December was a month full of fun, family and holiday preparation…along with work and city engagements!
As you may know in 2018, city council advocated for taking tours of the five city wards to learn about all parts of Norfolk. Councilman Tommy Smigiel, who represents Ward 5, and city leaders planned the Ward 5 tour so that we could see the great progress and initiatives taking place in this part of the city. I was pleased to see new houses being built near Bay Oaks Park and to hear about future plans around the East Beach area. Speaking of Bay Oaks Park, it is a lovely park that has wonderful amenities – walking path, dog friendly stations, play equipment and more— all the while literally being just across the street from the Chesapeake Bay and beachfront area.
Making Norfolk business friendly is one of my key areas of focus. I want to make Norfolk a city where it is easy to start and grow a business. I want to thank the city for listening to restaurant/brewery owners over the last several months. Many owners raised concern when the business would apply for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) — hiring a new manager, for instance — it would now cost them 200% more than in previous years. Council and city leaders realized this rate hike was too high and very costly for owners. The city heard the owners loud and clear and City Council voted to reverse the rate increase in December.
Additionally, Norfolk Economic Development hosted two Community Hospitality Partnership meetings with restaurant/brewery owners to share news about future capital grant opportunities. Additionally, these forums allowed businesses to share with the city some of the challenges they have working with the city. The meetings were very well attended and we heard many good suggestions of how we could be more business – friendly and streamline our processes. It was an excellent dialogue and more to come on the progress the city will make in addressing areas of concern.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in the Freemason Playground Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Located at the Blocker YMCA, this outdoor playground is perfect for the growing number of young families living downtown. This park was years in the making and thanks goes to the Blocker YMCA, Freemason Street Area Association and Norfolk Recreation Parks & Open Space for partnering to make this happen.
I have the good fortune to celebrate my dad’s 87th birthday this Sunday with about 25 family members. Happy Birthday to Dad!
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and I wish everybody a healthy and happy 2019.
And finally, I am grateful. I am grateful to you, my friends and family, who made 2018 so remarkable. I am appreciative for the opportunity to serve on Norfolk City Council and I look forward to a strong 2019!
Happy New Year! See some pictures from the last few weeks. Brendan and Grady are having fun on Christmas night.