Comment by Dr. James Koch, Old Dominion University professor of economics, ODU President Emeritus, and author of the annual State of the Region report:
â€œStill, of all the factors that currently challenge the availability of open space and parks in Hampton Roads, it is the progressive and almost relentless conversion of these areas to residential and commercial use that is most ominous, for once unsettled land has been urbanized with residents and structures, it seldom reverts to open space or park status.
If another 50 years pass that devour open space at the same rate as the last 50 years, then we will have eliminated a huge swath of land that could have been turned into parks or preserved as open space for all to enjoy. We will have made an almost irrevocable decision that parks and open space are not going to play significant roles in our urban future.
The political diversity and geographical breadth of Hampton Roads (a euphemistic way to explain an absence of regional unity) have tended to exacerbate this tendency toward narrowly defined, disconnected initiatives. No single body serves as an open-space advocate for the entire region.
The quality of life and the ultimate sustainability of a growing region like Hampton Roads depend on managing conservation as well as development in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner.â€
As the population of Hampton Roads increases over the next few decades, so will its density, particularly near its central core. Fort Monroe is in an ideal location to provide much needed open waterfront space. The Wherry Quarter and South Waterfront area should be part of that open space.