We have all seen this very dedicated woman hula hooping in the median strip in front of the ATC Fitness Center. We miss her when she is not there. Many of us know her story and for those who do not, Pilot Online has her story. Pamela Brown is her name, and she is a true inspiration.
As if the Martone/Dalis “Midtown” Shopping Center in the northeast quadrant of Granby Street and Little Creek Road doesn’t have enough vacant store fronts, today, I heard, from a reliable source, of two more closings. Payless ShoeSource and Simply Fashions will be closing their doors shortly. The Footlocker Store closed its doors for good on Monday of this week.
Below is a letter penned by Wards Corner resident, Joan Griffey.
Dear Mayor Fraim,
The 2004 Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan was proposed and financed by City Council with a quarter million dollars of taxpayer funds. What positive remarks will you include in your State of the City report concerning progress on this plan and the Wards Corner Business District?
In four years, the plan has not delivered on various items:
- There are currently 15 empty storefronts which were supposed to be occupied with family friendly businesses
- A badly painted crosswalk was installed instead of a brick crosswalk
- New mast-arm traffic poles were planned to reduce overhead wiring mishmash
- Elimination of blight was supposed to be the focus
- Updated buildings have not been addressed
- A parking garage has not been delivered
- Housing was supposed to be built above storefronts to generate community living
Last Tuesday, nearly 100 Norfolk voters assembled to discuss our frustration and the rank discrimination by our Council and City Manager towards the Wards Corner section of Norfolk. We voiced plans to continue to meet and energize our civic leagues for fair treatment for Wards Corner. Since 1997, the WCPartnership, in 2000 the WC Taskforce, in 2003, the WC Comprehensive Plan all have made aware our problems with blight, crime and public safety, esthetics decline , downturn of business activity and a “war zone” image as a gateway to downtown. These reports have been ignored and pushed aside, oblivious to the very people we elected as our leaders.
On our city website, the mission states that the City of Norfolk shall provide leadership and direction responsive to the needs and desires of all citizens of Norfolk. This does not exclude Wards Corner citizens from leadership to improve our quality of life and civic opportunities. Discrimination exists when certain areas of the city are given preference to Wards Corner (i.e., $11 million for frivolous fountains in Town Point Park where people go to look at the River, and the St Paul’s Quadrant, and a skateboard park and new development near the light rail stations).
Why is the City not interested in developing Wards Corner area? The city is doing nothing to encourage development. Promoting downtown is fine, but not at the sacrifice of the rest of the City. Are you expecting to concentrate misplaced and indigent peoples in downtown to our geographical area? This problem needs to be addressed. Perhaps our only recourse is to approach the news media for help to call attention to Council’s neglect. Why is Wards Corner consistently on “the back burner” when development is discussed?
Wards Corner citizens expect our leaders to step up and represent us. We are waiting for you to deliver on your promises and “stick to the task”! Wards Corner First.
Joan S. Griffey
Yesterday, I received from Laura Thom a copy of the following letter to Ward 1 Councilman Don Williams:
January 21, 2008
Councilman Donald L. Williams
809 W. Ocean View Ave.
Norfolk, VA 23503
Dear Councilman Williams:
Wards Corner used to be a great area. “Times Square of the South” it was once called. No more. This area, which is the main gateway to the City of Norfolk from points north, is in a state of disrepair and neglect.
Finally, after years of losing business after business and watching the further deterioration of already substandard housing in several Wards Corner locales, on November 21, 2004, Norfolk City Council adopted the Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan. While city council continues to spend thousands of dollars enticing developers to downtown, and is now focusing on St. Paul’s quadrant (and what about the $11 million fountains slated for Waterside!), not a move has been made to begin fulfillment of the Wards Corner plan. Council members like to say their hands are tied because of the revisions to eminent domain. But this is a smoke screen; revisions to eminent domain did not occur until 2007—2 ½ years after Council approved of the Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan.
Residents and businesses of Wards Corner spoke loudly and clearly last Tuesday evening. We are just plain tired of the discriminatory practices demonstrated by our elected officials. Moreover, we are prepared to take decisive action to institute changes of City leadership unless council members begin to right the wrongs, end the neglect, and focus on implementing the Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan –not next year, not next fiscal year, but now. It’s unfortunate that the eminent domain legislation will make this plan more difficult to accomplish, but Council will simply have to overcome the resultant obstacles. I respectfully request that you, as our Ward 1 representative, take heed and pay attention to Wards Corner Now.
 Over the years, Wards Corner has lost the beautiful stone Hofheimer building in favor of a generic Walgreens. Regino’s Italian restaurant, a Wards Corner landmark, closed then re-opened far down E. Little Creek Rd., Mary Barnett’s moved to Riverview, Naas Bakery moved to Tidewater Dr. The space formerly occupied by People’s Drug has been vacant for years. Uncle Louie’s is gone, so are: Abel Art Supplies, The Toy Works, Herschler’s Children’s Shoe Store, LaVogue, Rice’s Department Store, The Fabric Hut, Smith & Welton’s, Lottie’s Shoes… the list goes on. We even had a bowling alley!
 Note the crime statistics in Denby Park and the Texas Streets.