Urban Design

Our City is currently involved in several urban design discussions simultaneously.
Are cities gender neutral? Our city, being Charlotte’s Ville. Maybe she can multitask. Talk about redesigning her central park and her bridge downtown and not cut off the wrong leg by mistake.
I have missed the bridge-design events & discussion. Watching the video by Dan Bluestone and Brian Wimer has me playing catch-up.

Why do we allow our bad things to happen to our cities? Why do we allow our cities to be designed by autos and fire engines?
Jim Kunstler talked a bit about the Law of Perverse Outcomes in his November 2011 “Eyesore of the Month”.


failure to control

my father and my first dog
My first dog was executed by the Albemarle County dog warden by rifle shot at my request. Mr. D would have taken Charlie away and gassed him, I preferred to have it be quick and dead.
Charlie was a fabulous dog, I was a bad dog owner.
Problems with domesticated animals can generally be traced back to the owner. Having my dog die of lead poisoning made an impression on me.
Charlie the Labrador slew rabbits at Carlo Columbini’s place on Route 20 North.
You kill livestock in Virginia, you die. There is a law for that.
When a state or a municipality enforces its existing laws, changes in behavior will occur.

I support leash laws for dogs and cats. I am tired of domesticated cats killing wild birds and defecating wherever they see fit.


Mr Maurice Jones
In our town there is one Council meeting every two years opened by the City Manager. This is the first meeting following the expiration of the Mayor’s term when the City Councilors choose one of their colleagues to be the boss of the dais for the next two years and another of their colleagues to be the underboss.

Now, our City is a bit of a machine politics town, all the Councilors are Democrats. They do argue amongst themselves, have healthy debates, intrigues, kerfluffles. They get things done, spend money.

Still, I like the pretense that a vote will be taken, it just feels more democratic.

So, do they do this every time? Telegraph the result of the vote before the vote? That is Mr. Jones, our excellent City Manager, sitting on the mayoral throne, gaveling open the meeting. And the sign in front says Huja.

Huja is the mayor who was elected several minutes later.

water water everywhere

repairing infrastructure
Workers from TriState Utilities reline 8″ diameter waste water pipe from an access point at 10th and Market Street. To prevent infiltration and exfiltration related to sewer pipes in the water and sewer authority service area would require an expenditure of 2000 million dollars.

Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd gives an interview to local TV following the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority Board Meeting September 27.

Charlottesville City Council Independent candidate, Bob Fenwick, advocates dredging of the region’s reservoir as the most effective means of protecting water supply. Mr. Fenwick shown here with corn growing in dredging spoils.

September 29, a citizen addresses a representative of the state Department of Environmental Quality at a public hearing regarding a Modification Request for VWP Individual Permit No. 06-1574, Ragged Mountain Expansion Project, Albemarle County, Virginia.

River Thing

Wednesday, July 20, the City Council will interview candidates for the City’s “Planning Commission”.
I hope the Councilors will ask PC wannabees to:

Identify strategies to maximize the presence and value of the Rivanna River in the life of the City.

The city of Charlottesville has a 3.6 mile waterfront without a single path from the river’s edge to the water.
Imagine that.

A city that ignores its river cannot call itself great.

Mr. Jefferson’s River

Rivanna River
In 2005 the RWSA “discovered” that in wet weather events leaky pipes and insufficient “transmission capacity” meant that they were losing around 20-25 million gallons of sewage. Where was this liquor going? Into Mr. Jefferson’s river.
Some leaky pipe fixing was begun, 25% of the leaks are slated to be fixed by 2020.
But, that leaves a whole lot of mixed liquids and suspended solids (yeck) burping into the waters of the State of Virginia.

Tonight, Charlottesville City Council holds a public hearing on the subject of how best to deal with this environmental catastrophe.
From the beginning, RWSA has solicited input from the public, “give us your ideas. Think outside the box”. The public has responded with some good ideas which are generally dismissed.
For instance, the Public said “fix the leaky pipes”. Nope, too expensive, no one in the sewage industry tries to fix all the leaky pipes.

One of the RWSA fix options (they call them concepts) was dismissed by City Council, that concept was to locate a massive sewage pumping plant (53mgd capacity) in Riverview Park, the Community’s primary gateway to the river.
Now RWSA is advocating locating the pumping plant at the foot of Monticello Mountain, 6/10ths of a mile from Mr. Jefferson’s crib, this plan is known as option D.

Locating the pumping plant on the northwest face of Monticello Mountain would require the destruction of the riverine environment visible on the left side of the river above. All those trees have to go.

The public has suggested option E. which avoids destroying environmental resources and threatening the architectural resources of the Woolen Mills Village National Historic District. Option E doesn’t threaten anyone or anything. Option E is a bored pathway, in existing easements, to the Moore’s Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Option E will be expensive. It is cheaper to leave the burden of transmitting the sewage from 43 square miles of County, City and University land squarely on the shoulders of property owners and residents in the Woolen Mills.

What will City Council recommend? What will the RWSA Board vote for?

We long for the day when fact based decision making trumps politics and when our community is reconnected with its River. Voting for option E would bring that day closer.


AlbCo supervisor ken boyd, executive tom foley
In dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institutions are not aboriginal though they existed before we were born: that they are not superior to the citizen: that every one of them was once the act of a single man: every law and usage was a man’s expedient to meet a particular case: that they all are imitable, all alterable; we may make as good; we may make better. Society is an illusion to the young citizen. It lies before him in rigid repose with certain names, men, and institutions rooted like oak trees to the centre, round which all arrange themselves the best they can. But the old statesman knows that society is fluid; there are no such roots and centres but any particle may suddenly become the centre of the movement, and compel the system to gyrate round it as every man of strong will like Pisistratus or Cromwell, does for a time, and every man of truth like Plato, or Paul, does forever. But politics rest on necessary foundations and cannot be treated with levity.– Politics Ralph Waldo Emerson


water supply plan 2005
For the first 45 years of my life I successfully avoided going to meetings except in a my professional capacity as a newspaper photographer. I was too busy living, raking leaves, raising children, paying bills, working… Meetings were for other people.
I imagine that meetings once upon a time were fun. A smoke filled room, a trough, a bunch of white guys cutting up the pie.
Meetings in the 21st Century have a different form. They feature a public process. Pieces of paper where the public can leave their e-mail addresses. Pieces of paper where the public can write down their thoughts. Public hearings!
I wonder where all those pieces of paper go?
Meeting above was 2/17/05, featured a facilitator and pieces of paper, water supply plan. Meeting below, CHO NDS, pieces of paper.