Trail Crew had drizzly weather

Drizzly day for the Trail Crew on Saturday but a couple of troopers still came out. Check out the video for more details.

 

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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:

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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!

Progress for Northeast

In July of 2016, we submitted a list of items to the Mayor, City Administrator, and the Department Managers for improving NE Hsv, and we asked for commitment to these items beginning in October 2016.  They discussed each item and reported quickly that “some [items] are going to require a little more analysis, some are significantly more expensive than was estimated, and some are reliant on a few other things being completed, and a few we can hit right away”.  A progress report on each item is as follows:

Re-stripe Oakwood Ave. to improve safety for residents on Oakwood Ave in the 40 mph section This topic was a popular on nextdoor.com and on “Imagine Huntsville” message boards.  The realignment of lanes can happen when the road is repaved because the stripes are melded in the road surface!  City-wide repaving is based on a scoring system from 10 to 60.  Roads ranked in the ’40’s are put in the queue for city council approval.  This section of Oakwood is currently in the 20’s.  It is estimated to be five years, maybe less, for resurfacing.  In the interim, Traffic Engineers will study the overall patterns to make sure that a reconfiguration of stripes would not mess up the overall traffic flow in the area.

Bus Shelters on Andrew Jackson  Did you know there are 12 bus stops on this street? Yet there are no bus stop shelters, and most of us agree that we want to encourage use of buses as an investment in our overall economic development.  Parking and Transit is able to install at least one on the street pending approval of a site near the heaviest ridership: one at Jackson Way Baptist Church/Dollar General and another near Hardee’s. Transit representatives will be in touch with private property owners in the next few weeks.  By the way, the buses are clean and provide a pleasant experience, thanks to the drivers’ sense of customer service.

Safe Pedestrian Crossings  We asked for pedestrian-centric systems in the Five Points business district and adjacent to the Optimist Rec Center.  The latter site meets everyone’s goal for connecting pedestrians of all ages to the built environment, in this case, the pavilion, playground and gyms.  Mid-block crossings have to meet federal guidelines. Traffic Engineering will undertake a study this year for the proposed crossing to see if it would meet standards.

Philpot Park  We asked for ways to increase foot traffic to the pocket park; that is, more reasons to walk to the wonderful open space.  The dog park idea was nixed, but the other ideas stuck. Immediately after the city’s meeting, Parks and Rec manager Steve Ivey sent soccer goals to encourage pick-up games.  P&R staff also ordered balance and strength fitness stations for all ages and will create an attractive area next to the lil’ kids play equipment under the trees. Site work is underway and the Water Fountain is Working now!

Oak Park  We asked to convert a small field to a dog park and using the concession stands for public art.  The answer is “Not now” for the dog park, but when there is a more clearly articulated art project to enliven the grey block buildings, they will listen!  Maybe the area can serve as mini-plazas with a fountain and mosaics?  We will have to think of ways to raise money to make it happen. Let us know what you have in mind if you want to see the concession stands look lively.

Optimist Park The idea of having an out-door movie screen on hand for community use on the pavilion grounds didn’t fly, but the request for an on-line reservation system resonated.  This request gave the P&R department more reason to finalize their plans for on-line reservations.  BTW, can anyone make a Little Free Library box for Optimist or at Max Luther rec center? We have the green light to make one at these sites.

Neighborhood Planning and Zoning  We asked again for a commitment to set a date for a series of meetings so that we can get more clarity on the needs for the area and the quality of life that we want. For example, what ifthere was a pop up seasonal shopping center next to Chapman Pool or a small village of Tiny Houses on High Mountain Road.  January is the goal now for the meetings.  Stay updated on nextdoor.com or subscribe to our blog.

Please call to ask about these items and please stay in touch to improve our community in one of the 5 S’s:

Safety, Security, Shelter, Schools, Sports and Smiles! 

Contact us Here