Last night, about 40 people endured hours of civic league business while sitting on metal chairs, anxious to hear what the city and citizens had to say about South Norfolk Lakeside Park and the lake.

A meeting of the South Norfolk Neighborhood Watch that was supposed to occur prior to the SNCL meeting was never called to order.

Just before the SNCL meeting began, Carolenn Latham, who served as watch president for three years, announced her resignation.

The SNCL recognized her for her years as president and 10 years of service to the South Norfolk Neighborhood Watch Group, the community’s only true 501(c)3 non-profit civic group.

“I thank you all, and I will be a good volunteer,” Latham said.

SNCL business:

SNCL president Tim Buma tried to hurry through the league’s old and new business reports.

-SNCL received a thank you note from ForKids for the $250 matching grant contribution to their building fund.

-SNCL will give a $250 donation to the South Norfolk Community Center for Christmas.

-SNCL donated candy to the South Norfolk Community Center to give out for their fall celebration.

-SNCL will create some kind of drive to help local schools. Details of this drive will be determined at a later date.

-Restrooms at the library are no longer locked. This is because the library does not have chronically homeless individuals asking to use the facilities anymore, because the CAST program no longer drops off homeless patrons in South Norfolk every day .

Homeless individuals are now picked up and dropped off at the city’s new We Care Resource Center, where they can get meals, bathe, use phones and get help with housing or employment. The day center is located at 1468 South Military Highway near the edge of Greenbrier, and you do not have to be homeless to use the facility.

WE CARE Resource Center

Treasurer’s report: SNCL has money in both accounts. Both in the black.

Bishop Hill hopes to establish a church in the former bank building at the Southgate Plaza. There was no further public discussion.

Reggie Moore, of Moore Legacy Group shared his card and his favorite crime statistic web site,

Clyde Hunter, South Norfolk Memorial Library branch manager, passed out a list of upcoming events. They are posted for you, here.

Clyde Hunter, South Norfolk Memorial Library branch manager, shared the library’s upcoming events at the meeting.

Hello, Capt. Landfair!

Buma introduced Capt. John Landfair, the new commanding officer at South Norfolk’s Second Precinct. “I’m a huge proponent of community policing and problem solving strategies,” Landfair said.

“We work with you to resolve problems. We can’t do it without you.”

Landfair said the Second Precinct is looking for a few good men (and women) to join them. Call CPD if you’re interested in a career in law enforcement.

The group groaned a bit when Landfair admitted to his non-local status, adding that he came from Washington, D.C. and has lived in Chesapeake for the past 22 years.

-CPD’s Officer J.K. Matthews, senior police officer, wants you to call him. He told the crowd they could call him for any issues, including trash collection and abandoned vehicles. “We will work with our partners in all city departments and get things done,” he said.

Officer Mathews wants you to call him, especially about distressed properties. Despite what Capt. Landfair said, Officer Mathews probably will not help with your parking ticket.

In particular, Officer Mathews wants folks to call and let him know about South Norfolk properties that may be falling down, inhabited by vagrants, or just messy. Call him about the park. Call him about anything. “You all have my card now. Call me.”

Mathews asked everyone to keep an eye out for kids at bus stops. “Be our eyes and ears,” he said, and help make sure kids get to school and back again safely.

Mathews said residents can turn in their unwanted prescription medicines on Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for safe disposal. Flushing narcotics is a bad idea. Please contact CPD for more information.

Mathews has worked in South Norfolk for 12 years. “I know your community very well,” he said. “I am blessed to work with residents of South Norfolk.”

Now, about that park!

Mike Barber is the enthusiastic Director of Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism, and he had a lot to say about what is shiny and new at Lakeside Park.

There are new shelters, new walkways and new picnic tables. Fences have been replaced on Byrd and Holly Avenues. The fence on Bainbridge is slated for replacement by Christmas, or early in the new year, he said.

Regarding an issue in the park with bird droppings on playground equipment, Barber explained that a protected bird species built a nest in a tree and had babies, causing a mess that lasted for a long time. The birds eventually vacated the nest, and the tree was cut back to ensure that the situation is not repeated.

“The equipment has been cleaned and will stay clean,” Barber said.

Leaves are a big problem at Lakeside Park, he said, more so than at other parks in the city, and he requested that residents call when they see there are too many leaves.

Ah, the fountain

The fountain on the lake is decorative only, Barber said. The old fountain burned up about a year ago.

The new fountain is also decorative, but it has some interesting features like colored lights that can be red, white and blue, or green and white for holidays and special occasions.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the new fountain is that when it begins to clog, the fountain spray will go down by half. If anyone sees the fountain with a low spray, please call the city to report it, Barber said. When the city is closed, call or come by the Visitor’s Center to report problems in the park.

“We do not have staff to wander around and check parks,” Barber said. “But, we want to be good partners. Call us (when you see problems) and give us an opportunity to save the day,” he said.

The Visitor’s Center is located at 1224 Progressive Dr. in Chesapeake, VA 23320. Call (888) 889-5551 or (757) 382-6411.

The last time the fountain went down, Barber said, workers found an eel in the machinery.

Barber said a learning barge will be parked full time at the Elizabeth River Park soon.

If you like the Ship Store at Elizabeth River Park, Barber urges you to become a frequent patron. “It needs the business to say open,” he said.

Barber listed some other accomplishments by his department, including replacing 17 of 27 park lights, a new park near Rena B. Wright Primary School and 14 new playgrounds in the last 3-4 years. And they’re not finished yet.

Parks, Recreation and Tourism is also working with ForKids on Johnson Park near the new $22-million headquarters for Virginia’s largest provider of services to homeless families and the 150 professionals they will employ. “That may be a different kind of park,” he said, based on the proximity to the new ForKids building and the workers and clientele who will use the park.

There are still no plans for a pool, Barber said, lamenting that Chesapeake has no “proper “community centers. Barber said a proper facility would have a minimum of 18,000 square feet.

The city plans to build a “splash pad” behind the South Norfolk Community Center at 1217 Godwin Ave. “It’s basically a water playground,” Barber said. The first one will be installed in Western Branch, and the second will be built in South Norfolk. You will need a rec card to splash.

Finally! The lake!

Eric Martin, Director of Public Works, said the city is initiating a new lake management program for all city lakes.

Martin explained that the lake at Lakeside Park, like other lakes in the city, is a water treatment facility. The lake collects all the area storm water runoff and allows the sediments and chemicals to settle in the “pond” before the water runs to the Elizabeth River.

In earlier lake management programs, the city focused on algae, but Martin said the city, along with the Elizabeth River Program, will focus more on water quality.

The water in the lake at Lakeside Park “epitomizes the problem of storm water in urban areas,” Martin said.

This year, the lake was hurt by dry weather, Martin said. “And then little rainfalls get heavy fertilizer deposits. “We’re running an algae farm in this lake!” he joked.

The algae have been identified as a “filamentatious” algae, and not red tide algae or anything harmful. Martin said, “We used algaecide in the pond to knock it down. It was treated five times.”

“It was the worst I’ve seen in 61 years,” said concerned citizen Teresa Stevens. “I had to see it and smell it all summer!”

He said the fishkill a few weeks ago was caused by the lake being flooded with salt water during a storm, adding, “that likely also killed the algae.”

Martin is using a tiered approach to resolving the Lakeside issues. He said the city will treat algae, add aeration and circulation; and they will trace, track and correct origins of biologic waste, human waste, in particular, because that is something that can be addressed.

The Canada Geese are another issue. There are a lot more geese than ever before and they are protected. A greenery buffer around the lake could help. The goose contribution to the lake condition was not addressed in depth.

The fountain, Martin repeated, is decorative. He is currently looking at aerators with high-volume pumps to increase circulation in the lake, which he described as shallow around the edges and up to 10 feet deep in the center.

Powering the aerators is a challenge. Martin said he’s seen some solar-powered aerators that “look like spaceships” that could surprise people.

The power challenge will be met one way or another, Martin said, “as long as we circulate the water.”

Dredging is another possibility that is being considered.

The funds for maintenance of the lake at Lakeside Park come from the city’s storm water budget. Some could come from TIF funds, but Martin assured the group that the condition of the lake was not caused by a lack of funding.

Martin concluded with a brief update of projects in South Norfolk.
-The city’s Sign Sweeper program is in full operation. If you detest the litter that is yard signs, please consider becoming authorized to remove them. Contact the public works department.

Sign Sweepers Info

-The 22nd Street Bridge project is still on track for May 2020 (he said “May-June,” but we are holding him to May) and they are racing down the home stretch, Martin said. “Pile-driving is complete and you’ll see more bridge coming up soon.”

-Design work is beginning on the new parking facility that will be located between the Gateway Building and the ForKids property.

Martin distributed this handy card at the meeting. Flash your phone camera at the QR codes on your computer monitor and you will be taken to those pages for more information.

Martin referred the crowd to a small card with QR Codes. These are published here for your use. Try flashing your camera at the squares!

Public Works Projects

With a room full of antsy folks on cold, hard chairs, the meeting was adjourned.

Barber and Martin stayed after the meeting to talk with individuals and answer all questions, which was much appreciated by attendees. The city reps did not complain about the chairs. 🙂