Make your voice heard with city

Published 8:14 pm Thursday, July 16, 2015

City leaders are looking for your input on economic development opportunities and on the qualities city leadership should have, and that’s a good thing.

For a city that’s not exactly known among the general public for caring much what its citizens think, a veritable flood of welcoming public opinion has emerged from City Hall lately.

Back in June, the Department of Economic Development started a survey aimed at getting people to tell them what kind of shops and services they want to see at the upcoming Obici Place development, which will be on the former site of Obici Hospital.

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City leaders are welcoming ideas for the site — as long as nobody mentions a park, which was the preference of a vocal contingent of citizens who campaigned for six months to see the site turned into green space.

Doubtless at least a few of the more than 500 responses so far have mentioned a park in a gesture of sardonic humor. There’s a space for open-ended comments at the end of the survey, following multiple-choice questions about citizens’ shopping and dining-out habits. The open-ended comments will also give you a chance to tell city leaders what you don’t want to see. My guess is that one more mattress store, cellphone store or nail salon will attract a picket line in front of the North Main Street site.

The official end date for the survey is July 23. Don’t miss your chance to fill it out.

Somewhat more complicated is the survey about the new city manager. Citizens are being asked for input about the qualities, experience, leadership characteristics and priorities the new city manager should have.

I predict many survey-takers will have a difficult time with this one, as every section of the survey essentially asks, “Which of these very important and inter-related things is more important than all the others?”

Fortunately, there’s also a space on this survey for open-ended comments. In addition, three community forums have been set, each from 6 to 8 p.m.:

  • July 23, King’s Fork Recreation Center, 350 Kings Fork Road
  • July 28, East Suffolk Recreation Center, 138 S. Sixth St.
  • July 30, Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, 1030 University Blvd.

My advice to local citizens is to take full advantage of these opportunities for public input.

Links to both of the surveys are available on the city’s homepage,