Today Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) held it's March monthly meeting. There were two areas of note covered.
1. Lynn Clements of the Virginia Aquarium gave a Presentation on a proposed Master Plan for the Aquarium. She wants to bring it up to a national-level facility. Two things that would require is boosting attendance to 1 million per year (now at 643,000), and a new Animal Care Center.
Virginia Beach Hotel/Motel Association President Linwood Branch led a charge to have the contract for the ongoing Resort Area Strategic Action Plan amended to contain a land use study from the Rudee Inlet bridge to Birdneck Road (including the Aquarium).
Clements earlier in the week had gone to two RAC subcommittees: the Plan/Design Review Committee (PDRC) and the Resort Investment Committee (RIC). She made the statement, "I want it to come from the community, not me." Clements requested RAC endorsement for drawing funds from the Tourism Growth Investment Fund (TGIF) to cover the Master Plan's costs. It was for no more than $150,000, for 50%, with the other 50% coming from the Aquarium's Foundation.
Council of Civic Organizations (CCO) RAC representative Henry Ryto cast the lone "No" vote. His reasons:
a. It had been the Aquarium that had been involved in spying on Dolphin Liberty and the PETA FOIA case. Has the institution been reformed? As a grassroots representative, he shouldn't be voting funds to it until sure.
b. Lynn Clements' statement was an insult to the CCO (Virginia Beach's civic league federation) and every civic league out there. Clements spoke of "community", but the only "community" she was dealing with was the RAC and it's subcommittees. Apparently "the little people" west of Birdneck Road don't count in Clements' world.
2. On Wednesday the Resort Investment Committee (RIC) voted to add a convention center headquarters hotel to the priorities voted out at the RAC's January 16 Strategic Planning Meeting. They also voted to drop Future of Transit in the Resort Area, which had been Ryto's submission.
The change was passed, with Ryto sitting quietly seething and not voting.
Afterwards RAC watcher Bob O'Connor got documents from Resort Administrator Mike Eason, so expect Resort policy to be attacked (again) soon in The Monitor (the Citizens Action Coalition newsletter) and Virginia News Source.