- Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 22:50
- Published on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 22:50
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Colonial Beach Town Council remains an all male group after appointing James Chiarello to fill Shane Buzby’s seat.
James Chiarello was one of three applicants to apply for the vacant seat Wednesday night. Winning, over Gerald Higgs and Wanda Goforth. Another applicant Linda Brubaker had previously shown interest in the Planning Commission but did not return calls to the Town Clerk in time to be put on the agenda for consideration.
Chiarello first appeared before the council on January 4 when he applied for the vacant seat left by Ronald “Sparky” Ridgely. For this reason many of the Council members decided to forgo asking him any questions since they already knew his views.
The following is a synopsis of his views from Jan. 4 and March 7.
Chiarello lives and works as a handyman in town. By nature he likes to fix things in a creative
He considers Colonial Beach his home and would like to serve in a capacity that allows him to give back to the community.
He focused on communication, revitalization, business incentives, boardwalk development and youth activities. Chiarello is also in favor of the school system remaining within the town saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it!”
Chiarello made many references to the importance of communication within the council as well as between the council and citizens.
While on the council, he hopes to influence a tremendous amount of pride in the community, as well as working towards unity and kindness. Chiarello said, “If there is kindness a community prospers!”
Chiarello suggested making the town’s books more accessible to citizens by putting them online and suggested council members attend some team building exercise workshops.
Chiarello is excited about the revitalization efforts being performed in the town and would like to see them expanded by utilizing resources inside and outside the town. One idea is to take chipped lumber from trees cut by the town and allow the schools or non-profit organizations to bag and sell the mulch for a low fee back to business owners and residents to raise money and beautify the town.
Another idea Chiarello brought up is putting an old ship out in the water, saying, “ Norfolk has a lot of them!”
Chiarello would like the town to incorporate a tax abatement plan for businesses that would commit 50% of business tax to physical improvements on the building’s exterior. Thereby reinvesting the tax money for the business owner to boost their revenue as well as attract more tourists to the town as a whole.
Boardwalk development and the sale of town property
The subject of building a hotel on the Boardwalk is constantly brought up at these interviews by Mayor Rummage.
Chiarello believes that there are plenty of hotels, cottages and B&B’s in town. He believes that the existing ones should be brought up to good standards and warns that a hotel is a seasonal business and consideration should be given to the business’ ability to make it through the winter months before the town should encourage investors to build another hotel.
Chiarello warned, “Being business minded, you have to look at what the market has to offer, how will they make a profit?”
Chiarello also feels that the wrong placement of a hotel, such as on the waterfront can actually hurt tourism saying, “I think you damage your environment putting hotels in the wrong places. Hotels in big towns are outside the attractions. You take away from the beaches if you put a hotel near the water. People don’t mind driving a short distance to the beach if you make parking more friendly and convenient.”
“You have to have a reason for people to come to this destination. It’s got to be more than the beaches. For a summer vacation, a cottage is an experience. A hotel can be gotten anywhere,” Chiarello said.
On the issue of selling town owned property Chiarello feels the town is selling low, although he admits he is not in a position to evaluate land. He said, “If property is an asset to the town we should keep it, if not sell it.”
Businesses should be encouraged to hire kids and set up day workshops to teach them light carpentry, electrical work and basic plumbing, according to Chiarello.
Chiarello has some ideas for activities such as utilizing a $4,000 Safe Boating and Clean Water grant to help kids learn about their waterfront community so they really understand their environment.
Other suggestions by Chiarello included sponsoring companies to come in and set up a skateboard course temporarily, as a fund raiser or looking into an ice skating rink in the winter months.
“We need to transfer our values to the younger generation and we need to find a medium to do that.” said Chiarello.
Newly appointed Councilman Tommy Edwards asked Chiarello, “What is the most important issue facing the town in the next two years?”
“Starting some type of momentum to beautify this town and dress it up,” Chiarello answered, adding, “History can not be changed, where do you want to go now?”
Many people call this town a diamond in the rough, Chiarello disagrees, he believes the town is a diamond mine and says, “We just need to go in and dig out the diamonds.”
Chiarello added that the town should set an example and make town owned property look good saying, “We have ordinances for residents to keep their properties looking good and the town should be held to the same standards!”
He did express in his latest interview that he plans to run for a four-year term in the November election.