair Salon establishments.   Kudos to Beasley's Market for a very clean area, Papa John's for fresh plantings on their corner, and to both Irwin's Pharmacy and J&J Hardware for their pretty flower displays.

Three hours and many knee bends later, we had collected about 20 bags of trash and had the satisfaction of tidying up over a mile of the roadway.    On our return walk, a few of our volunteers handed out fliers to some of the businesses along the way.   Our next event will be to return to the area around and under the Indian River Bridge for Clean the Bay Day on June 2nd.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Great American Cleanup along Indian River Road

Please join the Friends of Indian River for the Great American Cleanup this Saturday.   We'll be working along Indian River Road.  The trash we pick up means less plastic, styrofoam, and other debris floating in our waters, entangling wildlife, and entering our food chain.  It also helps set an example for others.   By starting in our own neighborhood, we can make a significant contribution towards improving the quality of the Chesapeake Bay while improving the quality of our community.    I hope you can join us:
  • Saturday, April 28th, 2012: Cleanup along Indian River Road as part of the Great American Cleanup
    • 8:30 am to 11:30 am
    • Meet at Oaklette United Methodist Church,  520 Oaklette Drive, Chesapeake, VA
    • We'll be cleaning up 1 mile of Indian River Road from the city limits at Wingfield Avenue all the way to MacDonald Road.   This will help to spruce up the area, collect trash that will otherwise get washed into the river and impact wildlife, and give us the opportunity to interact with residents and businesses along Indian River Road.
    • The city will provide garbage bags and orange safety vests, please bring gloves, rakes, brooms and other items that may be useful.   Participants under 15 years of age must have adult supervision.
    • Contact us for more info.   Please RSVP to

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    Chesapeake's Notable Yard Contest

    Do you or your neighbor have a knock-out beautiful yard that follows good gardening practices? Nominate the yard for the Chesapeake's Notable Yard Contest. Nominations are due April 30th and winners are selected in each of the city's 7 major neighborhoods, including Indian River. Winners get $50 and bragging rights. See the flyer at the link below for details.

    Saturday, March 31, 2012

    Meeting on Thursday, April 12th

    The April meeting of the Friends of Indian River was this past Thursday at our new meeting location at the Oaklette United Methodist Church on Indian River Road.  We introduced two newly formed committees - the Outreach and the Planning Committees.    The Planning Committee will be meeting to build and prioritize a list of possible projects for the group to undertake.   The Outreach Committee will take the lead on spreading the word about the group.   They have prepared a draft flier for advertisement. Along with this flier is a preliminary calendar of events highlighting presentation topics and other events  for the rest of this year.  

    Our presentation for the evening was a virtual tour of the Indian River watershed using Google Earth.   We "flew" in from orbit to the Elizabeth River watershed and then zoomed in to our community, highlighting the parks and public spaces.   Then we flew along all the tributaries of the Indian River getting a close look at the shorelines, marshes, homes and businesses of the area.   Members shared some of their stories about various events on the river.   We also discussed the desirability of No Wake signs in the river.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Notes from March 14 Meeting

    We had a very enthusiastic crowd at our second meeting this past Wednesday.   By the end of the meeting we had identified several possible committees to focus on different tasks and started filling up our calendar for the year with numerous events including doing an Indian River Road Cleanup on April 28, Clean the Bay Day on June 2, and potentially setting up a booth at the Indian River Craft Show in November.   Our next meeting will be at the Oaklette United Methodist Church on Thursday, April 12th.

    Early in the meeting we reviewed the results of the online survey (see below), we spent some time updating the group's mission statement, tentatively adopting:
    The primary goal of the Friends of Indian River is to improve the quality of life for all the residents of the Indian River neighborhoods by promoting and preserving a healthy and clean river, shorelines, parks, and green spaces connected to the surrounding community.   These efforts include outreach to the community promoting attractive streetscapes, encouraging sustainable gardening and landscaping methods, energizing local business development, and supporting broader civic activities to improve the community.  
    Next we discussed the Indian River Shopping Center and heard about the info received at the previous Norfolk Highlands Civic League meeting.    Concerns were raised and ideas were shared.   In the end it was obvious that a multi-pronged approach was necessary : working with City planners, identifying potential tenants, and sprucing up the neighborhood.    Later in the meeting we agreed to establish a 'Joint Action Committee' with Norfolk Highlands Civic League to focus on Indian River Road.

    We then discussed what activities the group should undertake.   Ideas flowed quickly and from every direction.   One of the first observations was that actions of the City Council have significant bearing on the community and it is important for each citizen to make informed choices when voting for City Council.   Elections are coming up on May 1st and we'll be voting for three open seats on the City Council.  The Norfolk Highlands Civic League has invited all the candidates to come talk at their next meeting on April 5th; all are welcome to attend.

    Outreach to the broader community was a lively topic.   Several members were ready to talk to their neighbors and pass out fliers.   There was a recommendation to put some structure upon these efforts and we agreed to form an Outreach Committee and several members put their name on the list for this.

    We agreed to adopt a mile of Indian River Road from the Norfolk line to the Virginia Beach line for quarterly cleanups as part of Chesapeake's Adopt a Highway program.     Our first cleanup will be in conjunction with the Great American Cleanup on Saturday, April 28th, starting at 8:30 am.

    There was also eagerness to participate in Clean the Bay Day on June 2.   One new member reported how her husband routinely goes over to work with Lynnhaven River Now on their cleanups in Virginia Beach, always having wondered why we don't have a similar group in our watershed .... well now we do.   Details of where in the our watershed to do the cleanup are still TBD.

    Some future activities under consideration include doing an Adopt a Garden along Indian River Rd and setting up an information table at the Indian River Craft Show in the fall.   We'll send out more information about setting up committees, such as the Outreach Committee next week.

    Our next meeting will be at a new location - the Oaklette United Methodist Church at 520 Oaklette Drive (right along Indian River Road).   They have graciously agreed to let us use the John Teter room the second Thursday of every month from 7:00 to 8:30.    Our next meeting is Thursday, April 12th.

    To keep up with the latest news, do Like us on Facebook:

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Meeting on Wednesday, March 14, 7 PM

    The next meeting of the Friends of Indian River is on Wednesday, March 14, 7 PM at the Indian River Library.  The proposed agenda for the evening:

    - Welcome
    - Define Group Mission
    - Review Survey Results
    - Discuss Goals and Draft Mission Statement
    - Form team to draft Bylaws 
    - Upcoming Activities
    - Arbor Day Tree Plantings(?)
    - Adopt Indian River Road/Great American Cleanup - 4/28
    - "Clean the Bay Day" at Indian River - 6/2
        - Action Committee regarding Indian River Shopping Center
    - Open Forum

    If you haven't yet taken our online survey, please do.   We'll use the results of the survey to prioritize our goals and mission statement.   The survey can be found at .   

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Survey regarding Goals for the Friends of Indian River

    We had an excellent first meeting and the next meeting is planned for Wednesday March 14th, 7 PM at Indian River Library.   The goal of that meeting will be to prioritize our goals and activities for the coming months.   Please take a few minutes to complete an online survey using SurveyMonkey so we can collect your  feedback on these priorities and activities -

    When taking the survey, consider the following opportunities for action by the Friends of Indian River:

    ·         Education and Outreach to the Community
    o   Advise neighbors on good gardening and yard practices, replacing lawn area with gardens, reducing fertilizer use, benefits of native plants,  planting trees, establishing rain gardens, removing invasive plants, developing wildlife habitat, “scoop the poop”, etc.
    ·         Beautification Efforts
    o   Adopt a Street(s) for quarterly cleanups, roadside plantings, etc.
    o   Encourage local business to spruce up storefronts and parking lots.
    o   Find areas to plant demonstration rain and/or butterfly gardens
    ·         Adopt Indian River Park
    o   Support cleanups and trail maintenance (in coordination with Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association - EVMA)
    o   Educate community on value of waterway and stream buffers (“it’s not just a ditch”)
    o   Map park to identify major areas of invasive plant encroachment and important native species, publish trail guide.    
    o   Encourage use of trails for biking, hiking, birding, and interaction with nature.
    o   Remove invasive plants
    o   Improve habitat for wildlife such as birds, fish, amphibians, and small mammals.
    ·         Indian River Stewardship
    o   Support CBF and Elizabeth River Project goals for fishable, swimmable river
    o   Educate waterfront home owners on environmental, aesthetic, and cost benefits of natural shorelines
    o   Educate water users of good boating practices
    o   Map shoreline, identify areas for restoration of natural shorelines, identify areas for shoreline access and possible canoe/kayak launch site, identify areas of high value marshes, identify wildlife use
    o   Investigate options concerning resident Canada Geese
    o   Establish oyster gardens
    o   Monitor water quality
    ·         Support Local Business
    o   Encourage community to buy local
    o   Encourage new retailers to come to our shopping streets to help residents buy local
    o   Campaign for a new supermarket in Indian River Shopping Center
    o   Encourage businesses to make good landscaping decisions – establish curb appeal to bring in customers while reducing run-off and providing environmental benefits
    o   Engage local business to support group’s activities.
    ·         Support Community Activities
    o   Support activities to enhance streetscapes including safe residential streets, proper tree maintenance, proper ditch maintenance, elimination of illegal dumping and dumpsters.   
    o   Support actions to assure any in-fill development follows proper zoning, permitting, and environmental practices.   

    The survey is located at   The first page re-iterates the opportunities above and then has 8 follow-up questions.   Your feedback will be very useful to starting up this organization.   Thank you for your time. 

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Indian River Shopping Center and Storm Ditches discussed at Norfolk Highlands Civic League

    It was a lively meeting at the Norfolk Highlands Civic League last night.   There to answer community questions was a large contingent of the City's civil servants, including Deputy City Manager Dr. Wanda Barnard-Bailey.   Key topics discussed were storm water ditches and the Indian River Shopping Center.    The Public Works representative admitted that, with 2000 miles of storm water ditches in the city, maintenance crews are almost entirely focused on responding to citizen service calls and there is no routine maintenance schedule in place to pro-actively clear the storm ditches.   And with the massive backlog of engineering projects and further budget reductions pending, the probability of improvement did not sound good.   The Deputy City Manager did say that the City could come and do an assessment of flooding issues in Norfolk Highlands as a first step in prioritizing issues for the community.

    For the Indian River Shopping Center, we first heard from the code enforcement group.   Based on citizen complaints, they have cited the property with several violations.    The property's broker, The Katsias Company, is in contact with the city and has until April 27th to correct the cited issues.   The bigger issue of actually getting new tenants into the complex was addressed by the City's Economic Development Director Steven Wright.   He reported that the city has approached several grocers and that Katsias is currently in negotiated with a - not named - mid-level grocer for the property; but the grocer is asking for significant improvements.   The City is not contributing any monetary incentives.

    Mr. Wright elaborated that when retailers look at the shopping center, they look heavily at demographics.   The retailer’s preference is to put new stores in growing suburbs seeing future construction of more homes and with young families - families with growing shopping lists.   That puts built-out neighborhoods like ours at a disadvantage in the race for retailers since we're not seen as a growth area.   The challenging question - and one for which Mr. Wright and the other city representatives did not provide an answer - was what can we, the community, do to make our neighborhood more attractive to retailers.   That’s something we should all consider and discuss at upcoming meetings of the Friends of Indian River.