Election machines gear up
The August 2 meeting of the Goochland Board of Supervisors provided the first taste of electoral maneuvering in the county.
The meeting got off to a good start with the announcement that the local facility of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College will now be known as the Goochland rather that western campus. The actual impact of this change is a little vague, but it can’t hurt to put Goochland on the map in a favorable way.
Another piece of good news was shared by County Administrator Rebecca T. Dickson and Beth Moore, who heads the taskforce developing Tucker Park at Maidens Landing. Recently, under the volunteer direction of local contractor Leigh Gordon, parking lots were graded and graveled thanks to in kind donations of labor, equipment and gravel valued at about $60,000. Moore said that the park is a great example of community collaboration and philanthropy. Completion of the parking lot will make it possible for everyone to enjoy this new park, located on the James River on Maidens Road.
The list of people and companies working together to make this happen includes: Derek Stamey of Goochland Parks, Rec, and Facilities Management; Gary Clower of McKinney and Company who created plans for the lot; Joe Liesfeld with Liesfeld and Bill Ottley with S. B. Cox who graded the area and removed unneeded soil; Mike Parrish who did the survey work; Travis Chewning and Brad Duty from Luck Stone, which donated 1200 tons of gravel. (If any names or organizations that were part of this outstanding effort are omitted or misspelled, please chime in to correct.)
Moore said there will be a public dedication of the facility when it’s a bit cooler.
An item to amend the current fiscal year budget to include an expenditure of $21,000 from fund balance to cover the cost of demolition and site clean-up of 2372 Chapel Hill Road in District 2.
Dickson explained that a mobile home on the property was condemned after it was damaged by fire. The owners of the property are deceased and the property went into foreclosure. Efforts to contact Wachovia/Wells Fargo Bank, the Trustee in the foreclosure have been unsuccessful. In the meantime, the property poses a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood.
A lien will be placed on the property, whose current assessed valuation is $80,000 according to county land records. If and when the land is sold, the county will be able to recover the money it spent to remove the hazard.
No mention was made of how the $21,000 amount was computed. Also, there was no mention of who will do the work. Tammy Roberts, who lives nearby, confirmed the deplorable and dangerous condition of the property and said that she would clean it up for $21,000.
Look to see a reelect Quarles sign near this property.
During the portion of the meeting where Rob Crandol,VDOT representative, discusses road matters with the Board, Andrew Pryor, District 1 asked about the rural addition process to pave existing roads. He was inquiring about paving for Smith and Pace Roads in his district.
You’d think that having been a supervisor for decades, Pryor would know that the rural addition method of paving roads is a lengthy process that can take years.
If he was so interested in helping the folks who live on Smith and Pace Roads, he should have started the process well before an election was in sight.
A visit from representatives of Verizon Wireless was an illustration of the arrogance of large corporations. Other agenda items ran a bit long, so the technical advisor left before Verizon was called to the lectern.
The gentlemen, who was careful to inform the assembly that he was in charge of Baltimore, Washington D. C. and all of Virginia, to let us know our place in his pecking order, had no clue about the degradation of Verizon wireless service plaguing Goochlanders.
After snarkily suggesting that Verizon customers needed to call and have a service ticket number assigned to their problems, he was bombarded by comments from customers who explained that they had spent hundreds of hours on the phone, had several service tickets opened and gotten no resolution of their problem.
He did provide contact information and asked that those affected provide him with their phone numbers and remedy ticket number. He promised to research the problem.
He spewed jargon and blamed the problem on more complicated phones even though several people in different parts of the county said that Verizon allegedly made repairs but never bothered to check if the system worked afterward.
There were many reports of cell phones and air cards that had worked fairly well until a few months ago when the service either got worse or failed to work altogether. Speakers said that there were told that there would be no solution to the problem in the foreseeable future.
To exacerbate matters, Jim Eads, District 5 said that the Board of Supervisors has no power in the matter to fix anything.
Ann James of Oilville asked that the county send a letter of complaint about the matter to the CEO of Verizon.
During the evening citizen comment period, Kevin Hazzard of Gum Spring suggested that a proactive remedy to the deplorable lack of communications in Goochland be explored. An information technology professional, Hazzard said that there were areas in the Amazon rainforest where aboriginal natives get better cell signals than parts of Goochland.
Hazzard contended that if the county identified tower sites throughout the county to ensure that everyone could at least access wireless internet and get usable cell signals and completed the necessary rezoning and other local regulatory steps, it would attract wireless companies who have little interest in jumping through zoning hoops.
Rudy Butler, District 4 suggested that the county should contact the State Corporation Commission and Federal regulatory agencies about the situation.
In the evening session, the board voted to move the Urban Development Area initiative to the planning commission for a public hearing and recommendation, probably in September.
The final version of proposed UDAs adds the Broadview Shopping Center in Centerville and about 35 acres behind Company 5 on Fairground Road. The proximity of this property to JSRCC could reinforce the campus theme there.
Although some board members expressed discomfort with the state dictating local zoning matters, their concern that the $50,000 VDOT spent on land use consultants to craft Goochland UDAs would need to be refunded if the county does not comply prevailed.
The good news is that any land wanting to take advantage of UDA zoning must be rezoned, which gives the Board the final say.
At the conclusion of business, the supervisors voted to go into closed session for the purpose of discussing possible litigation against the county’s former auditors. Don’t expect this initiative to go any further.