News in 5: Local residents divided over Yorktown cruise ship plans

Good morning!

We’re in for several very hot days, with a heat index reaching into the triple digits every day through Sunday, according to Meteorologist Myles Henderson of WTKR News 3.

Today will feel warmer than yesterday as the humidity continues to build. Afternoon highs will be in the mid-90s with a heat index near 100. 

Rain chances will increase as we head into the weekend. Storms will be possible Friday afternoon. There will also be a 50% chance for scattered showers and storms on Saturday and Sunday. 

The dew point forecast for the weekend will be in the mid-70s, officially reaching the “unpleasant” and “miserable” ranges.

Now to the news.


1. Local residents are divided about plans to bring Princess cruises to Yorktown.

  • Princess Cruises announced earlier this year that their cruise ships will be stopping in Yorktown in 2024, but not everyone is happy about the plans.
  • A group of local residents met at Yorktown Library on Monday to discuss their concerns about the arrival of the ships. The group put together a list of questions they plan to bring before local officials, according to the Virginia Gazette.
  • Residents have cited a variety of concerns about the arrival of the ships. Many say they’re worried the influx of so many tourists will overwhelm the quaint communities of the Historic Triangle. Others have expressed concerns about environmental impacts and potential threats to historic areas.
  • “It’s going to totally change the character of this town and it’s a national tragedy if that happens,” Yorktown resident Jacques van Montfrans told WTKR News 3 regarding the cruise ship plans. “We simply cannot accommodate the largeness and the massiveness of these ships.”
  • Meanwhile, local officials have echoed the sentiments expressed by Princess Cruises’ leadership, stressing that the ships will provide substantial economic benefits for the region. They say bringing visitors to the area via cruise ships makes sense because sustaining tourism is a top economic priority.
  • “Additional visitors coming to our area via the cruise line would contribute to the region’s economy, benefiting retail, restaurants, and regional attractions, as well as generating revenue for both the Commonwealth and multiple local governments,” said York County Economic & Tourism Development Director Kristi Olsen-Hayes.
  • Some local business leaders also say they’re looking forward to the arrival of the cruise ships because they anticipate a significant boost in sales.
  • “I think the extra influx of visitors is going to be a positive for the area,” said Jill Pryor, owner of Patriot Tours & Provisions in Yorktown. “Yorktown is such a unique spot. It has so much history.”
  • State lawmakers have already been looking into plans that would incentivize continued cruise ship visits to Yorktown well past 2024. An amended version of the State Senate’s 2023 budget proposal includes an allocation of $7.5 million to “support the initial phase of a major cruise line tourism commitment to Yorktown.”
  • Two ships will be making their way to Yorktownas part of multi-port itineraries next year. The Island Princess, which can accommodate 2,200 guests, will dock in York River three times, and the Emerald Princess, which can take up 3,080 guests, will visit two times. They’ll be coming from New York and Boston.
  • The cruises are scheduled to take place on June 10, 21, 23 and 27 and October 27, according to Princess Cruise’s website. The ships will dock in the York River from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., allowing travelers to take the ferry to shore to explore local historic sites.
  • To see the full itineraries, click here.

The Island Princess is slated to visit Yorktown three times in 2024. (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruise Lines)

2. A multi-year effort to repair the Colonial Parkway is set to begin next month.

  • A three-year-long repair project involving a 10-mile section of the Colonial Parkway is scheduled to begin in August.
  • Jerry Whitlock, a design-build integration manager for Wagman-JMT, provided an update on the project during a Williamsburg City Council work session on Monday. 
  • Construction on the first segment will encompass a section of the parkway that spans from Route 199 to Hubbard Lane, Whitlock said. That work will begin in early August and is anticipated to last until October 31, 2025.
  • The second phase will include a section between Felgates Creek to Penniman Road and will begin in the spring of 2024. The final segment of the project encompasses the stretch between the traffic circle at the Williamsburg Visitor’s Center to Penniman Road. That work is expected and is expected to begin in the winter of 2024 and end in the spring of 2026.
  • Portions of the parkway will be closed while the repair work takes place. Detour routes will be available. However, drivers will not be required to use the detour routes, and many local residents will likely use other routes that are more convenient, according to Whitlock.
  • “These are ‘can-use’ detour routes,” Whitlock said. “They’re mainly for the tourists [and] out-of-town folks.”
  • The goal is to complete all of the repairs to the parkway before the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026, which is expected to be a momentous occasion for the Historic Triangle.
  • Colonial National Historical Park received $123 million from the Great American Outdoors Act to cover the costs associated with repairing and maintaining the parkway.
  • Public meetings will be held periodically to update people about the progress of the project. Updates will also be posted online here.
Repairs to the Colonial Parkway are set to begin next month. (Photo by The Triangle)

3. A Navy service member has died following a motorcycle accident in James City County.

  • A U.S. Navy service member died in James City County after crashing his motorcycle Friday night into a wooded area.
  • Officers responded to assist U.S. Park Rangers following two motorcycle crashes that occurred simultaneously on the Colonial Parkway shortly before 8:30 p.m. Upon arrival, Quentin Perkins, a 20-year-old active-duty service member from New Jersey, was found dead at the scene.
  • A second motorcyclist who crashed sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to Riverside Regional Hospital for treatment.
  • Upon further investigation, officers determined the two solo-riding motorcyclists involved in the crash entered a turn at high speeds before exiting the roadway and crashing. They were traveling within a group of eight and rode from York County to James City County on the Colonial Parkway. Several witnesses on the roadway “reported reckless driving by motorcyclists” prior to the accidents, according to James City County police.
  • Neither alcohol nor drugs were involved in the crashes, according to initial findings. The crashes remain under investigation.

4. Virginia is underfunding its schools, according to a major new report.

  • Virginia is allocating about $1,900 less per student than the national average, according to a major new study issued by the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC). That figure stands even when regional differences in the costs of labor are taken into account.
  • Why it’s relevant: The 18-month, 160-page JLARC study is likely to have wide-ranging impacts on lawmakers’ ongoing debates over school funding. JLARC is known for its thorough, nonpartisan approach to researching pressing policy matters, and its conclusions and recommendations are likely to be heavily reviewed by both sides of the aisle. 
  • Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a July 10 Tweet that the report is a “wake-up call” and argued that his Democratic predecessors “failed to provide adequate funding in K-12 education.” He added that the budget amendments he proposed this year would include a $427.7 million increase in public education spending.
  • Meanwhile, Democrats say Gov. Youngkin’s proposed tax cuts would worsen the picture for public schools by reducing state revenue.
  • It will cost about $3.5 billion to close the gap and invest adequately in Virginia’s students, according to the study.
Study finds Virginia public schools are underfunded (13NewsNow)

5. Newport News has launched its “Zoom In” photo contest for 2023.

  • The annual “Zoom In on Newport News” photo contest has officially kicked off for 2023.
  • The winner of the contest will receive a $500 cash prize. Any of the submitted images may also be used in Newport News Tourism publications and on the city’s tourism website. Submissions are open now through October 13, 2023
  • The theme: This year’s contest theme is “Breakthrough Fun in Newport News!” Photographs entered into the contest should focus on recognizable places in Newport News.
  • “If [your photo] shows people having fun in Newport News, consider it entry-worthy!” the contest guidelines state.
  • Anyone is invited to enter to win, including visitors and city residents.
  • For additional details and rules or to submit an entry, click here
A previous “Zoom in on Newport News” winning photograph. (Photo courtesy of the City of Newport News)

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