Deputy City Manager Sam Sanders has explained what the city is going to address safety concerns on Fifth Street Extended. According to crash data from the Virginia Department of Transportation, there were three fatalities in 2020 on the divided highway. Police have confirmed there was another on the night of New Years Day.
“We very much remain concerned about the serious safety concern along that corridor,” Sanders said. “Our traffic engineer has been working to effect improvements with a few updates. We are pursuing a speed limit reduction. We have been working on that and you will have that matter before you at your next meeting.”
A divided council selects Snook as Mayor, but unanimously elects Wade as Vice Mayor
In their first vote of 2022, Charlottesville City Council chose Lloyd Snook to serve as mayor for the next two years. The first meeting with newcomers Brian Pinkston and Juandiego Wade was opened by Deputy City Manager Ashley Marshall.
“The person elected to serve as Mayor will preside over City Council meetings and may call special meetings, make some appointments to advisory boards, and serves as the head of government for ceremonial purposes and official functions,” Marshall said. “The vice mayor substitutes whenever the mayor is not available.”
January 3 had been the expected reopening day for the Smith Aquatic and Fitness Center in Charlottesville, but further repair is needed for the facility which opened in 2010. However, a release that went out this morning now states that Smith will remain closed until a “spring 2022 reopening.”
Smith has been plagued with ventilation issues since soon after it opened. According to a 2015 Daily Progress article, the facility closed for several weeks in 2015 for installation of new exhaust systems. The pool closed again in April 2019 for repairs and was slated to be closed in the spring of 2020 for a $1.8 million repair that has not yet been completed.
Crow Indoor Pool is open.
A crash in the 900 block of Fifth Street Extended late Saturday night has killed a Richmond woman, according to a report from CBS19 News. That’s prompted the group Livable Cville to call on Charlottesville City Hall to move forward with planned solutions. A series of fatalities in 2020 led to a petition drive that led to a conversation on City Council that November of that year at which traffic engineer Brennan Duncan offered several recommendations including lowering the speed limit. Livable Cities wants to know why none of them have been implemented.
Charlottesville has hired two people to serve as department heads. Arthur Dana Kasler will serve as the new director of Parks and Recreation and Stacey Smalls will be the new director of Public Works. Both positions have been open since September and were filled despite the transition at the city manager position when Chip Boyles resigned in October.
Kasler comes to Charlottesville after serving as the director of Parks and Recreation in Louisville where he oversaw over 14,000 acres of parks, natural areas, and other services. According to a profile on Linkedin, he’s held that position since April 2019. Prior to starting work in Louisville, he was parks and recreation director in Parkland, Florida. According to the Lane Report, he’s also worked in Pittsburgh, Ponte Verde Beach in Florida, Kingsland, Georgia, and Athens, Ohio. Kasler takes over a position in Charlottesville in which he may oversee creation of a new master plan for recreational programs in the city.
Stacey Smalls recently worked as director of the Wastewater Collection Division in the public works department in Fairfax County. Smalls has been in that position since February 2016. Prior to that, she served in similar capacities for the U.S. Air Force, including serving as deputy public works officer for the Joint Base at Pearl Harbor. She’ll oversee a public works in Charlottesville that took on responsibility for transportation design from the Department of Neighborhood Development Services during the administration of former City Manager Tarron Richardson.
Charlottesville City Council will have a public hearing on the proposed fiscal year on Monday, April 5. On March 25 they held a work session on the proposed capital improvement program as well as what to do with some additional revenue that budget staff now anticipates receiving during the year that begins on July 1.
For months, budget staff have been telling Council that the city is close to its capacity to raise additional debt. (link to presentation) (watch on city website)
“With the proposed CIP we are projecting a five year debt financing of roughly $121 million,” said senior budget management analyst Krissy Hammill. “WIth the bonds that we’ve previously committed but not issued, and the CIP before you, we are committing to a debt capacity of about $195 million.”
The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that Charlottesville can remove two Confederate statues in city parks that were erected in the early 1920’s. In February 2017, Council voted to remove statues of two Confederate generals and were soon sued by a group who argued the statues were protected war memorials under a law that passed the General Assembly in 1997. A Charlottesville Circuit Court judge backed them up the plaintiffs in an October 2019 ruling.
“It has long been the law of the Commonwealth that retroactive application of statutes disfavored,” reads the opinion.