And if . . .

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 19, 2003

Drip, drip, drip, that’s the rate the cost of Constant Wharf seems to flow, ever onward and upward. About a year ago the cost leaped an even million when &uot;slight&uot; changes were made to the inn. Now the boss wants a bit more, in case we can’t recover seawall-rebuilding dollars from those who will say they followed our specification to the letter and the crooked seawall &uot;ain’t their fault.&uot; Even the newspaper &uot;$3 million&uot; headline was short, in the first paragraph it went to 3.1 million. I wonder if it’s gone up since the paper was printed. Virginia Marine Structures Inc. was lauded, experienced and accepted. But it only took eight months for city engineers to begin to notice problems. A new contract was awarded to W.F. MaGann Co. to tear it all out and start over. W. F. MaGann is also experienced. We assume there have been many changes made to the seawall specification. Remember this quote by Herbert, it may come back to haunt us. &uot;It is our conviction that the city will not be held liable for mistakes in design and construction.&uot; And if it is?

The above is the first bit of news coming from the city of Suffolk for nearly a month. Not since the fountain was dedicated has anything of significance occurred. Not even a word about Mattanock Indian village progress. The tribe made me an honorary member but the title doesn’t seem to mean invitation to discussions. I’ve been cut out of the loop or nothing has happened and we are in the middle of a stalemate. I live in the great city of Chuckatuck and the &uot;village&uot; could be important to us financially. But there has been progress on the new Veterans Cemetery, dirt piled everywhere, deep well installed, weeds and trees removed. I don’t want to be one of the early customers buried there, but I will tell Chris Jones and Representative Forbes the spot I want. Surely with their political connections, they can assist me in nailing it down – I voted for both of them.

C’mon, Planters (a subsidiary of Kraft Foods), bend a little. The folks on East Washington have waited eons for some big changes in the Fairgrounds and it’s not their fault Planters has a lease on the 8.35 acres that would be the centerpiece of the project. Probably a good many of your employees would benefit from the construction of new housing. This improvement is years overdue and you could redraw your plans for expansion. The city is ready to go, money in hand; they await a friendly nod from you.

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How about that new toilet installed for the Metro riders? Did you know that a lot of people do not ride the Metro because there are no obvious toilets? Supposing you get to the Metro after a long ride on a bus and your bladder feels like a watermelon. No toilet, no ride the Metro. Officials are expecting a two percent increase in passengers because the word will leak out that they have leased a new toilet at the Huntington Station in Fairfax County. That’s right, they have leased one toilet for $109,000. Not an ordinary toilet mind you, this one has buttons. Push one and the seat retracts for standup action by males. And every 30 minutes it closes down for a complete automatic washing. This baby has spray jets and dryers near the floor. The toilet seat is cleaned after every use and it flushes all by itself. If the flashing light is green it is unoccupied and a pushed button opens it. A sink dispenses water and soap, has a hand dryer, for hands only, and soothing music is piped in constantly. But watch out, you get only 10 minutes and the door opens automatically, regardless. That Boy Scout motto comes in handy, &uot;Be Prepared.&uot;

The Hilton ribbon cutting ceremony takes place soon, on top of the hill we imagine. I can’t imagine where all the dignitaries will park their cars; the site may not be that safe. But we understand the hotel site has now been properly compacted and it will take some effort to actually penetrate it with the bright new shovels. But will those who were against the project take part or just those who have really stuck out the taxpayers chin?

I wait anxiously for Harvey White’s pictorial. Like planting the flag on Iwo Jima.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald employee. He can be contacted via e-mail at