In metropolitan communities throughout our nation, cities and counties in close proximity are working in unison to address far-reaching challenges. The regionalism concept encourages municipalities to look beyond their boundaries and recognize that working together towards the betterment of an entire area will ultimately prove beneficial to each locality within it. This notion is not unlike the principals of our global economy—with impacts on one nation likely having resulting impacts on others. By embracing this forward-thinking way of conducting business, Hampton Roads, “America’s First Region,” is better equipped to accomplish goals that will strengthen our economy and enhance our quality of life.
There are numerous local organizations that promote regionalism, such as the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, which addresses a multitude of long-range regional issues and proposals, or the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, which serves to improve travel throughout our communities. However, what I would like to discuss in this article is not organizations themselves, but rather the initiatives that are being explored and accomplished. The City of Newport News is looking into several exciting projects with neighboring localities that could potentially save money as well as improve upon service to citizens.
Public safety is one of the most significant areas in which our City is exploring cooperative partnerships. Currently, the Newport News Fire Department has in place mutual aid agreements with all other Peninsula localities for cases of extreme need. However, we are assessing the feasibility of making mutual aid dispatch for Fire/EMT units automatic with the City of Hampton. This means no matter where a call originates, the closest and most appropriate response unit in Hampton or Newport News would deploy to address the issue. This has the potential to decrease response times for service calls in areas which are close to the Newport News-Hampton border. The NNFD is also looking into combining its equipment inventory with the City of Hampton. This could result in significant savings, as each locality could minimize the amount of reserve equipment it keeps in stock. Additionally, through purchasing larger quantities of goods, we could possibly obtain lower equipment prices with vendors.
While partnering with Hampton in regard to public safety is a major regional effort, it is by no means the only initiative our City is exploring. We are also in discussions with the City of Hampton on ways to partner our efforts in library services. While there is potential for cost savings in this area as well, the main driver is to improve functionality and service to citizens. You may have also seen in the local news that our City is exploring the possibility of a regional animal shelter with York County, Poquoson, and Hampton.
As Hampton Roads communities continue to explore, study, and develop regional initiatives, we do so with the goal of making our communities great places to live, work, and play for those who are fortunate enough to call Hampton Roads home.