Saturday, September 30, 2023

October Newsletter and Events

  • News
    • Blue Heron Landing Park Update
    • The History and Value of Trees in Chesapeake
    • Early Voting for November Elections
    • Town Meeting - 10/3
    • River Star Homes Forum
    • September Recap
  • Upcoming Events
    • 10/14 - Saturday - Second Saturday Hike at Indian River Park
    • 10/21 - Saturday - Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park
    • 10/22 - Sunday - Field Trip to Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve in Suffolk

Blue Heron Landing Park Update

Construction has started on the new Blue Heron Landing Park just off Indian River Road across from Lilac Avenue.  Building the park entails a major shoreline restoration. The site is a former parking lot constructed of rubble fill behind an improvised sea wall. The first step was to remove all the trees from the site; unfortunately, the trees were literally growing out of the old rubble and work to remove asphalt, concrete, rubble fill, failing retaining wall, and failing sea wall couldn't happen without removing the trees first. The project will tear all this out and reconstruct a living shoreline including an oyster reef, tidal low and high marshes and forested uplands. The entire area will then be replanted with native trees and plants.  Finally, a boardwalk and kayak launch will complete the new park.  The project will take upwards of 11 months to complete, so we'll keep every up to date as work progresses!

The History and Value of Trees in Chesapeake

Speaking of trees, our own Rogard Ross, President of the Friends of Indian River, will be presenting at the Backyard Gardeners meeting on Tuesday, October 17 at 6:30 pm at the Great Bridge Presbyterian Church located at 333 Cedar Road on the History and Value of Trees in Chesapeake.  Before European settlement, what now is Chesapeake was almost entirely an old growth forested swamp, from the Great Dismal in the southwest to Buck Trout Swamp in the northeast.  These forests, and the industries that harvested them, were major factors in the region's history. Today, trees still play a crucial role in making our City livable, providing critical ecosystem services, cooling our neighborhoods, providing beauty, recreational space, and wildlife habitat.  The talk will also address steps needed to protect and rebuild today's urban forest. 

Early Voting for November Elections

Early voting is now underway in Chesapeake.  Here are some key dates:
  • Voter Registration Deadline – Monday, Oct 16
  • In Person Early Voting @ Registrar’s Office in Great Bridge– Friday, Sept 22 thru Saturday, Nov 4 
  • In Person Early Voting @ Indian River, Central, Hillard, and Russell Libraries - Monday, October 23, through Friday, November 4 
  • Election Day (last day to vote) – Tuesday, Nov 7
On the ballot for the Indian River area in Chesapeake will be candidates for Senate of Virginia (18th District), House of Virginia (91st District and 92nd District), City of Chesapeake Treasurer (Unexpired Term), and Soil and Water Conservation Director Virginia Dare District (vote for 2 candidates).   Election information and Sample Ballots can be found at

The Women’s Division of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce will host a candidate forum at 5 pm on Monday, Oct. 2 at Chesapeake City Hall.

Town Meeting - 10/3

The City is holding their next quarterly "Town Meeting" at the Indian River High School on Tuesday, October 3, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.; residents are "encouraged to attend at their leisure to discuss topics of interest with City Council members and City staff".   

River Star Home Forum 

We had a good turnout for our River Star Home Forum at our September meeting.  Barbara Gavin from the Elizabeth River Project provided much valuable information about the benefits of the program.  Current and new members asked questions and discussed reasons to participate in this program to preserve a healthy and clean environment for our community.   

It’s fun, free and easy to become a River Star.  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 and we want to double that number and then double it again.  You can take the pledge today to "Do Something Beautiful" for our river and community at

September Recap

September was a busy month.   The City held several Open House events of interest to our community, including one on a new Indian River Commercial Design Guidelines, which is a follow-up effort from the Indian River Planning Area Study, one for the next version of the City-wide Comprehensive Plan, and one for a Trails and Connectivity Plan.  These were all introductory sessions to collect citizen input prior to creating first drafts of their respective documents.  More meetings are expected over the winter and we'll keep everyone informed about them.   

There was also a meeting in conjunction with the Norfolk Highlands Civic League and the developer of the proposed Cornerstone Highlands project at the old Cornerstone school between Willow Avenue and Sparrow Road.  The developer shared their latest site plan that now has 21 units - 5 cottage style homes and 16 townhomes. The City asked that the site entrance be on Willow Ave. with all the driveways are on the interior streets.  To meet their stormwater BMPs requirements, the developer says the site will most likely incorporate an underground stormwater detention and filtration system (i.e. a big, buried storage cistern or similar).  The housing will be market priced with the developer predicting home prices around $400K.   The Friends of Indian River have been listening to community feedback and is drafting comments to the developer.   The project is not on the October agenda for the Planning Commission.  

Our volunteers participated in the International Coastal Cleanup in mid-month. Seven volunteers came out to do a shoreline cleanup around the Indian River Oaklette Bridge and the future Blue Heron Landing Park.  We collected about 200 pounds of trash - lots of bits of plastic chopped up by mowing, lots of beverage containers (glass, plastic, and aluminum), lots of food wrappers and plastic bags. We also continued weeding efforts around the bridge landscaping and gardens and at the native plant garden at Indian River Park. We always need more volunteers, so please do join us for upcoming events!

Upcoming Events

Second Saturday Hike at Indian River Park

Saturday, October 14, 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 us for a walk in the park. 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)

Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park

Saturday, October 21, 9 am to Noon

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.

It is time for our fall gardening at Indian River Park.  We'll be tending to the native plant garden at the park entrance, including weeding and preparing the garden for the winter.  We may also do some trail work, pruning, weeding, and cleanup.

Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves.  Long pants are recommended.  If you can, bring shovels, rakes, pruners, saws and other gardening tools.  We'll have water and snacks available.  We also always encourage folks to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize use of plastic bottles and cans. 
Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.

Please pre-register at (suggested but not required)

Field Trip to Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve in Suffolk

Date: Sunday, October 22, 2 pm to 5 pm, depart Indian River area around 1 pm 

Location: Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve in Suffolk

Our annual field trip this year will be to Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve in Suffolk, a 142 acre preserve with over 3 miles of trails through four separate habitats: a riparian forest filled with pines and hardwoods, a meadow of native wildflowers and grasses, a non-tidal freshwater lake, and a tidal creek with its expansive salt marsh.  Many animals have made Hoffler Creek home, from larger mammals like deer and foxes to turtles and lizards no longer than a few inches. More than 200 species of birds have been identified here, making it a haven for local birders.   We will have a guided tour of the preserve.

This field trip is free but limited to 25 persons.  Registration is required and 1st preference will be given to members and active volunteers.  Register at

Details on meeting location and car-pooling options will be provided to those who register for the trip.