Report from City Hall

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 by Council Member Debbie Ritter

I am honored to write a few words about our city for the inaugural issue of The Citizen.

Chesapeake has been honored with notable recognitions and awards over the past several years. While some may feel we lack amenities found elsewhere, these recognitions highlight that our “hometown” is one of the best places in the country to live and raise a family. Isn’t that what makes Chesapeake special to us all?

As citizens of Chesapeake, we have great pride in our heritage and our “hometown” appeal.  Next year, the city’s 50th Anniversary promises to be a year of celebration, remembrance and looking to the future. It is special that our next door neighbors may have lived here all their lives and have great stories of many generations in Chesapeake or its predecessors Norfolk County and South Norfolk. After just a few months, new residents develop a strong tie and pride in the city.

We are first and foremost family oriented. Our schools have become the schools of choice in Hampton Roads. We are one of the safest cities in America; we have beautiful parks, expansive church families, a great library system, a strong independent hospital and more volunteer organizations than many cities twice our size. The Chesapeake campus of Tidewater Community College is one of the fastest growing in Virginia and soon will be opening beautiful new buildings right on Cedar Road.

A better kept secret, and often a surprise to residents, is the very strong business and industrial base in Chesapeake.  We are very strategically located in the center of South Hampton Roads with great access to the highway and waterway systems. Chesapeake enjoys one of the highest business to residential ratios in Hampton Roads. Did you know that approximately 55,000 people work in Greenbrier or that we have a thriving group of waterfront industries along the Elizabeth River and a very strong and growing military presence in Southern Chesapeake? The FBI chose Oakbrooke Technology Park as its new home.

Of course, we are not without challenges. As in many other areas, transportation remains a high priority for improvement. After many years of seeking funding, two major bridges are well on their way to replacement. The new Gilmerton Bridge will provide a real viable alternative to I-64 and, hopefully, open the door to additional commercial development along South Military Highway to Bowers Hill. The Steel Bridge replacement funding is finally a reality and will, upon completion, be a great benefit to commuters and commerce. Today’s regularly traveled roads like the Oak Grove Connector and Chesapeake Expressway, I-664, I-464 and the new Route 17 were but dreams just a few years ago. What a positive impact they have had for our city residents and businesses. Before you ask, we’ve now turned our sights to the High Rise Bridge!

The next few years will continue to present budget challenges. We’ll be working hard to continue to provide the important services our citizens need and re-double our efforts to have good oversight of precious resources.

Each month in this space city officials will report to the citizens of Chesapeake and share their ideas, concerns and solutions to the issues facing Chesapeake.

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