Ed. — This archived story originally ran in the July 5 print edition.
THE INDEPENDENT NEWS
COURTHOUSE — Virginia Beach is appealing to the state for money to help restore the municipal center in the wake of the Friday, May 31, mass shooting.
In addition to the tragic loss of life, the violence at Building 2 has resulted in hundreds of workers from four major departments having been relegated to working in numerous far-flung spaces.
Mayor Bobby Dyer on Monday, June 24, wrote a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam seeking support for funds to help the city, and the letter urges consideration of that assistance during a special session of the General Assembly meant to tackle the issue of gun violence.
“The economy of Virginia Beach will be dependent upon how city, state and federal government respond to this tragedy,” Dyer wrote. “Your support and assistance will be critical.”
Dyer’s letter notes that the City Council has not made a decision about how or whether to reclaim office space at Building 2, but a likely option is significantly renovating of it as a police administrative headquarters and the new home of the First Police Precinct.
Two of the four displaced city departments would then move into the existing police building at Building 11 while the remaining departments would move into the current City Hall, which is scheduled to be replaced.
Dyer’s letter called that a $130 million undertaking with $30 million in costs caused by the mass shooting.
Bob Matthias, an assistant to the city manager who handles legislative issues, said officials reached out to state Del. Barry Knight, R-81st House District, shortly after the tragedy about securing assistance and addressing other issues, such as whether donations related to the tragedy are tax deductible. He’s also had conversations with Northam’s cabinet.
“What we’ve been saying is a $10 million outright cash grant and a $20 million no-interest loan, which would save well over $7 million over the life of the loan,” Matthias told the City Council on Tuesday, July 2, during a meeting at City Hall.
“We’re trying to get this done during the special section next week,” he added. “It’s a little touchy because the special session so far has not been called for anything other than the governor’s initiatives. We’re hopeful that they will get permission to open the budget up during the special session, something they really don’t want to do.”
He said he is hopeful Knight and other members of the local delegation will be able to make it happen.
“I think the General Assembly really wants to help us,” he said.
City Councilmember Sabrina Wooten, who represents the Centerville District, asked that members of the council be made aware when steps such as the letter are taken.
City Manager Dave Hansen said that would happen. “We’ve all got to be in the loop,” Dyer added during the meeting.
“Getting back to business right away is really important, and right now we’re fragmented,” the mayor added. “It will also show our employees … that we’re moving proactively to get this campus back to a normal situation as quickly as humanly possible.”
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