TCC Norfolk Student Center

23 04 2008

The new student center for the Norfolk Campus of TCC is in the designing stages. I attended the charrette today and they certainly have some great ideas. It is supposed to have a food court/cafe space, a fitness center, a child-care facility, office space for student organizations (SGA gets a huge office), study areas, conference/activity rooms for student groups, and a really cool building. It will be 4 or 5 stories tall and sit on half of the lot between the Norva/Kelly’s Building and the Martin Building. Their goal is for it to be a very open building with alot of glass. They will also redesign the plaza. If I can get some pictures of the concepts, I’ll put them on here.
Virginia Beach is scheduled to get a similar building next.


Solution to Parking Garages

14 04 2008

I know its a little far away for our area, but check this out. Designed for cities where space is an absolute premium or nearly non-existent, these parking garages are completely mechanical and/or computerized. You drop your car at the front and it ‘parks it for you. They fit them in so tight that you can usually double the amount of parking spots you can get out of a garage.

How Mechanization Can Help Cities Rethink Parking

Plan for robotic garage may give parking a lift

They are relatively new in the US, but there are thousands in the rest of the world.

New Norfolk Courts

13 04 2008

Instead of delaying funding for a new Court complex in Norfolk, the City should be putting in extra. If you have ever been in the court buildings, you would know why. When I went in for jury duty, I arrived right on time. At that time, we were asked to please wait…. while they walked the inmates past us, down the hallway to their respective places. I though to myself, “thats great, have all the inmates get a good look at all of the prospective jurors.” But what about the judges? And the witnesses? They share these same halls. Also the security of these building is stuck in a past age. Sure there are metal detectors and wands, but do they work? Well, lets see. Last time I went to the General District Court Building for a traffic ticket, I go up to the metal detector. I empty my pockets of all my metal; keys, pen, over $3 in change, I even have a key chain made out of a spent bullet shell. I put all of my metal into the little container and hand it off to the deputy. Now at this point the deputy would normally carry my metal around the metal detector and then ask me to step through. Instead, the deputy pulled my container of metal right through the metal detector and it DID NOT GO OFF. An entire bucket of metal and there was not so much as a beep. Thats good, I thought, as I walked to my courtroom. Then, as I wait to go into my room, I walk past file cabinets full of court documents. Not fancy, special cabinets designed for security, but normal office cabinets. Sure they have a lock, but it is nowhere near the caliber that is warranted by contents that are meant to be secured.
Its glitches and failures such as these that drive home the need for an updated court complex. Our judges put in long hours of stressful work. They should not go in every day feeling in danger of becoming a victim of a desperate criminal.

Thank You, Walt Taylor

13 04 2008

As everyone has heard for the past week or so, The VA Pilot completely screwed up its student art show. After 2 different art experts chose two different works of art as winner, they picked some random employees to judge. The first winner was a nude self-portrait and the second was a nude pregnant torso. Both of these were very artistically done and deserved a prize, but the Pilot decided that nudity was inappropriate for a student art gallery (even though the first painting did not even show anything). Regardless, even though the Pilot eventually ran a picture of the pregnant torso, it refused to run a picture of the self-portrait. They claimed that because it was a self-portrait of a minor they couldn’t run it. It was aired on the TV news stations and it was a very modest painting. This said, I must thank Walt Taylor, the artist of the Sketchbook in the ‘Sunday Forum’ section of the paper. He got his own sketch of the painting into his feature. Thank You, Mr. Taylor, for being the only one at the Pilot not afraid to actually print on controversial topics. The rest of the paper seems content at having mediocre news that comes from everyone else except its own writers. Maybe one day we can get a newspaper that actually can show us what good journalism is all about.

PS- He also mentioned the HRT transfer point:
….although he fails to mention that its not entirely HRT’s fault…

My Light Rail Map

9 04 2008

As some of you may recall, I made a map of my thoughts on a Regional light Rail System. I have made some modifications. Please view and leave your thoughts.

View Larger Map

If you’d like to view it, I’ve compiled all the information into an Excel spreadsheet, download-able here

Norfolk Misconceptions

7 04 2008

I strongly dislike when people don’t check their facts before spreading what amounts to no more than a rumor. For example, The new Wachovia center. I was reading the comments on the VA Pilot site about the parking garage being demolished. I read things such as: “Demolish another parking garage for an Upscale Wachovia Center? GREAT! Now…before they plan to build they should’ve been building a NEW Parking garage BEFORE they demolish the old one.” (Bill H). The problem I have with this is that the city DID plan ahead. The built the lot at St. Pauls. Now, granted it is farther away, you cant build everything close. The new Wachovia building will include 2 new city garages totaling 2000 spaces. The Monticello Garage only had 766 and the lot next door had 333 for a total of 1099. How is doubling the amount of parking on that block bad planning??

Next, I am tired of all of the people that badmouth Norfolk and Downtown. Especially those who never go there. The people who talk about Downtown being ‘gridlocked’ and ‘overbuilt’ come from suburbs where everything is so far away you have to spend half your life driving places. There is no way Downtown is anymore gridlocked than the new Town Center in VA Beach. Actually, its the VA Beach resident and Chesapeake resident working in downtown that gridlock it. If you live in Norfolk you go north, a much easier commute. As for the constant talk of being mugged downtown and the high crime… I would take Downtown Norfolk at night any day over the Oceanfront or Pembroke. Next time look up the crime stats before you talk. They can be found on each city’s web page.

There was another comment by a user named Rose, said that she stopped going to the Tides games when they were renamed the Norfolk Tides. They were renamed that because the other local cities refused to pay unless they were moved to their cities, so Norfolk said ‘forget you all’ and did it themselves. Same goes for the Admirals. Furthermore, Rose says “As far as Wachovia Tower or whatever the latest taxpayer subsidized up-scale developer project is called, it will be plagued with empty apartments and offices.” According to an Article in the VA Pilot, Downtown Norfolk’s Vacancy rate on Dec 31, 2007 was 6.7%. VA Beach places such as Lynnhaven and Princess Anne (historically ‘popular’) had rates of 12.8 and 10.6, respectively. So who has the empty offices?
And when we talk about Norfolk’s budget and spending issues: One post by cigim94543 said “Virginia Beach has more residents and their budget isn’t $1.3 billion” First their budget is nearly 2 billion. Second, according to their budget, VA Beach holds more debt per person than Norfolk does.

Sorry about the rant, it just bugs me when people repeat the same Norfolk stereotypes that they have since the 60’s. Next time people, try visiting BEFORE you judge.

New Cedar Grover Tranfer – A Review

1 04 2008

I finally got to ride to the new Cedar Grove Transfer point today. I must say, HRT did a wonderful job considering they had a week to complete it. There are however some issues that I noticed that should be addressed.

1- First, the whole transfer path needs to be widened. There were a number of buses who were delayed because they couldn’t get by the bus in front of them.

2- They need to designate the shelters for particular bus routes. Currently, it is very difficult if you are waiting at the entrance end and your bus pulls in and doesn’t stop until the exit end. This is especially difficult for riders who have difficulties walking.

3- There should be info boards between the shelters. They should point the way to the bus that you need (see above). They should also have a route map for every route served at that location.

4- I understand certain buses have 10-15 minute layovers. They should stay in the loop to allow passengers to board. It is very frustrating for people who think that their bus has left without them. Also if route 3, for example, unloads at the exit end, all the passengers looking for #3 will move to that end. Then as they arrive, their bus leaves to go park outside for 15 minutes. They wait and then 15 minutes later, the #3 pulls back in and stops at the entrance end. Now all of these passengers must walk the whol way back to the bus.

5- The 310 needs to be more frequent during peak times. I watched the 310 pull into Cedar Grove and it was so full, there was no more standing room. This is not only uncomfortable but it is dangerous in case of an emergency.

6- The 310 needs to be routed slightly different. It should leave the lot and continue down Monticello until Brambleton, where it should make the turn to go to St. Paul’s. There is nothing on the first block of St. Paul’s and it would make more sense because more people get off on that particular block of Monticello.

7- The 310 needs to use the front and rear doors for unloading AND LOADING. It takes forever to load a whole bus full of people through one door.

8- There are absolutely NO notices alerting passengers of the 310 on its route. I observed a passenger actually pass up the 310 to wait for his number.