City Open Day Provides Information, Forum for Feedback on New Projects | New

An open house at City Council Chambers on Tuesday evening allowed citizens to learn about potential new projects, while allowing the city to get valuable feedback from the community.

With proposals underway to renovate the police station, repair city roads, make major additions to Ta-Ha-Zouka Park, and build a new indoor aquatics center in Winter Park, there was plenty to discuss during the meeting. town hall event from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Norfolk Police Chief Don Miller presided over the presentation of the police department’s demands for the expansion of its headquarters. The enclosure, which was built in 1987, suffers from a lack of space, according to Miller.

He said the cramped conditions have led to an overabundance of problems, including an overflow of stored evidence, a single shower to accommodate more than 40 officers and a medicine packing room that doubles as a dining room.

“We never asked for everything…we always said, ‘We’re going to make it work,'” Miller said. “(It’s gotten to the point) where we’re packed and I have to ask the council to do something because we’re running out of space.”

Miller said the department’s approach is to provide an itemized list of what it needs and work out the necessary budget from there, unlike the philosophy employed in the 1980s, when the department received some funding from the city and had to work within the imposed limits.

Among the more concrete concerns of the city is also the maintenance of its roads. Steven Rames, City Engineer and Director of Public Works, made an appearance on Tuesday evening alongside Streets Director Will Elwell, the two giving an update on a number of planned repairs and renovations to existing streets and intersections.

Elwell said the streets division has a 1-10 year plan to repair parts of almost every intersection in the city depending on what funding it can get, with total costs potentially exceeding $4.5 million. .

They also provided an update on ongoing construction work along Benjamin Avenue, which is now three weeks behind schedule due to various impediments including weather and power line issues, and which will not be probably not finished before the start of the school year.

More underwater activities could be coming to Norfolk as the Department of Parks and Recreation unveiled a plan for a new indoor aquatics center in Winter Park, chaired by Water Recreation Supervisor PJ Evans and Director of Parks and Nathan Powell Recreation.

The plan would call for a large recreational pool as well as a separate competition pool that could house the city’s swimming programs for competitions. It also included the potential for several interchangeable features, including a lazy river, an above-water climbing wall, an American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course that would hang from the ceiling, and a zip line.

According to Powell, the parks and recreation department hopes to get feedback from community members on the most desirable options, while respecting the constraints of the funding ultimately provided, which is yet to be determined.

The approach taken by lead landscape architect Darren Varner for the Ta-Ha-Zouka Park renovations followed a similar methodology. Varner’s presentation, displaying a sprawling map of the park, showed various potential additions that could be made to the park.

These included a flood control reservoir, a significantly expanded parking lot, and the addition of several new baseball fields to the park’s empty north lot, as well as the overhaul of existing fields.

Like the proposed aquatic center, Varner said many of the features proposed for the park would come down to a combination of available funding and community interest, although he said expanding fields and to enlarge the parking lot.

Rames said the impetus for all the proposed changes comes down to the city’s desire to continue to expand and generate interest in the city, both among businesses and young people.

“That’s literally what all the changes are for,” Rames said. “We want to…provide an environment where businesses want to come and where people can find their partner and create families and stay here in Norfolk.”

Melvin B. Baillie