Tuesday, June 28, 2016

City Offices Closed July 4 in Observance of Independence Day

In observance of Independence Day, City government offices, including City Hall, will be closed on Monday, July 4, 2016. City offices will reopen at regular business hours on Tuesday, July 5.

The July 4 closing includes all branches of the Richmond Public Library and all City community centers. All branches of the Richmond Public Library will be open on July 2. The Broad Rock Library which is normally open on Sundays will be closed on Sunday, July 3 and Monday, July 4.

Richmond Animal Care and Control, 1600 Chamberlayne Avenue, will be closed from July 2 to July 5. Residents are reminded to please leave their pets at home for fireworks displays.

Refuse collection will not be performed on Monday as the City’s Solid Waste Management Division will also be closed. This closure will result in a one day delay of refuse collection for the week, as the collection schedule will resume on July 5 and continue through July 8.

The East Richmond Road Convenience Center and Hopkins Road Transfer Stations are also closed on July 4. Each facility will resume its normal schedule on Tuesday.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Multi-Year School Investment Funding Team Presents Triple-Action Investment Plan

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today presented a Triple-Action Investment Plan that grew out of the work of the Multi-Year School Capital Investment Project Evaluation Team that he convened in April of this year.

The Project Evaluation Team was charged with charting a funding course for the long-term renovation and construction plans of Richmond Public Schools in a way that would protect the overall funding needs and fiscal integrity of the City. The Team met its goal of completing its review by the end of June.

The Triple-Action Investment Plan calls for immediate action of expanding the Governing Debt Policy ceiling from 10% to 12%. This action will expand debt capacity to over $580 million over the next decade, making that borrowing capacity available to the City if the governing body elects to utilize it. At the same time, the City is charged with coupling that action with additional policies; concerning the City’s unassigned fund balance, reserve levels, and equalization policies; in order to maintain and protect the City’s’ current credit ratings, to the extent possible.

The Triple-Action Investment Plan then maps out action for the intermediate term and the long term, to include adoption of a Strategic Funding Plan and the necessary tax adjustments that will be needed to fund the plan.

The final report of the Project Evaluation Team narrowed the options down to six potential revenue sources that met the necessary criteria. Those criterion include that the source of funds be sustainable, reliable, available and under the locality’s control and discretion. The governing body will have to decide which tax adjustments or combination thereof will be utilized to fund the plan.

Long-term recommendations include accountability measures on both the Schools and the City Administration in order to show smart utilization of the dollars provided. 

“This is a realistic approach that provides a 10-year program to move us forward,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “This is a well thought-out plan that will require discipline, but that will make us a better city in the long run.” Both the Schools and the City are now working to finalize their lists of targeted projects to be pursued over the 10-year funding period.

The following chart shows the Triple-Action Investment Plan in brief. The full report of the Multi-Year School Capital Investment Project Evaluation Team is available here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Richmond Wins 1st Place for Climate Protection Efforts

Today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Richmond was announced as the nation’s 1st Place winner for the Large City Category in the 2016 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this mayors’ awards program recognizes mayors for their energy and climate protection efforts, selected by an independent panel of judges from a pool of mayoral applicants. New Bedford, MA Mayor Jonathan F. Mitchell won first place in the Small City Category.

Click here to watch the live stream of Mayor Jones receiving the award.

“Mayors Jon Mitchell and Dwight Jones are both innovators and leaders, showing us how to confront the energy and climate protection challenges before our cities and the nation,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “As we witnessed in Paris late last year, it is the mayors who are the first responders in this global battle, whether it is reducing harmful emissions or fortifying their cities to withstand increasing threats from climatic events.”

"Improving the quality of life for our residents and creating a healthy environment while enhancing economic development and job creation opportunities are our triple bottom-line goals of RVAgreen,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “As the first and only local government in Central Virginia to create a formal sustainability program, we’ve been able to lead the way with improvements from our CNG fleet conversions, expanded recycling efforts, community gardens program, new bike infrastructure, and many other efforts that make up our 55 initiatives under the plan.”

The following comes from the Mayors and Climate Protection Best Practices report sent out by The United States Conference of Mayors:

First Place Winner Richmond, VA and Mayor Dwight C. Jones -- RVAgreen, the City’s Sustainability and Energy Management Program, makes the city of Richmond more livable, more competitive, and more resilient, while improving the economic and environmental performance of its government operations. This community-based plan developed over a yearlong process with the input of more than 400 citizens and 65 stakeholder organizations and has five focus areas: economic development, energy, environment, open space and land use, and transportation.

From the baseline year of 2008-2013, the program has reduced CO2 emissions within city government operations by almost nine percent and community GHG emissions by nearly six percent.

Richmond was the first and is still the only local government in the Central Virginia region to create a formal sustainability program. An innovative feature of this city effort is the depth of collaboration with the community. RVAgreen is a community-based plan that was the result of a yearlong community-based planning effort, involving more than 400 citizens and 65 stakeholder organizations. The plan’s 55 initiatives are being implemented in partnership with the community.

RVAgreen has improved the city’s quality of life in many ways:

  • Converted all 520 signalized intersections in the city limits from incandescent to LED lamps;
  • City construction and renovation projects over 10,000 sq. ft. to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver Certification;
  • CNG fleet conversions to save money, operate more efficiently and reduce harmful emissions: fleet of 32 diesel refuse trucks converted to 25 CNG trucks; assisted Richmond International Airport in converting its 14 shuttle bus fleet to CNG vehicles, and working with the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) to replace its fleet of diesel buses with CNG buses;
  • Created a stormwater utility to better manage stormwater runoff and encourage green practices by offering credits to commercial and residential customers that implement practices on their property;
  • Expanded curbside recycling service to all city residents and in the process of implementing pay as you throw to enhance recycling further;
  • Installed 44 Big Belly solar-powered trash cans and recycling units on city sidewalks;
  • City’s Community Garden Program to offer vacant parcels to residents to grow fresh, organic food in neighborhoods;
  • Created the James River Park Conservation Easement to conserve 280 acres along the James River from future development;
  • Since 2010 the city has planted and established nearly 2,000 trees annually;
  • Expanding multi-modal transportation options via Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on a main artery through downtown;
  • Developed a Bicycle Master Plan that strategically plans greenways and connectors;
  • Obtained Bronze level Bike Friendly Community status;
  • Built 25 miles of bike infrastructure since 2010; and
  • Completed the Virginia Capital Trail – a 53-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail that connects Richmond to Williamsburg.
One initiative that attracted attention to the city’s efforts was its hosting of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships (2015 Worlds), one of cycling’s preeminent events. Richmond was the first U.S. city to host this event in thirty years.

The international event attracted more than 645,000 spectators with more than 1,000 professional cycling athletes from 75 countries competing in 12 world championship races. The city rose to the challenge and accelerated its RVAgreen sustainability initiatives, ensuring the event was a sustainability success and that it had a lasting positive impact on the community.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

City Crews Collect More Than 700 Tons of Thunderstorm Debris

~ East Richmond Road landfill is target location for residents’ debris removal efforts ~

City of Richmond crews reported that a total of 711 tons of debris had been removed from City streets since storm recovery efforts began. With the exception of Willow and 2nd streets, all City streets are now passable. 

The City’s arborist has begun to measure the storms impact on the existing tree inventory to determine what additional trees may have to be removed for safety.

The City’s recovery effort includes code enforcement work. City officials have surveyed hundreds of properties to ensure public safety and are identifying those properties that will require repair.

Byrd Park, which initially had been closed due to downed wires and trees, is now open during regular hours. Bryan Park remains closed as clean-up continues in that area. Battery Park Pool remains closed at this time.

At Bellevue and Hermitage roads, the traffic signal remains out. Temporary signalization will be installed by Friday, weather permitting. Motorist should continue to treat this intersection as a four-way stop. In other areas, city crews are continuing to check intersections and roadways for damaged signs, minor malfunctions or skewed apparatus and making the necessary adjustments.

The East Richmond Road landfill is open and operating on its regular schedule from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Residents are encouraged to bring storm related debris to that location. Residents can also place yard debris, such as limbs and brush, near their property line at the curb or near the alley for collection. If at all possible, large limbs and trees should be cut into manageable sizes to make the removal process easier and quicker. However, leave large jobs to professionals. Yard debris should not be placed in the street, alley or on the sidewalk. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Information concerning food safety and precautions to take during electrical power outage

The Richmond City Health District advises residents to take precautions regarding their refrigerated and frozen foods as well as their medications and medical supplies during a power outage.

If your electrical power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.  The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4-hours if it is unopened.  A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-full) if the door remains closed.

Frozen foods should be kept well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and refrigerated foods should be kept below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.  If at any point the food in your refrigerator was above 40ºF for 2-hours or more, it is not safe to eat and you must discard it.

If you have medicines such as insulin that require refrigeration you should call your pharmacy to talk about what options are available.  According to product labels from U.S. insulin manufacturers, it is recommended that insulin be stored in a refrigerator at approximately 36º to 46º F. Insulin products contained in vials or cartridges supplied by manufacturers may be left unrefrigerated at a temperature between 59ºF and 86ºF for up to 28 days.  Check with your pharmacist to be sure.

Always plan for emergencies; if you take medicine or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have enough on hand to last at least a week.  This includes oxygen.  If you use oxygen, please contact your regular supplier and request to have extra bottles delivered to you.  Don’t rely upon emergency responders as a primary resource to assist you with these types of supplies.

For more information, visit these websites:

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mayor Jones Issues Statement on Orlando Tragedy

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issues the following statement in regards to the mass shooting tragedy in Orlando, FL:

"Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this recent tragedy. What happened in Orlando is all too familiar here in our state to those families from Virginia Tech where 32 people were killed. Until today, the Virginia Tech incident was known as the deadliest shooting rampage in American history. Now the Orlando massacre is known as the deadliest. How many deaths will it take for us to see change ushered in concerning gun control? How many more examples do we need to accept that some fundamental things have to change; especially with respect to the availability of assault weapons? It i’s just common sense reform that we need; reform that we have no more time to waste waiting for."

On Friday, June 17, at 7 p.m. at the John Marshall Courts Building, 900 North 9th Street, I will take part in a Candlelight Prayer Vigil hosted by United Communities Against Crime and Delegate Delores McQuinn. Please join us to remember the victims and to support the families of Orlando.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

City Introduces New Bike Share Program, The B

Along with Jakob Helmboldt, City Pedestrian, Bicycle and Trials Coordinator for the City of Richmond and Aaron Dotson, Principal for Elevation, Mayor Jones introduced on Wednesday, June 8, the City’s new Bike Share Program, the B! The B is fast, the B is healthy, the B is sustainable.

“Implementing the bike share program is one of the 55 initiatives in the RVAgreen Sustainability Plan and is a recommendation of the City’s Strategic Multi-Modal Transportation Plan and Bike Master Plan,” said Mayor Jones. “This is great news as in addition to adding more bike infrastructure and public bike racks; the “B” is another step in making RVA even more bike friendly.”

Bike Share is a public system of bikes and stations where the bikes may be quickly checked in/out with the swipe of a card or a smart phone. Think of it as bike transit, often used for short trips, usually “utility trips” like errands, meetings, or even commuting. Bike Share serves as a means to provide people a convenient travel mode that is readily available, while negating the need to have a personal bike available for short trips around the city.

“The project has been under development for some time and has entailed a lot of planning and logistics to bring it to fruition. But we are finally seeing the fruits of our labor,” said Jakob Helmboldt. “With the development of this exciting and creative brand, fabrication of our equipment can proceed and we can enter the final stages of project delivery.”

The first phrase of the Bike Share Program will include a fleet of 220 bikes and 20-22 docking stations, or “hives”. The second phase will launch in 2017 with hopes of doubling the amount of both bikes and hives.

The fee schedule ordinance will be introduced to City Council on Monday, June 13 and the City’s Urban Design Committee will begin review of the 20 Bike Share Station locations on Thursday, June 9.

Following an RFP procurement and selection process, the City executed a contract in February 2016 with Bewegen Technologies. The City received grant funding from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program for both capital costs and the first year of operational costs. The City was required to provide a 20% match for the first phase of the system launch. As a result, the first phase is currently funded at $1.34 million, which includes the CMAQ funding and the City CIP contribution ($280,000). The first phase of funding covers $393,000 paid to Bewegen to operate the system for the first year.

Click the image of the maps for a larger image.
    Phase I

   Phase II