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Virginia Beach unleashes patrols to clean up the Oceanfront and help make it safer
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Virginia Beach unleashes patrols to clean up the Oceanfront and help make it safer

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Lateeka Walker

Lateeka Walker pushes a cleaning bin across the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Laskin Road while working with the Virginia Beach Resort Area Ambassadors on Monday in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach unleashes patrols to clean up Oceanfront

Cleaning and hospitality crews dressed in yellow shirts started patrolling Virginia Beach’s resort area April 1 and will continue through summer.

The new “ambassador” program is part of the city’s strategy to spruce up the Oceanfront and make it a friendlier, safer place for tourists and residents.

A new Resort Management Office recently opened on the corner of Arctic Avenue and 17th Street and is serving as the base for resort area zoning and code enforcement officers as well as homeless outreach efforts.

“We’re ready to make a difference,” said Brian Solis, interim resort manager. He’d like to see private business owners take the initiative to improve their spaces that have been in disrepair or stagnant for years.

“We’re certainly investing in improving our maintenance and the image of public space,” Solis said. “It is our hope that through that investment, the private sector will continue to invest in the Atlantic Avenue corridor as well.”

The ambassadors patrol both sides of Atlantic Avenue. They carry brooms and dustpans to pick up litter along the sidewalks and other public areas.

The busy street already is looking better, Solis said.

“I’ve never seen it so clean and orderly,” he said.

A group collected a trash bag full of cigarette butts during one shift, and they’ve also been removing graffiti and stickers on light poles.

“We’ve never cleaned to that detail, and they’re just getting started,” Solis said.

About a dozen ambassadors will be visible throughout the day and up to 11 p.m. on weekends. They will answer questions, give directions and be “the eyes and ears” for any questionable activity on Atlantic Avenue, said Ashley Cannon, regional manager for Block by Block, the company that has contracted with the city for the services.

Businesses will be kept in check by zoning and code enforcement. Merchandise can’t be sold on the sidewalk, and they must keep their storefronts in good shape.

Homeless outreach workers, who work for the city’s Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation, are also patrolling in their red shirts. Their job is to make contact with people who may be transient or homeless and offer food, shelter and job services to help them get off the street, Solis said.

The Virginian Pilot

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