Monday, December 4, 2023

December Newsletter and Events

Saturday, Dec 16, Adopt-A-Park event @ Indian River Park is Cancelled!  We will reschedule for the new year.  

There is a lot to share in this month's newsletter. First off, we need volunteers to finish mulching the Native Plant garden on Saturday, Dec. 16th.  Also, since we are now meeting every other month, we will not be holding a Holiday Party this December.  Instead, we will have a Volunteer Appreciation Celebration as part of our Annual Meeting on Jan. 18th in the new year; so, please mark your calendars.  And don't forget our traditional First Day Hike at Indian River Park on New Year's Day!  

Also in this issue:

  • Upcoming Events
    • 12/16/2023 - Saturday - Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park
    • 1/1/2024 - Monday - First Day Hike at Indian River Park
    • 1/18/2024 - Thursday - Annual Meeting and Volunteer Appreciation Celebration
  • News
    • Indian River Small Area Plan Update
    • General Assembly Session
    • Tidewater Master Naturalist and Chesapeake Master Gardeners
    • Leave the Leaves
    • November Recap

Upcoming Events

Saturday, Dec 16: Cancelled Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park
  • Time: 10:00 am to 1 pm
  • 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.
  • Help us finish mulching the native plant garden at Indian River Park. We need folks to help move and spread mulch. If you have a wheel barrow you can bring, please let us know!
  • Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves. Long pants are recommended. If you can, bring rakes and pitchforks. 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 so we have a headcount on the number of volunteers at

Monday, Jan 1: Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park
  • Time: 1 pm to 2:30 pm
  • Location: Indian River Park entrance at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2003 Rokeby Ave.) which is located just south of Military Highway, i.e. across Military Highway from the Fire Station.
  • Join us for our New Year traditional nature hike in Indian River 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)

Thursday, Jan 18: Annual Meeting and Volunteer Appreciation Celebration 
  • Time: 7 pm
  • Location: Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive
  • Please join us for our Annual Meeting to help us plan for 2024 and hold elections for our Board.  If you are interested in becoming an officer or board members, please contact us for more information about the roles.
  • We will also use this meeting recognize our volunteers and the great work they do.  There will be refreshments including various appetizers and desserts.  
  • We'll also have the latest community news and updates on Indian River Small Area Plan, the duck blind and more!  
  • All are welcome - please join us to celebrate our accomplishments in 2023 and plan for 2024.

Indian River Small Area Plan Update

Nearly two years ago, in December 2021, the residents of the Indian River area celebrated the approval of the Indian River Planning Area Study by the City Council. One of the key parts of the Plan was the inclusion of an Implementation Strategy defining Short (0 to 2 years), Medium, and Long Term actions to fulfill the goals outlined in the document at

Blue Heron Landing Park construction
Today we are very excited to see construction under way at the new Blue Heron Landing Park along the Indian River; this will be a major new amenity for the community.  We are also pleased that the Planning Department has begun work on the Design Guidelines for the Commercial Corridors.  These are perhaps the two most significant examples of progress from the implementation matrix.  Another key project funded by the City Council in May of 2022, the addition of bicycle lanes along Indian River Road was recently slated to start additional engineering analysis by Public Works.  

However, many other Short Term goals have seen little to no action.  These include planning for pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements across the community, steps to preserve and rehabilitate existing residential areas, developing an economic development strategy for the community, developing stormwater mitigation strategies, enacting policy changes to encourage tree preservation, allocating streetscape improvements funds to our community, or reaching out to the Chesapeake Public Schools with regards to first steps in creating a cohesive civic campus around the Indian River High School/Community Center/Middle School/Library.  With the Medium Term (2+ years) is just around the corner and there will be even more goals to reach for.  

After the approval of the Plan in 2021, the City stated it would organize an implementation steering committee that would meet on a regularly occurring basis and include both City staff and community members.  This past month, we again reached out to the City about progress on the implementation of the Indian River Planning Area Study and for setting up this steering committee, with community involvement. We hope to share feedback from the City at our Annual Meeting in January. 

General Assembly Session

Speaking of newly elected Delegates, we extend our congratulations to Delegate-Elect Bonita Anthony, elected to represent the new 92nd District covering the Tanglewood, Norfolk Highlands, Oaklette, and Campostella neighborhoods in the Indian River area, as well as parts of South Norfolk, Berkley, and much of western Norfolk.  We also congratulate Delegate Cliff Hayes for his re-election to the new 91st District covering the Georgetown and Indian River Park neighborhoods, as well as much of Greenbrier, South Norfolk, Deep Creek and Western Branch, and Senator Louise Lucas for her re-election to the new 18th District covering much of northern Chesapeake and Portsmouth.  We also send our sincere thanks to outgoing Senator Lionell Spruill for his over 35 years of public service to the City of Chesapeake.

The 2024 Session of the General Assembly convenes on January 10 and scheduled to run through March 9.  For an overview of key topics related to conservation issues that may be addressed in the General Assembly this year, check out the Virginia Conservation Network's Common Agenda, representing the policy agenda of more than 160 organizations across the Commonwealth.  

Tidewater Master Naturalist and Chesapeake Master Gardeners

Have you applied to become a Chesapeake Master Gardener or thinking about applying to become a Tidewater Master Naturalist ( - applications close Jan 15)?  If so, let us know.  We have a scholarship program for Friends of Indian River members in good standing!

Leave the Leaves

Leave those leaves.  You really do not need to make the effort to rake and bag all those leaves.  Mulch mow the leaves on your lawn to break them into smaller pieces that will compost on your lawn and add valuable nutrients to your soil.  Leave the leaves in your garden beds and around your trees - they are free mulch, help build stronger soil, and provide valuable overwinter habitat for overwintering butterflies and moths, turtles, birds, and other wildlife.  Please never blow your leaves into the street or into ditches - this ends up clogging storm drainage and pushing unneeded nutrients into our waterways.

Artwork courtesy of Joan_de_Art

November Recap 

We had a successful Adopt-A-Park effort at Indian River Park in November. Thanks to the six volunteers who came out to help, we cleared out the many of the irises in the front garden.  The irises were being somewhat too aggressive and pushing out the other flowers; we also discovered some of them were the invasive yellow flag variety.  But we retained enough native blue flag irises to re-establish a smaller collection in the garden next year.  We need volunteers to come back in December to finish mulching the garden, see upcoming events for details.  

Year End Giving

The Friends of Indian River is an all-volunteer, local 501(c)(3) non-profit.  You can support our efforts by becoming a member, renewing your membership, or just making a contribution online at

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