Civic League meets; first time since November
Nearly 40 people gathered atop ForKids’ new Landmark Center for Children and Families (CCF) Monday night for the South Norfolk Civic League’s first meeting in five months, where speaker after speaker announced good news for homeowners and businesses in South Norfolk.
(Above) SNCL Chaplain, Dawn Morton, leads the Pledge of Allegiance to a tiny flag, used in a pinch.
(Above) Thaler McCormick, ForKids CEO, welcomes the South Norfolk Civic League to the ForKids rooftop garden.
First, a ‘welcome’ from ForKids
Thaler McCormick, ForKids CEO, welcomed the SNCL to her rooftop garden, noting “we would not be here without you.”
She wants people to think of the new 60,000 square foot headquarters as a community space; one she is more than happy to share with other local groups in need.
The new $17M facility will employ about 110 employees, “all hungry,” McCormick joked.
About 40 ForKids staffers started working in the building last week, with another 20-25 to come soon. The last group, the families, will move in around mid-May, she said.
The CCF is also home to the new ForKids Research and Advocacy Center, allowing the nonprofit to connect on a national level.
Many SNCL meeting goers were treated to a quick tour of the building on the way up to the third-floor rooftop garden. The CCF includes an education center with five classrooms, four tutoring rooms and the ability to serve up to 120 children.
The west end of the building is the administration offices, and the east end has a family shelter with 96 beds designed to accommodate up to 20 families of any size, with a kitchen and dining hall able to serve 150 meals each night.
The new facility also houses the ForKids Regional Housing Crisis Hotline that receives more than 45,000 calls each year and administrative offices for more than 100 staff members. ForKids is planning a grand opening and dedication in September. “And I want you all to come,” she said.
SNCL President Tim Buma announced that he will take a leave of absence from his position as president. First Vice-President Joe Josue will act as SNCL president until further notice or the next election.
Vicki Josue presented the treasurer’s report, which noted a low balance in all accounts due to COVID and the inability to raise funds, while expenses for the group continue. For this reason, scholarships will not be awarded in 2021.
“With COVID, we’re in the same boat as all groups. We’ll be trying to raise money, and we’ll get through it. We’ll be better off next year,” said acting president Joe Josue.
“The food trucks could return to Elizabeth River Park this summer,” Josue added, hopefully.
In the Public Works Report, Vicki Josue summarized a list of projects:
- Poindexter Street Bridge: Finished
- 18th-Street Drainage: Finished
- Chesapeake Avenue Area Drainage (near Poindexter): in design, 2021
- Freeman Avenue Overpass: in design, 2023-2024
- Halifax Drainage: Finished
- Liberty Street Drainage: Finished
- Poindexter Sidewalk Extension (helps pedestrians walk to Elizabeth River Park), design 90 percent complete.
- Seaboard Avenue Industrial Area Sidewalk: Design complete May 2021
- Triple Decker Bridge: not yet in design
- New parking building on Poindexter: 60 spaces, design complete November 2021.
She reminded the group that anyone can contact William Collins, city Customer Service Manager/Citizens’ Advocate at 382-6196 for more information.
4th of July canceled, “whiz-banger” promised for 2022
Due to COVID and state-mandated restrictions, the South Norfolk Fourth of July Parade and Party in the Park will be canceled for 2021. “We are disappointed as this was to be South Norfolk’s 100th Anniversary celebration, but we’ll have a whiz-banger next year,” Joe Josue said.
South Norfolk Neighborhood Watch
Greg Gonzales, president of the South Norfolk Neighborhood Watch, said with activities curtailed by COVID, he has been concentrating on the community garden at 1014 Jefferson St. “We’ll be able to use the garden as a meeting place soon,” Gonzales said.
Garden plots are available for $10 per year. Email Gregory Gonzales for more information.
Crime is down
Officer Justin Mathews, CPD, announced that there were no robberies reported in South Norfolk in March. He confirmed that the trucks parked at the rear of Southgate Plaza blocking the road are “100 percent legal.” There is also a zoning issue with a business at Southgate, but the situation is pending due to the business closing.
Grants are up! SN property owners eligible for rehab & repair grants
People in the historic district who need help with the repair and maintenance of their historic homes may qualify for the South Norfolk Rehabilitation Grant, which matches roughly a third of owner-rehabilitation investment to improve historic home foundations, roofs, siding, windows, doors and more.
Contact David Perry, director of the Chesapeake Land Bank Authority for more information at 757-478-9006, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the city’s website, “The Chesapeake Land Bank Authority (CLBA) was created pursuant to the Land Bank Entities Act, Code of Virginia §§ 15.2-7500 et seq., as amended. Such authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth, a body politic and corporate, created to assist the City in addressing vacant, abandoned, and tax delinquent properties within the City. “
The program was established because fixing old houses is expensive, however news of the grant is not reaching the owner-residents in the historic district, Perry said.
He asked the group to share the grant information and with homeowners who may qualify. Email Perry directly at email@example.com.
Business hurt by COVID? A $12,500 grant will help you feel better!
Steven Wright, Director of Development for the City of Chesapeake, said grants up to $12,500 are available for businesses in South Norfolk impacted by COVID.
The city’s Small Business Grant Program has only distributed 10 percent of the funds in South Norfolk, a total Wright hopes to increase.
“It’s easy! Fill out the form; get the grant,” Wright said. If you need help, Economic Development is also available for assistance at the library from 9-11 a.m. on Tuesdays and 2-4 p.m. on Thursdays. All small businesses are invited to come in and discuss their economic development issues.
Grant available for home weatherization
Sheri Arnold, community programs specialist with the City of Chesapeake, said she is helping with a Virginia Power grant program to help make homes more energy efficient with weather stripping, insulation, HVAC repair and maintenance. Call Arnold at 382-1511 for more information.
The South Norfolk Memorial Library is open!
Clyde Hunter, manager of the South Norfolk Memorial Library, announced that the library is discontinuing fines for 30 days. “If you check out a book,” he said, “you can keep it.” Then he added “for a little while,” with a grin.
Everything at the library is open to the public except for meeting rooms, Hunter said. Drive-through services have resumed operations, however, the AARP will not be doing taxes at the library this tax season.
Hunter suggested that the group check out the online services available through the Chesapeake Public Library’s website.
While vaccines remain available at South Norfolk’s Chesapeake RX Pharmacy, guest speaker FEMA volunteer Kenneth Sutton announced another vaccine center has opened at Macy’s at Military Circle, 880 N. Military Hwy, Norfolk. The center is open daily, Monday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., through Memorial Day. No appointment or reservation is necessary.
The SNCL adjourned at 7:35. The date, time, and location of the next SNCL meeting will be announced soon.