EDITORIAL: Future of hospital property prompts key discussion


Arguably the most important issue on the Eastern Shore of Virginia right now is a shortage of housing stock for all income levels.

Housing for middle-income earners like teachers, first responders, and healthcare workers — sometimes called workforce housing — is so scarce that it is crippling job recruitment for our schools, businesses, and more.

A good community conversation is needed on the subject. And that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday, Aug. 23, in Nassawadox during a meeting about the future of the former hospital property.

Northampton’s county administrator said the property needs to be redeveloped or it will become a dumping ground. And the property qualified for a state grant that paid for a site study by an urban planner.

The site study showed what the property could become — imagine 100 to 150 housing units, senior living, green areas, and more. Such residential development could spur commercial development.

We’re glad there was a robust turnout for the meeting. And some of the questions asked were excellent. Some wondered who is going to provide police protection for a community at the former hospital site.

Some were concerned about the density of a planned community at the site. But large-lot subdivisions are a waste of space and a relic of the past. Smart zoning concentrates housing in a smaller footprint.

We hope school board members, business owners, and large-scale employers become proponents and supporters of more housing for middle-income earners.

The hospital property isn’t for sale and no formal plans for it have been made. But its possibility for housing is a conversation worth having — and repeating.

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