A Parking Lot is Not a Park

There was recent news out of Virginia Beach that they are going to develop the Rudee Loop. If you aren’t familiar with Virginia Beach the Rudee Loop is an area between the ocean and Rudee Inlet that happens to be a loop because that is where the roadway ends. It has been owned by the city for years and is currently the home to several parking lots.

There has been lots of talk of it being developed in the last few years but the last time it came up the sale was nixed by council woman Rosemary Wilson. At that time it was NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith trying to purchase the land to be developed by the developer behind DC’s Anacostia waterfront area. If you’ve ever been to that area it is very nice with lots of parks and walkable areas with water features and fountains. It is a cool neat area that has shopping, dining, and plenty of green space.

As that plan was nixed one of Rosemary Wilson’s and other council members chief donors Bruce Thompson stepped in with his proposal. As it would be suspicious if they let Thompson develop the land so close to having disallowed Smith they waited and now have a public pole out where people can vote for features they’d like to see on the property.

As soon as I saw this news I knew what was going to happen, and lo and behold once the story hit the local news Facebook pages there were hordes of people saying they should leave it as it is an preserve it as a park. I have some bad news for them. It isn’t a park. It is a parking lot. One person even went so far as to recall nights spent there watching the moon. Well, you know what would be better than standing in the middle of a parking lot watching the moon? Sitting on the rooftop terrace of a wine bar watching the moon. Or how about sipping a cup of coffee watching the sun rise at a street side cafe.

There is a lot of potential for that area but letting it remain a parking lot isn’t it. Virginia Beach needs more egalitarian commercial areas. Especially in the resort area. The entire area is nothing but cheap, rundown pizza restaurants and beach supply stores. People don’t want that anymore. They want breweries, high end shopping, steak houses, wine bars, and coffee shops alongside picnic areas, water fountains, and water features.

A lot of residents of this city complain that anything nice that is done in the resort area is done for the tourists. They seem to forget that there isn’t a forcefield around the resort area. That they can visit anytime, and in fact the tourist season is really only five months out of the year. Putting nice things in the resort area benefits both residents and tourists. Making the area a destination in and of itself should be the goal.

While the beach and ocean will always be the main attraction there should be enough to do down there without ever having to step foot on the sand. I think a strong showing with the Rudee Loop project would signal a sea change and get the entire resort area moving in the right direction.

Honestly, I’m just tired of driving to Norfolk for every special occasion because Virginia Beach refuses to do anything about the area five minutes from my house figuring that the ocean is enough to get them tourist dollars.

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