NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: The video above first aired on Nov. 8, 2021.
After years of talking about what to do with a community hub in Norfolk, crews are moving forward with building a new park.
Norfolk city leaders say crews plan to start construction this winter. The site is located at the intersection of Norview Avenue and Sewells Point Road.
“I’m part of this community. I just want to see it be the best community it can be,” explained Norfolk resident and pawn shop owner Austin Loney.
City leaders said this project is the result of several years of planning and development with residents and city departments, including Parks & Recreation and Public Works.
In 2015, a Better Block Build Plan was hosted for residents and business owners to hear comments and suggestions to revitalize the area.
Following that, Imagine Five Points tested ideas from the charette. The Five Points Civic Plaza & Park vision represents a collective of local residents and community input.
“When you see a nice park you see just something, it just gives you that feeling that you're like home," Loney said. "It’s going to be nice and I think that’s what this area is going to bring to this community.”
Plans include a green space, a tot lot for kids, a community garden, and intersection improvements. However, not everyone in the community is giving this project the green light.
“I don’t think this is the best idea in the world,” said James Herring.
Herring said he is all for fixing up the area, but he doesn’t believe this land is a good spot for people to gather.
"The area is so small and so congested, and so much traffic, and I think it would be a dangerous idea," he said. "Maybe somebody has a better vision in city planning than I do, but personally think it’s not the best place in the world to put a park.”
City leaders said the area will be a destination for the community.
“This is not a drive-up park where you are expecting big crowds of people, it’s more of a community-based type of park,” explained Norfolk Parks & Recreation Director, Darrell Crittendon.
Crittendon called this project a unique one. He said it will soon become a place for people to gather and even hold meetings.
“It’s going to have covered shading, park benches. It’s going to have ADA accessibility and a community garden and a top lot," he said.
The cost of the project is about $1 million. They plan to spend about $120,000 on public art for the space.
City leaders said the project should take about 16-18 months to complete, as long as supplies to build it are available.