After Clover Hill District Supervisor Chris Winslow was handed the gavel as incoming chair of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors last January, he predicted 2022 would be a “watershed” year for the county and its 370,000 residents. Looking back nearly 12 months later, his words proved prescient. Chesterfield enjoyed a number of monumental successes this year, putting itself on the map nationally and internationally as a destination for economic development and sports tourism, while maintaining focus on quality of life enhancements for a growing population and continuing to provide the high-quality customer service residents have come to expect. Here are highlights from the year that was 2022.
BUSINESS IS BOOMING
Chesterfield’s ongoing efforts to diversify the local economy paid off in a major way this year, headlined by three major projects – LEGO, Plenty and Civica – that combined will bring $1.5 billion in capital investment and more than 2,100 jobs to Meadowville Technology Park. An additional 5 million square feet of industrial space is either under construction or going through the permitting process elsewhere in the county. The number of Chesterfield-based businesses eclipsed 10,000 in March, an all-time high for the county. Sports tourism also continues to be a major driver of commercial activity, with 63 events generating $34.4 million in direct economic impact.
POSITIONED FOR FUTURE SUCCESS
With only 120 developable acres remaining at Meadowville Technology Park, Chesterfield leaders recognized the importance of having a project-ready site available to compete for future economic development opportunities. The first step in that process was the Board of Supervisors rezoning the 1,700-acre Upper Magnolia Green West property for use as a technology village. It previously was a finalist for Intel’s multibillion-dollar semiconductor plant and is considered the most attractive site in Virginia to market to high-tech advanced manufacturers.
RESOUNDING ‘YES’ ON BOND REFERENDUM
As part of November’s general election, Chesterfield residents were asked to consider whether the county should issue $540 million in general obligation bonds over the next eight to 10 years to fund 26 capital improvement projects split among four categories: schools, public safety, libraries and parks. By an overwhelming margin, they said yes. The 2022 Community Facilities Bond Plan was approved by 76% to 22.8%, significantly higher than Chesterfield’s last bond referendum nine years ago.
FINDING ‘REDEMPTION’ IN AN UNLIKELY PLACE
Chester’s Perkinson Center for the Arts and Education hosted a standing-room-only crowd in May -- including more than 40 Chesterfield County Jail inmates -- for the premiere of “Jailhouse Redemption,” a four-part Discovery+ docuseries that chronicles the stories of men and women participating in the jail’s groundbreaking Helping Addicts Recover Progressively (HARP) program. Sheriff Karl Leonard created HARP in 2016 as a response to America’s opioid epidemic; since then, the program has touched the lives of more than 3,000 people with its peer-to-peer recovery model, gained international acclaim and become a statewide model for helping inmates break the cycle of addiction and recidivism.
HONORING A CIVIL RIGHTS ICON
In October, Chesterfield publicly dedicated the future Enon Library building in honor of the late Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, a pastor, humanitarian and civil rights icon who lived in the county for more than 13 years prior to his death in January 2018. While Dr. Walker is best known for his tenure as chief of staff to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he also served as the first full-time executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He went on to receive more than 100 awards and citations for his work in human relations and civil rights, and was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.
LEADERSHIP TRANSITION IN MIDLOTHIAN
Leslie Haley, who had been elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019, resigned as the Midlothian District’s representative on the Board of Supervisors in early June and accepted a position as Virginia’s deputy attorney general for government operations and transactions. The remaining four board members subsequently appointed Tara Carroll to serve as interim Midlothian supervisor. Carroll held the office until November, when Dr. Mark Miller won a special election to serve out the remaining year on Haley’s second term. All five seats on the board will be on the ballot in November 2023.
COMMUNITY CUP BACK FROM HIATUS
Cancelled for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Cup brought Richmond-area first responders back together with members of the region’s multicultural community on the soccer field. River City Sportsplex hosted this year’s event, a regional partnership between Chesterfield and Henrico counties, the City of Richmond and Virginia State Police, which uses soccer to promote trust, encourage communication, break down cultural barriers and create mutual understanding between first responders and immigrant communities.
CHANGES TO CURBSIDE RECYCLING
With the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority’s (CVWMA) curbside recycling contract expiring next June, and after participating in the regional body’s procurement process for a new agreement, Chesterfield has concluded that its citizens can most cost-effectively access curbside recycling through a direct relationship with private haulers. In recent years, multiple companies have entered the marketplace offering bundled trash and recycling collection services. Thousands of county households now use these bundled services and trends suggest this number will only increase going forward. By introducing free-market competition into the process, Chesterfield residents who want to participate in curbside recycling ultimately will receive the best service at the lowest cost, while eliminating the necessity for the county to continue in a middleman role.
HOUSING CHALLENGES CALL FOR CREATIVITY, COLLABORATION
Through partnerships with local nonprofits, Chesterfield is working to address a shortage of quality residential units that are affordable to people with low and moderate incomes. That includes the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust’s first permanently affordable subdivision, Ettrick Landing, which is under construction on county-owned property in the village of Ettrick. Better Housing Coalition broke ground on Winchester Forest, a $45 million project that will add 160 affordable garden-style apartments to its existing 240 multifamily and 234 senior housing units in the northern Route 1 corridor. Meanwhile, Project:HOMES has embarked on an ambitious plan to revitalize the Bermuda Estates mobile home park, which it acquired in 2020, gradually replacing most of the 50 existing trailers with more sustainable, energy-efficient manufactured housing.
CURTAIN RAISED ON CONCERT SERIES
After hosting shows by Chase Rice and Chris Janson at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds complex in fall 2021, Event Makers USA launched the new Chesterfield After Hours concert series at River City Sportsplex this year with a performance by Aaron Lewis and the Stateliners. The series was a hit with music fans across the county, bringing in such well-known acts as Little River Band, 38 Special, Switchfoot, Collective Soul and the Roots N’ Boots Tour with country artists Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye. We’re excited to see what’s in store for Chesterfield After Hours in 2023.
NEW PUBLIC FACILITIES FOR A GROWING COMMUNITY
Chesterfield broke ground on several public facilities that are needed to address service demands from the fastest-growing population in the Richmond region. That included a new 25,000-square-foot Midlothian Library, a new 15,000-square-foot Matoaca Fire Station No. 8, a mixed-use connector trail at Stratton Park and a replacement for Falling Creek Middle School that will have both increased capacity (1,800 seats) and a design that meets the needs of 21st century education. The county also formally dedicated new fire stations in Midlothian village and the western Route 360 corridor, the two areas that are seeing the greatest influx of new residents.
MOVING FORWARD ON STRATEGIC PROPERTIES
The Board of Supervisors rezoned the 41.9-acre Spring Rock Green shopping center, which is now owned by the Chesterfield Economic Development Authority (EDA), for a mixed-use redevelopment project with residential units, office and retail space, public facilities, a hotel, a parking deck and a sports and entertainment facility at the intersection of Midlothian Turnpike and Chippenham Parkway. The project is intended to create synergy with both the adjacent Boulders office park and the Stonebridge development south of Route 60. Following an analysis by veteran motorsports consultant Martyn Thake, the EDA also is preparing to issue a Request for Qualifications from entities interested in redeveloping the former Southside Speedway site with uses complementary to the nearby River City Sportsplex.
Chesterfield mourned the loss of three veteran leaders and dedicated public servants in 2022, including former county administrator Jay Stegmaier, retired sheriff Dennis Proffitt and U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin. Stegmaier, who worked for the county for 37 years, passed away Jan. 20. Proffitt, who was elected sheriff in 2007 and served in that role until 2014, died May 17. And McEachin, recently re-elected to represent part of Chesterfield in the Fourth Congressional District, died Nov. 28. All three men are remembered fondly by the community they served.