A short week, but sometimes these are deceptively busy. This is one of those weeks. As we approach the summer, there will be no slowdown in government activity, particularly as we carve out a new normality as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Charlottesville joins Albemarle this week in holding virtual meetings. There are also meetings of regional bodies that in many ways are more accessible than before. This week there are no major land use decisions in our area.
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Two of the most obscure meetings to physically attend in the community are the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority (RSWA). Both take place in a cramped room on the second floor of the administration building at the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
This month’s meetings will take place virtually and offer a unique chance on one of the most important government bodies in the area. One Charlottesville City Councilor and one Albemarle Supervisor sit on a Board of Directors along with city and county staff. One citizen is appointed by Council and the Board of Supervisors. The Zoom meeting begins at 2 p.m. (full meeting packet)
One of the biggest impacts on the environment is the waste that comes from our consumption of goods and services. The RSWA and the Albemarle County Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee (SWAAC) are two important meetings to monitor. From the agenda for the May 26 meeting, I came across these interesting facts:
- The RSWA has shipped over 126,000 gallons of paint cans since August 2016 when a recycling program began. Learn more about how the service works here.
- Almost 19.5 tons of food scraps were dropped off at the McIntire Recycling Center from February through April for composting.
- The pandemic has not slowed down the amount of solid waste that goes through the Ivy Material Utilization Center. There was an average of 93.28 tons of waste processed at the facility in March, up from 85.96 tons in March 2019. In April, there were 92 tons processed, up from 84.81 in April 2019.
- Green Waste Recyclers of Culpeper will enter into a contract with the RSWA to grind vegetative waste material into mulch.
The RWSA meets at the conclusion of the RSWA meeting. Will they change Zoom calls as they switch from one board to another? Or stay on the same one? (full meeting packet)
The main item on the RWSA agenda is the adoption of the budget, which includes rates for the authority’s only two customers. As you can read in this Daily Progress story by Allison Wrabel, there are no proposed increases at this time. A revised budget has cut $2.7 million from the capital improvement program (CIP) by deferring several projects.
Some information gleaned from the packet:
- The RWSA has made offers on 11 of 12 private property owners along the right of way for the future waterline that will be built between the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. Negotiations are also underway for property owned by the city of Charlottesville, the Albemarle School Board and the Virginia Department of Transportation.
- Urban water generated by the RWSA was down this April over last. There was an average of 7.85 million gallons per day this year compared to 8.98 in 2019. Wastewater flows were also down from 11.52 last April to 10.56 this year.
- The RWSA will be presented with the results of a water demand and safe yield study in June.
- In April, the Albemarle County Service Authority purchased 55.8 percent of the total drinking water processed by the RWSA. An agreement in 2012 mandated by the terms of the community water supply plan determines the amount each pays towards capital programs such as the expansion of the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and the future waterline that will be built. Elsewhere in the packet is a staff report for a study for future upgrades necessary for the wastewater system.
The Greene County Board of Supervisors will meet in open session beginning at 7:30 p.m. with an update from emergency services director Melissa Meador. Two items with impacts on the future are on the agenda. Jaunt will take over operations of Greene County Transit in July, and executive director Brad Sheffield will give a progress report update. (agenda)
The other item is an update on the water supply plan for Greene County that has been in the planning stages for several years. The Army Corps of Engineers approved a plan in 2011 but the county has been unable to fund it. In the past two years, facility fees have been gradually increased to provide more revenue. (presentation)
In Wednesday’s entry, we’re going to have more about future transportation projects. For this entry, today marks a milestone for previous projects that have been funded and are now set to go to construction.
In 2014, the General Assembly passed a law that mandated the Virginia Department of Transportation to use a series of metrics to determine what projects should be funded. Albemarle did not fare well in the first round, but managed to get six projects approved in the second. Let’s recap what they are.
- Interstate 64 at exit 118 Interchange Modifications
- Interstate 64 at exit 124 Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI)
- Fontaine Avenue Ramp Improvements
- Construction of Roundabout at Route 250 and Route 151
- Construction of Roundabout at Route 20 and Route 649
- Rio Mills Road/Berkmar Drive Connection
These are projects that are already approved and a design-build contract has been signed. The first phase of construction begins this week (today) for the two projects near exit 118. The second phase will begin this fall with the Rio Mills / Berkmar Drive Connection and the diverging diamond at exit 124. Next spring, the third phase will begin with the two roundabout projects. For all of the details, visit VDOT’s page on these projects, which are all being built by Curtis Contracting on a $28.5 million design-build contract.
Charlottesville’s Housing Advisory Committee (HAC) will meet virtually at noon. One item on the agenda is a discussion of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected low-income families. (agenda and meeting packet) An hour earlier, communications director Brian Wheeler will talk to City Manager Tarron Richardson about his first year on the job on the Cville360 program. (calendar item)
Charlottesville will hold the third in a series of webinars introducing the public engagement phase for the fourth round of community engagement of the Comprehensive Plan. This meeting will begin at noon. (register)
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
The Metropolitan Planning Organization is another of those obscure bodies that most people in our community do not yet know about. Yet, all of us depend on a transportation network to get to where we want and need to go, and there is a central forum for the public to follow along with the formulation of policy as well as the planning and implementation. I’m particularly interested in shining more light on how this process works.
And now more than ever, these meetings are accessible. With everyone on a Zoom call, it is much easier to follow along with what’s happening. If you are interested in these topics, now is the time to get involved. I will help you understand what’s going on.
There is a lot on the agenda for the 4 p.m. meeting, but the most important thing to pay attention to are the Smart Scale applications. The MPO is being asked to weigh in on a list of projects to submit to VDOT later this summer. Take a look at the projects under consideration from a May 13 Smart Scale workshop.
The Albemarle Broadband Authority will meet at 5 p.m., also on a Zoom call. The agenda is not yet posted but information on how to access the meeting can be found here.
City Council goes into closed session at 1 p.m. for personnel evaluations. While the meeting is a closed one, the webinar is open to the public so citizens can hear the closed meeting resolution go into effect. This might be a good time to read up on the provision in Virginia code that allows for closed meetings.
Thursday, May 28, 2020
The Regional Transit Partnership is an advisory body created by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to better coordinate the work of three transit agencies in our area. They are the Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT), Jaunt, and the University Transit System. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were a lot of new opportunities for new service. One of the first items on the agenda is a discussion of how physical distancing restrictions has affected ridership. Both Jaunt and CAT received funding through the federal CARES Act, which will guarantee continued service in the short term. There are a lot of upcoming decision points that will affect the future of transit in our area. This meeting begins at 4 p.m. and is available via Zoom. (meeting packet and access information)
There will be a series of updates on future transit projects. Virginia Breeze Danville to DC Afton Express Regional Transit Visioning Plan Application Albemarle County Route Expansion Study Grant Amtrak Union Station Site Plan Grant Application
Friday, May 29, 2020
City Council will once again go into a closed meeting for personnel evaluations beginning at 11:30 a.m. The calendar item states this meeting is scheduled until 4:30 p.m.
The Cville Plans Together process continues with the fourth of five small group discussions planned. (register)
Field Representative – Albemarle, Charlottesville and Greene
The Piedmont Environmental Council