Is it a Hilton? or a Westin? … Or NOT

27 08 2008

It started back in 2004. The City of Norfolk Spent $9.3 million to acquire three properties to make way for the Hilton Conference Center downtown. This was supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread. Expensive sliced bread. When you add the $7.5 million subsidy, the project would cost $16.8 million in taxpayer dollars. Regardless, the city pushed forward and demolished historic buildings, such as the IKON building and the old Decker Law building. Then we forgot about it. The entire project mysteriously evaporated from the public eye until May of 2008 when, SURPRISE, it is now a Westin. Apparently the much anticipated Hilton project fell through and the city, knowing the citizen would revolt and revive such concepts as tar and feathering, hastily worked on replacing it. On May 27, 2008, They announced the Westin Plan, which apparently was the Hilton plan with the name Westin inserted instead. Now, it is nearly September and there has been no work accomplished. No piling or anything. In fact the old BB&T parking lot is even still there.

ABOVE: December 17, 2007 – BELOW: August 27, 2008

As you can see, with the exception of one more building being demolished last December, there has been absolutely no progress. What’s going go Norfolk? Where is this building. It was scheduled to open in 2011 and has already apparently started booking for conferences but they haven’t even started running pilings. The Wachovia building was running pilings before they even closed the parking lot!
I will try to find out more if I can. If anyone’s got any information, please let me know.


BE THERE! – Open House on Transit

27 08 2008

On the back page of the Hampton Roads section today is the “Virginia Beach City Page.” In the bottom right corner is an important announcement.

Open House on Mass Transit Options

How do you want to move around the city? By Car? Light rail? Bus?

Please join the City Council and HRT at an open house where we will discuss options for mass transit in Virginia Beach. We’ll have information to offer, and we’ll be taking comments from the public.

Tuesday, September 16, 7 to 9 PM
Virginia Beach Convention Center
1000 19th Street

NOTE: Best part is that you can ACTUALLY take mass transit to this one, because it is a block from the #20 bus. The #20 route and schedule can be found here.

Virginian Pilot – Fact?

27 08 2008

Re:Norfolk City Council revises ban on public cursing“, 20 August 2008

“The City Council voted 7-1 on Tuesday to revise an ordinance that made cursing in public a crime. A nearly identical statute in Virginia Beach was ruled unconstitutional nearly two decades ago by the Virginia Court of Appeals.”

That is a direct quote from the article. I assume that the writer checked his facts and that the second statement is true. Then I read the editorial in today’s paper, “Antiquated profanity law is Norfolk’s curse” It briefly compares Norfolk’s law to that of Virginia Beach, stating “If Norfolk’s ordinance on profanity turned out to be unconstitutional, only the courts could estimate precisely how unconstitutional Virginia Beach’s law might be.”

Um… I think they already did that. Perhaps the Virginian Pilot writers need to READ THEIR OWN PAPER before they comment on the news!

Say again?

26 08 2008

Vista for a view? 26 Aug 2008 – VA Pilot – Pilot Warrior
[Reader Tim Marshall asked
about the trees and brush being cleared in the Interstate 464 median, near Military Highway. “Clearcutting,” he called it.
“If there is a good reason for this, I can reluctantly accept it,” he wrote. “But … I can’t see how there can be any visibility issue at that location. I am at a loss as to understand why they would be un-beautifying the interstate.”
Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Harry Kenyon said the brush is being cleared so the highway department’s traffic cameras have a clear view of the interstate.]

Wait. So VDOT actually believes that it is cheaper and a better idea to clear cut acres of tree than it is to put up a couple more cameras? The average fuel consumption of an excavator is 10.5 gallons an hour. Assuming $4/gallon diesel fuel, that means that one excavator uses $42 an hour. Add in the dump trucks, supervisor vehicles, worker wages, and external costs, and you are spending way over the cost of a new camera an hour.
If this is how it works, then the next time I don’t want to drive around the block, I will rent a bulldozer and clear a new road through the middle of the block because it will be easier later to cut through. Its the same type thing. They don’t want to go through the process of putting in a new camera so they will just demolish all obstacles to the existing cameras. You gotta wonder though: someone got paid with YOUR tax dollars to develop this plan.

Who’s going to Disney World?

26 08 2008

The entire policy against theme parks is ridiculous. First, Chesapeake claimed safety reasons for the rule. Then they tell the parents that the trip needs to be more educational. First off, the way most schools perform with these SubStandards of Learning, the trip is probably already MORE educational than the day at school. Second, how would making it more educational make it safer? Would not a simple waiver form suffice? If every child going on the trip were to have a parent/guardian sign a waiver of liability, who would it hurt? In the unlikely even that someone DID get injured, the Chesapeake Public School system would not be held responsible. This trip is not required, therefore school insurance would not be required if waivers were in hand. Come on Chesapeake, set the standard to bring common sense back to the school administration. Set the precedent for the surrounding area. Be leaders, not sheep.

Back to School

25 08 2008

Its that time of year again. I’m back to school (this time at ODU) and I’m ready to start talking about HRT, Virginia Beach and said parties’ bus routes. I am attempting to go the entire semester without paying for parking at ODU. I feel that the $98 semester parking fee is a bit excessive, so I refuse to pay it. So, to get past this I will utilize any legal means to achieve my goal. Step one. Get my FREE bus pass from ODU. Unfortunately, one cannot receive this until precisely one week before class. Pointless, I think, considering all of the due dates prior to the start of the semester. Regardless, I have my bus pass. Monday was my first day of class. It will be held at the VA Beach Higher Education Center, near TCC. My class was from 4:00ish until about 7PM. I looked up the bus routes. Getting there is no problem. Getting home, however, is a different story. My class is over at 7. The last bus pulls out at 6:48. So I can gamble on being let out early and risk being stranded, or I can drive. So I drove. I borrowed a car and drove. Then I had to park. Remember I’m not paying the fee. The meter has a one-hour limit (to discourage their repeated use). So I drive around until I find the closest neighborhood without a parking restriction and I park and walk.
I don’t mind walking. I will walk over a mile to avoid paying for parking but the closest bus route to the VBHEC is 4.5 miles away, on VA Beach Blvd (Route #20). Enough is enough. VA Beach has to recognize that people DO ride the bus in the evening. I know that they are starting to look at Light Rail options for the city. I also know that they want Federal money and in order to achieve that money they need to raise the percentage of their population that rides their existing bus routes. In order to do this they need to get it through their minds that people don’t just ride TO their destination; they need a way back. And yes, VA Beach, people DO come in from other cities on the bus. That means that they need a way out. Come on, Beach, its time for a change. The congestion is outrageous and there IS NO ALTERNATIVE!

Final Thought on the Jordan Bridge

24 08 2008

I have talked to the City of Chesapeake and they have said that they can not keep the bridge open for bicycles. They did, however, tell me that they would consider a water taxi/ferry plan for bicycles and pedestrians. They would also look into creating a park and ride system with a direct route to the shipyard.

Lastly, for those who’d like to know a bit of history about the bridge. It was built in 1928 and cost $1.25 million. It was built by Carl M Jordan, who owned the Jordan Brothers Lumber Co with his brother. They constructed the bridge out of their personal money because the public transportation, the Norfolk County Ferry Service, was to unreliable for their business, which transported uncut lumber to their South Norfolk mill from the Great Dismal Swamp. They set up a non-profit organization to manage the bridge and even ran it until it was completely paid off in 1977. After it was paid for they gave it to Chesapeake… at which point it has become what we have now. Heres an idea. Maybe we could solicit a new company to build a new bridge. This time, however, keep the private commission to run it. (Taken from