These candidate responses are being provided in three parts. All three questions can be found in the article, Brewer, Protogyrou, and Saunders Questionnaire. We thank the candidates for their willingness to run for office and for the time they took to answer our questions.
Question #2: Please explain in detail the solutions you intend to utilize to address the issues you identified in question #1, above.
Chuck Brewer’s Response: I called Mr. Brewer and he stated that he would not participate in this Candidate Questionnaire.
Andy Protogyrou, Candidate for City Council, Ward 1
Andy Protogyrou’s Response: The solutions to the foregoing issue of marketing for redevelopment on the local, state, national and international level involves the use of the Norfolk Economic Development Authority Office. It is this office that would market the location and the benefits that Wards Corner brings through its position geographically and demographically in the city. This would involve traveling the United States and world to publish what Wards Corner is and what it can be once again. Second, the marketing of Wards corner locally would be more on the scale of what we often see at Merchant’s Square in Williamsburg. How often do any of us watch television or listen to the radio and hear an advertisement for the merchants in the Colonial Capital combined together to bring economic dollars throughout the region to them? Wards Corner can once again be in that position of marketing itself from Titustown to Southern Shopping Center and the Lafayette River to Johnson’s Corner.
On a short term, stepped up patrols and code enforcement by Norfolk Police is a solution. A small police substation where officers use bikes and segways out of one of our current storefronts as a base of operation combined with one of the eleven city code enforcement officers allows greater access to the community and our citizens that are most at risk.
Also, linking of light rail to downtown from Wards Corner is imperative to our growth.
Andy’s website is www.andy-norfolk.com
Barbara Saunders, Candidate for City Council, Ward 1
Barbara Saunders’ Response: Norfolk has become a city of plans without action. Whether it is the outdated Norfolk General Plan, the nine area plans listed on the city’s website or the dozens of neighborhood plans collecting dust at city hall, planning has gone from a best municipal practice to a political panacea.
Wards Corner has a Comprehensive Plan, filled with impressive maps and pretty pictures. But it is expensive, unrealistic and now, after almost six years, irrelevant. Even in 2004, when the plan was published, the authors’ wrote, “We don’t underestimate the difficulty and complexity of this plan….”
Even during prosperous times, when the plan was published, the Wards Corner Plan was based on the following model: Move (mostly poor) people out, tear down what is there, build something new, move new (higher income) people back into new buildings.
The solutions can be found in the citizens who make the Wards Corner area their home. Almost 35% of the residents in the Ward Corner area are between the ages of 18 and 24, young adults that comprise the largest segment of the population. The second largest segment (25%) is children under the age of 18 and the third largest segment (24%) is between the ages of 35 and 54. The smallest segment of the Wards Corner population is adults 55+ so we’ve got to stop talking about what Wards Corner used to be or what Wards Corner ought to be and begin to take action on what Wards Corner is.
- With almost 60% of the residents of Wards Corner comprised of young and middle-aged adults, we need to encourage a creative class of merchants and service providers.
- Working with ODU, Norfolk State and TCC, the city should facilitate entrepreneurial incentives for graduates of their business programs.
- Rather than tear down and rebuild, we should recycle and reinvent the strip mall again encouraging new approaches that go beyond the big box and mid-box retailers. We could also renew the exterior appearance such as being done at the corner strip mall located at the intersection of E. Little Creek & Shore Drive.
Grime equals Crime and one of the most efficient means of addressing crime, particularly in blighted areas is to start with good housekeeping practices.
- Collaborative programs between police and citizens are essential. That means a return to community policing.
- Renewed codes enforcement programs and a zero-tolerance policy for nuance codes infractions, particularly in high-density communities.
Perception: Encouraging entrepreneurial investment in Wards Corner and developing programs with existing communities, not a ghost population, will bring about the changes Ward Corner needs and the new, revitalized perception of what is will prevail.
Barbara’s website is www.barbara4ward1.com