Thursday, November 16, 2017

Nearly 1,600 Richmond Alleys Already Repaired in 2017


Click here to view the video from the press conference.
Mayor Levar M. Stoney today recognized Department of Public Works (DPW) crews for making repairs to nearly 1,600 alleys in the City of Richmond.

What started as an ambitious endeavor to repair, re-grade and re-gravel 1,300 alleys by the end of September has turned into a far greater DPW success. Mayor Stoney joined DPW crews in the recently-repaired alley of North Nansemond Street (between Ellwood Avenue and Floyd Avenue) to thank city crews for their hard work and for exceeding the yearly goal by nearly 300 alleys.

“This is a great accomplishment,” said Mayor Stoney. “I thank DPW Director Bobby Vincent and his team for answering the call of citizens to do more, and to step up these repairs so desperately needed in our alleyways.”

DPW began an ally repair blitz in late June, expecting to complete the 1,300 alleys goal by the end of September. But crews have repaired 1,580 alleys to date, and repair work will continue as weather conditions permit. The repairs made this year have totaled 103 miles, more than half the combined distance of all city alleyways.

Crews have also exceeded last year’s pothole filling total of 18,000 potholes, and have filled more than 23,700 as of November 2017.

For more information on DPW services and schedules, please visit RichmondGov.com.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Monument Avenue Commission Announces Expanded Engagement


The Monument Avenue Commission announced a wide-ranging plan for community engagement at its organizational work session meeting on Tuesday.

From January through April of 2018, the Commission will conduct outreach with stakeholders, community and other interested groups designed to facilitate constructive dialogue that will allow more direct contact with residents through varying meeting formats.

Starting in December, interested groups will be able to submit a request for a delegation of Commission members to attend a meeting to discuss the monuments. The commission will endeavor to meet all reasonable requests to engage on the issue during this time period.  
  
“The next phase of the Commission’s work will focus on productive working sessions with engaged groups and residents and facilitated though different categories such as artistic and creative design, historic preservation and social justice,” said Commission Co-Chair Christy Coleman. 

“We feel the new format and focus will help best cover the myriad issues of this very complex and important discussion,” said Commission Co-Chair Gregg Kimball. “We look forward to the outreach sessions with the community.”

Commission members also discussed incorporating a general public hearing on its progress in the spring of 2018.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Commission presented an overview of the more than 1,100 public submissions received to date and announced that all submissions will be published on the Commission’s website in early December. 

Richmond City Attorney Allen Jackson outlined his recent binding legal opinion that, for the time-being, the City must obtain legislative approval from the General Assembly to remove the statues but left open the possibility of interpretation through other methods. (Opinion can be viewed here).  

The Commission also detailed and demonstrated the vast and growing historical resources available from the American Civil War Museum, with support from the Library of Virginia, The Valentine Museum and the Virginia Historical Society that are online at onmonumentave.com for the public to learn more.   

The Commission’s web site (monumentavenuecommission.org) continues to be available for accepting public comment. 

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Richmond Completes 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Nearly Three Weeks Early


Mayor Levar M. Stoney this evening announced Richmond has completed the 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), which is due to the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts November 30.

This is the first time in four years the city has filed the report on time or before the state-imposed deadline. The 2015 and 2016 CAFRs were filed nearly a year and five months late respectively, causing consternation among members of City Council and the public. Mayor Stoney made a campaign promise and inaugural commitment that the 2017 CAFR would be completed on time, and the city’s Finance Department delivered.  

“Your government is now working better and more efficiently,” said Mayor Stoney. “We made this a top priority this year, and the Finance Department did a tremendous job. I am pleased to provide the state’s Auditor of Public Accounts and our City Council with timely audited financial statements that show Richmond is moving in the right direction.”

The CAFR consists of financial audit statements completed in compliance with the accounting and financial reporting standards established by the US Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).

“The 2017 CAFR shows Richmond now stands squarely on solid financial ground,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Lenora Reid. The 2017 CAFR will be posted on the Finance page of the City’s website, under the Financial Reports section.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Mayor Levar M. Stoney Announces Land Purchase Agreement in Larus Park Water Project with Chesterfield


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the City of Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities has entered into a contract to purchase 18.2 acres of forested land adjoining Larus Park, where 1.2 acres will be used to locate a pump station and ground storage tank as part of an agreement to provide an additional 5 million gallons of drinking water a day to Chesterfield County.
Pending the approval of City Council, the acquisition from the Redford Land Trust will enlarge the footprint of the existing park by 25 percent, and dramatically increase the forested canopy that will be lost as part of the public works project.
“This is a better outcome and a win-win for our residents,” said Mayor Stoney. “Residents will get acres of additional, undisturbed, undeveloped park land which can be used for hiking trails and other passive uses. Our successful water utility will upgrade its infrastructure and return an additional $4.1 million in additional revenue over the next five years to help offset operations and maintenance costs to Richmond ratepayers. And we will be doing the right thing by helping our neighbor in Chesterfield.”
An Ordinance to allow the City to amend its Water Contract with Chesterfield County was submitted to Council in April 2017. After residents expressed concerns about the impact the public works project would have on Larus Park, Mayor Stoney directed the project team to reevaluate options. The result is a modified solution that will not only provide water to Chesterfield County, but also improve water supply reliability and resiliency to City residents while preserving and increasing the size of Larus Park.     
As part of the public works project, the City will purchase the land for $420,000 from the Redford Land Trust, which signed an agreement of sale last week. In addition, the County of Chesterfield will pay $91,136 to compensate the City of Richmond for trees removed as part of the project, and the City will apply the funds to the purchase price of the additional park land.  The additional land will be managed by the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities.
Chesterfield County will continue to pay its fair share of costs for ongoing operations and maintenance of city facilities as well as their percentage of joint and direct capital costs each year.  The County will pay an additional 3.8% share each year for all capital projects completed at the water treatment plant (the County’s total share of water plant capital projects will be 24.24% verse its current 20.45% share). Without the sale of this additional capacity to Chesterfield, City residents would be allocated these costs.  
“This project is part of the ongoing regional effort for a safe and resilient drinking water supply for all, now and into the future,” said Robert C. Steidel, the city’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Operations. 
BACKGROUND: This project builds on decades of cooperative regional water supply planning for Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and Richmond. As a wholesale water customer of the City of Richmond, Chesterfield County has requested an additional five million gallons per day of water capacity for Chesterfield County water customers. The City’s treated water supply is sufficient to allow this increase purchase. The additional water will be delivered to a pump station and ground storage tank located adjacent to the City’s existing Huguenot Road pump station on approximately 1.2 acres of land that the City will lease to Chesterfield. This project will provide Chesterfield county residents with up to an additional five million gallons per day of drinking water, an increase from 27 million gallons to 32 million gallons. The project will also provide City residents with more resilient and reliable water service to this portion of the City and fire protection for residents not currently in range of City fire hydrants.  
For more information, please contact Rhonda Johnson, City Department of Public Utilities: (804) 646-5463 or Rhonda.Johnson@Richmondgov.com.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

City Issues Request for Proposals for Major Downtown Redevelopment Project



Mayor Levar M. Stoney today formally announced that the city has posted a Request for Proposals (RFP) to spur redevelopment of a significant portion of real estate located in the neighborhood north of Broad Street in downtown Richmond.

The RFP addresses a project area that is generally bounded on the west by North 5th Street, on the north by East Leigh Street, on the east by North 10th Street and on the south by East Marshall Street. The project area consists of properties that have been identified as an economic opportunity area in the Pulse Corridor Plan, which was recently adopted by City Council as part of the City’s Master Plan. 
The North of Broad/Downtown Neighborhood Redevelopment Project will include a number of economic development components aimed at revitalizing underutilized city assets and improving the quality of life for Richmond residents in the areas of employment, housing and transportation.
Components to be addressed by potential respondents include:
* A replacement for the Richmond Coliseum
* Mixed income and affordable housing
* Local job creation and local hiring with Minority Business Enterprise and ESB participation goals
* A replacement of the GRTC transfer station
* A Convention Center hotel
* Historic preservation and adaptive reuse of the Blues Armory
“The goals of this RFP are bold,” said Mayor Stoney, but provide an opportunity to achieve a number of strategic objectives for the City. “To expand economic development and affordable housing opportunities; to generate revenue while achieving poverty mitigation through jobs and training; to provide historic preservation and community revitalization, to promote and support tourism, and to ensure sustainable development and investments in infrastructure.”
But Mayor Stoney made it clear that the City will not entertain any proposals that require the city to use its existing tax revenue or debt capacity to fund the project.  The City will not incur any moral or general obligation bonds to fund any private component of a proposal, but is willing to consider proposals that incorporate tax increment financing or the creation of special service districts. 
“We have too much to do for schools, housing, roads and other city priorities to leverage our limited borrowing capacity for this redevelopment,” Mayor Stoney said.
Prospective developers will have 90 days to submit proposals. City officials expect this to be a highly competitive process. A copy of the RFP can be found here.
“We are setting a high bar for our respondents,” said Mayor Stoney. “But that’s what we have to do if we want true neighborhood revitalization. This is a great opportunity for our city, and we want all of Richmond to benefit. By leveraging City-owned land, we can achieve transformational change. We look forward to receiving proposals that will continue our growth and serve the best interests of Richmond.”

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mayor Stoney, Governor McAuliffe announce Vision To Learn to Provide Free Eye Exams and Free Glasses to Students in Richmond Public Schools


Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and are proud to announce an initiative to provide thousands of Richmond public school students with free vision care, through a collaboration between nonprofits Vision To Learn and Conexus. The effort, which began October 26th at Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary School, will provide free vision screenings to over 20,000 students, and eye exams and glasses to over 7,000 students in Richmond.

“If you can’t see, you can’t read. And if you can’t read, you can’t succeed,” said Mayor Stoney. “Richmond is grateful for this partnership and proud to be the first Virginia community in which every child, K-12, will be provided the glasses they need to achieve inside and outside of the classroom.”

Over 7,000 kids in Richmond go to school every day without the glasses they need to see the board, read a book or participate in the classroom. Conexus will provide vision screenings to every child in Richmond Public Schools. Vision To Learn will provide each child who did not pass the initial screening with an eye exam, and if needed then, glasses.

“We’re delighted to provide kids in Richmond the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life,” said Vision To Learn Founder and Chairman, Austin Beutner. “Vision To Learn serves kids in more than 200 cities from Baltimore to Hawaii. We look forward to working with Governor McAuliffe, Mayor Stoney, Richmond Public Schools, and Conexus to help kids in Richmond.”

“As a longtime provider of vision screenings to students in Richmond, Conexus knows that thousands of RPS students need an eye exam and glasses. This partnership will help those students get the help they need,” said Conexus Chairman of the Board Mrs. Roxane Gilmore.

The initiative is supported with funding by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, Robins Foundation, and Richmond Community Foundation.

“Launching this program in Richmond is the first step toward ensuring that our students have all of the tools they need to succeed in the classroom,” said Governor McAuliffe, who signed legislation this year codifying routine and high-quality eye exams in public schools in Virginia. “Across the Commonwealth, an estimated 100,000 students lack eyeglasses. That’s why the work of organizations like Conexus and Vision to Learn is so critical. Through efforts like these, we can help thousands more students obtain the skills needed to thrive in the new Virginia economy.”

Students with untreated vision problems often struggle at school, and are less likely to achieve reading proficiency by third grade, putting them at greater risk of dropping out.
“Students who need glasses and don’t have them, are at a learning disadvantage,” said RPS Interim Superintendent Thomas Kranz. “Eyeglasses distributed today and throughout this program are one of the most important tools in creating a better educational experience for our students.”

The centerpiece of Thursday’s launch event was students receiving and trying on their glasses for the first time. Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary is the first school to be served by this effort; over the past month, all 389 students were screened and 32% were found to have a potential vision problem. 104 students received eye exams, and 97 were prescribed glasses.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

City of Richmond Partnering with OpenGov to Improve Budget Management Capabilities and Financial Reporting


Today, the City of Richmond announced it is partnering with OpenGov, a leading data management vendor specializing in government budgeting, reporting and operational performance technologies. The partnership was established to further increase budgetary effectiveness, transparency and accountability. 

OpenGov will be integrated with the city’s existing financial system and provide a cloud-based platform featuring uses for budgeting and both budget and Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) reporting. 

“This partnership provides our city government with a means to improve services and build public trust,” said Jay Brown, the Director of Budget and Strategic Planning. “This improved technology will allow us to streamline our budget development process, make numerous enhancements in terms of innovation and improve collaboration across city departments.”

On average, the more than 1,600 city, county and state governments using OpenGov have cut the time spent building their budgets by half, and the time spent preparing subsequent budget and financial reports by 80 percent. 

Richmond will now be able to seamlessly compile and compare multiple years of data, for example, as opposed to manually assembling vast amounts of numbers and figures within cumbersome and outdated spreadsheets still in use by many governments. This in turn will free up more city resources to be invested in and reallocated to other public services.

“Bottom line,” added Lenora Reid, Richmond’s DCAO for Finance and Administration, “this will be utilized to ensure our CAFRs are submitted on time and to further increase both transparency and accountability.”