Sports complex meeting set

Published 8:10 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chesapeake leaders are seeking public input this week on a $7-million field house proposed for the Western Branch area.

The city will hold a question-and-answer session with Western Branch residents at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Portsmouth Elks Lodge, 2541 Gum Road, Chesapeake.

Mike Barber, director of Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism, will be on hand to answer questions and get feedback before the project comes before the Chesapeake City Council for a vote on April 12. Several council members also are expected to be on hand.

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In February, Councilman Roland Davis asked the City Council to add $7 million to the city’s proposed 2017 capital improvement plan to fund construction of the indoor sports complex.

Davis’ recommendation is for a venue that would include indoor turf fields, hard courts for volleyball and basketball, and a lounge or party room. Ideally, it would pull competitive sports teams from Chesapeake, Suffolk, Norfolk and Portsmouth that now travel to Virginia Beach for practices and games, according to Davis.

Davis’s announcement came within weeks after several major retailers at or near Chesapeake Square Mall, including Macy’s and Michael’s Arts and Crafts, announced plans to close. Supporters say the project would rejuvenate Western Branch’s retail community by drawing shoppers and diners back to the area.

In February, the City Council delayed voting for 60 days and asked City Manager Jim Baker come back with possible sites in the Western Branch area and funding options.

Marc Steiner, co-chair of Western Branch Growing Forward’s business development committee, says be believes the city and council members have been diligent about reaching out to the community during the past two months.