Va. Beach city council discuss a sports arena, police body cameras and Hurricane Matthew damage

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) City council members got right to work during their first meeting of the year Tuesday night. Agenda items included building a sports arena, equipping police officers with body cameras, reviewing the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.

Arena

An oceanfront sports and entertainment arena is once again a possibility. Now that the city council has given a developer more time to get a loan to build it.

Council members voted eight to three to give developer, United States Management, a sixty day extension to secure enough funding for the proposed 18,000 seat arena, which is estimated to cost about $200,000.

This is now the second time the city has granted USM an extension. USM’s Chief Financial Officer, Valarie Wilkinson, says USM already has a financer for the project, but won't say who.

“We're requesting the sixty day extension to allow the bank to finalize their credit and legal review process. We are not asking for any changes to our underlying agreement, any additional financial support from the city, or to extend any of the other dates in our agreement,” Wilkinson says. 

Body Cameras

The Virginia Beach Police Chief, Jim Cevera, gave a presentation about the department's progress toward using body cameras.

Cevera says by 2020 all 450 Virginia Beach police officers will get equipped with a body camera. The department plans to phase in the program with about 100 officers getting cameras during each of the next four years.

The first phase is set to begin June first.

The biggest challenge Cevera says is cost, which will be about $6,000,000 through 2021. Those costs include ongoing data storage and hiring additional staff to review all of the camera footage.

Another concern he says is if or when an officer needs to stop the camera from recording, like if he or she needs to testify in court. 

“If an officer inadvertently turns the camera on they report that and then that particular piece of footage can be deleted only by and administrator, like a program administrator,” Cevera says.

Hurricane Matthew

The Virginia Beach Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator, Erin Sutton, also gave an update on the long-term recovery efforts following Hurricane Matthew.

Sutton says staff with FEMA visited more than 5,400 in Virginia Beach and handed out about $6,000,000 in assistance. FEMA also approved more than 250 small business loans worth about $9,500,000.

Tuesday, January 3 was the last day to apply for FEMA assistance.


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