Virginia Beach ‘community coalition’ looking ahead to 2040

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Tim Sorber, Computer Scientist

Computer scientist Tim Sorber explained the positive implications of utilizing high-speed fiber optic internet cables, which may become an opportunity for Virginia Beach as soon as 2018.

The year 2040 may seem like the distant future, but for a small group of community leaders, it is a year that’s at the forefront of their work.

The 2040 Vision to Action Community Coalition (VTACC) is a 16-member team tasked with bringing Virginia Beach to its full potential by achieving some key goals: a unique environment, a thriving economy, plenty of active lifestyle opportunities, and a community that is diverse, learning, and connected.

Though VTACC is thinking 24 years ahead, the coalition hasn’t been around for long. The original team was founded in 2011 by Mayor Will Sessoms to create a long-term vision for the community. VTACC was established in January of 2013 to help achieve the goals laid out by the founding members, according to chair of the VTACC Peggy Layne.

“We love our city and we want it to be the best it can be, and we are bringing that original vision to action,” she said. “Our purpose is to guide the city’s decisions and share this vision with the community. It’s about where they are going to live and work and play.”

The coalition, which meets once a month, convened Friday to receive updates about some of the current initiatives taking place in the community. These initiatives fell under two of the vision’s components, a connected community and active lifestyles.

An opportunity to connect the city was presented by computer scientist Tim Sorber of Klett Consulting Group, Inc.

Sorber explained that in 2018, two high-speed fiber optic internet cables are set to come through Virginia Beach. The cables, which come from Balboa, Spain and Rio de Janiero, Brazil, are being privately funded by Microsoft and Facebook, but would be worth leveraging for the city’s use, according to Sorber.

“Virginia Beach is a great spot to land cables. If we can improve our internet speeds on a regional level we can bring in larger businesses that require that bandwidth,” he said. “If we can leverage this in a good way, we could attract a lot of millennials here.”

Though the cables would significantly improve internet performance across Hampton Roads, which currently falls below the national average for broadband speeds, Sorber explained that no one has made a move to bargain with the corporate giants for public use in Virginia Beach.

Oceanfront

The 2040 Vision to Action Community Coalition is working to enhance active lifestyle opportunities. Improvements to the Beach Front District, like the addition of the Oceanfront Arena, will contribute to this goal.

“There are people that want to see this happen and have been very vocal about it,” he said. “But we have no yet heard a plan of action. And the Vision to Action committee can paint a picture of what we will do with it once we have it.”

Presenting on the state of active lifestyle opportunities was Maile Hildenbrand, a business systems administrator from the Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Center. Hildenbrand detailed the current reach of her department and the impact she says it is making in the active community.

“Last year we had 50,000 members enrolled and 1.4 million visits to our recreation facilities,” she said. “While we can’t put a parks and recreation center into every neighborhood, we have seven centers that are all about 12 minutes apart from their neighbors.”

While the center had more than 2.9 million total visitors across it’s 259 park facilities, there was room for growth, Hildenbrand said.

“As we move forward, we hope to get the funding to reserve as much open space as possible to support active lifestyles,” she said. “Advocating to city leadership to purchase land for us develop would help with this endeavor.”

Click here to learn more about the initiatives of the 2040 Vision to Action Community Coalition.

Pohl may be reached at mariah@localvoicemedia.com

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