Wednesday, October 22, 2014

City Announces Reduction in Purchased Gas Cost

The city of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) announced today a 20 percent reduction in the purchased gas cost (PGC) rate charged by (DPU).  This decrease comes as a result of improved price projections and increases in natural gas usage over the summer.

Mayor Dwight Jones stated that, “By law, the city passes along the cost of the natural gas it purchases and delivers to its customers, dollar for dollar without any markup.  As we enter the heating season, I’m pleased that we are in a position to announce this 20 percent reduction in the cost. The city will continue to review and adjust the gas costs on a quarterly basis to reflect the price that DPU pays for natural gas.”

Beginning with the first natural gas bill received in November 2014, the PGC will decrease from $0.815 to $0.650 per Ccf (100 cubic feet of natural gas).  As a result, the average residential customer who uses 70 Ccf per month will pay approximately $91.99 compared to a current bill of $103.54, an 11 percent reduction in the total natural gas bill.

Across all energy sectors (electricity, heating oil, propane), natural gas prevails as the most efficient and economical choice of fuel for home heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying. DPU offers information and programs year-round to encourage customers to better manage their utility bills and seek assistance before bills become unmanageable.  DPU also encourages customers to consider enrolling in the Equal Monthly Payment Plan in order to avoid large seasonal fluctuations in their monthly bill.  More information about EMPP and other programs is available by calling 644-3000 or visiting DPU’s website at http://www.richmondgov.com/dpu.

Remediation and Restoration Work Begins at Historic Ancarrow's Landing

~ Project completion targeted for the end of 2014 ~

Work is beginning in October for the remediation and improvement of historic Ancarrow’s Landing, a key part of the James River Park System. These efforts, first announced in May of this year, are being conducted through an agreement with ExxonMobil Oil Corporation, a successor company through merger to Virginia Carolina Chemical Corporation (VCC) the entity which occupied the site from the 1920s through the early 1960s. ExxonMobil voluntarily committed to the site’s cleanup and improvement efforts through the Voluntary Remediation Program by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) in 2010, a program encouraging hazardous substance cleanups that might otherwise not take place.

The Ancarrow’s Landing and historic Manchester Docks have long been thought to have excellent potential for Riverfront attractions and greater public use. The location, lack of through traffic, and limited flood protection had largely slowed efforts to improve the site over the years. The work will contribute to the City realizing the site’s potential and historical value.

Although conditions on the site do not pose any risk to users of the park areas, in order to improve the quality of the site and further ensure public health, a Remedial Action Work Plan was developed and approved by VDEQ to address select soils. Approximately 5,000 cubic yards of soil will be removed during the remediation process. Clean soil backfill, topsoil, gravel and vegetation will be imported onsite and used to restore the removal areas in accordance with the restoration plan.

“The city welcomes these changes to this important and historic area. Ancarrow’s Landing is a significant part of the city’s Riverfront Plan,” said Norman Merrifield, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities for the City of Richmond. “Once complete, this restoration work will make the park area more inviting for visitors and further enhance the City’s parks along the James River.”

Specific changes resulting from the restoration effort include:

  • Expanded parking areas for additional cars, trucks, and boat trailers
  • Reuse of several George Washington canal stones that are currently stockpiled and unused
  • Placement and use of tree islands and boulders to enhance and define the parking areas
  • Enhancement of the access trails from parking areas to the beginning of the historic Richmond Slave Trail
The City of Richmond Urban Design Committee approved the work plan and restoration plans in late May. All work is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

City Adopts Complete Streets Policy



~ City Administration begins development of guidelines for implementation ~

The City of Richmond achieved another milestone toward becoming a bike and pedestrian friendly city by adopting a Complete Streets Policy on October 13. Complete Streets is a transportation policy and design approach that helps make communities healthier, more livable, economically competitive and resilient. They are streets designed and operated to be safe, comfortable and convenient for all users regardless of age, ability or mode of travel.

Adopting a Complete Streets Policy was a recommendation of the Mayor’s Pedestrian, Bicycling and Trails Commission, the City’s RVAgreen Sustainability Plan, Richmond Connects and the Green City Commission. The Policy outlines the design and construction standards for sidewalks, public ways and public rights-of-way and requires that City transportation improvement projects provide appropriate accommodations to promote safe usage for all users.

“The goal of the Complete Streets Policy is to balance the access, mobility, and safety of all users while creating a stronger and healthier community,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “City residents as well as those who come to the city to work and play will all benefit from safer roads, more transportation choices, increased mobility and reduced pollution.”

The City Administration is working to develop guidelines for implementing complete streets in the City of Richmond as required by the City’s Complete Streets Policy. As detailed in Resolution 2014-R172-170, the City Administration has 12-months to develop implementation guidelines and incorporate those into the City’s “Right-of-Way Design and Construction Standards Manual.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

City Names Several to Leadership Posts


Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced that several vacancies created in the city administration’s leadership were filled with interim appointments utilizing existing personnel. The following appointments were made:

James A. Jackson, Director of the Department of Public Works since February of 2011, has been appointed to serve as Interim Deputy Chief Administration Officer (DCAO) for Operations. Jackson will serve in that capacity to fill the vacancy created by Christopher Beschler being named Acting Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

Emmanuel Adediran, Deputy Director/General Services, has been appointed to serve as Interim Director of Public Works.

Lee Downey, Director of Economic Development since April of 2011, has been appointed to serve as Interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Economic and Community Development. Downey will serve in that capacity to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Peter Chapman.

Douglas Dunlap, Deputy Director for Planning and Development Review, has been appointed to serve as Interim Director of Economic and Community Development.

“I’m pleased with the talent that we have available to us within the city government and the willingness of these individuals to take on the expanded roles in our operations,” said Mayor Jones. “We’ve worked to develop a team approach in our administration, and I look forward to working with these individuals as a part of our leadership team.”

The City Administration plans to conduct a full search for a permanent replacement to fill the CAO position as well as the DCAO for Economic and Community Development.


City Recognizes Rappahannock Restaurant on Esquire Magazine Recognition



The City of Richmond would like to congratulate Rappahannock Restaurant for being named one of Esquire magazine’s 12 best new restaurants in the country as part of the publication’s 2014 Food and Drinks Awards. The City would also like to recognize Sub Rosa Bakery in Church Hill as it was mentioned in an article touting Virginia as the Food Region of 2014. These acknowledgements are one of several national acknowledgements and recognitions restaurants in the City of Richmond have received in recent months.

The City’s Department of Economic and Community Development assisted both Rappahannock Restaurant and Sub Rosa Bakery by providing gap financing loans. The City has a variety of incentives and financial tools to assist businesses with their growth as they stimulate the revitalization of Richmond’s neighborhoods and promote permanent job creation for low and moderate income residents.

Please call (804) 646-5633 or visit www.YesRichmondVA.com for more information on the City’s incentives and financial programs.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Mayor to Direct Additional Funds to RPS


~Measure would establish $2 million reserve fund for short term~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that he intends to introduce an ordinance to establish a reserve fund for maintenance needs of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). The plan is designed to capture anticipated surplus funds that will result if City Council decides against rolling back the tax rate.

“While it was my desire to see us, as a government, offer the first reduction in the city’s real estate tax rate since 2007, it seems the will of the many is headed in a different direction and it is unlikely that City Council will approve the reduced rate,” said Mayor Jones. “I agree that the city has many needs that the additional funds can be directed toward, and I am suggesting that we initially establish a reserve fund for maintenance needs of Richmond Public Schools.”

RPS was allocated over $7 million in funds for FY2015 for school maintenance needs. Mayor Jones requested a status report on spending and learned that RPS has spent over $3 million of those funds in the first three months of the fiscal year. “Establishing this reserve fund is designed to provide a source of readily available funds for RPS to draw down from as their spending continues. This is a short-term measure to ensure they have a continuing source of available funds for maintenance needs that may arise in fiscal year 2015, while the long-term solutions are still being discussed and analyzed.”

Several long-term options are being explored by Jones’ finance working group, including possibly using funds from new assessed real estate to finance payments for a major loan, using savings from performance contracting to pay for maintenance needs, state and federal tax credits, and tax-exempt bond financing.

“I’m confident that we will chart a course for the long-term that will meet necessary needs,” continued Jones. “As the body responsible for the funding, we are doing our work to ensure we meet that responsibility. At the same time, I’m hoping to receive a plan from RPS that will address enrollment and performance concerns.”

A 2002 review of school facilities showed that Richmond Public Schools were under enrolled by more than 3,000 students at that time. Data today shows that trend continuing, as projected.

 “I still believe that sometimes less is more and that if RPS can work towards correcting the size of the system they are operating, we can save money, better direct the available resources, and hopefully return to lowering the tax burden on the residents of the city.”

The Mayor also indicated that he was not ready to direct all surplus funds toward RPS’s needs, citing police and fire career development and salary increases as other funding priorities the city needs to find ongoing money to support.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

City of Richmond Wins Stone Brewing


~Company to invest $74 million and create a minimum of 288 new jobs~

Richmond, VA – Mayor Dwight C. Jones joined Governor Terry McAuliffe today in announcing that Stone Brewing Co., the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States, has chosen Richmond as the preferred location for the establishment of an east coast operation.

“We are thrilled about Stone's decision to choose Richmond as its East Coast production and distribution facility location,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “After competing with more than 20 other states, we are so pleased that Stone has discovered those attributes that make Richmond a great place to do business. The fact that they have chosen a site in the Greater Fulton Community underscores their understanding of the rich history and natural assets that we have to offer. As they bring their unique craft beer and visionary business model here, I look forward to the many opportunities that lay ahead with Stone.”

Mayor Jones thanked his economic development team for their work on securing the agreement, citing the project as one that had many moving parts, requiring various amounts of expertise and a collaborative effort. The project will generate a minimum of 288 jobs in the first three years, a minimum of $41 million in machinery and equipment, and a minimum of $1.7 million in personal property.  The city also received a $5 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist with the project.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Today’s announcement marks the fruition of months of partnership and aggressive efforts to show Stone Brewing Co. that Virginia is the best state for its new craft beer production and hospitality facility. The company received submissions from more than 20 states, and the Commonwealth of Virginia was selected. This competitive, high-profile project really puts Virginia on the map and cements our standing as a serious player in the craft beer industry. In addition to Stone’s significant investment and more than 288 new jobs, the far-reaching economic benefits of this operation are innumerable. The City of Richmond offers the infrastructure, available site and
building, and natural resources that will allow the company to thrive and grow, and we are confident that Stone will benefit from the Commonwealth’s excellent business environment for years to come. Today is an achievement of great magnitude, and we are thrilled to welcome Stone Brewing Co. to Virginia.”

“The search for our location east of the Mississippi River was no easy endeavor,” said Stone President and Co-founder Steve Wagner. “We received and reviewed hundreds of proposals, visited more than 40 sites, and received quite a bit of attention from communities and craft beer fans. The three finalist cities each provided diverse offerings; however, we decided to begin next-step negotiations with Richmond because of their ability to meet our extensive site requirements, subject to the city’s approval. We also feel that Richmond’s vibrant energy and impressive craft beer culture, along with the uniqueness of the property, will allow us to create a truly memorable Stone experience for our fans. We are honored by the amount of time and effort all the communities that submitted proposals put forth, and we want to specifically thank Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones for welcoming us.”

 “We are working very hard on the economic development front to expand the city’s tax base, increase economic opportunity, and to provide opportunities for jobs and growth,” said Mayor Jones. “Our city has many needs, and we are working to provide the environment to meet those needs. Today’s announcement further cements the City of Richmond as a prime location for business.”

Mayor Jones noted that the agreement does require Richmond City Council approval, which he plans to advance the papers for their consideration next week.