Submitted by Tammy Green Holloway current member of Town Council for the Town of Cape Charles and candidate for Town Council elections November 2022.
DO YOU THINK OUR MAIN STREET/DOWNTOWN IS HEALTHY AND SUCCESSFUL? IF NOT, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO CHANGE THAT?
Yes, I think our main street/commercial district is thriving. I can only compare it to when we moved here in 2011. Where some of our OG’s ( Kelly’s Pub, Cape Charles Coffee House to name a few) were steadfast and looking for company to fill our downtown. In 2012 several core businesses opened and have been thriving since that time…setting the stage for opportunities for future entrepreneurs.
I have been a part of building our business community in leadership roles since 2013 and specifically the revitalization of our commercial district. Through my leadership in CCMS, and an amazing group of volunteers and executive director the town has welcomed over 25 new businesses since 2018, that are thriving. First and foremost, this comes from the work ethic and perseverance of our business owners. Secondly with the countless resources and support CCMS brings to those businesses through the Virginia Main Street designation.
One of the key components I have helped build are a thriving economy beyond traditional peak season, by building our shoulder seasons (September, October, December, April and May) through day-trippers. Regional visitors that come into town and enjoy frequent our businesses for the day, infusing our economy when previously has been weak.
In my role with CCMS I have also worked to ensure Cape Charles is a business-friendly environment. Working to make sure processes and procedures are clear to those wanting to start a business.
Keeping our mainstreet/downtown healthy and thriving is an on-going process. CCMS manages the needs of business community and serves as a liaison between the two. Our town staff does a wonderful job providing resources to new or growing businesses, and it is the role of the town governance ensure this continues.
WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT FOR OUR TOWN (AND COUNTY) RIGHT NOW: BUILDING NEW HOMES AND COMMERCIAL SPACE OR REHABBING/EXPANDING/BETTER UTILIZING OUR EXISTING HOMES AND STOREFRONTS?
I don’t know that I have a strong opinion on one over the other, a balance of planned and responsible growth is critically important. However, I am always a supporter of utilizing, expanding and adaptative reuse of existing buildings where possible.
As a member of town council, I think it is imperative for us to be engaged in governance at a county level. This has been demonstrated by our work with the county on workforce housing, tourism grants etc… Most recently I spoke at county meetings about our concerns regarding the dramatic increase in taxes for property owners within the Town of Cape Charles.
SOME PEOPLE CONTINUE TO SAY THAT WE HAVE TRAFFIC PROBLEMS DURING THE TOURIST SEASON. THIS OF COURSE INCLUDES PARKING, AS WELL AS REVERSE-ANGLE PARKING. WHAT DO YOU THINK? HOW WOULD YOU MITIGATE THOSE CONCERNS OR CHANGE THE SITUATION?
A comprehensive parking study should be done and a long-term phased approach identified. But in the interim we have some easy solutions that could be implemented.
We have a municipal parking lot behind the Strawberry station buildings that is extremely under-utilized. We need to move the location of the parking signage to help visitors and residents aware of this option. And ask business owners to encourage employees to use the municipal lot as opposed to parking in front of their business.
Second implement the striping proposed by CCMS to add parallel parking on the west end of Mason from Pine to Bay on the South side and on the east end of Mason from peach to Rayfields. Integrating spaces for golf cart parking throughout.
Regarding parking throughout town. I do think that short term rentals need to have an amount of parking per unit, this could be managed via parking passes, etc… For example, as a B&B owner in a residential area we are required through outr conditional use permit to provide 6 parking spaces, yet there is no way identify those spaces. The rental house next door often has 6 plus vehicles and there are really only 4 spots available in front of or behind that home. This should be addressed along with other lodging and short-term rental issues such as noise and trash.
The reverse-angle parking is a dead subject. CCMS worked endlessly with the town to get this switched and the alternatives VDOT gave were not realistic and therefore not approved by council.
We have options to explore and I am sure more would come with an in-depth parking study analysis:
- Resident parking tags?
- More golf cart parking to utilize space better?
- Convert town lot behind library to parking lot?
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING IN OUR ZONING CODE, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I think we need to look at some of our mixed-use zoning to ensure that we can accommodate the addition of ADA compliant living, providing some options for “aging in place”. A few exceptions have been made for this and I would like to see if it can be adapted into our zoning.
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO INVOLVE RESIDENTS IN THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS IN OUR TOWN?
I am often the voice on council of “how do we get input or engage our residents”. I do think we are doing better with this through meetings available on FB, videos and minutes of the meetings on the town website. However, those items need to be easy for residents to find and each should be posted on the town municipal page after the mtg. We post some agendas on fb but I would like to see more of this.
Through all of my leadership experience in Cape Charles, engaging volunteers in the process is at the core. I would like to find more ways in engaging residents in small group committees on important topics.
But it really takes engaged citizens in the process. I encourage all to sign up for e-notifications on the town website where they can sign up for alerts on agendas, meetings, etc…
IF SOMEONE CAME TO YOU WITH A PROPOSAL TO BUILD A NEW PIECE OF PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE IN OUR TOWN (ROAD, STRUCTURE, OUTDOOR VENUE, ETC.), HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE WHETHER OR NOT THAT PROJECT WAS WORTH IMPLEMENTING?
During the past four years, under leadership of the town manager we converted our old Capital Improvement Plan, which was actually just a list of things that needed to get done without ranking or budgetary consideration, into the, Capital Assessment Management Plan (CAMP), which has a matrix to evaluate infrastructure projects and rank then place them into what year and approximate budget needed. This is a great tool and is reevaluated several times a year in conjunction with the towns “priorities” list, all in sync with the towns strategic plan, which is done yearly.
If a resident had an idea of something to be considered, I would meet with them and hear their ideas. I would then help them to meet with the Mayor and Town Manager. If warranted this new idea would work its way into the CAMP.
IF ELECTED, WHAT THREE STEPS WOULD YOU TAKE TO PUT OUR TOWN ON A FIRMER FINANCIAL FOOTING?
I feel the town staff has guided the council to get the town financials in better footing over the last two years. Below are a few things that have been done already. This is however something we must keep a close eye on which is why we spend a lot of time on the budget development and approval as well as mid-year evaluation of the budget to make sure things are in line with what we approved.
- In the end of 2020 under leadership of town manager the town council adopted several RESOLUTIONS regarding stronger financial management, this included:
* Established a DEBT service fund and CAPTIAL IMPROVEMENT fund as part of the towns GENERAL government accounting system
* Established a CONTINGENCY RESERVE as an assigned portion of the towns general fund balance.
* Established a GENERAL OPERATING RESERVE as a committed portion of the town’s general fund balance.
- Continue to make sure we are focused on our approved priorities and CAMP list to keep us from veering off in other directions.
- Continue to develop and maintain a balanced budget
IF THE TOWN RECEIVED A $1 MILLION GRANT TO USE FOR THE TOWN ANY WAY IT WANTED, WHAT WOULD YOU PROPOSE AND WHY?
Oh how fun that would be! One thing I know, is applying for, getting and administrating grant funding. Over the last 7 years I have helped different areas of Cape Charles get over 1.5 million dollars in grant money. It is important to have a plan if you receive funding, getting it can be easy, managing and implementing is a whole different ballgame.
If this were to happen I would first advise that we look at what are the parameters for which it can be spent. (my husband is a finance guy for the government so knowing how funds are spent is something I hear about often!). Then we look at our CAMP program and see if there is a project that could use the type of funds the grant is for. Are there ways we can use this money as matching funds on a project? Most folks who know me know that I am obsessed with good public restrooms for all. Whether you visit or reside all of us need these when spending time downtown. But I think that project is going to be covered by grant and budget dollars in FY23. Next on my list are sidewalks throughout town and in particular where they are missing or in bad shape. This includes focusing, accessibility and safety. Finally I would evaluate and replace current bathhouse and restroom on the south end of the beach ( it has been a great facility that ond of our own Jeb Brady did as his Eagle Scott project) but we need to expand this facility to meet our needs. I would also add a much needed bathroom on north end of the beach.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO SPEND TIME IN OUR TOWN?
The beach, although I do wish I had more time to get there! The park, we are fortunate to have it as our back yard, so we get to enjoy this town asset frequently. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say my own yard! I am an avid gardener and between guest needs and volunteer responsibilities that is where you will likely find me.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT CAPE CHARLES? WHAT DO YOU NOT LIKE ABOUT CAPE CHARLES?
The unique and friendly people. It is easy to meet and build relationships with so many people with varying backgrounds. This includes people who were born and raised here, the history of the town and shore are so important, and I love nothing more than visiting with people who can share these stories. With all of this said I love how people help/support one another both personally and professionally. This could be seen during the pandemic where we all looked for ways to support our small businesses and check in on our neighbors.
Gosh, you all know this one is hard for me because I am CC number one cheerleader! But I think I would say the reactionary ways people assume the worst in town government and organizations. Almost all of our governance or leadership roles are volunteers (with a very very small stipend in some cases). People dedicating endless hours to the betterment of Cape Charles. It really breaks my heart to hear the cynical comments from those who don’t event attempt to learn the facts or get engaged.