Suffolk has great quality of life

Published 10:30 pm Friday, June 21, 2013

The fourth in our “blueprint for success” series from the State of the City address focuses on quality of life in Suffolk. The truth is that labor is mobile, and skilled employees go where quality of life is high, and they’ve certainly found that in Suffolk.

A community is about more than just economic growth. It’s about giving people pride in their city and the desire to live here, raise their children here, and grow old here. Generations of families have called Suffolk home for good reason.

Here, the latest in medical science is being combined with a long-standing sense of community to provide residents with top-quality healthcare, which has kept pace with Suffolk’s dynamic growth. Advanced medical technology and equipment allow Suffolk’s doctors, nurses and healthcare specialists to detect, diagnose and treat illnesses more quickly and efficiently than ever before.

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There is no more important indicator of a city’s livability and ability to attract new economic growth than safety. We can proudly state that in Suffolk, not only are we fortunate to have the very best public safety professionals in the region, but they also are prepared with the latest equipment and technologies — all designed to keep our citizens safe.

We have the second-lowest crime rate in Hampton Roads, thanks to proactive enforcement and patrol efforts by the police department, and our fire and rescue department has seen response times lowered, even though service calls have more than doubled since 2000.

Enhancing the quality of life for a different “breed” of citizens, Suffolk opened the doors at a much-needed 3,600 square foot expansion at the Suffolk Animal Shelter last summer. With a public lobby, adoption support space and renovation of the existing building, the shelter has proven to be a welcome improvement for the services and programs aiding in the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of animals waiting for their forever homes.

Adding to the excitement of the event, following the ribbon cutting at the animal shelter, literally thousands of citizens, law enforcement personnel and public officials gathered throughout the evening for Suffolk’s 2012 National Night Out going-away party for crime.

We continued our national award-winning tradition, and finished in the top five in the United States for our population category in the National Association of Town Watch’s 29th annual National Night Out event. In fact, Suffolk was the only Hampton Roads city to place nationally, and the highest-ranking city or county in the entire state of Virginia.

Adding to our quality of life is a vast array of restaurants and an abundance of shopping opportunities. Our “big scissors” have certainly gotten a workout recently, as we’re cutting ribbons and welcoming new businesses every month.

Our Love Local, Buy Suffolk campaign has been a huge success, as our citizens have taken the message to heart and continue to support our local businesses — keeping more dollars in our local economy to fund important local services.

We are fortunate to live in a city with such a rich history, a dynamic present and an unlimited future.

Building on our blueprint for success, we’ve got big plans downtown — for a downtown that will be walkable and that will serve citizens in a multitude of ways, with plans for a new library that would fill many roles and that could also partner with a higher education institution.

Construction of the new municipal center is a catalyst for change downtown, with promises of even more high-density residential and mixed-use development to follow.

When you talk about quality of life issues, you’re talking about individuals having choices. It is evident that choices abound in Suffolk. But even more important is the spirit of caring for our community and the old Southern hospitality that permeates every part of the city and defines what quality of life truly means.

Linda T. Johnson is the mayor of Suffolk. Email her at council@suffolkva.us.