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Chesapeake – A City of Opportunities

By Council Member SCOTT MATHESON

Chesapeake is currently in the process of updating and revising its Comprehensive Plan (CP). The CP is a roadmap and set of ‘guidelines’ designed to move Chesapeake in a deliberate direction for the future. According to Wikipedia Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. In order to determine the future direction of the organization, it is necessary to understand its current position and the possible avenues through which it can pursue particular courses of action. Generally, strategic planning deals with at least one of three key questions:

1. What do we do?

2. For whom do we do it?

3. How do we excel?

Updating the Comprehensive Plan and Strategic Planning go hand in hand.

A starting point for planning is taking stock of our current core strengths. So the question “What do we do?” could begin by recognizing we are a city known for a first class education system, one of the safest cities over 200,000 people in the country, an ideal central location in Hampton Roads and close to major port facilities, as well as a treasure trove of natural beauty.

Before starting off on a trip we want to know our destination. We want a clear cut goal. As a city determining its future, think of this destination as a Vision – a specific place that you want to be, a certain life that you want for you and your families. We could also ask what type of community do we want and need to attract future citizens including businesses to Chesapeake?  Next we devise a specific roadmap to get us to that desired destination.  Chesapeake excels at some core activities that enhance our lives.

As we plan for our future another question remains which is how do we excel as a city progressing forward? Part of the answer is by embracing opportunities.  Within Chesapeake’s grasp are incredible opportunities that would help to sustain and build a great quality of life for years to come. The necessity of maintaining and growing a healthy, diversified, sustainable revenue base is critical if we are to maintain and sustain our core strengths and offer a lower tax burden on citizens and businesses as well as continue to grow and mature into the city we can become.

Just growing for the sake of growing is not always beneficial. It is how we grow that can add quality to life as a citizen of Chesapeake. What are some potentially good fits for Chesapeake moving forward that could enhance our quality of life increase our revenue base through more commercial activity and maintain our core strengths?  I offer some ideas to provoke thought:

  • A sound Dominion Corridor Strategic Plan that balances commercial with residential with the result being the creation of a second economic engine to Greenbrier for our city.
  • Enhanced utilization of our more than seventy miles of waterways with focus on watersports and eco-tourism. The addition of a waterfront dining district that is both pedestrian and boat friendly also makes sense.
  • Chesapeake can be a destination for many of the 10,000 boats a year that pass through our city via the Intracoastal Waterway. Let’s Not Miss The Boat Chesapeake! We should be prepared to cater to the needs of these high income earners.
  • More fully maximizing the Port of Chesapeake as a key shipping hub especially with the additional capacity being added with the Panama Canal improvements.
  • Welcome to Chesapeake – a destination for recreation. Add more sport and recreation venues that can be used by citizens and attract sports tourism aiding our hotels, stores and restaurants and creating more revenue for schools, public safety, roads and parks.
  • South Norfolk – A great place to live with a flair and taste of urban living. National demographics and the aging baby boomers (wanting to downsize) support this successful lifestyle as seen in many other cities. It also tends to be an attraction for young professionals.
  • Technology focusing on defense and health care partnered with education, creating a magnet to attract new business opportunities to Chesapeake.
  • A Dollar Tree town center that is a walkable, mixed use development adding to the economic engine that is Greenbrier.

Thought should also be given to public space and plazas, trails and sidewalks.

So as we move forward with our planning for our future, there should be much thought given to the specific Vision for Chesapeake as well as to what will be required to maintain and even build on our core strengths and excel at embracing great opportunities within our grasp.

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