April 25th Meeting

Join us Tuesday eve, 4-25 at the Optimist Rec Ctr, 703 Oakwood Avenue, at 6:30 (meet and greet) & 7:00 meeting. In addition to meeting Beth Norwood, a talented neighbor, the purpose of the meeting is to decide what action we can take as a community in support of parents to influence kids to not hang out with drug dealers or try narcotics and amphetamines. (“Just say no” campaigns just don’t work.)

This activity is to follow up on results of our January meeting when members and residents voted on safety as the most important topic for us to work on together. Safety includes crime prevention… and we learned from police officers that 80-90% of crime is related to drugs!  If we tackle the drug traffic issues with kids, we have a better shot at preventing crime over the long haul.

BEFORE the meeting, we will ask for everyone’s opinion on ways we can influence kids to stay out of trouble with drugs through an on-line competition of ideas. The on-line competition will be announced via email to members and to Nextdoor accounts in our service area. DURING the meeting, we will make an action plan to implement the ideas that get the most votes and are S.M.A.R.T.  Please, invest 1.5 hours in your community at this meeting.

City Budget Requests

In June we present a list of needs and wants to the Mayor for consideration in the budget process.  Look around NE then come to the meeting or comment here and tell us what else we need from the city:

  • Beirne Park- more shade trees & ?
  • Oak Park- greening at the street, continue sidewalk east on Oakwood past the park, include trailhead signage downtown
  • Bollards along Bankhead sidewalk to protect runners all year preparing for Cotton Row Run
  • Bus shelter @ Roses Center
  • Smart timers at all Five Points corners
  • Bike Patrol of O’shaunessy, McKinley, Rison, Halsey, & Lincoln Village / Meridian Street
  • Improve drainage capacity of Dallas Branch watershed to relieve people of the flood zone designation

We hear and know that…

Oak Park Yeti ?

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Adam Rosetta reported a “sighting” of a furry creature on the Dallas Branch trail, a spur off of Oak Park Trail.  Adam heard it holler: Whaaboo!, the ‘come on out and play’ signal.  Adam says there will be a yeti tracking party in or near Oak Park this summer, followed up by a fall festival to swap stories and play games on the theme of “our”  yeti.   Join the conversation about this and other helpful (truly) information on nextdoor.com.

Gimme Shelter

On the days when you don’t want to drive out of our area but still want to explore, you may like to know that the first bus shelter for NE was installed on Monday, 4/17/17 on Andrew Jackson Way.  The shelter will mean a lot to the workers of the day-care at Jackson Way Baptist Church, to anyone who wants to ride to the new pools at the Natatorium and to kids who want to ride to the splash pad and disc golf at Brahan Springs Park.   The shelter was requested last year by your NEHCA.  Thanks go to our city Transportation Division, General Services, and Jackson Way Baptist Church.

Cross pollination of neighborhoods

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We hosted the first NEHCA spring festival and plant swap, the “Garden Gathering” at Optimist Recreation Center on Saturday, April 8th.  At least 100 generous people came out bringing items to share, to learn about other grow-y things and meet cool people from the NE Hsv neighborhoods. One man said “I think I’ll hang around a little longer and see what else shows up!” He was either referring to the great people or the cool plants. Kids made “pizza gardens”, too. We appreciated support of our city Landscape Management Division/ Green Team, C.T. Garvin’s Feed and Seed, Bennett’s Nursery, Cunningham’s Pot Yard, Mr. & Mrs. Simon of Florida and Five Points, Denise Garrison of Five Points, Anna Pollard of Old Town, and Master Gardener Mary Howe from Brownsboro. And most of all, we thank Sabrina Simõn for conceiving, designing, and implementing the festival.

Self Serve Services

Hsv Connect

Please use the city service request system known as “Huntsville Connect” or “SeeClickFix” to report blighted property, potholes, streetlights out, trashcans left out after pick up days, etc. NEHCA members see your service requests and can chime in if you aren’t getting resolution. Set up an account and use it often, please.  Sign up here: https://seeclickfix.com/huntsville

 

As always, if you see something odd going on, say something!
Call 256-722-7100 to HsvPolice non-emergency dispatch

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Garden Gathering

I grew up in a greenhouse. As a child I dirtied my hands in the big bin of potting soil, started cuttings, learned which plants liked a lot of water, which plants just liked a sip, made bonsais, propagated, and learned to airfoil among many other things. The big greenhouse, its slightly cracked door always beckoning, would welcome you with dense warmth, and a wondrous smell of humus, and the gentle roar of the big fans upon the threshold. I would play between the rows of orchids, succulents and bromeliads till the sweat poured, then cool off in front of one of the huge fans.

My father and grandfather owned and operated a nursery for more than 50 years. Plants were always around. A particularly pretty flower in the window sill, a good climbing tree in the back yard, a stunning variegated green friend just outside the window, vines twisted into hedges, naval oranges picked from the backyard, a child-sized vegetable patch – I didn’t know it had permeated so thoroughly until long after I had moved from home, Simon’s Nursery had closed its doors, and I had a house and yard of my own.

After my first few walks, down the roads, sidewalks and in the quiet back alleys three years ago, I realized I had definitely moved to the greener part of Huntsville. And that made me absolutely thrilled! I was exactly where i wanted to be. So many beautiful yards and so many back yard, and even front yard gardens – shrubs, flowers, hanging baskets, vines, fruit trees, vegetables. Sure – I had kept a modest box garden on the south end of town for 8 years – but I was one of two houses on the whole street that had a garden. It seemed, finally, when Spring started knocking I’d be able to meet others who were just as excited about gardening as I was – and well… actually neighborly.

I borrowed a small tractor from a good friend, plowed up an 8’x30’ section of my backyard and got to work on my garden space. My Dad drew up a landscape plan for the house, which we dug and planted. Along and along, as I unpacked, and worked on my green space – I met my neighbors up and down my block, and then others from blocks over. I always made it a point to say hello to folks if they were outside, or if they were walking by, because well, thats the type of neighborhood Five Points is, and its part of why I love living there.

The second year of my garden, my folks came up for a visit in the middle of summer. At sunset I grabbed three baskets and harvested eggplants, onions, leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers with my Mom’s help and handed them all to my Dad on the patio. He looked back at the garden, the veggies in his hands and then up at me and said “Nano (ie. his father) would be so proud of you. Of all the things grown, he was most impressed by growing food. He would love your garden.”  I never knew that; and as i fell into the sheer depth of those kind words, it all just made me want to grow more and share more. So I shared my harvest with friends, with coworkers, with my neighbors, with family. I cooked, baked, froze, canned and pickled it all! By the time the summer was over, my friends and neighbors were running the opposite direction of me because I was always coming at them with baskets of fresh veggies.

An idea popped into my head then and there. What if I could organize some sort of local veggie swap in the middle of the summer? Or wait, better yet… What if I could organize a swap at the beginning of Spring for folks to plant gardens, or for people who never have but want to, or just for plants, or ideas, maybe just seeds, or herb gardens, or container gardens. There were so many directions it could go. And more questions to be asked. I nested on the idea for a year, grew an even larger garden, chased my friends with baskets of vegetables, and finally posted a give away for my bumper crop of eggplants on NextDoor.com. They were all gone within four hours.  So obviously some people liked fresh veggies just as much as I did. With that courage, I proposed a Five Points Garden Exchange last fall. From the handful of folks that appeared and the couple meetings we had – I gained some ideas (like historic plant swapping) and some more green friends. I decided to join the Northeast Huntsville Civic Association as their Membership chair and they added more ideas and encouragement to the original idea. It was finally go time.

Or should I say green time? The Garden Gathering is for anyone who loves things green and leafy, for anyone who grows a vegetable garden, for anyone who likes flowers, has a plant with a story, prunes shrubbery. The morning of April 8th is for kids who want to grow a pizza garden, for folks who like to cook with fresh herbs, for container gardeners, for people with fruit trees, for neighbors with more green space than house, for anyone even remotely curious about plants. From Nine to Noon at the Optimist Park Pavilion anyone can trade and swap and exchange seeds, plants, flowers, bulbs, herbs, seedlings, knowledge and ideas, and very basically, be neighborly. After all, we call Huntsville, Alabama home. At the very heart of it – The Garden Gathering is for everyone – people who grew up in a greenhouse, and for those who have never even gotten their hands dirty, but wish to.

Garden Gathering Poster

 

Trail Care Partners March Forth 3-4-17

Seven people come out on sunny Saturday, March 4th, most of them brand new volunteers from Northeast Huntsville neighborhoods.  We leveled another 200 feet by making “bench cuts” for the trail.  We also broke a large rock and discovered that brave mountain bikers can launch from the new, flat platform.
logo-trail-care-partnerAll work and no play makes everyone dull so we knocked off a few minutes early to enjoy the view from Buzzards Roost and find the new Dallas Branch Trail.  We looked but didn’t see any unusual animal tracks there.
The Northeast Huntsville Civic Association hosted lunch.  A few folks were surprised at the quality of the Costco pizza and enjoyed a beer, too.   What a great way to get to know our nearby neighbors.  Please, enjoy the trails and thank our Land Trust by donating money Or donate time…Join us!
Text “T R A I L” to the number 84483 to get notices of each work day.     Everyone who comes out is a Northeast Huntsville Civic Association Trail Care Partner to the Land Trust.  Our team, the McLeod Masters, rock!

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McLeod Masters Trail Crew Report for Jan. 28, 2017

The new Dallas Branch trail on the Monte Sano Mountain Preserve of the Land Trust of North Alabama is now open! 

Please get out and enjoy this new trail which runs beside the Dallas Branch creek. Here is the general location, easily found by hikers starting at the Oak Park baseball fields and following the Oak Park Trail toward the Buzzard’s Roost overlook. 

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Our work day started as all others: cleaning and sharpening our tools ahead of time.  It’s a lot easier and safer to work with sharp tools.

We left the parking lot at 9 a.m. with 8 people who were itching to get out of the wind, get moving and get to work. It was a lot warmer than our last work day.  20170128-jan-trail-report1We hiked in, began clearing the leaves on the last section and grubbing a couple of trees.  Layers of clothes started coming off quickly.

We made our way down the trail filling holes and clearing out any debris that was blocking water flow.

We reached the point where the new Dallas Branch trail crosses the old Flat Rock trail.  There is a big muddy swale there that we couldn’t fix, so we brought in a number of flat rocks for hikers to step on (hence the name, Flat Rock Trail).

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The great part of working in a group is sharing other interests as we go. Richard and Aaron began talking about fossils, so we took a short side trip just to find a few fossils. It’s cool to think about the entire area underwater so many years ago.

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We also learn about each other’s history: Alexis and Bill G. shared memories of serving our country as paratroopers.   John collects sweatshirts from colleges that he never attended but they make great conversation starters.  Robert was a calm, steady presence and asked good questions. 

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First official user of the trail.

Just as we finished, we greeted our first official user, a mountain biker who came down the trail with a big smile on his face!  He was a little surprised to learn we weren’t also mountain bikers.  We design the pathways to share the trails.

After our short trail opening ceremony, we hiked out and noticed we were missing a cohort.  No man is left behind!  Aaron went back to look for Bill. He came back alone, and just as we were all going back in to look for our lost cohort, Bill G. arrived, still smiling, announcing that he found the Appalachian Trail! Totally a light hearted joke.

Every trail needs tweaking and improving.  If you can do yard work, you can help.  To join us, just send a text message to 84483 with the word trail and you’ll receive notifications. McLeod Masters specialize in the trails of Land Trust property in Northeast Huntsville.

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Enjoying pizza provided by the NE Hsv Civic Association.

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Bill is happy he found his way back.

 

Community un-meeting this Tuesday 6:30 pm

You are invited to a mash up of Show and Tell and Indoor Block Party on Tuesday Jan. 24th, 6:30 pm at the Optimist Recreation Center, 703 Oakwood Avenue

Even without the beer & BBQ, it will be great, not just ’cause we have good cookies.  All neighbors and members are invited to join us for our first Meet the Neighbors themed un-meeting.

Here’s the scoop:

6:30 to 7:00  put a Big green Sticker on 3 of the 5 areas you think are most important for our Association to focus on.  Are you most concerned about:

Safety (roads, traffic, crime prevention)

Security (food, clothing and shelter resources, including upkeep of shelter)

Schools (all of them: Chapman, Montview, MLK, Lee, and New Century)

Sports (for youth in any season)

or

Smiles (evidence of a good feeling about life in our neighborhoods)

7 – 7:20:  there will be a few Very-Good-News announcements and the election for current members of the NE Hsv Civic Association .  Your neighbors and members Allen Krell, Eloy Alcivar and Scott Akridge, with Naaman Goode as chair, recommend these folks as officers: me, Frances Akridge, Evan Smith, Farrah Napolitano, and Sabrina Simon.  Scroll way-down for details about their readiness to serve, please.

7:20 – 8:00: We will introduce you to three of our extraordinary artistic neighbors of NE Huntsville.  If you already know artists Jennie Couch, Katie Rosetta, and musician Nick Z. Robey, wear your fan club buttons!  If you don’t know them yet here is your chance.  

There will be no sales of merchandise, just show and tell by the artists.

If you want to turn your block into a little slice of Mayberry pie, Join Us!  Contact us (nehsvcivicassn@gmail.com) or come to any one of our 4 meetings to meet people who simultaneously want to brag about Northeast, keep it a secret, and once in awhile complain about it, too.

By the Way

The current board (Dick Hiatt, Naaman Goode, and I) met on January 3rd and offer this recommendation for 2017:

nehca-proposed-2017-budget

 

Nominated Officers 2017

President, Potentate of Possibilities: me, Frances Akridge, from Oak Park. My goal is to continue the momentum we built last year and to begin at least one new project as agreed on by the other officers.  With more heads being better than one, we will continue our commitment to

  • improve the Reading Buddy Program at Chapman School
  • exceed expectations as partners in the Adopt a Mile and Adopt a Park projects
  • be an exemplary Trail Care Partner to the Land Trust of North Alabama on the Monte Sano Preserve
  • follow up with city department managers about improved transportation options and begin a long-range planning session

Vice President, Grand Poobah and Civic Leader:  Evan Smith (Oak Park) is a big fan of The Big Picture long range planning sessions and is interested in everyone’s vision for Northeast Huntsville.  Looking ahead and around from a hawk’s eye view is something he understands literally; Evan is a Graduate of UNA with a B.S. in Geographic Information Science (2011) and a member of Gamma Theta Upsilon, The International Geographic Honor Society.  His professional interests include GIS, Cartography, LIDAR, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Conservation and Natural Resource Management.  He is is actively continuing his education through professional certifications.  Evan is a quiet yet effective communicator and engaging speaker.  In his spare time he enjoys outdoor adventures and making maps.  Evan and his wife plan to travel all points of the compass to explore the world and appreciate coming home to the foothills of the Appalachia, checking in occasionally with family in Florence— the one west of the Tennessee River.

Treasurer, Exalted Money and Member manager Sabrina Simon (5 Points) is another fearless explorer and contributor to her community.  She earned a college degree in 2000 as a graphic designer and is a business owner of a cottage industry.  Sabrina is known to many as an archaeological field photographer, illustrator and cartographer, having mapped and sketched the caves of the Maya deep in the Yucatan peninsula. She spent 10 years on the board at the Huntsville Grotto of the National Speleological Society which is dedicated to the study and science of speleology, encouraging safe cave exploring techniques, conserving cave fauna and natural formations, and to promoting fellowship among club members. In addition to making public presentations about the thrills and technical teamwork of spelunking, she served in many capacities in the club to help the community thrive.  She also enjoys sunshine as an avid gardener and mother who often walks to the Market in Five Points and travels to Florida for some quality time with her folks.

Secretary, Keeper of the Flame: Farrah Napolitano (Chapman Heights), native to Huntsville, is the proud mother of an energetic four year old. She is excited about the overall vision for the city and raising her son in her hometown. She believes that our youth are the future and is excited about the revitalization of the parks in Northeast Huntsville.  She is also eager to collaborate on ways to bring more families to the area. She is a trained researcher and writer with a B.S. in Intelligence from the National Intelligence University (2013) and a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society. She currently serves as the Financial Chair for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center. She is also a Board Member for the Local Federal Coordinating Committee that plans and organizes the overall campaign for the Tennessee Valley CFC. She and her husband, Brian, are excited about contributing toward the improvement of our community.

Utility Rates: Sim City anyone?

We aren’t reporters, but we will pass on what we can about proposed electric rate increases.  Here are the slides that were presented to the public on Monday, Jan. 9th in a public meeting in city hall.  It is an outline of the reasons for a 2.75% increase in electric rate.

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The upshot of that meeting was people were questioning whether the increase was actually going toward install of Google Fiber.  That was flatly denied. Personally, I didn’t know they could be related.

This evening, the staff of Hsv Utilities addressed city council formally.  ( They met with individual members of city council last fall, according to the presentation.) We didn’t tune in on Hsv TV; if you did, please fill us in.

The topic of increased rates is critical for some people.  Every neighbor can contribute one dollar a month for a fund to offset costs for residents.  And people over 62 can apply for assistance.  If there is hardship, please don’t hesitate to call the Utility Company:

http://www.utilitybillassistance.com/html/huntsville_utilities_assistanc.html

This topic leads me to wonder if anyone in our service area is playing Sim City.  How do we set up a NE Hsv simulation?  It may be a fun way to understand what city council, mayor, and utility companies negotiate.

 

 

 

 

McLeod Masters Report Jan. 7, 2017

Eight hardy souls (some would say crazy souls ) came out this morning to continue blazing the new Dallas Branch trail on the Monte Sano Mountain Preserve of the Land Trust of North Alabama.  These hardy/crazy people started out their day at 14 degrees F.  Thankfully, the sun wcar-dashboard-tempas shining and there wasn’t much wind.

In preparation for the workday, the entire trail was cleared of leaves and debris with a power-pack blower.  This prep-work gave the volunteers a leg up so the group would see more progress.  Shortly after 9 a.m. we began a short walk, tools in hand, to a point where we began working — clipping vines, grubbing (i.e. digging) out trees, cleaning the trail of brush, overhanging limbs, removing rocks, etc. Once we got to work, layers of warm clothes were decorating the trail. We took a short break and ate brownies but didn’t rest too long because we’d begin to get cold again.

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The high quality photos were provided by Kenn, who graciously supplied them.

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We knocked off at noon and ate pizza together near our cars.  We talked about trails and the hikers social coming up on Jan. 18th, among other things. Tatyana added to the spirit of neighborly love by celebrating the Orthodox Christian Christmas with candy presents for everyone.  As packed up, the group agreed that the pizza provided by the Northeast Huntsville Civic Association was a great plan for each meeting of the McLeod Masters.

If you’d like to get involved with McLeod Master trail work days, just send a text message to 84483 with the word trail and you’ll receive notifications. McLeod Masters specialize in the trails of Land Trust property in Northeast Huntsville.

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Ain’t nuthin but a thang…

How is it that a little thing started by just one person can mean so much for others’ quality of life?

The story of ridding O’Shaughnessy Avenue of industrial blight began with one resident who was flummoxed by a situation and contacted us.

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I’m proud to relay another story of another one resident’s initiative and great customer service from our partners at “city hall”.  It’s not about politics, it’s about the business of building a quality of life that we want in our community.

The long, deep parking lot at the Oak Park baseball fields is an invitation for all sorts of hanky-panky, switch-a-rooing and fence-vaulting into the adjacent back yards.  Evan Smith was diligent about calling 256-722-7100 to ask the HPD to shoo the cars out of the park after dark and investigate unusual behavior during the day.  After a month of surveillance, Evan felt alone in the endeavor and was tired of the pattern.

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Smart man that he is, Evan asked for help, because at least two heads are, actually, better than one.  We contacted James Gossett of Parks and Rec and Captain DeWayne MacCarver, south precinct HPD, and described the predicament.  They looked at the records of calls for HPD service and agreed that it was time to put up a barrier at this site.  We dreamed of an iron arm controlled by a timer and realized that a chain and lock would suffice for now.  And who would put it up and take it down?  Evan agreed to invest more of his time and manage a team of gate-keepers, the neighbors from the adjacent homes.  Parks and Rec made the next call and in just a few days, BAM!, General Services put up a sturdy barrier to make it very inconvenient for vehicles to enter after dark.  We were pleased. The galvanized chain was like Bruno, a burly bouncer at a bar, thick arms crossed and silent.  “Thou shalt NOT enter” Bruno announced.

After just few nights of dragging Bruno across the parking lot and trying to stretch the 80 pound mass, we realized that we needed to tweet the thang, i.e. find a sustainable solution.  Evan was willing to put money toward new materials, but this time we contacted General Services ourselves, described the situation, and “in no time atall”, Bruno was replaced with a  lighter, strong twisted cable.  The barrier is now like a lean, wise woman who spots a mischievous child reaching for an off-limits vase, her eyes inferring “don’t .even. think. about it”.  Just enough warning to still be effective.

We are happy to see neighbors taking action to create the quality of life they want on their street and calling us when they want help.  In this micro-project, residents are investing time and labor, the city invested time, labor, and materials.  Some day, for other improvements, residents may have to also invest money for materials.

What needs attention on your street? What ideas to you have for a public-private partnership?  If you don’t have an idea but you want to be counted among others who have confidence in our community, please JOIN your Association!