Norfolk Public Schools: Who’s in ‘charge’?

8 01 2010

With all this talk of HRT and the apparent want to fire the one ‘responsible,’ I have to wonder… Why not now? I consider problems like those allegedly reported at LaFayette-Winona just as serious as communication failure at HRT. The school board apparently hadn’t heard about this problem until the Pilot started investigating. In fact, the Pilot story states:

“Although state investigators conducted their investigation in September and published their findings on Oct. 14, board members said they first officially heard of testing irregularities from school officials in a Nov. 9 e-mail. That e-mail from the school division informed them that The Pilot was looking into the situation but didn’t provide details”

If the school board hadn’t heard, I would put money down that says the City Council was in the dark as well. Where is the outrage here? Judging by the response to the HRT situation, shouldn’t the school board be calling for the Superintendent’s head? Shouldn’t Council? I will go out on a limb and say its about the money. Sad, i know, that apparently HRT’s money is more important than a school system with integrity. Its only our children. The future of Norfolk and all. In my opinion,  the children that we have in our schools are much more valuable than whatever cost overruns could have occurred with the Tide. As a resident of Norfolk, I feel that the city’s apparent uneven application of accountability should stop. Remember that fellow Norfolkians; the City Council is up for election this year.

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Transit Oriented Developments

7 12 2009

If you ever read the PilotOnlie comments, then you will know that there are just some people in Hampton Roads that just don’t get it. They just don’t get how there can be people who don’t want to live in a sprawling suburb. They just don’t get that there are actually people that want to move out of Virginia Beach and into Norfolk. They just don’t get that you actually should know what you’re talking about before you form an opinion.

Most recently, the Virginian-Pilot ran an article about HRT’s new facility that they were building. In fact, I have posted already on this. For a refresher, HRT’s new building was supposed to incorperate a mixed-use development, but now the developer is putting it on hold until the economy improves. My favorite comment so far is by the Virginia Beach Taxpayers’ Alliance’s  Vice Chairman and Transportation Chairman, Reid Greenmun. Now, this man is affiated with the VBTA, so we know that by default he is against all change and somehow wants the city to print its own money and stop wasting their tax dollars doing crazy things such as repairing schools/roads/etc. His comment is as follows:

Gosh, that must touted mythical TOD (Transit Oriented Development) HRT has been pitchinf to justify its light rail boondoggles is now shown for the myth it really was – and in this case HRT is not willing to stick with their own TOD plans! Gosh, if tens of millions of state, local, and federal taxes are available to be used to subsidize the planned HRT TOD project (LEADS “green” roof and all)- and HRT can’t make it happen with all that FREE tax money thrown into the “deal”, just imagine how unlikely it is that any PRIVATE developers will be able to find the hundreds of millions needed to build the promised TOD in VA Beach, along the old Norfolk Southern right of way. The light rail TOD ROI myth is being exposed for the sham it is – right here in River City folks!

As you can see, he (and the VBTA) is severely misguided on the concept of a TOD. If we follow his definition of a TOD, every neighborhood that happens to be built near a bus line is a TOD. This is completely and utterly wrong. In order to be a TOD, the development has to have been built because of the transit line that it sits near. The HRT mixed-use development was not being build because the buses ran through. It was being built because the developer saw potential for profit. This is the same reason that the other development  was built right across the street from the HRT building: not because of HRT, but because a developer saw profit potential in an underutilized area.

Existing Development between Granby St. and Monticello Ave. HRT building can be seen in bottom right corner.

Furthermore, if TOD were “mythical,” how can Mr. Greenmun explain actual TODs in Northern Virginia? Take the following example in Arlington, VA:

This TOD is located around the Ballston-MU Station located on the Orange Line of the DC METRO

This suburban neighborhood is located only one mile from the TOD, above. It is not located on a transit stop

TODs are not myths, as Mr. Greenmun believes. They are simply not well known around Hampton Roads because there are so few of them. They do exist here, however. Both the Belmont @ Freemason and the Wachovia Center developments are TODs. The Wachovia Center development is also a mixed-use TOD. Both of these projects have a Tide light rail stop on the same block. As Hampton Roads’s light rail lines grow and become well-used, these TODs will begin to sprout up along the routes. In fact, Virginia Beach is planning a TOD off of Newtown Road because of Norfolk’s light rail stop.

Wachovia Center (TOD) - Under Construction

Belmont @ Freemason (TOD) - Under Construction





Norfolk Cruise Terminal – Best Year Yet

4 11 2009

That’s right. I said Best Year Yet. But how can that be? The Virginian-Pilot’s October 21st article said that the number of ships calling to Norfolk is the lowest since it opened. Along with that, the number of total passengers is down. How can it be the best year? Despite the Pilot’s best attempts to print yet another slanted article portraying a Norfolk project in a negative light, it is their own data from which I base my idea.

I draw my conclusions based on the fact that while the number of ships and passengers has declined, the total number of passengers per ship has increased drastically. I think that the increase in passengers per ship makes our Cruise Terminal more efficient, thus increasing total revenue per ship. That is why I think that it is more important to have more passengers per ship than it is to just have a lot of ships coming in.

NumCruiseShips

Number of Cruise Ships (2010 Estimated)

TotalPassengers

Total Passengers (2010 Estimated)

PassPerShip

Number of Passengers per Ship (2010 Estimated)