Schools to confiscate Colony Mobile Home park for expensive resort area school

The Virginia Beach School Board Tuesday night will be asked to approve a capital improvement program resolution (CIP) asking City Council for $10.68 MILLION for the 2004/2005 year capital improvements.  The vote will set in action the government confiscation of the expensive property of Colony Mobile Home park on 17th Street for a new school site.

The park is home to 500 residents in 200 homes.  It is owned by family of the late Wilson Chaplain.  Son Jerry has said the family does not plan to sell to the city.

The situation will set up a dual eminent domain action: Strip the owners of the property for the school and get rid of many of the city's less desirable residents, low income and poor blacks,  from homes they've occupied for years.

Many have questioned why the schools would want prime, close-in resort area property for its 1,500 student for its Kemps Landing Magnet School, replacing the half-century old Virginia Beach Middle School.  "There are many less expensive locations for a school such as this." said one ex-city official familiar with the plans.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to locate a school so close to our resort area now that the old school is to be replaced.  The site of the old school also would free up good taxable land for development close to the resort area.  This new school should be put in a less congested, more student friendly environment than at the oceanfront.  This is just not a wise use of valuable land," he said.

Despite lack of economic and development logic, the (rubber stamp) School Board selected only 2 potential sites for the new school - both located only blocks from the oceanfront.

At the mobile home park, the plan calls for taking about half of Chaplain's 33-acres, plus displacement of other low income whites and blacks on adjacent property.

Already, more than 900 residents are being displaced at Wedgewood Mobile Home Park by Oct. 31 where a new private development will be built.  

"This looks more like a city-orchestrated attempt to get rid of low, fixed income, and poorer black residents since so many other less expensive and more preferable school sites are available for a new school," said one official.  "No question about it, this will remove them, allegedly for 'public good' under our eminent domain powers." the official added.  "And we have no obligation to find them new homes in our city."