Rebranding Cville, Louisa BOS say no to name change, A12 at 5, and accommodating untransit
BREAKING: Sen. Mark Warner secures federal grant for the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center.
“Charlottesville” won’t go away
During a presentation to City Council Monday night, the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau used this graphic below to show, without saying it, that after nazis and white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others, prospective visitors "mentioned wineries and shopping less often." The area tourism board has been trying to improve Charlottesville's image, most notably with the launch of Discover Black Charlottesville, but told Council that the "negative" words in the graphic haven't grown as small as they would like.
Louisa BOS rebukes “woke liberal crowd”
Local descendants of enslaved laborers recently asked the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library board of trustees to consider changing its name, which includes the names of two prominent slaveholders.
“For a number of years now our community has been undergoing a racial reckoning. The efforts have resulted in schools and organizations changing their names and statues being removed,” said Myra Anderson, director of Reclaimed Roots Descendants Alliance. “Our library has remained silent and continued to bear the name of two slave owners. We believe the library is long overdue for a name change, and that maintaining a bad name of a white supremacist is maintaining white supremacy in a space that is supposed to feel inclusive and equitable.”
The Board agreed to discuss the idea in June. The Blue Ridge Health District, the United Way of Greater Charlottesville, Child Health Partnership, and the Unitarian-Universalist church are a few organizations that have dropped the third president's name in recent years, and Charlottesville replaced Jefferson's birthday celebration in March with the celebration of Liberation and Freedom Day, commemorating when Union troops arrived in the city in March 1865 and freed enslaved people.
The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library has eight branches and a mobile unit spread out across the city of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Greene County, Nelson County and Louisa County.
Although the name of the library has been changed a number of times - Charlottesville Public Library, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Library, McIntire Regional Library - the Louisa County Republican Committee and Louisa County Board of Supervisors chair Duane Adams recently threaten to pull funding for the library ($392K has been appropriated for the library for FY23) if the name was changed.
Why? No big surprise. Because Adams thinks this:
“The woke liberal crowd is at it again! I support curriculum and actions that remember and teach our history – the good and the bad – but I will not stand for attempts to erase our history,” he wrote in a May 24 Facebook post, according to The Central Virginian.
And the Louisa County Republican Committee thinks this:
"It's time to speak up and take a stand," the group wrote in a June 4 Facebook post.
Standing up for what? How exactly does changing a name that was given to the library in the 1970s erase history? That's unclear.
Tammy Purcell, who publishes this:
…reported that "a resolution to formally oppose a name change" was on the Louisa BOS agenda this past Monday," and although the resolution does not call for defunding the library, "Adams says he’ll introduce a resolution to defund if the library moves forward with a name change." Despite mostly opposition to opposing the library name change during public comment Monday, the Louisa BOS voted unanimously to approve the resolution opposing the name change.
"UVA pays no property taxes but would owe the city over $15 million a year if they paid the same rate as everyone else (that doesn’t even include what they’d owe Albemarle County). The city also recently gave UVA Brandon Avenue for free. And a $5 million pledge UVA made to the city to help finance the West Main Street Streetscape has vanished into thin air now that that project is paused." - City Councilor Michael Payne
No real plan to mark 5th anniversary of A12
With the five-year anniversary of the deadly Unite The Right rally fast approaching, the city still has no real plan on how to recognize or memorialize the event that has become synonymous with Charlottesville after a white supremacist murdered activist Heather Heyer and injured dozens of others in a car attach on 4th Street. As activist Don Gathers, who was on 4th St. on August 12, 2017, tells NBC29, “It’s just something that you can’t escape, you can’t forget it, and you can’t un-see it. It’s just stuck with those of us who were actually here that day. It’s stuck with us the rest of our lives.”
However, here's what Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook recently had to say about recognizing the anniversary:
“There are a number of folks who feel that we shouldn’t be looking to do really much of anything. There’s not a lot of appetite in Charlottesville for ‘Hey, let’s relive the glory days of five years ago.’ What that means in practice, we haven’t decided yet,” Snook told the Daily Progress.
Councilor Michael Payne, however, thinks it's time we got our story straight.
“In a lot of ways, the national media has kind of defined the story of Charlottesville, and I think it’s important for us as a community to be able to actually do that and tell our own story,” Payne tells NBC29.
Payne says he wants to start a conversation about a memorial or a marker on 4th Street, something in addition to the chalk-covered walls with messages from community members.
“I do think that some kind of recognition can help acknowledge what happened, what was done wrong, if it’s done right,” Payne said.
Heartbreaking story here from Erin O'hare about the situation at Premiere Circle, the former Red Carpet Inn on Route 29 that is now an emergency homeless shelter ahead of plans to turn it into low-income apartment-style housing.
“It appears that a lot of people at least believe that hybrid work is here to stay for at least a while longer. And certainly, hybrid work is having an impact on the utilization of our downtown garages,” Charlottesville Parking Manager Rick Siebert tells NBC29.
You think? Census data compiled by the Pew Charitable Trusts recently found that Virginia workers are working remotely 40% of the time.
"Now with this rapid acceleration to remote work I think there's going to be a shift in policymaking and in other areas to thinking about how we accommodate work from home or untransit," Stephanie Stern at the University of Arizona College of Law told Virginia Public Radio.
As transit yields to what she calls “untransit,” commercial property tax values are plummeting. Lucy Dadayan at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center says that means local governments are seeing a hit to revenue they used to get from office spaces and the workers that used to be in them.
"They don't really go buy their lunch or spend on transportation, etc," Dadayan explains. "And all of that adds up and translates into a fiscal burden for local governments."
She also points out that while the value of commercial real estate is down, the value of residential real estate has skyrocketed during the pandemic. So, local governments are raking in new revenues based on residential property taxes.
Market Street garage is at 70% capacity, and water street garage is below 50%, but NBC29 but "both garages are expected to reach full capacity again." Really? When have the downtown garages ever been at full capacity?
It's amazing to think that we once had an electric street car system in Charlottesville...powered by its own power plant!