A multi-million dollar overhaul of the Oceanfront resort area will launch in the coming months, with some major changes to be in place before next summer’s tourist season, city officials said this week.
Virginia Beach is gearing up to spend $1.5 million to revive an office in the resort area focused on enforcing code and zoning violations, maintenance such as sidewalk repairs, public safety and parking issues, as well as outreach for homeless people, Deputy City Manager Ron Williams told the City Council on Tuesday.
A resort area management office was active in the 1980s and 90s, but eventually was diluted and absorbed by the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
The City Council approved the re-establishment of the office through a resolution it passed on Sept. 1, but still needs to formally approve the $1.5 million expenditure for the office.
“This resolution is a very robust program, essentially it’s a multi-million dollar program,” Williams told the council. “It had bright vision and aggressive support of stakeholders in the community realizing over the past couple of decades we’ve had certain areas that need to be addressed.”
Williams said five new full-time employees would be hired and several additional employees would transfer from another department. It will be comprised of special event and resort area programming staff, code and zoning inspectors and homeless outreach workers. The office will be on 17th Street and Arctic Avenue.
The $1.5 million would come from the Tourism Investment Program Fund, mostly derived from taxes on hotel rooms and restaurant meals.
Councilman John Moss said he supports using tourism taxes to pay for the office, but wants to know why the problems weren’t addressed sooner.
Before next summer, Williams is recommending that the city initiate an ambassador program similar to the one that currently exists in downtown Norfolk. In Virginia Beach, ambassadors’ jobs could include washing sidewalks, cleaning up litter, removing graffiti and interacting with tourists and businesses.
They could also help with public safety issues, working hand in hand with the police.
“They really are eyes on the street," Williams said. "They are a valuable resource for making people feel safe.”
Also, Williams is asking the council to consider changing the law so that the hours of operation of commercial parking lots lines up with public ones to curb crime and provide “a sense of closing at the end of the evening," he said.
Mayor Bobby Dyer said he supports the plans to improve the resort area.
“It’s due for a little bit of an upgrade," Dyer said.
Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, firstname.lastname@example.org
©2020 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
Visit The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) at pilotonline.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.