HomeBlogsJeff Hewitt's blogCity Council Review: For the Week of March 12th, 2018

City Council Review: For the Week of March 12th, 2018

March 15, 2018 410Views

These notes are compiled through reviewing the released Council Agenda and watching recorded video of both the Work and Formal session.

Addition of TCC to NEON District. Relocation of Greyhound Station to Downtown Transit Center

I've no issue with any of this really. I hope that TCC will be an active member of the arts community it's moving into. I do have concerns that the DTC isn't designed for the traffic Greyhound incurs. The soon-to-be former bus station has provided a vital service for low income residents for many years. I would expect the city to monitor how well the new location services their needs, and react quickly should problems arise.

SkyStar Wheel at Waterside

I mean.. I can't say that I care about a ferris wheel, myself. But it'll probably look cool? I certainly hope we're not paying anything for it.

Feasibility Study for Office Building Development on the Corner of St Paul's & Waterside Dr.

That corner is fairly crowded already, but I suppose there's space to be had if you work at it. What I'd really like to see downtown is some affordable housing development. For a Council that desired mixed income communities, the living space downtown is stratospheric in pricing. When I was a young adult, an two bedroom apartment a block away from Nauticus could be rented for under $600 a month. Today it costs three to four times times that, and wages haven't kept up with the pace. If we truly desire to attract millennial professionals, encouraging reasonably priced housing would be a step in the right direction.

Grant Accepted to Pay Salary of One Boardmember for the Norfolk Criminal Justice Services Agency

Approved by all Councilmembers.
I was generally unaware of the existence of this agency, or that its boardmembers are paid. Looking over the list of participants, I note that several people I respect are part of it. Nominally, the Agency handles aspects of parole monitoring, counseling services. Looks like a good thing to me.

Bike Share Stations Set to Launch in April

Looks like the city is working with a company out of Massachusetts -- Zagster, to implement the plan here. I remember the efforts five or six years back on the part of local entrepreneurs around this.. Seems a shame that we couldn't find a solution that kept the development in local hands, but overall it's probably a step in the right direction.

Sale/Transfer of Lamberts Point Golf Course to HR Sanitation for SWIFT Program

Approved by all Councilmembers.
This is the first contact I've had with this issue. If I understand what I'm reading correctly the underlying issue is that the land is required for something called the SWIFT program. This appears to be something that involves refining waste water and re-introducing it into the water table that exists underneath the city. Ostensibly, the people who object to this would be folks who currently golf there, folks who live around it, and people concerned as to whether it's a good idea to put waste water back into our drinking sources. I'm nowhere near educated enough to have an opinion on this yet, but if you are? Feel free to click the contact link up at the top of the site and send me a note. I'm happy to learn more about this.

Land Purchases in Oceanview

Approved by all Councilmembers.
I suppose that if the city wants to turn Oceanview into Norfolk's Beach, it's going to have to buy some land to redevelop for that purpose there. I'm loathe to see city money move into private coffers, especially those of Ronnie Boone's.. Much of this is a result of court decisions limiting the power of eminent domain versus municipal government's desire to shape their cities. The whole notion of turning Oceanview into a resort destination smacks of yet more gentrification, but long term this is probably beneficial to the citizenry. This is a pill that would be easier to swallow if it were matched by some sort of stated intention to use tax growth to fund services to our most at risk residents, or some kind of affordable housing initiative. The experimental Strengthening Neighborhoods program is a step in the right direction, but further follow-through is vital.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Easement Approved

Yea Votes: Graves, Johnson, Smigel, and Alexander.
No Votes: Whibley & Riddick.
Abstained: McClellan
This vote was largely a formality. The city doesn’t have the legal grounds to challenge an easement, so the choice left to them was to take the money or vote no, get nothing for it, and lose the ensuing lawsuit.

Do I think a pipeline is a good idea? No. The risk is too great, especially under a Federal government that's happy to let cities fend for themselves in the midst of ecological disaster. If this thing breaks? We'll be on our own. Additionally, the company building it is well on record as regards ignoring the rights of indigenous peoples when it comes to where thing is routed.

Do I think that if we wanted to stop it we needed to win a few more elections in the the State Legislature? Absolutely. Elections matter, folks. I've heard some rumblings castigating certain council members and how they voted on this, but there's little point to that in my view. This is nothing they have any power over -- and generally I care more about where they stand on the fights that we can win.

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That's all for this week, folks. Next meeting is the 27th -- We'll try to review the Agenda when its released.