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
  • 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)