Friday, August 25, 2023

September Newsletter and Events (Update 9/2)

  • River Star Homes Forum - Thursday, 9/21
  • Upcoming Events
    • 8/31 - Thursday - Commercial Design Guidelines Open House
    • 9/7 - Thursday - Cornerstone Highlands Development @ Norfolk Highlands Civic League meeting @ 1212 Willow Avenue
    • 9/9 - Saturday - Second Saturday Hike at Indian River Park
    • 9/14 - Thursday - Comprehensive Plan Public Input Session
    • 9/16 - Saturday - International Coastal Cleanup
    • 9/21 - Thursday - Monthly Meeting/River Star Home Forum
  • Other News
    • Blue Heron Landing Update
    • Trails and Connectivity Plan Open House, Wednesday, 9/20
    • Notable Yards Winner
    • Summer Volunteer Re-cap

River Star Home Forum

Do you support efforts to 
promote and preserve a healthy and clean environment for our community?  One way you can help is by becoming a River Star Home.  Organized by our partners at the Elizabeth River Project, River Stars pledge to take 7 simple steps to make our river and community cleaner. It’s fun, free and easy to join, and when you do, you will get a beautiful River Star flag for your yard, a welcome packet and more.  And as a River Star you are eligible to get a free native tree delivered to your home ready for planting and access funding opportunities for conservation landscaping, rain gardens, shoreline protection and more.  There are nearly 200 River Star Homes in the Indian River watershed, but we want to double that number and then double it again.  

Our monthly meeting on Thursday, 9/21 will be all about the River Star program. We will hear from the Elizabeth River Project, existing and new River Star members, and those who want to learn more.  Sign up for the meeting at

And you don't have to wait for our September meeting to become a River Star - take the pledge today at

Upcoming Events

Indian River Design Guidelines Open House

Date: Thursday, August 31, 5 pm to 7 pm

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

The City of Chesapeake is hosting an open house for the Indian River planning area. They are looking to gather information from the public on how to enhance properties throughout the commercial corridors in Indian River. This discussion and input will be used to create guidelines that will help the City and developers to create well and thoughtfully designed buildings and landscapes.

Cornerstone Highlands Development @ Norfolk Highlands Civic League meeting

Date: Thursday, September 7, 7 pm 

Location: old Cornerstone School property, 1212 Willow Ave

A developer is proposing to redevelop the property where the old Cornerstone Christian School was located between Sparrow Road and Willow Avenue.  The concept is to build 10 Cottage Style and 10 Townhome Style units on the 1.5 acre lot.  The developer has been invited to attend the September 7 meeting of the Norfolk Highlands Civic League to share their designs and take questions.  

This meeting will take place at the Cornerstone property and the developer will set up various booths to allow the community to receive specific answers to inquiries about site development, engineering, building design & selections, and more.  

Second Saturday Hike at Indian River Park

Saturday, September 9, 8:30 am to 10:30 am

Location: Meet at the 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.

Join is for a hike at the park to 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 (suggested but not required)

Comprehensive Plan Public Input Session

Date: Thursday, September 14, 5 pm to 7 pm

Location: Indian River High School, 1969 Braves Trail

The City is starting work on the next version of City's Comprehensive Plan.  This will be the start of a two-year process to update the Comp Plan, the City’s guide to how it will move into the future, whether that be with new growth and development, or protection and preservation of the things we have. It provides the City with policies and recommendations on a range of topics from economic development to environmental sustainability and resilience to transportation to placemaking and design. This plan helps visualize where new roads and infrastructure may be needed in the future, and valuable natural resources and assets that must be protected.

A series of open houses will be held in September, including at the Indian River High School on September 14th.  Learn more at

International Coastal Cleanup

Saturday, September 16, 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).

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. 

Please pre-register at 

If have access to the Indian River and are interested in "paddling up" to this cleanup with your own canoe or kayak, please reach out to us in advance at

Monthly Meeting - River Star Home Forum

Date: Thursday, September 21, 7 pm 

Location: Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive 

This meeting will be a forum to learn about and discuss how to get the most out of the Elizabeth River Project's River Star Homes program.  We'll have a representative from the ERP attending and we'll have existing River Stars in attendance to talk about the benefits of participation and how the program can help the entire community.

We'll also have the latest community news and updates!

Other News

Blue Heron Landing Park and Kayak Launch

We're a big step closer to seeing Blue Heron Landing and Kayak Launch become a reality along the Indian River.   The City has awarded a contract for construction of the park and we're now expecting work to begin this fall.  This is located along Indian River Road across from Lilac Avenue.  Stay tuned for updates!

Trails and Connectivity Plan Open House

The City of Chesapeake is working on a plan to improve connections between open spaces through a network of trails, multimodal corridors, and protected lands. The plan will be used to guide connections between trails, recreational areas, conservation lands, water access points, and historic and cultural resources.  The City is holding an Open House to get your insights on Wednesday, September 20, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Museum, 775 Historic Way.  

Trails and Connectivity were also some of the key goals of the Indian River Planning Area Study and the Friends of Indian River will be working to make sure that those goals are also reflected in this new Trails and Connectivity Plan.  

Notable Yards Winner

Congratulations to Friends of Indian River members Gary and Susan Ball for being selected as the best Notable Yard in the Indian River for 2023!   Their River Star Home is 
a “river-friendly” oasis with a host of benefits the environment and wildlife. They took advantage of funding opportunities from the Elizabeth River Project to develop a buffer garden along their shoreline that help keep pollutants out of the river and discourage harmful geese from entering their yard. Trees, shrubs, and flowers border each side of the back yard, with a chemical free “freedom lawn” leading down to the river.  With a mix of native and non-native plants, they are working to attract various pollinator insects.   Gary and Susan's efforts have made their home into a truly beautiful place to enjoy the gifts of nature.  

Come to our River Star Home Forum on Thursday, September 21 to learn more about how to make your yard into a Notable Yard.  See details above.

Summer Volunteer Re-cap

We haven't had any scheduled volunteer events over the summer, but a dedicated crew of volunteers kept up with regular maintenance at the various gardens maintained by the Friends of Indian River through these hot summer months, including at the Indian River Oaklette Bridge, Indian River Park, Plymouth Park, and several planters along Indian River Road.  Without their dedicated efforts, these gardens would likely get overrun by plants we don't want in these plantings, i.e., "weeds".  (Although the definition of what is a weed varies depending on gardening goals).   We also thank the volunteers outside our group who maintain other public gardens in the area, including at the Rokeby Center and the Indian River Library.  All these efforts help make our community beautiful!

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