Did you read it?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2005

An editorial appeared in the Pilot on Friday, July 29, that shined a bright light on urban designer, Ray Gindroz and councilman Curtis Milteer, both influential in the direction of growth for Suffolk. We all know that outspoken Mr. Milteer, one of seven council members, has in his way demanded more growth down his way. And it appears that Gindroz is suddenly advocating just that but his large numbers do not satisfy the appetite of Milteer. And it is a glaring relaxation of the current growth controls. In a way it could gut our UDO and head us toward looking like Chesapeake or Virginia Beach.

That’s just what the Pilot editorial spells out, in detail and you might think Roger Leonard or I wrote it…not so, at least I’m not that clever. The writer suggests that the Great Dismal Swamp, nearby the proposed development, could be in great danger as the result of human beings doing what they do best…pollute. Gindroz seems to favor the &uot;cluster&uot; theory, which means jam houses close together so as to leave a certain amount of green area for kids and adults to play. That can mean tight yards, homes too close to each other, etc. But he is the planner and knows all about the pros and cons. The bears in the swamp don’t like a lot of noise and people poking around in their bailiwick, and you know humans. And thousands of homes nearby kinda taints the idea of the Dismal being one of the largest and most untouched mystical areas in the world. I’d guess our tourist bureau would have second thoughts. They wouldn’t need a millions-of-dollars visitor center. People could just go down and sit on someone’s yard next to the swamp and swat mosquitoes.

The writer, as I did in a recent column, points out the then need for more schools. Three thousand homes could add up to six thousand kids and that means a lot of teachers and taxes. Even though the city could demand &uot;proffers&uot; from unwilling developers, a first for Suffolk, it will take a lot of moolah for water, sewers, roads, cops and firemen. I certainly agree with the opinion writer, despite Mr. Gindroz expertise and enthusiasm the &uot;project&uot; calls for a ton of prior thinking. Here is an instance where a collectively strong council can have a lot to say, if they were collectively strong.


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This development appears to be on the east side of Carolina Road, perhaps too close to the airport. Mr. Gindroz suggests that small jet airports are the wave of the future and we are in a good position, as he puts it, to grab the brass ring when it comes by if we don’t screw it all up. Roger Leonard a pilot and business owner has been preaching expansion many months and is one of those citizens willing to invest his dollars. This airport will grow in spite of what appears to be city attempts to slow progress there. They suggest slow and correct is the best procedure. Watching this decision to allow sudden growth down on Carolina Road as projected by Gindroz will be fun. Will our UDO stand or fall? Remember Humpty Dumpty.

My compliments to our Recreation Department that thinks both big and small. Lord knows we have baseball and soccer fields, boat launch facilities, parks, horse trails, and so on. Our senior citizens will hopefully be out of the less than perfect senior center and into new facilities at the Cultural Center.

The &uot;small&uot; I refer to is a simple bus trip to Norfolk to take a ride on the Spirit with lunch thrown in, in style. To the Spirit owners’ credit, I had a linen napkin, two forks, crystal glass, good service, and good food. One day perhaps the city will provide a newer bus for the seniors, but we had fun on the one they have. But when that air conditioner comes on, there goes your wig.

And when you pack 40 women and seven men together, it is a crowd. The men never had a chance when those 40 gals got to talking, all at the same time, and laughing and shrieking, I thought about tearing up my handkerchief and making ear plugs. But then my ears adjusted and I easily fell asleep. But there is one thing I would change on those bus adventures. We were told to be at the bus by 9:30 and we were there by 9 to be sure. There is a lot of traffic in town now and we, six of us, didn’t want to miss it. We left the center at 10 but couldn’t board the ship until 11:30. By the time I got seated at the ship’s dinner table I had put in a long day and my bladder was strongly reminding me of something I had forgotten.

Like I said, everything on the Spirit is great except the acoustics. Our table seated eight and two of them were new faces I wanted to meet. Between the women from the bus, the music, the narrator explaining features along the Elizabeth River, the line dancers stomping in unison on the hardwood dance floor, the flashing colored lights illuminating them, and the waiter loudly asking if I really wanted decaff: well, I just gave up.

Something about this kind of governmental trickery doesn’t mesh with my mental cogs…if a school can’t be accredited because of too low SOL history scores, toss out the history scores. But isn’t that just like throwing the baby out with the bath water?

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at robert.pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com.