Why is Wards Corner consistenly on “the back burner”?

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


7 Responses to Why is Wards Corner consistenly on “the back burner”?

  1. Tim Smith says:

    Great letter Joan.

  2. Beverly Sexton says:

    Well put joan.

  3. Laura Thom says:

    You have given voice to our thoughts & feelings with poignant clarity. It is high time our elected officials take heed of the storm about to break at Wards Corner.

  4. Leanne says:

    I agree as well that our city council has not represented our voices here at Wards Corner. How they can sit by and watch our area deteriorate as it is doing is something everyone is not able, nor willing to comprehend. Great letter, it says exactly as we all feel.

  5. Susan Ross says:

    Yes , I agree that the city is not living up to its promises. It seems to think that fountains and such make up a good city. But it truly is the people in our communities, our area included, that are the heart of our city. The city has to start doing the things they planned, they promised, or else other people will see that Norfolk is not a good place to live and could move elswewhere. If there were no citizens and a tree fell, would any body care.

  6. jeffkline says:

    I have a copy of the Wards Corner Comprehensive Plan, from a Wards Corner Civic Legue Meeting.
    I was very excited to see the great things planned for Wards Corner and specifically for Denby park, where I have lived as a homeowner for 11 years.
    However, I have seen very little realized of the plan. I was recently sent a letter by the city to remove/paint a rusty portion of fencing on my property, which I have taken care of.
    Police and City workers wander my neighborhood knocking on doors looking for unlicensed dogs.
    Meanwhile, prostitutes and drug dealers wander the street freely a block away. Gunshots ring out all hours of the night. Ghostly figures drift down our streets after dark looking for any target of opportunity.
    The City leaders need to focus on one of the first parts of the plan, removing that rats nest of criminals in the high density/low income apartments lining Little Creek road. We can’t move forward as a community until they focus on that, and not the rusty fences owned by honest, hardworking taxpayers.
    We will do our part, how about the city stepping up and doing theirs.

  7. Aimee Hart says:

    Hello! I am a former memer of the North Shore Civic League…I live just 4 tenths of a mile away now. When I first moved to this area from downtown I remember the plans and excitment of revitalization. It seems to be the same in Oceanview – that excitment and then bubbles deflated feeling. I hope the pleas and work of both the civic league and business district do not go unheard. I am a frequent “drive through” driver of the Corner but for shopping will for the most part travel out of my way find cleaner, safer and more invested services. I would so much enjoy not having to do that and have those same convienences found elsewhere back in Wards Corner. If I can help in any way that I can I will…

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