President’s Message – March

Our plans for a March newsletter, like many other plans, were derailed by COVID-19. Below is the message I had typed up on March 10th prior to the pandemic fully setting in. I am posting this now for your information. Priorities have shifted in the weeks since I originally wrote this, but our concerns still remain and will re-emerge with time. I hope you all are staying well in this crisis. Please continue to look to our website and NextDoor for neighborhood updates while we keep our social distance.

Stay well,
Scott Guirlinger


Spring has not officially started yet but it might as well have with the warm weather we’ve been experiencing. With the change of season comes renewed energy for cleaning up and enacting meaningful change in our community. We have a well-rounded slate of speakers with informative updates scheduled for this month’s meeting on Monday the 16th. I hope you all can join us.

As most of you are aware, our December newsletter contained a bit of misinformation on the status of the indoor pool at the Norfolk Fitness & Wellness Center (NFWC). The inadvertent uproar that it caused led myself and the civic league board to pursue more information on the status of the overall facility and plans for a replacement pool. (To reiterate the current situation, the indoor pool is past its designed lifespan, and the dome is expected to fail its annual structural inspection at some point in the next 3 years, at which point the existing pool will be permanently closed. The inspection takes place every March.) Below is a recap of what we have learned. In the spirit of transparency and communication, I have tried to keep this as objective and factual as possible and do my best not to include my own opinions and biases.  The Wards Corner civic league has a vested interest in the NFWC being a successful facility given that it sits within the confines of our neighborhood.

Regarding plans for a replacement pool, there are currently no specific plans or earmarked funds. The current Recreation, Parks, and Open Spaces (RPOS) master plan was adopted in 2012 and calls for an Olympic size pool on the NFWC site. The civic league board is asking for a specific plan for a replacement pool to be established as soon as possible so that it is ready to enact when the dome inevitably fails its inspection.

The civic league board has asked RPOS staff for data on the financial viability of the NFWC. We are concerned that the permanent closure of the indoor pool (particularly with no specific replacement plan in place) could lead to a significant drop in membership and eventual closure of the facility and would like some assurances, with supporting numerical data, that this will not happen.

In our discussions, some residents have asked why the NFWC does not accept city facility use cards and why membership rates are as much as four times the rates of city recreation centers. So I asked city staff for an official statement that I could share with our residents and received the following:

The Norfolk Fitness and Wellness Center isn’t a recreation center but a wellness center that features the following: fitness rooms, racquetball gymnasium, indoor pool and outdoor pool. This facility is a membership driven facility. This facility is close to a 90,000 sq. foot facility.

The typical Norfolk Recreation Center is 10,000 to 26,000 sq feet which provides a community meeting room, office space, restrooms. A handful of these centers may have a gymnasium and a small fitness room but the scope of programming and services are not that of a Fitness/ Wellness Center.

NORFOLK RECREATION, PARKS, & OPEN SPACES

I probed a little further and also learned the following:

  • All NFWC membership fees go into the RPOS general fund; no membership fees are allocated directly to the NFWC facility.
  • NFWC membership fees total less than half of the total expenses of the facility.

Our civic league board is now asking city staff to provide specific membership metrics as well as additional details on the specific services and amenities provided to NFWC members that differentiate this facility from other city facilities. This is to provide us and you, the residents of Wards Corner, with the assurance that our neighborhood facility is alive and well. We plan to share an update with you at our April meeting. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns of your own that you would like to include in this conversation, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you!
Scott Guirlinger

Street Sweeping Updates

The city announced yesterday that they have moved to providing only critical services until April 13.

This means city staff will not sweep our street on April 3rd and you don’t have to move your vehicle.

If you are willing and able and you want to get outside for a break, clean up the curb line of any grass and trash. You will help prevent flooding and keep the storm drains clear.

For updates to city operations, visit the FAQ located on the front page of Norfolk,gov and monitor the city website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Beach Closures

The City of Norfolk is closing its beaches to all activities except fishing on the beach and exercise in compliance with Governor Northam’s Executive Order 55. 

Beach patrols will actively monitor beaches. We encourage you to avoid large gatherings and maintain social distancing.  

Staff from the health department and Norfolk police on patrol will continue to disperse any large gatherings of 10 or more people.  

To discourage large gatherings, Norfolk city staff are closing all basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds and soccer pitches until further notice. Several large parks and the Elizabeth River Trail remain open for exercise. 

For a complete list of open parks or the current status of City operations, visit the FAQ located on the front page of Norfolk.gov.

Hampton Roads Transit Reduced Routes

Beginning Tuesday, March 31, Hampton Roads Transit will run fewer bus routes, and buses will run less frequently.

Buses will run 60 minutes apart, except Peninsula Commuter Routes and some MAX routes.

HRT’s goal is to provide transportation between medical centers and other essential destinations. However, HRT is encouraging EVERYONE to avoid unnecessary travel and to practice social distancing. Some seats on buses and light rail trains will be blocked off and unavailable for us. Customers are asked to exit buses using the rear doors.

HRT will continue extensive cleaning of all vehicles and facilities.

The Tide light rail service will operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Trains will run 30 minutes apart. The last trains from Newtown Road and from EVMC/Fort Norfolk will depart at 8:45 p.m.

Elizabeth River Ferry service will end at 9 p.m. Start times will not change.

Paratransit service will continue normally.

HRT encourages customers to check the full list of current routes, which can be found at: bit.ly/HRTchanges

Updates to City Operations

March 30 through April 13, city departments will further reduce staff levels and service delivery in response to Governor Northam’s request for people to stay home and practice social distancing.  

Important updates to city operations include:

  • Trash and recycling collection will continue.  All trash must be in the green can with the lid closed.   The driver will not get out of the truck to pick up any trash not in a can.
  • Bulk and yard waste collection will stop. It takes two employees in one truck to collect materials.  City staff maintaining social distancing mandate.
  • Bulk waste requests scheduled during this two-week period will be canceled.  Residents must reschedule their request when city operations return to normal. 
  • Parking garages will open to the public free of charge.  Parking in metered spaces is free for the 1st hour.
  • Police, Fire-Rescue and 9-1-1 will remain fully staffed. 

Read the FAQ on the front page of Norfolk.gov for more information.  Use MyNorfolk online or mobile app for all service requests versus calling Norfolk Cares.  You will experience longer than normal wait times.

NPS CoronaVirus Communications Update

The attached “NPS CoronaVirus Communications Update” includes information about the extended school closure. Some specific topics include:

  • School and Teacher Office Hours and Spring Break
  • NPS’ extended Learning in Place Plan, Grading, and Grade Point Averages
  • Update on Graduation Requirements and Commencement- Advance Placement Courses, Dual Enrollment, and International Baccalaureate Requirements
  • Food Distribution  
  • How to enroll your child in NPS during the closure

Here are ways to stay informed on the CoronaVirus and other important topics impacting our schools:

Vote at Home for the May 5, 2020 General Election

The Norfolk Office of Elections encourages you to vote at home for the May 5, 2020 General Election.

You can request an absentee ballot online from the Virginia Department of Elections https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation

Register to vote or update your voter registration information online, too.

When you vote at home, you help limit the exposure of COVID-19.

Voters may request an absentee ballot by mail for the May 5, 2020 General Election using “My disability or illness” if they do not have another qualifying reason.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 28th.

For more information, please visit our webpage at: www.norfolk.gov/elections