A new plan for Starr Hill
Since last spring, the New Hill Development Corporation has been working on a Small Area Plan to guide development in the Starr Hill area, which runs from Preston Avenue to the CSX Railroad along West Main Street.
On November 4, the African American-led nonprofit, which was awarded $500,000 to study the issue, presented its research to City Council, concluding that the area continues to suffer from racial disparities in income, education, entrepreneurship, and housing. It believes the best ways to strengthen Starr Hill’s “economic and social fabric” are to increase support for small businesses and entrepreneurship, especially in high-growth industries, and to better prepare black residents for “next-generation jobs,” such as bio-tech and construction. It also wants to develop more affordable living and work spaces, promoting equity and connectivity in the community.
New Hill proposed developing the City Yard, currently used as a maintenance facility, into a mixed-use area with 85 to 255 majority affordable housing units and flexible business/commercial spaces focused on workforce development. The group did not mention how it would address potential contamination on the site from the old gas plant.
New Hill also proposes adding 10 to 46 majority affordable housing units to the Starr Hill residential area and making its streets more pedestrian friendly, as well as transforming the Jefferson School into a “public square” with an amphitheater, art installations, murals, parking spaces, pocket parks, and an enhanced Starr Hill Park. Creating better connections between the Jefferson School and downtown was proposed as well.
New Hill encouraged City Council to endorse its plan and “low hanging fruit” projects, such as the proposed improvements to Starr Hill Park. The group’s next steps are to secure partnership commitments, establish an advisory committee of local residents, and continue ongoing conversations with key supporters, like UVA and the Jefferson School Foundation.
Quote of the week
“It makes no sense to put the city tree where no one will see it.” — Charlottesville resident Tony Walsh, protesting council’s moving of the downtown Christmas tree from near the Paramount to in front of City Hall
Cooperating behind closed doors
At its November 4 meeting, City Council voted 4-1 to disband the Planning & Coordination Council, an advisory group that’s been around since 1986 and was designed to help UVA, the city, and the county cooperate on development issues. It will be replaced by a group comprised of “technical professionals” with an expanded scope to include environmental issues (like stormwater, solid waste, and sustainability) and infrastructure. But the meetings will no longer be open to the public.
CRB moves forward
The Charlottesville City Council also voted Monday to approve the bylaws and an ordinance for the Police Civilian Review Board, despite some CRB members’ dissatisfaction with council’s revisions to the initial proposal. The board, which was established following the 2017 Unite the Right Rally, is intended to build trust between Charlottesville police and the community. New members will be named to the CRB by mid-December.
Saga boots again
Longtime Charlottesville Radio Group operations manager and WINA morning host Rick Daniels was fired last month, allegedly for playing a clip with an f-bomb. Daniels, who had been with the station for the past 30-odd years, used to host “Morning News” with Jane Foy, who was also unceremoniously dumped a year ago. Les Sinclair, who hosts an afternoon talk show on WINA and is its program director, and does those jobs at Z95, has been named operations manager for the stations. Charlottesville Radio Group is owned by Saga Communications, which has recently petitioned the FCC to not renew licenses for five local nonprofit stations.
More from Mike
City Council member and former mayor Mike Signer launched his latest venture October 28: a 60-page report and podcast series titled “Communities Overcoming Extremism: The After Charlottesville Project.” The report, which Signer unveiled in Washington, D.C., brings together ideas from different leaders across the country and discusses policies to prevent the escalation of violent hate groups. Backed by big-name donors like the Charles Koch Institute and the Anti-Defamation League, the project hopes to provide communities with the know-how to combat intolerance and political violence.
Progress staffers win union election
In a 12-1 vote, the staff at The Daily Progress voted to unionize on October 30. The election, monitored by the National Labor Relations Board, came two weeks after the Progress staff announced their intention to form a union, and after BH Media, which owns the paper, did not voluntarily recognize the union. Reporters, copy editors, photographers and a few other newsroom employees comprise the Blue Ridge NewsGuild, which plans to fight for fair wages, increased severance, and more community input. The Progress is the third BH Media-owned publication to unionize.
A job well done
UVA first-year and Charlottesville High School alum Zyahna Bryant was listed in Teen Vogue’s “21 Under 21: The Young People Changing the World.” Bryant, who sits on the Virginia African American Board, led the charge in the campaign to remove the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville at only 15 years old, and was the founder of her high school’s Black Student Union. Bryant published a book of essays and poems earlier this year, entitled “Reclaim.”