City councilman: Atlantic Avenue redesign deal is ‘all about the money’

A conceptual image of the proposed realignment of Atlantic Avenue. The Cavelier, recently renovated by Bruce Thompson, can be seen in the bottom, center (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
A conceptual image of the proposed realignment of Atlantic Avenue. The Cavelier, recently renovated by Bruce Thompson, can be seen in the bottom, center (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — After City Council voted 7-3 to block an attempted termination of the Atlantic Avenue redesign, Councilman John Moss delivered a fiery speech equating the resolution as a defense of fundamental principles regarding the public interest.

Moss, Councilwoman Jessica Abbott, and Mayor Bobby Dyer were the only three who voted in favor of the resolution, which would have stopped the city from moving forward with its redesign of Atlantic Avenue.

The road realignment would result in a cul-de-sac in front of the Cavalier Hotel, at the northern-most end of Atlantic Avenue where it intersects with Pacific Avenue near 40th Street.

The hotel’s developer, Bruce Thompson, has sought the city’s assistance with the project for more than two years, and the city has applied for state transportation grants to bring funding to the project. Although City Council approved the project, they refused to spend city taxpayer dollars on it.

Related story: Virginia Beach city council approves Cavalier developer’s recent requests

Council refused to spend money on the Atlantic Avenue reconfiguration because “this really wasn’t a taxpayer — really wasn’t a public requirement, and it really isn’t a matter of matter safety — or we should be paying that bill.”

City Council has been discussing a redesign of Atlantic Avenue near 40th Street for more than two years, since City Manager Dave Hansen briefed council on the proposal in December 2016.

Abbott and Hansen were not immediately available for comment.

Moss, Abbott and Dyer have few avenues for opposition to the road realignment deal, they also sponsored a resolution in June to strip Hansen’s authority to seek grant money from the state for the project. But Moss’s comments at Tuesday’s council meeting suggest the “M-A-D alliance will continue to oppose projects they believe are crafted to profit favored developers.

“We are setting a precedent that if your checkbook’s big enough, and the profit to the city’s balance sheet is large enough, then the fundamental principles of our republic don’t matter — because it’s all about the money,” Moss told council Tuesday.

“We put this vote out not because we believe it will pass, but because if you don’t speak out against the wrong, then people by your silence believe that you consented to what really is — in my judgement, my humble judgments — an injustice,” Moss said.

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