Colonial Place/Riverview Civic League
COMMUNITY NEWS

March 2005

             Guest Speaker, Norman L. Maas, Director of the Norfolk Public Library System, at This Month's Meeting


CIVIC LEAGUE MEETING, Monday, March 14, 2005, 7:00 pm, Stuart Center, 411 Virginia Avenue. Use cafeteria entrance at school parking lot.

NEXT BOARD MEETING will be March 21, 2005, at 7:00 pm.

DEADLINE for the April issue is Tuesday, March 29, 2005.

THIS MONTH'S MEETING AGENDA:   Monthly police report - Code enforcement update - Norman L. Maas, Director of the Norfolk Public Library System, will speak



President’s Notes
Andy Wallach

Many of our home owners received their new property assessments over the past month. The City-assessed values have gone up dramatically. Even with the proposed reduction in the property tax rate, their property taxes will be going up substantially. While no one likes to pay taxes, one of the reasons for the rise in the value of our homes is the success that the City has in making Norfolk a more attractive place to live. It takes money to improve the City. My concern is that we do not force out of Colonial Place/Riverview our home owners who cannot afford to pay higher real estate taxes.

The City has a real estate tax-relief program for homeowners who are over 65 years old, have a household income of less than $34,450, and assets, excluding the value of the home, of not more than $100,000. For information contact Carolyn Lawrence 441-1502, (email: carolynlawrence@norfolk.gov). Personally I would like to see a tax deferment program for any low income owner, regardless of their age. I will be talking to City Council about such a program.

There are many alternatives to resorting to selling due to what you may view as an unaffordable real estate tax burden. There are reverse mortgages, home equity lines-of -credit. Please evaluate … and discuss with financial professionals … your options before selling. Normally any increase in taxes will be more than offset by increases in the value of your property. So even if you have to borrow to pay taxes, the increase in your home’s value will more than compensate.

If you do decide to sell, make sure that you obtain a fair price for your home. Normally a fair price is not the assessed value. Our neighborhood is very, very desirable and most houses sell for more than their assessed value. For example, recent home sales along Mayflower Road have been in the $450,000 to $550,000 range. There are several ways to obtain an estimate of your home’s value. Most real estate agents will do a market comparison for free. You can consult a professional home appraiser. You can research sales of similar homes. Real estate property sales are public information available on-line (www.norfolk.gov/real estate) or by contacting the Office of the Real Estate Assessor 664-4732.

Hope to see you at our March meeting. Come learn how some of your real estate taxes are being spent on our library system.



It’s Bicycle Time Again!
Steve Earnhart

Rev. Becky Kiser and I are looking for some volunteers in CPRV who have a knowledge of bicycle safety and a willingness to help us plan our May “Bicycle Safe” Night in CPRV. Please email me at scearnhart@erols.com if you would like to help us plan a night of bike safety for the whole family.



March Guest Speaker: Mr. Norman L. Maas
Steve Earnhart

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library.
- Andrew Carnegie
Please mark your calendars to attend your civic league meeting on Monday, March 14th (7 p.m., Stuart Center), to meet Mr. Norman L. Maas, the Director of the Norfolk Library system. Mr. Maas had a wide range of experience in many library systems around the country and brings to Norfolk a willingness to engage the community and to continue to build a “city of readers.” As the Norfolk Public Library system just recently celebrated their institutional centennial, Mr. Maas will be reflecting on past achievements and discussing what the future holds for Norfolk’s libraries. Please plan to attend. Great cities have libraries to be proud of, and we must not take our public institutions for granted. If you have any questions, please email me at scearnhart@erols.com.

“From The Ground Up”
Jim Hoffmaster

First off I would like to thank the CPRV Board of Directors for creating the gardening tips column and allowing Tanner’s Creek Garden Center to share the space. It is our pleasure to share our knowledge and help to enhance the quality of life in the vibrant neighborhoods of Colonial Place and Riverview! I invite the residents of CPRV to feel free to come by the Center or drop me an E-mail with their success stories, suggestions or questions. My E-mail address at the Center is: Hoffmaster.james@egglestonservices.org We will do our best to answer your questions and if we don’t have the answer, we’ll try to steer you in the direction of someone who will. 

March can be one of the busiest months in the garden but it can also be one of the most frustrating. Hopefully by now, you have done the necessary clean-up in and around the outside of your home. Now is the time to get the planting areas prepped and plan on what you want for a royal display in the garden to make your home a showplace. It is also a time when many big-box stores will tease you into buying those annuals that you have been shivering to see all winter. Unfortunately, the Hampton Roads weather can be the most unpredictable in the month of March. Hold off on buying those annuals till April and you will save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration.

Spend your time this month cultivating. Spread the compost, fertilize the azaleas, lawn, trees and other spring and summer shrubs and do some early weeding of those persistent weeds that always seem to make it through the toughest winters. You need to get those weeds out NOW before they go to seed and spread. March is also a great time to go ahead and spread some mulch. This will help keep the weeds down that you have already pulled and help keep the compost in place in the beds.

So hang in there, be patient and brave the last of the winter weather and take these early steps to make your gardening chores easy later in the spring and summer. Early planning will reap huge rewards in the warmer months!

I’ll see you in the soil!



KidAlert
Wayne Johnson

The overall goal of the Traffic Committee is to improve safety in the neighborhood. As an effort to improve safety for children playing outdoors, we discussed a product called KidAlert for recommendation to parents.

Placed at the end of a driveway, KidAlert will caution those who drive by that young children are at play. It is a brightly colored figure of a child with a reflector-strip decal aiding visibility during twilight hours, and its 46-inch high red warning flag is positioned to alert motorists to proceed with caution. For optimum effectiveness, the manufacturer recommends removing KidAlert from the area when children are finished, so its presence is only visible during actual playtime.

According to Norfolk’s Traffic Department, city signs such as a Watch For Children Playing@ have little impact on the behavior of motorists, but KidAlert is particularly effective if properly used. As a word of caution, parents should not rely on KidAlert to give them a false sense of security. This product should not be used as a license for children to play in or next to the street, and it is not a substitute for parental supervision.

KidAlert is available at Toys R Us and various internet sites for about twenty dollars.



Proposed Traffic Sign Changes
Robin Huelsbeck

As many of you are aware, the City has conducted a traffic study in our neighborhood recently. Based on the results of the study, the City has recommended the following signage changes:

  1. Change Yield sign to Stop on New Hampshire Ave at Newport Ave.
  2. Change Yield sign to Stop on Massachusetts Ave at Newport Ave.
  3. Change Yield sign to Stop on Massachusetts Ave at Gosnold Ave.
  4. Change Yield sign to Stop on Rhode Island Ave at Gosnold Ave.
  5. Change Yield sign to Stop on Maryland Ave at Gosnold Ave.
  6. Install Two-Directional Large Arrow warning signs at the end of Massachusetts and Rhode Island Avenues at Mayflower Road
According to John Stevenson from the City, it is the Division of Transportation's policy to notify the area civic league of proposed traffic control changes. Therefore, the Division will wait 45 days from February 25th for comment from the civic league before proceeding with the recommendation.

If you have any comments, please contact Robin Huelsbeck at Huelsbeck@pbworld.com or (757) 466-9662.



Thank You!
Tony Collins

I would like to thank the Riverview & Colonial Place residents for their support and guidance for the condominium project at 4200 Granby St., formally know as the Xmas tree lot. I will be attending your next civic league meeting to give everyone a progress update. In a few weeks I will be installing a site sign advertising a pre-construction sales offer. I would like to extend an offer to anyone in the community that maybe interested in purchasing one of these units, prior to this sign and public offering. If you have any interest please call me @ 757-587-1178 and leave a message and I will contact you promptly. Thank you again for your support, I will see you at your next meeting.



Home Sellers Beware
David Block

There are individuals prowling our neighborhood who are attempting to take advantage of property owners. As a Realtor I have first-hand knowledge of at least three attempts and anecdotal evidence of many other attempts to “buy” properties at tens of thousands of dollars below market price. They have done their homework determining who may be in financial need, identifying homes that may “need work,” and/or targeting properties owned by older residents. These folks will even contact family members of the recently deceased. Many of our long time residents have no idea how much their property is worth even in a so-called “AS IS, need work” condition.

Residents who purchased homes many years ago in the $40,000.00 – $70,000.00 range could now receive $250,000.00 or more for their home! Believe it or not, even with the higher tax assessments we all just received, our homes could sell for many thousands of dollars above “Assessed Value”!

The folks prowling our neighborhood may entice “their victims” by offering to pay cash, close quickly, let current owner stay in the property for a time after closing, etc. The aforementioned terms are often negotiated by Realtors on behalf of their clients in any transaction so… don’t believe it when you are told no one else will agree to such terms.

Consult with your favorite local Realtor to find out about the latest real estate market conditions and receive an opinion of your home’s current value. Realtors will provide this valuable information to you at no cost and with no obligation.

Should you decide to sell your home with the help of a real-estate professional your Realtor will be able to negotiate terms acceptable to you and, in every case in which I’ve participated, put many thousands of dollars more into the property owner’s pocket. Your Realtor will help you expose your property to all potential buyers, thus giving you the best opportunity to maximize your profit.

In the event you know of absentee owners and/or the out-of-town family members of the recently deceased, tell them about this situation, then just pass along the name of your favorite local Realtor for their own consideration. Should you decide not to hire a professional Realtor to protect your financial interests, at least you will better understand the complicated real estate sale process and have an idea of the fair market price range of your property. Good luck and Happy Profitable Home Sales!



Recycling Carts
Audrey Webb

There appears to be some confusion regarding acceptable recyclables. Part of this stems from the fact that Riverview residents received incorrect information kits when the carts were delivered. The demand for recyclables is subject to change depending on the market. In the past, we have all been in the habit of recycling plastic containers bearing the numbers 1 or 2: however, this no longer applies. It is now plastic bottles only, that means any container that pours. Example, water, soft drink, milk containers, etc. Anything else goes into our regular trash. As far as boxes are concerned they must be corrugated. No cereal boxes, shoe boxes, six pack containers, etc. Newspapers, advertising inserts and unwanted mail are acceptable. All clear, green, and brown glass bottles and jars are acceptable. Metals such as aluminum foil and pie pans, steel/tin cans are still acceptable. Batteries are no longer acceptable. Please do not put recyclables in plastic bags as this gums up the SPSA machinery. However, it is acceptable to use paper bags. If you have any questions please call me 623-1197 or go to the SPSA web site at www.spsa.com.



Crime Prevention
Malcolm Martin

Thefts from cars are still occurring at a high rate in CPRV, and broken streetlights aren’t helping matters. To report broken street lamps or outages:

  1. Contact Dominion Virginia Power at 1-888-667-3000 (automated) or www.dom.com and provide the following information: They are required to repair the problem in 11 days if the light is out due to a bad bulb; 15 if it involves a faulty underground cable; 45 if it involves a major underground problem.
  2. Also report the problem to www.norfolk.gov (664-6510).
  3. If the repairs are not made by the above-referenced deadlines, please contact the Safety Program Engineer for the City of Norfolk, Mr. Jeryl Riddick, at 664-7301.
Also, please remember that by law cars must be parked at least fifteen feet from corners and fire hydrants, and must not be parked in such a way as to block sidewalks. Keeping the corners and sidewalks clear can make it easier to detect suspicious activity on the street, and makes the neighborhood more pedestrian-friendly.

If you suspect someone is casing an automobile, call the non-emergency police number (441-5610). Please call 911 if you see them try the door handle.

The Crime Prevention Committee would have a much easier job of calling attention to crime trends if more people would subscribe to the neighborhood listserv. The CPRV listserv enables residents to share information about anything of interest – not just crime prevention issues – and the process of joining has been made very simple. Sign on to www.cprv.org and look for the “CPRV Email List” link on the homepage.

CPRV is still in need of volunteers to serve as Neighborhood Watch block captains. If a block captain hasn’t visited you yet, it’s likely that your street doesn’t have one. For information about how you can help, please contact me at 624-9708 or tidewatersurvey@aol.com. PACE Officers Hicks and Routon can be reached at william.hicks@norfolk.gov and william.routon@norfolk.gov, or at 664-7316 and 664-7000.

The next Crime Prevention meeting will be held on Monday, March 28, at 6:30pm, at the Stuart Center cafeteria.



COMMUNITY NEWS is produced by:

              The Colonial Place/Riverview Civic League
              P.O. Box 6130
              Norfolk, VA 23508

              E-MAIL: president@cprv.org (checked weekly)

              WEB PAGE: www.cprv.org

Community News Editor:   Kelly Sorensen, Phone 622-0437
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