Poquoson is a little city with big growing pains.

With only about 12,000 residents, Poquoson is one of the smallest cities in Virginia. It's secluded east of York County on a somewhat-remote peninsula — more than 90 percent of which is significantly flood prone. Even the Native American name "Poquoson" is said to mean "Great Marsh."

Despite the fact that just about the entire city ends up underwater following most coastal storms, Poquoson is still considered one of the most desirable places to live in Virginia. (It was even named the state's "best affordable" suburb in early 2010 by Bloomberg's Business Week Magazine).

The first mention of Poquoson, in a land grant, dates to 1631. Probably from that time, Poquoson has been a hub of commercial fishing. Watermen and their families used to be the majority population, but those days are nearly gone.

While Chesapeake Bay Deadrise boats are still commonly seen plying the waters surrounding Poquoson, most of the city's current residents hold other vocations. Nowadays, Poquoson is a bedroom community, with many of its residents working outside the city's borders at places like the shipyard in Newport News, NASA Langley Research Center or one of several nearby military installations.

While some in the city welcome new growth and support expanding the sparse commercial opportunities, others want to maintain Poquoson's Mayberry-like appeal at all costs. And that always makes for lively discussions when pondering Poquoson's future.

Jon Cawley

jcawley@

dailypress.com

Poquoson

Population: 11,794

Area: 16 square miles

Incorporated: 1975

Median age: 39.5

Mayor: Gordon C. Helsel Jr., (757) 868-6178, ghelsel@poquoson

-va.gov

County website: www.ci.poquoson.

va.us