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Williamsburg looks at future goals in State of the City, including affordable housing and mental health initiatives

Daily Press - 12/9/2022

Everyone has a role in making the community succeed, and working together is helping the city truly become “One Williamsburg.”

That was one of the messages in Williamsburg’s biennial State of the City on Thursday, which was presented at the Stryker Center with a pre-taped address followed by a public reception.

Members of Williamsburg City Council discussed the city’s achievements over the past couple of years and outlined the roadmap for the next two years. William & Mary President Katherine Rowe and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President and CEO Cliff Fleet also contributed to the nearly hour-long video.

“The journey to fulfilling our vision for the city of Williamsburg is filled with projects and initiatives that are big and small, varied and numerous,” Mayor Doug Pons said in the address. “Some can start and finish within the next two years, and some may be years from accomplishment. We promise to be deliberate and persistent in our pursuit of progress.”

Some of the projects mentioned in the address include the Capitol Landing Road Corridor, affordable housing, public transit, mental health initiatives and improved infrastructure.

“All of these initiatives enrich our city today and anticipate our future needs,” Pons said.

Williamsburg’s strategic plan seeks to fulfill six goals, including: “One Williamsburg”; courageously leading; innovating a modern city; prioritizing safety and wellness; engaging with our partners; and connecting with the world.

“Change may be incremental, but we can already see our Williamsburg 2040 taking shape,” Pons said. “One Williamsburg means working together for all to thrive.

“We all have an important role in making this community succeed. We are all better because we work together as one Williamsburg.”

The city came up with its Williamsburg 2040 plan due, in part, to feedback received from the public at its eight Future Festival events, which gathered input from attendees about what they would like to see the city focus on moving forward.

“Thank you, seriously, for caring so deeply about our community,” Pons said. “Your engagement is at the core of what makes Williamsburg so special.”

In her remarks, Rowe spoke of expanding Williamsburg’s reach and said the partnership between the city and the university is the strongest she has experienced in her career. She gave her address while standing in front of William & Mary’s memorial to the enslaved, which was dedicated earlier this year.

The university plans to capitalize on its “strengths, our partnerships and our history of innovation” as it builds on its strategic plan and works toward showcasing Williamsburg.

“We’re going to make the case for Williamsburg’s significance as the best place in the county for explaining our nation’s complex history,” Rowe said. “Plain-speaking about hard facts unites us across our differences.”

During Thursday’s reception, the city also presented resident Jim Joseph with the inaugural Williamsburg Mace Bearer’s Award, which honors individuals or groups who have made a lasting, positive impact on the community.

“For the past 21 years, Jim Joseph has dedicated his time, energy and expertise to the Neighborhood Council of Williamsburg to the greater benefit of the Williamsburg community,” Pons said in a statement.

The Neighborhood Council of Williamsburg, founded in 2001, seeks to improve communication between council, government and the neighborhoods. Joseph helped to establish the organization as an important resource for residents, enlisting neighborhoods, recruiting speakers and structuring monthly meetings, according to the city.

Joseph has lived in Williamsburg since 1996 and has also served on the planning commission in addition to several other committees in the city.

“With Jim as the inaugural member, we are building a society of mace bearers who embody the values of ‘One Williamsburg’ and carry this honor with them wherever they go,” Pons said.

Sian Wilkerson, 757-342-6616,

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