This is a recap of Monday night’s South Norfolk Civic League meeting, as was heard and seen on video via Facebook Live, here:
NOV. 9, 2020 — SOUTH NORFOLK — South Norfolk Civic Leaguers were shocked to learn Monday that plans may have changed for the city’s new municipal center.
The meeting came to order at 6:30 p.m. with president Tim Buma presiding. After the prayer and pledge, the minutes from October’s meeting were approved, and the financial report showed both accounts in the black.
For the construction report, Buma announced that the Poindexter Street Bridge was open and complete.
NOTE: The opening ceremony for the Poindexter Street Bridge has been rescheduled to 10 a.m. Nov. 18 in the grassy area on the south side of the bridge on Liberty.
Shocking news of changes in plans for municipal center
Turning to Chesapeake city councilwoman Debbie Ritter, Buma apologized for putting her on the spot, but asked for an update on the municipal center.
Though it was difficult to hear all the details via the live connection, Ritter announced that there could be a change in the location of the new municipal center from Poindexter Street to Liberty Street.
She said consideration for the change was made at the request of Col. K. L. Wright, City of Chesapeake Chief of Police, whom she said prefers the center to be located in the vicinity of the Second Precinct on Liberty Street rather than on Poindexter near the new ForKids headquarters.
“If the plan is changed I would certainly hope the SNCL will be consulted,” Buma said. “We are all disappointed in this change.”
Joe Josue, SNCL vice president, asked for Chief Wright to be invited to speak at the next meeting. If this change is based on his wishes, he said, “we need to hear what he has to say.”
“There’s a difference between Poindexter and Liberty, that’s for sure,” Josue said. Buma agreed to invite Wright to the next meeting.
There were a lot of questions and comments regarding the change, but Buma asked for patience as the group waits for more information on Thursday. The city council is participating in a retreat over the weekend, and the plans are expected to be announced before it starts on Thursday.
First Responders Day
The South Norfolk Ruritans, the South Norfolk Civic League, the City of Chesapeake’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, and other neighbors pitched in last month to treat our first responders to free breakfast, lunch, and dinner, served with love and thanks. “There was a good crowd all day,” Buma said, “and many of them reached out to say ‘thanks.’”
Fourth of July 2021
“Unless something catastrophic happens,” plans for South Norfolk’s Centennial Celebration will go on as usual for July 4, 2021, said Buma. There will be some changes in guidelines, he said, but for the 100th Anniversary, “We’re going to try and go all out.”
Established as a town in 1921, the people of South Norfolk voted to merge with parts of Norfolk County to form the new city of Chesapeake in 1963.
Officer Justin Mathews continued his pledge to bring “a new face to every meeting,” bringing along Officer M. Peterson from the 211 beat (the historic district) to say hello. Peterson has worked the beat in South Norfolk for two years. After the quick hello, Peterson returned to his shift.
“In the first two weeks, after working 12 days,” Mathews said, the Violent Task Force Reduction Team announced at September’s SNCL meeting removed 20 guns from the street, made 40 arrests (nine for possession and attempt to distribute narcotics) and seized $12,000 in cash. Meeting attendees whooped and applauded the progress report from the team.
“In September and October, the numbers are down greatly due to the task force,” he said, adding that robberies, aggravated assaults, larcenies and burglaries are all down, with robberies down by 60 percent. Thefts from motor vehicles are down by 44 percent, he said.
Homicide rates, which remain high due to some excessively violent months earlier in the year, are down by 400 percent.
Buffalow a catalyst for change at Southgate Plaza
Mathews said he saved the best for last – big news of changes at the Southgate Plaza, which began with a heartfelt tribute to Nishelle Buffalow of the Buffalow Family and Friends Community Days.
For more than 10 years, Buffalow and her mother, Delena, have been serving the community of South Norfolk and beyond with food, toiletries, clothing and other basic human needs for people suffering hard times.
Mathews said, “I have to say that Ms. Buffalow is the catalyst for this change. She is the kindest, most gentle person I’ve think I’ve ever known. She’s reached out far and wide to help out anyone in the community, and she finally got her business out of her home and into the Southgate Plaza.”
“I was there on opening day, and there were a whole bunch of abandoned vehicles in the lot, appliances were everywhere and the parking lot was in complete disrepair, so I reached out to Patrick and we did a walk-through,” Mathews said.
Time to clean up Southgate!
Mathews then introduced Patrick Tucker, a young, smiley, city code compliance inspector who works mainly outside the historic district in South Norfolk and Portlock.
Tucker described some of the code violations he witnessed on the inspection including the parking lot, abandoned cars and old appliances left outside on the property, both in front and in the rear of the property.
The appliance store that was located in the Southgate Plaza has been criminally cited for having illegal accumulations of debris and is currently “under (legal) action.” A judge will have to decide what’s next, Tucker said. The hearing is set for December.
“I just want to say that I was born and raised here,” he said. “I lived in South Norfolk for six years (as a child). I’m honored to serve the City of Chesapeake and I’m honored to serve the community of South Norfolk. It’s a beautiful place. There’s some rough spots, but there is great potential in South Norfolk,” he said. “It’s a great honor for me to see that it’s clean, organized.”
Tucker cited a new ordinance that allows towing of abandoned cars “to further the betterment of South Norfolk and the city of Chesapeake.”
“This is a big deal for me. I take my job as seriously as possible and I appreciate every one of you for allowing me to be here today.”
Thanks from CPD
Mathews concluded his reports with thanks from his “brothers (and sisters)” to everyone who helped with the breakfast, lunch, and dinner served to first responders on First Responder Day. “We are very thankful – especially in today’s climate – to have the backing and support of the community, and we very much appreciate everything y’all did to provide free meals on that Saturday.”
Two board positions reinstated
The positions of president and secretary were up for election this month. Buma and secretary Susan Penick both accepted nominations to serve again for two more years. This was unanimously approved by the membership. The meeting was adjourned about 7 p.m.
Next meeting Dec. 14
The next meeting of the South Norfolk Civic League will be at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Impact Church Sono, 1200 Chesapeake Ave. There will not be a Holiday Potluck this year.
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