About 30 people attended the March 2019 South Norfolk Civic League meeting last week, which lasted longer than usual because so much information was presented.

CPD Officer Mark Johnson announced 9-year downward trend in crime in the 2nd Precinct, with statistics reflecting a 28.25 decrease in crime from 2009.

Johnson’s “Thefts from Motor Vehicles” report of Dec. 2018, showed the crimes in higher numbers in South Norfolk and West Munden, and he advised that cars be kept locked at all times.

Johnson also spoke about a new special force, the Active Crime Team (ACT), a 2-man, 2-woman team that is patrolling for crime in marked cars, five days a week from 4 p.m. to midnight. ACT’s only job is to patrol the area looking for crime.

Since its inception, the team has finished a meth investigation with Vice and Narcotics that resulted in the seizure of over a kilo of meth from a traffic stop on Perry Street, made six felony drug arrests and six other felony arrests, and conducted a traffic stop that resulted in five felony charges, and the recovery of a stolen firearm and narcotics.

Scams against old people continue, and Johnson warned against some of the more common scams happening to people in our area. If anyone is scammed, please notify the police, Johnson said.

Vicki Josue announced continued efforts to organize the South Norfolk-wide Spring Pickup Day to be held April 6. Gateway Church, the neighborhood watch, the Ruritans, and the Revitalization Committee will participate. Contact the civic league for more information.

There is a 5-year-plan to upgrade South Norfolk street lights with 20 new lights to be installed initially and another 18 additional lights to follow. Please report any bad lights to the city.

The Historic South Norfolk Community Garden (a project of the South Norfolk Neighborhood Watch) is looking for members and volunteers to organize operations. Email to SouthNorfolkCivicLeague@gmail.com for more information.

In the interest of time, city staff broke verbal speed barriers relaying information about what they’re doing specifically for the benefit of South Norfolk.

That’s right. The city has big plans for South Norfolk, which, as luck would have it, appears near and dear to the heart of former resident and Chesapeake’s top planner, Jaleh Shea, Chesapeake’s Director of Planning.

From Shea’s presentation, here’s what the city is doing for South Norfolk:

  • The Chesapeake Land Bank Authority has been established to buy historic homes in foreclosure and resell them to qualified buyers who must occupy the homes. This “authority” is funded as a “separate group from the city,” Shea said. The “authority” will have a citizen’s advisory committee to guide it and $1 million to acquire vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent properties. Because the “authority” is not the city, Shea explained, it can move quickly.
  • A $500k residential rehab grant program is available for people who need some help with the restoration of their historic national landmark homes. Grants of up to $50k may be awarded to residents who qualify. Homeowners are required to make a 50-50 match of their grants with private funds, however, Shea said there are ways to mitigate the homeowners’ amounts.
  • The city manager has created a group of “clusters” to address special needs of the city. One such cluster is the “Economic Vitality Cluster,” whose No. 1 goal is to “initiate meaningful redevelopment” in South Norfolk.
    • There will be a quarterly breakfast meeting of local businesses and non-profits and others who work to promote commerce and cooperative relationships in South Norfolk.
    • The city will publish a web portal for the benefit of all the groups and individuals working and living in South Norfolk.
    • The group will work to promote a positive community image for South Norfolk. The “Rolling on the River” Food Truck Event series, held 2nd and 4th Thursdays at Elizabeth River Park from 5 to sunset April through September, is part of the local image-promoting events planned for South Norfolk.
    • Poindexter Street is the target in the “redevelopment corridor” because the new 22nd Street Bridge is going to flow directly into Poindexter. “A significant improvement,” Shea said, because it creates more through traffic to South Norfolk commercial areas.
  • The city is addressing “nuisance commercial properties” such as the old library parking lot, the area once occupied by Bank of America, the Overton property.
  • There is a Business Barrier Sub-Committee that will look at ways to improve commerce by improving parking and revising business overlay regulations to be more business friendly and less restrictive.
  • There will be a City of Chesapeake facility established somewhere in South Norfolk. It likely may be the Gateway building, which has struggled financially for years. Before the city facility could locate in the Gateway building, Shea said, there is much to address in the deal, including parking, sellers’ loans and other issues with the current owner, Jerry Harris.
  • After the construction of the new 22nd Street Bridge, there will be an 8-acre tract of land available for commercial development in South Norfolk.
  • Through an arrangement with Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, a pharmacy is coming to the shopping center where Food Lion is located in the Bainbridge Marketplace at 2544 Bainbridge Blvd. This is part of a combined effort of the city and Chesapeake Regional “to help an underserved community,” Shea said.
  • The city will be working with ForKids to maximize their opportunities in South Norfolk.
  • More improvements are coming to Elizabeth River Park, including a new path to get safely past the overpass to the park on foot or on a bike.
  • To continue promotion of South Norfolk, the city always includes it in its Citizen Tours.

Monica Christiansen, the city’s Superintendent of Special Facilities, spoke a little about the South Norfolk Community Image & Identity Survey that was taken recently. She said 370 poll results showed that most participants just “want what’s best for South Norfolk.”

The next meeting of the South Norfolk Civic League will be at 7 p.m. April 8 at the South Norfolk Community Center, 1217 Godwin Ave. in Portlock. Sometimes cookies are served. 🙂