Committees

The work of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) is done through committees. From fundraising to park maintenance, planning to safety initiatives, find information about each committee, learn what each does, and find out how to get involved. To contact any committee, please use the Ask VHCA form below.

Budget

Communications

Chair: Cherry Frederick

Committee Members: Katie Voelpel

Responsibilities: Plan, execute and/or approve all communication related to the Virginia-Highland Civic Association including website(s), social media, and other digital content.

Contact: communications@vahi.org

Advertising Sales: ads@vahi.org

Goals:

Use VHCA website(s), the VOICE, Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor, VHList, and other media to raise awareness of association and neighborhood activities, supporting the efforts of other committees (such as Fundraising, Planning, and Safety).

  • Ensure all communications reflect a consistent style and represent VHCA’s goal of community engagement, education, and empowerment.
  •     Seek opportunities for interpersonal communication with association members.
  •     Generate revenue through advertising to assist with operational costs.
  •     Monitor relevant social and print media and recommend appropriate responses, as needed. Alert appropriate committees to respond.
  •     Work cooperatively with local media outlets (Creative Loafing, Atlanta InTown, etc.) to share content, leverage subscriber databases, etc. – especially in support of events.
  •     Reach out to communication chairs from nearby neighborhoods and find ways to leverage mutual communication efforts and email databases to increase overall reach.
  •     Assist content providers in providing pertinent content.
  •     Identify areas where existing static content can be improved. Encourage committees to review, clean up and update content on website.
  •  Increase traffic to website by posting regularly to Facebook and Twitter

2019-2020 Specific:

  • Push out content via Email blast (Voice) once a month. Publish meaningful and substantive content that promotes community engagement within VHCA, educates residents of pertinent policy and planning issues, and reflects the diversity of the neighborhood. Potentially add year-round ad space to supplement our social media promotions posts on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Expand social media presence with postings on Instagram and other social media accounts and innovative, interactive posts
  • Increase social media following and regularly compare following with neighborhood demographics
  • Implement communication strategies that allow residents to easily navigate VHCA’s structure and find tangible opportunities for involvement
  • Recruit additional volunteers to help with ad sales, and content including copy, photography, video, etc.

Grants

History & Preservation

Parks

Responsibilities: The development, enhancement and maintenance of the park land located within Virginia-Highland, in cooperation with and as a local complement to the City of Atlanta’s primary responsibility in this area. Public parks in the neighborhood include: John Howell Park, Orme Park, and the Triangle at Virginia & North Highland; VHCA-owned include North Highland Park.

Chair: David Brandenberger. Committee members: Jack White.

Recurring Annual Goals

  1. In cooperation and with the support of CoA Parks, protect and improve the neighborhood’s open spaces.
  2. Develop and share a detailed narrative of each park’s needs and contemplated responses that encourages not only beautiful space for residents and visitors alike, but that also benefit the general environment in an eco-friendly manner.
  3. Organize, nurture and assist a network of citizens interested in parks. Stage volunteer days as needed to work on plantings and cleanups, etc.
  4. Lobby for matching grants from non-profits such as Park Pride to maintain and support desirable park qualities such as sustainability, safety, and eco-friendly-ness.
  5. Maintain a functional and inclusive relationship with the CoA Parks Department that makes effective use of the services they provide while bolstering their efforts, as needed, especially as it relates to preserving the character and ecology of all neighborhood parks.
  6. Select and hire appropriate professional horticultural services to meet these goals.
  7. Hold public ‘Open Houses’ to engage with citizens about their parks on an ‘as-needed’ or requested basis.
  8. Continue with the established program to routinely prune desired plants and trees and remove invasive plants in addition to performing general maintenance.

Specific Goals for 2020

Formally adopt these General Design Principles for VaHi Parks.

  1. Keep park spaces safe, inviting, and pleasant to be in.
  2. Park edges should be active and inviting, not barriers. Interior fences are appropriate only to address specifically identified needs. Except to shield private property, fences should be transparent and allow the inside of the park to be visually connected to the outside, both for safety and to induce greater usage.
  3. Realizing that no park can be all things to all people, we strive for diverse and flexible designs that can attract a diverse set of users from the neighborhood and beyond.
  4. Spaces that are adaptable to multiple future uses are ideal; functional open areas are preferable to a field designed for a single sport, for example.
  5. Urban stormwater is not inevitable; it is a design failure. We should mitigate this problem wherever possible and feasible, not exacerbate it. We support the use of rain gardens and other formal methods of absorbing stormwater on site, both to supply a healthy water table and to protect our city’s infrastructure. Onsite, we try to break up and re-distribute stormwater before it accumulates and accelerates.
  6. We deliberately plant native flora. Many non-invasive non-natives exist in VaHi parks and are tolerated because they address specific challenges. However, we strive to remove all invasives where possible from a design and practical perspective. Our parks should showcase the right plants in the right places.
  7. Mature forests of the Georgia Piedmont are dominated by oaks and hickories, but pine trees and other trees are also found and should be included in our parks and public spaces.
  8. Because open areas and recreational opportunities are at a premium in Atlanta, we support sharing all public spaces with the neighborhood’s public schools.
  9. By intention, by law, and in spirit, our parks are open to all citizens who follow the rules and treat their fellow humans with respect and courtesy.

Specific Goals for 2020 by Park

John Howell Park

  1. Continue with routine maintenance efforts, planting of perennials and soil erosion work.
  2. Engage with the City to begin planning for replacement of the upper playground. Contemplate funding a stormwater abatement plan, if the City will require this prior to embarking on planning for a new playground in order to raise this effort higher up on the City’s priority list.
  3. Initiate a fundraising effort to begin to raise money for the new playground.
  4. Initiate an effort to clean, strip and re-stain the park’s benches and the park’s sign at Barnett and Virginia Avenue.

North Highland Park

  1. Install a bike rack or two along the ROW on St. Charles Avenue.
  2. Consider planting a permanent tree in the park that can be used for holiday decorating.
  3. Continue with the routine pruning, planting and maintenance/upkeep of the park.
  4. Evaluate installing several rain barrels to provide water for annual plants/bulbs.
  5. In cooperation with the Social Committee, continue to explore, pursue and encourage varied public and/or private community uses and activities appropriate for the Park when and where this makes sense, while maintaining appropriate consideration of the Park’s neighbors. Examples could include (some to raise funds for the neighborhood; some to encourage community; some to add value to the perception of the Atkins Park node): small weddings, movies, barbecues, seasonal goods sales, menorah and tree lighting ceremony conducted during the holidays, etc.
  6. Implement utility box paintings.

Orme Park

  1. Monitor and maintain the renovation completed several years ago.
  2. Evaluate neighborhood support in order to begin evaluation of cost and efforts required to conduct an Ecological Assessment and Community-Based Master Plan specifically considering:
  3. a) improvements to the naturalized areas of the Park (along Elkmont and Brookridge), possibly including riparian restoration,
  4. b) recommendations for renovation of the existing historic bridge,
  5. c) recommendations for safety improvements for park access points,
  6. d) consideration of park aesthetics, viewsheds, and visitor experience including those in shared use areas,
  7. e) planting recommendations to enhance park character, sense of place and visitor navigation,
  8. f) assessment of existing conditions of vegetation, stream health, and stormwater flows, and
  9. g) management of invasive plants, installation of new planting supportive of native ecology.
  10. Stage volunteer days and participate in meetings with the Friends of Orme Park group as needed to work on plantings and cleanups, etc.

The Triangle at Virginia & North Highland

  1. Continue to install and maintain seasonal and perennial plantings.
  2. Consider installing edging on the southwestern ‘hypotenuse’ side to discourage citizens from entering the planted areas.

Planning

Safety

Responsibilities: Promote and advocate for the safety of the Virginia-​Highland residents and visitors.

Chair: Andy Sutton

Committee Members: Eleanor Barrineau, Jimmy Craig, Sterling Eaves, Holly Lybeer, Shannon Mehl, Steve Messner, Troy Murray, Richard Newman, Deborah Schwartz, Carol Shunnarah, Kay Stephenson, John Wolfinger, Jo Ann Zyla

Goals:

  • Organize appreciation programs for first responders including Atlanta Police Department Zone 6 and Fire Station 19.
  • Work with Atlanta Police Foundation, APD and funding sources to expand video camera and license plate reader coverage in the neighborhood.
  • Fund supplies to Keep Virginia-Highland Beautiful for annual spring and fall neighborhood clean-up events.

The committee serves as the liaison to other safety programs and organizations including:

  • Neighborhood Watch
  • Virginia-Highland Security Patrol, inc.
  • Fulton County and City of Atlanta CourtWatch
  • Citizen’s academies for APD, Atlanta Fire Rescue (AFR) and Fulton County Sheriff’s Department
  • Elected officials and City of Atlanta departments

Safety issues relating to traffic, parking, pedestrian safety, special events, and the like will be referred to the transportation committee.

Social

Chair: Leah Matthews

Committee Members: Audrey Critz, Steve Messner, Kay Stephenson, Katie Voelpel

The VHCA Social Committee has two main objectives, hosting neighborhood events and beautifying Virginia-Highland. The Social Committee has established a Spring and Fall Movie Series in North Highland Park, as well as a pumpkin patch (in partnership with Intown Ace Hardware) and VAHI Holiday, which is our annual holiday event. In addition, the committee decorates the neighborhood for the holidays and is responsible for the seasonal banners that you see driving through our downtown commercial node.

Summerfest

Co-Chairs: Leah Matthews, Mary Peck

Committee Members: Betty Baumann, David Brandenberger, Kristen Carson, Jenifer Keenan, Debbie Kloosterman, Mike Lewis, Sarina Patrick, Natalie Sadler, Ashley Sawyer, Kay Stephenson, Debra Thibodeaux

Summerfest is the largest fundraiser for the VHCA and the neighborhood, and is entirely put on by volunteers. The first weekend of June artists, musicians, food vendors, and more take over Virginia Ave to officially kick off summer. Money raised goes back into the community. Generally, it helps to give grants to our local schools, churches, synagogues, parks, and non-profits. It also allows the VHCA to host fun social events, such as our Fall and Spring Movie Series in NHP.

Transportation

Members: Joshua Zane, Jennifer Keenan, Johnson Bazzel

We aim to create a community that welcomes residents and visitors using all modes of transport including: walking, biking, mass transit, and car.  We will proactively work with city and district resources to promote safe transit by each mode of transportation throughout the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

Tour of Homes

Chair: TBD

Members: TBD

Tour of Homes (TOH) is the second largest and most profitable fundraiser for the VHCA and the neighborhood. This festive 2-day event of beautiful architecture and interior design gives people the opportunity to tour historic residences, visit unique shops and sample food from local restaurants. Each year, the TOH committee strives to include 7-8 homes that vary in style and design and are all equally representative of the neighborhood’s character. Additionally, local restaurants provide food tastings at the YWCA and at each of the Tour homes. Money raised goes back into the community. Generally, it helps to give grants to our local schools, parks, and partnering non- profits.