The Apartments at Ridley Circle in Newport News are part of the transformation area in the city’s Choice Neighborhood Initiative process. (Joe Fudge / Daily Press file photo)
The Newport News City Council voted to convey a vacant lot on Jefferson Avenue and 28th Street to the Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority as part of ongoing Choice Neighborhood Initiative efforts.
The two members of the council who represent the district containing the property expressed concerns about early plans for it.
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At a community meeting Jan. 16, an architect showed a concept for a four-story building that would have business space on the first floor and apartments on the upper levels. The site also included some green spaces and duplexes separate from the main building.
Karen Wilds, executive director of the redevelopment and housing authority, said staff and consultants would have focus groups to get more information on what people may want in the business space, listing an urgent care facility as one possibility. She said since construction was far out, it was too early to lock in a business for the space.
City Councilwoman Saundra Cherry said surveys already have been conducted and urged for small businesses. She disapproved of an urgent care facility because she said she was unsure of how many residents in the area would be able to use it.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Cherry reiterated her stance and said she would not vote to convey the land. She and Vice Mayor Tina Vick also expressed concern that the space didn’t have enough outdoor space for families living in the building.
City Manager Cindy Rohlf advised against deferring the vote to a later meeting. She said the vote Tuesday was not to lock in any plan or concept, just to convey the land to move the choice neighborhood processes forward.
Cherry voted against conveying the land, making the vote 6-1 in favor.
Multiple meeting locations?
City Councilwoman Pat Woodbury pitched an idea she’s had before that she believes may increase people engaging with the council across the city.
During the council comment period at Tuesday’s meeting, she said she would like the council to have meetings in each of the city’s three districts.
She indicated she was looking for support for other members of council.
Woodbury said a person living in the north of the city would have to take a 40-minute round trip just to speak for three minutes at a City Council meeting. Moving to them may bring out more people, she said.
She suggested using city facilities in City Center or space at a community center.
MLK collection supports food bank
The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank collected enough food and money for more than 26,700 meals at its annual Martin Luther King Day food drive, organized by Newport News Mayor McKinley Price.
The first few months of the year usually are slow for the food bank, and the continued government shutdown has increased demand. The food bank anticipates need to grow as the shutdown continues and has started reaching out to furloughed workers.
On the food bank’s Facebook page, a post stated people have donated diapers and other products for babies that the food bank plans to give to the Coast Guard’s training center in Yorktown.