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