Windsor receives grant to create vision statement

Published 7:15 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Planning and Zoning Administrator Ben Sullivan informed Windsor’s Town Council on May 14 that the town’s application to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development for a community organizing planning grant had been accepted. This “pre-planning” grant, as Sullivan described it, would provide between $3,000 and $10,000 for the purpose of organizing and publicizing community events focused on the creation of a town vision statement.

That statement, Sullivan explained to The Tidewater News, would consist of an expression of values, similar to the following, which was included in the city of Alexandria’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan:

“In 2022, Alexandria is a historic, inclusive city of kindness, with distinct, vibrant and safe neighborhoods, a well-managed government, flourishing arts, culture, and recreation, a strong economy, thriving children and youth, active and secure older adults, environmental sustainability, healthy residents of all ages, and multimodal transportation.”

Some community needs Sullivan told the Council he has already identified were a lack of residential and commercial space available for rent; a small customer base for businesses; the fact that the town is currently very car-dependent, meaning it lacks pedestrian infrastructure and accessibility; and a lack of commercial recreational facilities such as bowling alleys or movie theaters.

“But these might not be the priorities for the Town Council or the citizens,” Sullivan explained. “This is a fact-finding mission.”

Vice Mayor Durwood Scott questioned the viability of Windsor ever getting a movie theater, pointing out that, “Smithfield’s three times as large, they don’t have a [movie] theater.”

“It takes people,” the vice mayor said. “If someone conceives they’re going to make a profit, they’ll locate here.”

Sullivan agreed that Windsor was “definitely a small town,” pointing out that its population was just under 3,000. He added that one of the goals of this process would be to “cut through the buzz words” and identify specific aspects of Windsor’s small-town lifestyle that people want to keep and support versus modify and/or get rid of.

“Once these are identified, we can start talking about where do we want to have more housing, what kind of styles, and we won’t have the huge outcry like we had for the juvenile detention facility,” Sullivan said. “We can go to the public and say we did our due diligence.”

The planning and zoning administrator added that he did not believe there to be any required local match to accept the grant, and that the town had the option to pull out at any time prior to money changing hands. Councilman Walter Bernacki’s motion that the town accept the grant passed unanimously.

As part of this grant, a DHCD specialist, Ramona Chapman, has already been assigned to Windsor to help the town identify its highest-priority needs, Sullivan said. During the town’s Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, Commissioner Larissa Williams reportedly agreed to assist Sullivan in his meetings with Chapman by providing a resident’s point of view.

“The process will be to first get help from the APA (American Planning Association) and HRPDC (Hampton Roads Planning District Commission) to understand how to best host the vision statement meetings,” Sullivan said. “This will take place during the summer. The planning grant will be used to fund the vision statement meetings. The meetings themselves will happen during the fall, in which we will develop a statement that outlines the values of the town. Following that, specific goals will be identified and ranked in further community meetings. Hopefully, this will take place in the spring. The information gained from goal and ranking meetings will be examined and refined by the Planning Commission and Town Council into SMART goals.”

SMART, he verified, is an acronym for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.