Virginia Beach residents citywide saw how much confidence they should have in Councilwoman Henley at the June 19th City Council meeting. That confidence is understandably low.
Despite a standing-room only crowd of Ashville Park residents asking for help and urging the city to implement a plan that saves several million taxpayer dollars and implements a stormwater solution faster and at much lower cost, Councilwoman Barbara Henley kicked the can down the road.
Virginia Beach likes to call itself pro-business. But Councilwoman Henley’s response to the business, HomeFed, that offered to contribute millions of dollars toward a solution was to threaten condemnation of the property.
Councilwoman Henley argued that HomeFed should offer the city free property on the site, and it was suggested if HomeFed refused, the property would be condemned and taken anyway.
HomeFed did nothing wrong and were not the original developers. They have offered to share in the cost of upgrading the stormwater management systems.
People watching at home surely wondered if this is what their neighborhoods would face before the city would address flooding in their homes: Rising taxpayer costs. Condemnation of property. Deferrals. Delays.
Her actions may cost the taxpayers over $5 million in the hopes of reducing the 499 previously-approved units by 5.
I favor the cost-participation plan for several key reasons:
- I believe a government-only project will rise in cost well above what it would cost in the private sector.
- I believe that a government-only project will not be completed as quickly as a private sector solution.
- I believe that the cost-sharing contribution is critical to meeting stormwater needs that Council has repeatedly said are expensive and underfunded.
- I believe threatening a business with condemnation if they don’t surrender property free of cost is completely out of order.
- I believe that most of Council would support a cost-sharing agreement between the city and HomeFed if Councilwoman Henley sought to represent rather than abdicate responsibility.
- I believe the only way to move forward in solving our problems rather than refighting old political battles is to elect a new leader who can get things done for our residents.
I am that candidate.