Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Identity crisis

It’s no secret that Goochland wants to attract new business, especially in the eastern end of the county served by the Tuckahoe Creek Service District.

West Creek and the Centerville Village are ground zero for economic development initiatives. The Notch, located opposite Wawa on Broad Street Road, recently received some great publicity following the announcement of a medical facility soon to be built there. The television and newspaper folk even mentioned that West Creek is in Goochland. Sadly, no mention was made of nearby Centerville Village.

Goodwill and the McDonald’s--whose construction is expected to begin when the weather improves--are in the Centerville Village, as is Acme Stove and Wells Fargo Bank on Ashland Road.

According to its website, Goodwill has a Richmond address, as does Wells Fargo, which nevertheless, lists its physical location as Manakin-Sabot. Acme Stove’s site claims it’s in Manakin-Sabot, even though it is virtually in the shadow of the water tower that welcomes you to Centerville! Other parts of Centerville have Rockville zip codes.

Manakin-Sabot is a zip code, not a place. Manakin and Sabot—just a memory now—are on Route 6, nowhere near Broad Street Road.
The root of this confusion is probably the postal service zip codes, which are used by global positioning systems (GPS) to help people find things. Regional media exacerbates this fiction, because the folks in Richmond who report on “local” matters seem terrified to travel west of the Henrico line lest they fall off the edge of the earth.

You can’t blame businesses for doing whatever it takes to lure customers, so using their mailing address on their websites for GPS input makes a lot of sense.

The zip code issue can be overcome. For instance, Trader Joe’s has a Richmond address, as does Nordstrom’s. Target is “in” Glen Allen. The geographical locus for all of these is Short Pump, which, like Centerville, has no post office. Nevertheless, it has a unique identity.

While “Short Pump” has a certain cachet, “Centerville” is kind of bland. To make matters worse, there is a “Centreville” in the NOVA horse country.

Does anyone really care what the correct name for the area between the Henrico County line and Manakin Road to the north and south of Broad Street Road is called? Businesses don’t care what it’s named as long as customers beat a path to their doors.
Maybe the name should just be changed to Manakin-Sabot and refer to the Manakin Village as something else. It used to be called Dover Mines.

It’s long past time for a “Welcome to Centerville” sign in the median of Broad Street Road to replace the stone monument on the north side of the road that currently greets traffic. The welcome on the water tower is nice, but something at eye level is better.

In spite of years of exhaustive discussion, and little action, Centerville remains a place to drive through, not to. Creation of the Rt. 250 Centerville speedway and refusal of VDOT—the state agency whose motto is”Oops!”—to install traffic signal at Hockett Road only exacerbate the problem.

The Centerville Village needs an identity beyond a name on a land use map. Maybe it needs a catchy slogan, something like “Centerville, the next frontier” to attract positive attention and set it apart.

Years of exhaustive discussion about what Centerville could and should be has resulted in little action. Some landowners there are frustrated by a dearth of zoning options that would permit them to develop their property in line with emerging trends. That’s why cows still graze next to the Shell station.

Some citizens contend that McDonald's is an indication that the county will approve anything in Centerville to increase land values and generate badly needed sales taxes. Others believe that the decision of a national chain to open there is a good thing and others will follow.

Instead of crafting a master plan for Centerville, the supervisors approved detailed design standards supposedly stringent enough to ensure “quality” construction yet broad enough to encourage a wide range of development. So far, little has happened.
Perhaps the Goochland Chamber of Commerce, who purpose is a bit nebulous, could help make a “there there” in Centerville. It’s more about perception than money.

No comments: