10 things Virginia Beach city government will focus on this year

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Virginia Beach City Council at in formal session in January. (Justin Belichis)
Virginia Beach City Council at in formal session in January. (Justin Belichis)

VIRGINIA BEACH — City officials met at an annual two-day retreat in February to address and evaluate its goals for the rest of the year. Here’s a breakdown of the subjects they will focus on, according to information compiled by city staff and Lyle Sumek Associates, Inc.

1. Growing the local economy

The city wants attract more businesses in fields like biomedical, health care and life sciences, finance, insurance, real estate, information technology, advanced manufacturing and retail. It also looks to pursue opportunities for research and development, develop the Burton Station strategic growth area as a major business center and neighborhood community. Expanding skill-based training through partnerships with Tidewater Community College, the school division and more to prepare for 21st century jobs is also on its objectives list.

Focusing on biomedical business developments is the city council’s top policy initiative priority for this goal. Others include focusing on more strategic growth areas, like Town Center and the resort area at the Oceanfront

Top management initiatives include building a new access roadway for the Hampton Roads Veterans Care Center and developing an arena.

2. Create a financially sustainable city providing excellent services

The city’s objectives focusing on financially sustainability include maintaining its AAA bond rating, increasing citizen engagement and involvement, delivering city services in a cost-effective manner and giving citizens easy access to those services.

The top priority for policy initiatives under this goal is to create a policy review for employee compensation.

Management initiative priorities include more marketing for city property for sale, implementing an innovation team and focusing on human resources.

3. Improving the transportation system

The city wants to secure adequate funding for transportation projects, reduce traffic congestion, improve mass transit’s frequency and become a test bed for emerging transportation technologies.

Priorities for policy initiatives begin with planning for autonomous vehicles, creating a bond referendum for the city’s roadway project backlog, focusing on high speed rail advocacy and increasing transit services.

Management initiative priorities include finding funding for major road projects, keeping up with road maintenance, implementing a bikeway and trail plan, creating a sidewalk master plan and focusing on Uber regulations.

4. Revitalizing neighborhoods and planning for the future

Creating a “sense of place” within a 15-minute radius of designated areas, reusing aging commercial properties, increasing home value, developing flex-use space, protecting waterways and natural resources and updating and upgrading the city’s aging housing stock are among its list of priorities under this goal.

This goal’s policy initiatives include focusing on its housing strategy through new policy and implementation, developing land for solar farms, and developing the area around Cleveland Street.

Management initiatives include neighborhood special service district dredging, developing land in Kempsville and more.

5. Be a competitive first class resort for residents, businesses and tourists

The city wants to be a safer, more inviting environment for families 24-hours a day, be a year-round vacation spot, expand the ViBE District and become the east coast’s “amateur sports capital.”

Focusing on developing a new field house, developing the dome site, creating a new parking and funding plan for the Oceanfront and anticipated arena are among its priorities for policy initiatives.

The ViBE District and funding the 19th Street pedestrian connection are among its management initiative priorities.

6. Be the safest city in Virginia

The top priority for this goal is public safety staffing.

Being the city with the lowest crime rate and highest clearance rate, having the capacity to deal with mental health issues and needs, recruiting for a larger public safety workforce, focusing on community policing and being prepared to respond to catastrophic events are among the city’s objectives under this goal.

Priorities for policy initiatives for this goal include a new drone use policy, reviewing the city’s emergency management  plan, creating a heroin and opioid abuse initiative, as well as mental health initiative, focusing on a community recovery center plan and an emergency shelter plan.

7. Be an inclusive community that is welcoming and empowers all

Objectives under this goal focus on making citizens feel welcome in the city, enhancing public engagement, giving the public accurate information, increasing citizens’ knowledge about the city, city services, city programs and more.

Funding a disparity study and focusing on the African American Cultural Center and mental health forum are among the goal’s policy initiative priorities.

Management initiative priorities include implementing a homeless strategy and human services initiative.

8. Have world class schools and educational programs

Achieving equity for a quality education from birth to adulthood, providing a range of arts and cultural resources for activities, expanding TCC and other higher learning institutes’ presence in the city and collaborating with the school division to ensure students graduate on time and are “productive and engaged global citizens” are among the city’s objectives under this goal.

Policy initiative priorities for this goal include developing health and sciences, and school of nursing campuses at Old Dominion University.

Library renovation is listed under the goal’s management initiative priority.

9. Use data and technology to enhance community livability, prosperity and sustainability

Improving city services with web-based technology, giving citizens and businesses access to state-of-the-art broadband services, using public data to spark innovation, promote collaboration, increase government transparency and inform decision making are among the objectives this goal focuses on.

Implementing and funding a master technology plan, upgrading and replacing software and creating a city cyber security action plan are listed as management initiatives for this goal.

10. Maintain city assets, infrastructure and meet community expectations

Protecting water resources, having an effective storm water management system, more sidewalks, preparing city infrastructure for sea level rise and aligning policies and codes to minimize storm water runoff for new development and redevelopment are among the objectives this goal focuses on.

Top priority policy initiatives include focusing on storm water needs in several neighborhoods including Windsor Woods, Princess Anne Plaza, The Lakes, Eastern Shore Drive, Ashville Park, Sherwood Lakes, the Central Beach district, Aragona and South Plaza. Other initiatives call for the Burton Station development, improving the Lynnhaven corridor, funding the Chesapeake Beach sand replenishment project and Croatan Beach sand haul.

The top priority for management initiatives for this goal focuses on a sea level rise study and initiative matrix.

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