City gets green grant
Published 10:36 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2015
The public can weigh in on a nonprofit’s suggestions for green infrastructure in the Nansemond River watershed next week.
The city; the Green Infrastructure Center, a Charlottesville-based organization that helps communities develop conservation plans for their natural resources; and a team of University of Virginia graduate students will hold a community forum at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Suffolk City Council chambers, 442 W. Washington St.
Suffolk recently received a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Green Infrastructure Center to develop a set of tools to protect and restore green infrastructure. The city was one of 11 localities in the state and the only one in Hampton Roads to receive the grant.
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The forum will be an opportunity for residents to learn about green infrastructure principles and concepts, said city spokeswoman Diana Klink. It will be interactive and community input is important, she said.
Several public meetings will be held throughout the process, said Claire Jones, the city’s comprehensive planning manager. The grant is earmarked for technical assistance and will provide the city with tools to use in future decisions impacting natural areas in the watershed, she added.
“This is all about providing us with better data so we can make better, more informed decisions,” Jones said.
In recent months, Green Infrastructure Center staff and the U.Va. graduate students assigned to the project have visited the city, toured sites along the watershed and analyzed city mapping data, Jones said. Next week, they will present their initial findings and gather public comment to further refine their findings.
The group is hoping for input from residents on myriad topics, including wildlife habitat areas, outdoor recreation, trails, forests, parks, rivers and other waterways, Jones said.
Community activist Jean Carmean, who helped spearhead an unsuccessful effort to turn the former Obici Hospital site into a park, hopes people take time to attend the meeting.
“Suffolk is in a good position because we have so much land. We need to take steps to protect it before it gets developed,” Carmean said. “I would like to see citizens become more involved and have more of a voice at this stage, when we can still grow smart.”