On Tuesday the Virginia Beach City Council held it's one day midyear strategic planning meeting. Being the midyear, it's largely about tracking progress on the priorities from the previous Summer's two day goal-setting session. However, it did provide updates on some ongoing initiatives, and a few humorous moments.
1. Budget - The Virginian-Pravda has reported the exchange between Councilman Bob Dyer and City Manager Jim Spore over Spore's proposed Budget. Dyer accused Spore of trying to back Council into raising taxes; Spore "deeply resented" Dyer's statement.
However, the part you didn't read in the paper: Dyer was so worked up over the Budget that at the break afterwards, he started heading towards the wrong restroom. I called to him from behind; Rosemary Wilson, heading for the women's room, wondered if he was going to follow her in. In the men's room, I told Bob he had probably made the lead story in the next morning's Hampton Roads section. (Okay, he ended up at the bottom of the page.)
That's as intense as I've ever seen Bob.
2. Animal Shelter - there are essentially two options on the table:
a. In FY 2011 upgrade the existing facility ($185k) and design the new one. Begin building it in FY 2012 modular, core elements first with others added on later.
b. Go full bore in FY 2011.
Jim Wood (a builder) argued Option A; Rita Sweet Bellitto (a civil engineer) argued Option B.
3. Dome site - Michael Jenkins will probably ask the Virginia Beach Development Authority (VBDA) for another extension this month.
4. Light Rail - the mass transit discussion was under a minute. Jim Wood used a number of acronyms that half the people in the room probably didn't understand. The bottom line: the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study is an ongoing process. Probably no City Council action will be needed until the Spring of 2011, when Council will need to weigh in on the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). (The legal authority for setting the LPA actually rests with the TPO, which must include it in the region's Long Range Plan for it to be eligible for Federal funding.)
5. Norfolk Southern Right-Of-Way - the state is in the process of issuing bonds to cover it's final part in the purchase, which should be closed on this Summer.
6. Strategic Growth Areas (SGAs) - While supporting planning, Vice Mayor Louis Jones wanted to go slow on actual redevelopment of them. He wanted to focus on one or two at a time, singling out (surprise! surprise!) Burton Station in his Bayside District.
7. VBTA puppet Bill DeSteph - Councilman Bill DeSteph repeated the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance's (VBTA) spin on the City Charter limits on annual debt issuance as fact.
When he saw where DeSteph was going, City Attorney Mark Stiles started shaking his head "No". In turn, Stiles set the record straight.
8. Radar Issue - Deputy City Manager Steve Herbert spoke on gap-filler radar, which may be the heart of a compromise on height restrictions in Virginia Beach.
9. Convention Center headquarters hotel - it's on the back burner until the radar issue is tackled and the credit market improves for financing hotels.