Virginia Beach residents share comments, concerns about arena

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Plans for a possible arena in Virginia Beach were finalized in the last couple of weeks. A community forum was held Thursday night at the convention center so residents could learn about the project, which city council will vote on December 8.

About 300 people came out to Thursday’s meeting, which was led by Virginia Beach Deputy City Manager Doug Smith.

“We just want to make sure that it’s not only safe for our community, but safe for all of us to be able to do business,” said Pastor Jason Knight, of Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

Knight’s church is located about a half mile from where the arena is proposed to be built.

“The arena will be going up right behind [the church,]” said Knight. “So it’s going to directly affect us.”

Smith went through the details of the deal with the developer, United States Management (USM).

“We are providing the land,” explained Smith about the city’s role. “We are providing the infrastructure, and the revenue stream that will support some of USM debt service on the project.”

Smith also went over the parking plan for the proposed arena. He said the city has agreed to identify and provide 2,700 parking spaces when the arena has more than 6,500 guests. Smith said ticket holders would be able to park for free in city lots and garages. He said Virginia Beach Police would handle traffic and public safety during events at the arena.

“There will be no parking in neighborhoods,” said Chief Jim Cervera. “Because we have the resort parking plan.”

Nearby residents already have major traffic concerns during special events at the Oceanfront. Two women who live across the street from the convention center stood up and said they often get blocked on their street during special events. One woman said drivers do park in their neighborhood, despite a resort parking plan.

“If this is going to go through, you need to make accomodations for the residents to be able to show their ID, their address, or something so they can get home,” said one of the residents.

Another big concern was the Tidewater Veteran’s Memorial on 19th Street. USM has said they will be renovating the memorial, but it will not be moved. Several veterans and residents stood up Thursday night saying they are still concerned. They say the sketches make it seem like the memorial and park will be changing drastically.

USM said the renovations are still a concept and nothing is finalized.

There will be a public hearing on the arena at the Dec. 1 city council meeting.

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