Poor Turnout Hampers Organizer’s Efforts

Woodbrook Subdivision

Despite perfect weather, just four Woodbrook residents attended the September 13, 2015, neighborhood meeting. The meeting was called by Woodbrook resident Audrey Kocher, who also chaired the meeting. The meeting was held outdoors in the playground area of Woodbrook Elementary School.

According to Ms. Kocher, Albemarle County plans to expand Woodbrook Elementary. “They are going to double the size of the school,” said Kocher. She is concerned that the expansion will increase the number of cars and buses entering the neighborhood, as well as increasing light and noise pollution for residents whose properties border the school. “I worry about fire access,” said Kocher.

The discussion then shifted to the planning of a Woodbrook social event. “People really want to get to know each other,” said Kocher, who admits that planning of the event has stalled. According to former Woodbrook Community Association Treasurer Sharon Evans, the cost of renting the Woodbrook Elementary cafeteria for an afternoon is $300. Alternative venues include the Northside Library or meeting outside. “I think we will need a committee [to organize the event],” said Kocher. The attendees agreed that unless a good turnout can be assured, there are better uses for this money. “I would like to see more people involved,” said Evans. To measure the level of involvement, Kocher said, “I was thinking of a door-to-door survey.” Beth Gould pointed out that when surveyed many people respond positively but still don’t show up at the events.

There was some disagreement about how residents should be informed of important issues. Former Woodbrook Community Association President Susan Reed said, “That big [police] car chase [this week] was a example of why you kind of need a central [contact] because the county likes to know somebody that they can call and say ‘put this out now’.” Dan Gould disagreed. “There are so many people in the Facebook group now, that the first sound of the sirens going through the neighborhood… people were there,” he said. Beth Gould added that the response in the Facebook group was in real-time, describing the drama as it unfolded. “The thing with the Facebook group is [that] they would [alert] their elderly neighbors,” said Beth Gould. “There’s never going to be one [communication] method that’s going to get everybody,” said Gould. She added that the on-line method is reaching a lot of residents. “Ideally, the on-line [communication reaches] a large group, and if people would just know which neighbors might not have that, and go tell them,” said Reed.

There has been no progress with the development of a new Woodbrook constitution according to Kocher.

“We lost our bus stop up at the library,” said Kocher. She said that she would like to see bus service returned to Woodbrook. “There are a number of older people in the neighborhood who are no longer driving,” she said. Kocher went on to say that she believed that a directory of Woodbrook residents who wanted to supply services to elderly neighbors could be established. Dan Gould said that this is already being done on an as-needed basis in the Facebook group.

Kocher would also like to see a neighborhood welcoming committee. Dan Gould pointed out that it’s difficult to track new people coming into the neighborhood.

“[Neighbors] were interested in having a book exchange,” said Kocher. Books would be deposited and taken from a neighborhood “box.”

Sharon Evans pointed out that the increasing number of renters in the neighborhood is a problem. “That’s going to affect how many people are going to want to participate [in neighborhood activities],” she said.

“I think the culture of neighborhood involvement is changing,” said Dan Gould. Involvement in neighborhood functions has been on the decline for years, he said.

Ms. Kocher expressed concern regarding the fire hazard between the school and her home. “So when I came home and saw a fire truck in front of my house it was a little scary. [They were] fighting the fire in the back,” she said.

Kocher says she is planning future programs for the neighborhood, including a visit by the fire department and rescue squad, but as to a future social event, that’s on hold, she said.

Ms. Kocher says she would like to develop a neighborhood vision that would include factors such as safety, livability and transportation. “That might help us develop some goals that we want to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood,” she said.

You can listen to the full audio of the meeting below. Our apologies for the poor audio quality during the first minute or so of the recording.

What do you think? Does Woodbrook need a social program? What speakers would you like to come to Woodbrook? Please comment in the space below.

One thought on “Poor Turnout Hampers Organizer’s Efforts

  1. In the case of the car chase, neighbors knew that something was going on because of the police cars and sirens. If a criminal came into the neighborhood on foot, people would not be immediately taking to Facebook because they wouldn't know that something was amiss. That's the time when the County needs to be able to contact someone to get the information out (as an example). Facebook is great, but don't think it should take the place of having people involved. We know that numbers are what counts (usually!) in going to County meetings if our neighborhood is involved; Facebook might be able to notify folks of such meetings, but people sometimes just want to stay at home and comment by computer and that doesn't always work.

    Susan Reed

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