Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Nathan_in_DC

Some Thoughts on VB

8 posts in this topic

Hey guys, I'm about to relocate from VB to NoVA for work, and I wanted to share a few random thoughts on the area before I left.  A little about my background, though: I've been active on the Nashville section of these forums for a while now, and lurked around here for the last couple of months as I've been living in VB since May.  Prior to this, I lived most of my life in Tennessee, with the past 5 years in Philadelphia before coming down to VB for my job. 

 

- When I first came here in May, the first thing I had to get accustomed to was the dearth of public transit. Philadelphia has a fairly large and pretty well integrated regional rail, heavy rail, light rail, streetcar and bus network, not to mention direct access to Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line.  I used it daily to get to work, in fact.  Though it had its hiccups, it served me well.  I realized before I got down here that my options were much more limited, so I just sucked up the fact that I'd be driving everywhere I went.  My experience in that regard has been mixed.  As long as you're not planning on going across one of the bridges or tunnels during rush hour, there tend to be multiple routes between the major parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.  The road infrastructure could use some work repair-wise, and a number of side roads need widening, such as those in the Princess Anne area. An extension of the Tide will go a long way towards alleviating this, though.

 

- One of my best experiences has been with the Virginia Beach Police Department.  They were incredibly responsive when I filed a complaint about a local nuisance business (some shady car repair/salvage places that had been leaving junked cars on the street and parking them on a lot marked as no trespassing by the city).  Within a week of coordinating with one of the VBPD sergeants to go into some details about what I had been observing, the businesses had been issued citations for the condition of their buildings, and vehicles were no longer blocking lanes of traffic.  In addition, more police patrols were set up and some of the less-than-desireable elements that congregated around these businesses were much less common. They have been friendly, professional and courteous in all my other interactions as well.

 

- Sprawl. By far the worst thing about the area. There seem to be limited efforts to combat it by a few development entities, but the city government does not seem to have any plan for encouraging responsible, dense development around transit hubs and existing high-density areas.  Town Center is an interesting concept, but as of right now it is simply too small, too isolated, and too artificially-fabricated.  If the Tide expansion ever comes to fruition, it will be up to the city to encourage development around stops.  If that doesn't happen, it will be just another boondoggle of a transit system that serves an area too spread out to benefit from transit.

 

- Pedestrians and bicycles just seem unwelcome.  Sidewalks are generally in poor condition where they exist, and bike lanes are few and far between.  I would love love LOVE to bike the 5ish miles to work every day, but that would mean going down roads that have poorly maintained sidewalks, no bike lanes, unusable shoulders, and are packed with drivers who are flat out antagonistic to cyclists. More than once, walking even in areas like Town Center I have literally had to jump to dodge a car that doesn't realize pedestrians have the right of way if it's a stop sign or if the pedestrian has a walk signal.

 

- There aren't enough parks, and the ones here aren't accessible by any method other than driving.  First Landing has fee for parking, and Mt. Trashmore is the only other real park in the area that has an area to run or walk.  It's close to Town Center, but the fact that the area is crisscrossed by large multilane highways means that walking or biking there is a game of Russian roulette.

 

So...that's that. I hope that the Tide gets extended, I hope that Town Center acts as spur for high density growth in the area instead of just being a 2x3 block Disney World downtown, and I hope the city makes strides to get people to ditch their cars.  Is anyone seeing growth towards this? Thoughts and opinions?

 

Things are getting better. There is a pretty vocal minority fighting for better access to transit, more greenspaces, better access for cyclists and pedestrians, and responsible development.  They have an uphill battle, but it's being fought well.  Every other city the size of Va Beach is turning in the right direction development-wise, and I think (hope) that the city's leadership is watching these successes.

Edited by Nathan_in_PHL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I'm not sure about Virginia Beach but i know that here in Norfolk they have planned to add a ton of bike paths throughout the city. Now whether or not they actually come to light is another story. As far as expanding the size of town center and extending light rail and well pretty much everything you talked about I completely agree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When you refer to the dearth of parks in Virginia Beach, I think you're forgetting about the most plentiful outdoor space in the region, the beach. Free to visit, open year round, and accessible from every street from Sandbridge to the North End. Sure the resort area is a bit cheesy and parking is a pain, but we're blessed to have as much access to the Atlantic as we do. Not to mention the beaches along Shore Drive, Ocean Park and Chix Beach and all of the other waterways VB has to offer. 

 

The Beach has a lot of room to improve, but access to outdoor recreation seems pretty abundant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't disagree with the OP's points, but for TC, I'd like to suggest that it's still fairly new...10 years old if that. I'd be interested to see how it looks over the next 10, or even by the end of the 2010s. There's a lot of potential for that to be a great area, and put VB on the map for something other than an inexpensive summer vacation spot.

 

I did get a laugh out of "Disney World downtown", as I always chuckle when folks refer to it as "downtown Virginia Beach". I like TC as an alternative to the strip and miles of strip malls, but to call it downtown VB is a stretch.

 

VB and Norfolk working together (not just with light rail) could help the area gain a lot of traction by 2020...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When you refer to the dearth of parks in Virginia Beach, I think you're forgetting about the most plentiful outdoor space in the region, the beach. Free to visit, open year round, and accessible from every street from Sandbridge to the North End. Sure the resort area is a bit cheesy and parking is a pain, but we're blessed to have as much access to the Atlantic as we do. Not to mention the beaches along Shore Drive, Ocean Park and Chix Beach and all of the other waterways VB has to offer. 

 

The Beach has a lot of room to improve, but access to outdoor recreation seems pretty abundant.

 

Not forgetting the beach...it's great if you want to go to the beach. It's not a park, though.

 

Don't get me wrong, the beaches in this area are significantly nicer than much of the northern part of the East Coast, especially once you get away from the resort oceanfront.  That being said, it's hard to equate accessible beach coastline to a park.  They're simply two different things.  A beach is great if you want to relax and read a book, play a game of volleyball, or swim, but they're definitely different than a semi-wooded, landscaped or open green space park.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't disagree with the OP's points, but for TC, I'd like to suggest that it's still fairly new...10 years old if that. I'd be interested to see how it looks over the next 10, or even by the end of the 2010s. There's a lot of potential for that to be a great area, and put VB on the map for something other than an inexpensive summer vacation spot.

 

I did get a laugh out of "Disney World downtown", as I always chuckle when folks refer to it as "downtown Virginia Beach". I like TC as an alternative to the strip and miles of strip malls, but to call it downtown VB is a stretch.

 

VB and Norfolk working together (not just with light rail) could help the area gain a lot of traction by 2020...

 

I'm hopeful for TC, even if my post sounded a little pessimistic.  A stop there on the light rail could spur a LOT of growth and activity.  In my experiences, if the rail service has short headways, is efficient, and connects places people want to go to and from, businesses will gravitate towards it.  Also, more and more people of my generation are seeking transit options, and a lot of the people moving to this area are in the same situation I am: they have experienced cities that have a multitude of options, they enjoy it, and they want more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps you should live and work in Norfolk's CBD or Ghent? The history of Virginia Beach is largely a very rapid expansion from rural to suburban. There was never really a need or demand for some of the things you seek...until recently.

But as long as you are at the Beach, don't forget about False Cape State Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Sandbridge Beach is also quite nice. Additionally, there are miles upon miles of waterways everywhere.

I've traveled all over the country and the world. This place ain't half bad. No place is perfect, of course, and some places just fit your fancy and attitude, hobbies and career aspirations better than others do. And sometimes a place that isn't right for you for one phase of your life is simply perfect for another time.

Welcome to Hampton Roads. Best wishes for a satisfying life here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps you should live and work in Norfolk's CBD or Ghent? The history of Virginia Beach is largely a very rapid expansion from rural to suburban. There was never really a need or demand for some of the things you seek...until recently.

But as long as you are at the Beach, don't forget about False Cape State Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Sandbridge Beach is also quite nice. Additionally, there are miles upon miles of waterways everywhere.

I've traveled all over the country and the world. This place ain't half bad. No place is perfect, of course, and some places just fit your fancy and attitude, hobbies and career aspirations better than others do. And sometimes a place that isn't right for you for one phase of your life is simply perfect for another time.

Welcome to Hampton Roads. Best wishes for a satisfying life here.

 

I touched on a few of the things you mentioned in my first post.  The issues with VA Beach stem from what you mentioned: quick expansion from rural to suburban.  Except perhaps for the part about easily accessible green areas and parks, my discussion points had little to do with issues caused by demand, or a lack thereof.  Rather, they all point back to uncontrolled, uninhibited, haphazard, and unplanned expansion.  Admittedly, this is a pretty common issues with cities that sprang forth in the 1950s and 60s.  You seem pretty passionate about the area; I'd love to hear your thoughts on the points I raised.

 

False Cape and Back Bay are great, though.  I love poking around back there on bicycles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.