GHENT NEIGHBORHOOD LEAGUE MEETING
JANUARY 15, 2007, 7 P.M., MAURY HIGH SCHOOL, BAND ROOMBoard members present:
Mason Andrews Jr., president
Sharon Plawin, 1st vice president
Blount Hunter, 2nd vice president
Dr. Kevin Halista
Board members absent:
Allan Bull, secretary
Joe Maus, treasurer
Helen Brown, present
President Andrew started the meeting at 7 p.m. and greeted meeting attendees. The board introduced itself.
The minutes for September and November 2006, which had not been approved previously because of canceled meetings or lack of a quorum were approved. Susanne Williams abstained from a vote because she had been unable to attend these meetings.
Although Joe Maus could not attend the meeting, he had e-mailed his report to board members earlier. The balance of funds is $9,956.30; accounts payable: $0.00; accounts receivable: $1,400.00 (unpaid newsletter ads).
Ghent Business Association:
Helen Brown reported that the GBA is concerned about the proposed city-wide smoking ban for bars and restaurants. The GBA will hold a meeting Jan. 23 to further discuss the issue. Particularly opposed to the ban are the Colley Cantina, Kelley’s, San Antonio Sam’s and the Red Dog Saloon.
Ghent Task Force:
Mike Spencer said that the task force has yet to meet and will forward the minutes. — Discussions on the parking lot off Colley did not reveal any updates about the surface parking behind the No Frill Grill, which its Richmond-based owner recently sold to the City of Norfolk under threat of condemnation.
Mike Spencer invited attendees to suggest speakers for 2007. Susanne Williams suggested the new head of Norfolk’s Department of Neighborhood Preservation, Mason Andrews suggested a Norfolk Cares representative.
Paige Rose explained the committee’s responsibilities which include infrastructure, historic preservation, sidewalks, street lights, sector representatives, etc. She suggested that the GNL try to have the granite curbing of the proposed crosswalks on Colonial saved; she also noted that the city had approved the Dog Park in upper Stockley Gardens and that the Dog Park committee now is trying to be recognized as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization so it can raise funds in the amount of $42,000. — BarBara Murphy pointed out ongoing drainage problems in the 600 block of Graydon. Blount Hunter shared with the board his list of non-functioning streetlights that he had submitted to the city via its Web site; he also noted that some of the light poles need to be repainted. The board discussed contacting property owners in Ghent’s historic districts to remind them of the need to submit alteration plans for their properties to the city’s Design Review Committee.
Kevin Halista said that in spite of renewal notices, few GNL members had responded. A new letter was suggested that is to include information about the 2007 GNL elections, and Mike Spencer offered to help Kevin Halista. Sharon Plawin suggested that distributing flyers would be an appropriate job for Ghent’s sector representatives. Jon Hanbury suggested that the membership committee develop ideas on how to recruit new members. Kevin Halista will work with Helen Brown to determine Ghent retailers’ interest in a GNL membership card that provides discounts at local businesses.
Nominations and Elections Committee:
Mason Andrews appointed Kevin Halista, Paige Rose and Helen Brown to the committee; as outgoing president, she will be a member as well. The committee, among other tasks, needs to find out which board members are up for one- and two-year terms, respectively.
Jon Hanbury said that the committee has not made much progress.
Officer J.M. Tolson (John.M.Tolson@norfolk.gov) of the Norfolk Police Department reported that the number of auto larcenies is increasing, partly because cars are not locked. He also said that
– a supect in a recent Channello robbery was caught
– four suspects in commercial robberies are in custody
– he and his partner are monitoring speeding on W. Olney Road and W. Princess Anne roads, writing tickets for speed violations of 40 mph and up
– the department’s vice squad recently arrested 15 individuals along Granby Street for male prostitution
– four individuals beat up a person on Baldwin during the holidays
– police cannot arrest homeless individuals on the grounds of Sacred Heart Church for trespassing because the church on Graydon Avenue allows the homeless to sleep on its property; an arrest, however, can be made if a homeless person is caught drinking or urinating in public
– Christ and St. Luke’s church has hired him to keep the homeless off the church’s property
– Officer Gilda Klein, who had been assigned to Ghent, has been reassigned.
Blount Hunter alerted Officer Tolson to speeding on W. Olney Road, particularly by buses, and expressed his concern over homeless in front of the Chrysler Museum. Susanne Williams asked Officer Tolson to extend his monitoring of speeding vehicles to Colonial Avenue.
GNL MEETING CHANGES
Because some GNL meeting dates fall on a holiday, the board reviewed the 2007 calendar and decided to hold the next meeting on Feb. 12, i.e. the second, not the third Monday of the month.
Mason Andrews said that she periodically contacts the attorney for Harris Teeter but has not been advised of any new developments. The Methodist church on Colonial Avenue, part of whose property the grocery chain is trying to buy for its planned store expansion, evidently is unwilling to sell.
Christ and St. Luke’s:
Mason Andrews said that the church’s appeal from a city decision on the definition of adjacent properties currently is before the Virginia Supreme Court. The city had decided that the church’s two properties on Stockley Gardens, separated by a street, are not adjacent. The church wants the two properties to be regarded as one so that its expansion plans meet the city’s lot size requirements.
Brambleton Bridge project:
Mason Andrews said that she learned during a recent meeting that the Brambleton Bridge project, expected to last 18 months, is based on a 4-step plan but that the first phase on the southern span already has run into snags because of fiber optic cables; work now is beginning on the north end. During the meting at the Chrysler Museum, city officials responded to fears of increased through-traffic in the neighborhood with the comment “We’ll deal with it.” The project does not include work for light rail.
Meeting on homelessness in Ghent:
Mason Andrews, who asked attendees to share their thoughts on the Nov. 26 meeting, said she was surprised to find out how intractable the problem seemed to be. During the meeting, attended by council members Dr. Teresa Whibley and Barclay Winn, city officials, service providers, volunteers and Ghent residents, participants were asked to break into groups and discuss the issue. Jon Hanbury, a NEST volunteer, thought that a lot of misconceptions about the homeless had been addressed. BarBara Murphy, a member of the city’s Commission To End Homelessness, pointed out that Norfolk’s annual homeless project that links service providers with the homeless does not keep track of how many homeless have found jobs; she also said the commission’s meetings are public and will provide board members with a meeting agenda. Susanne Williams, a former member of the Homeless Task Force that preceded the commission, said that the Ghent homeless issue had been discussed for years without result and that the GNL’s homeless committee already had developed an action plan that should have made the meeting unnecessary. — Since none of the board members who had attended the meeting has yet received a promised report from an assistant city manager, the board asked Mason Andrews to request a report update.
21 on 21st Street:
Susanne Williams expressed her concern about the massiveness of the proposed development for the old Sears site and its expected impact on Ghent. She also expressed concern about city approvals for some new projects in Ghent that do not seem to reflect the area’s character.
Reassignment of Officer Klein:
Mason Andrews said she had expressed her regrets over the reassignment of Officer Klein to NPD chief Bruce Marquis and will forward her letter to board members.
The meeting was adjourned around 9 p.m.