Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mayor Dwight Jones Announces Richmond's Eligibility To Pursue Federal EDA Funding

Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ resolution to validate the City Administration’s process for completing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) was adopted by Richmond City Council during its final session of 2010. The CEDS was completed by the Jones Administration this fall, and included public and private participation and leadership.

CEDS is an analytical document, which considers important economic development assets and opportunities, such as infrastructure, workforce development, target industries, and others. It makes strategic recommendations based on this analysis, and provides a framework and timeline for implementation of those recommendations. While the CEDS is an important tool to help the City achieve its economic development goals, it is also a prerequisite for access to many of the funding opportunities available through the EDA. Richmond's approved CEDS strategy has now been submitted to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Despite receiving federal grants totaling $105,000 from 2005-2007 to undertake a CEDS, previous city administrations did not complete this task in the time originally allotted by the federal government. Recognizing that Richmond’s lack of an approved CEDS blocked Richmond local government and businesses from pursuing federal EDA funding for projects located in the city, in 2009, Mayor Jones reached out to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and as a result, the Commerce Department granted the city an extension. This extension enabled the Jones Administration to complete in less than one year what had not been completed in the nearly five prior years.

“This is yet another example of why I created a consolidated Department of Economic and Community Development,” said Mayor Jones. “Under the leadership of DCAO Peter Chapman, and through the guidance and support of CAO Byron Marshall, the agency has established itself as a leading force in the city in helping to attract, retain and grow businesses, and in facilitating revitalization of under-invested neighborhoods. ECD has also helped restore Richmond’s credibility among key regional, state and federal economic development stakeholders such as the EDA. We are truly excited that another important avenue of funding will be opened up to Richmond as a result of completing this strategy.”

The Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and Interim Director of the Department of Economic & Community Development (ECD), Peter H. Chapman, and senior ECD staff oversaw the CEDS development process. The City also engaged the private consulting firm, TIP Strategies Inc. LLC, to facilitate this process and produce the final CEDS document. This work was funded through an EDA planning grant matched by resources from the City’s general fund. The City of Richmond CEDS highlights the following critical development concepts as ones that align well with EDA’s funding priorities:

  • Redeveloping Armstrong High School into a state-of-the-art skills development and education center. As envisioned, the project would be a regional endeavor that seeks to engage and support the activities of institutions such as J. Sargeant Reynolds, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, Medical College of Virginia, as well as other entities in the realm of healthcare and education—industries that drive the Richmond economy. This project concept also meshes well with the City’s keen focus on revitalizing the Nine Mile Road/25th Street corridor.
  • Working with the leadership of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park to establish a technology commercialization center. The proposed concept, Virginia Life Sciences Commercialization Center (VLSCC), would foster new business formation and job creation through provision of wet and dry lab facilities and light assembly space, and support services such as marketing, licensing and export controls. The report also underscores the opportunity for the city to pursue EDA funding to establish a revolving loan fund to nurture small- and medium-sized companies in the life sciences realm.
  • Assembling up to 200 acres of land for new technology, light industrial and commercial uses. Not only would this help spur job creation and revitalization in areas of south Richmond, particularly in the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor, but it would also expand the City’s presently limited inventory of land that can accommodate the space needs of certain employers.
“The City Council adoption of the CEDS is an excellent blueprint to guide the city’s vision for capital investment and job creation. This strategy allows city staff and administration to focus and promote their many positive assets such as life sciences, while identifying areas they need to continue to work on,” said Greg Wingfield, President of the Greater Richmond Partnership. “The Greater Richmond Partnership is excited that one of its local partners has committed the time and resources to its economic development efforts and we look forward to supporting their suggested attraction strategies and actions noted in the adopted document.”

To obtain a copy of the CEDS, please call (804) 646-5633, or visit the ECD website at http://www.richmondgov.com/.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mayor Jones Part of Historic Delegation to Senegal

~14 U.S. city mayors guest of Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones is part of a delegation traveling to the west coast of Africa for the World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures, an international gathering of musicians, artists, civil rights leaders and elected officials. The World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures will take place in Dakar, Senegal and the 2010 event is only the third time in 50 years that the event has taken place.

More than 200 African-American leaders will participate in the Festival, including groups from the National Conference of Black Mayors, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, and the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. In all, the festival is expected to attract 60,000 participants from 80 countries.

Mayor Jones is one of 14 mayors that make up the U.S. delegation. The invitation was extended through the National Conference of Black Mayors. The Festival is being viewed as an important opportunity to highlight the role of art and culture in promoting economic development. "I'm pleased to be representing the city of Richmond during this international visit and look forward to sharing with others the work going in in Richmond for arts programming," said Mayor Jones. "In Richmond, we've been working with arts and cultural district collaborators and we are clearly such a center of creativity. I will be letting everyone know about our international jazz festival and inviting delegations to visit Richmond," said Mayor Jones.

While in Senegal, the delegation will meet privately with President Wade, participate in myriad Festival activities, and visit Gorée Island which is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in commemoration of the painful history of the Atlantic slave trade. "Being able to visit Gorée Island even as we approach the sesquicentennial celebration back at home is very meaningful to me and will enrich the whole experience for me," continued Mayor Jones. The Festival will foster dialogue between Africa, its Diaspora, and the entire world regarding the contributions of black cultures to humanity.

Mayor Jones will be in Senegal from December 10 - 17. The World Festival of Black Arts and Cultures is scheduled to run through December 31.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ice Rink Permit Update

City Agrees that Proper Procedure Should be Followed
~All necessary permits for ice skating rink have been applied for~

The city of Richmond's Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) today underscored that a building permit should have been issued prior to work beginning: however, no mechanical or electrical work for the downtown ice skating rink preceded the permitting process and that all permits have been filed for and approved. Questions about the permitting process were raised after the city's department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities constructed a wooden frame and filled the area with sand to ensure a level base prior to the impending installation of the portable ice skating rink. "All relevant city departments are being reminded that they are to determine whether permits are required for work even if that work seems routine," said CAO Byron Marshall.

"The only work that transpired prior to the permitting process was essentially the building of a sandbox," said Ray Abbasi, the city's acting building commissioner. "The nature of the problem has been resolved and all permits have been issued. We are working with all parties involved with this project to ensure that proper procedures are adhered to and that all inspections are conducted according to USBC (Univorm Statewide Building Code). There is no reason to expect anything other than a sound structure that will bring much enjoyment to city residents and visitors."

The city announced last week that the new ice skating attraction will be opening on December 22 at 6 p.m. The rink will be located adjacent to Center Stage at 6th Street on the Broad Street side. Private donations funded the purchase and installation of the rink and admission fees are expected to cover much of the operating costs. Children under ten will be allowed free admission, but will require adult supervision. The admission price for all others will be $5 per person. Skate rentals are $3 a pair for kids and $5 for adults. Rink users can bring their own skates.

Holiday hours are expected to be set for the rink with shorter operational hours anticipated after the holiday season. A final operational schedule is being prepared and will be announced during the grand opening.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

City to Receive Green Giant Award for its Sustainability Efforts

The city of Richmond will receive the Sierra Club Falls of the James Group's Green Giant Award during the group's annual "Mistletoe and Holly" gala at the Science Museum of Virginia tonight. The city is receiving the award for environmental pioneering work, as it is the first major locality in the region to hire a sustainability manager and an energy manager to develop a comprehensive program to improve overall energy performance and increase sustainability. Among other items, the comprehensive program includes establishing a baseline greenhouse gas emissions inventory, retrofitting 220 intersections with LED lights by the end of 2010, and creating two new green alleys with permeable pavers to reduce storm water run-off.

"I thank the Sierra Club Falls of the James Group for this award. This recognition underscores my objective of developing and implementing sustainable policies and practices to conserve resources while creating cost savings for the city and taxpayers," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "Also, our Sustainability Manager Alicia Zatcoff and Energy Manager Larry Burkett have done an extraordinary job in assessing the city's carbon footprint. These efforts are reducing the city's greenjouse gas emissions and improving overall energy efficiency."

Each year the Falls of the James Group honors an individual or entity that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to protecting and improving the environment of greater Richmond. This year's award recognizes the city's work for not only saving taxpayer dollars, but also decreasing the demand for oil and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Mayor Jones Announces Installation of Seasonal Ice Skating Rink

~Grand opening scheduled for December 22~

The city of Richmond is getting further into the holiday spirit as Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced the imminent opening of an 8,400 square foot ice skating rink. Work has begun to prepare the site for the installation of the rink, which is expected to be in place within two weeks. "Plan to get those ice skates out or rent a pair on site, but do prepare to come downtown and enjoy the skating pleasure this holiday season," said Mayor Jones.

Mayor Jones announced last year his desire to place an ice skating rink attraction in downtown Richmond. The city's new ice skating rink will be located adjacent to Center Stage at 6th Street on the Broad Street side. Children under ten will be allowed free admission, but will require adult supervision. The admission price for all others will be $5 per person. Skate rentals are $3 a pair for kids and $5 for adults. Rink users can bring their own skates.

A grand opening event for the rink is being planned for the evening of December 22nd at 6:00 p.m. Holiday hours are expected to be set for the rink with shorter hours anticipated after the holiday season. A final operational schedule is being prepared and will be announced in the coming weeks.

“CenterStage is thrilled to have this wonderful rink in our back yard,” said Richard Parison, CenterStage Foundation Executive Director. “This is another wonderful attraction designed to bring families downtown to enjoy all the City has to offer. It’s great synergy to have an ice skating rink next to a performing arts center. I’m sure that children and families coming to see The Nutcracker will see this ice rink and plan to come back for skating, and those here to skate will hear about one of our fantastic shows!”

The ice rink purchase price and installation costs have been funded completely through donations to the city of Richmond. Initial costs for the rink along with the inventory of skates are approximately $155,000.

"I think lots of Richmonders and visitors to our city will enjoy the novelty of ice skating," continued Mayor Jones. "This is another way to bring fun and excitement to downtown and to provide a healthy outlet that can add to the physical fitness of our city."


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

City of Richmond Places First in 2010 Digital Cities Survey

The city of Richmond placed first in its population range in the 2010 Digital Cities Survey which is conducted by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology magazine. The survey measures and assesses the use of information technology by local governments which are categorized by their population size.

“I extend my sincere congratulations to the hardworking employees of the city’s Department of Information Technology for receiving this national recognition,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Today’s tough economic climate requires us to continually rethink how business is conducted and services are rendered. Achievements such as this are reflective of the city’s efforts to improve service delivery, even when faced with fewer employees and smaller budgets.”

The first place ranking is a first for the city of Richmond in the ten year history of the Digital Cities Survey. The previous high of second was obtained twice, once in 2005 and again in 2007. The Digital Cities Survey is open to all U.S. cities with a population of 30,000 or more and respondent cities are classified into four size-based categories. A full list of Digital Cities Survey winners is available at the 2010 Digital Cities Survey website.

The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. The Center is a division of e.Republic, Inc., the nation‘s leading publishing, research, event, and new media company focused on information technology for the state/local government and education sectors.

The city’s Department of Information Technology was recognized in September 2010 for several digital achievements as e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government announced its 2010 Best of the Web and Digital Government Achievement Awards. The Digital Government Achievement Awards recognize outstanding agency and department websites and projects at the application and infrastructure level. The city received awards for the Richmond Public Library (RPL) Debt Set-off System in the Government-to-Government category, Land Use Projects Parcel Mapper in the Government-to-Citizen City Government category, CommonCents – Mayor Dwight Jones employee budget feedback process in the Government Internal category, and an honorable mention for the city’s Traffic Accidents and Hazards web page in the Government-to-Citizen category.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mayor, City Council and School Board Present Unified Front

~2011 legislative breakfast with state delegation lays out legislative priorities~

Richmond, VA - The City of Richmond presented its legislative priorities for the 2011 Virginia General Assembly during a breakfast meeting with members of the state delegation. This is the first year that the Mayor, City Council and Richmond Public Schools have presented a unified legislative agenda.

"The Mayor, City Council and the School Board are figuratively and literally on the same page with our legislative program," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "In order for our city to reach its fullest potential it is imperative that we as leaders of this city - Senators, Delegates, City Council and Richmond Public School Board Members - work together to meet the needs of our residents."

The City is calling for help from the state delegation in moving forward with educational opportunities for all of Richmond's children; reducing urban blight; increasing economic development; creating and retaining businesses and jobs; and investing in workforce readiness, training and development. "One of our key 'asks' today is that you protect state funding to local governments," continued Mayor Jones. "The fiscal relationship between local government and the state must remain strong, so that cities like Richmond can provide their residents with the basic services they need, like education and libraries, and police, fire and human services."

Regarding the possibility of ABC privatization, the City asked that it be given the tools through zoning and regulation to control the location and number of liquor stores if privatization were to move forward. Council President Kathy Graziano also underscored concern about any unfunded mandates and asked the delegation to work against such actions.

"Hearing one voice from the City as opposed to fragmented messages is very much appreciated," noted Delegate Jennifer McClellan. "We can see a clear difference in how the City is working together."

"In these challenging economic times, it is in the city's best interest to show a united front with established priorities," said Manoli Loupassi.

Following are the legislative requests, funding priorities, and legislative priorities as presented:

Legislative Requests
Enabling legislation for cities to establish an enhanced derelict building rehabilitation process for residential property to combat blight, crime and neighborhood decay.
Authority to establish defense manufacturing zones.
Grant the City the power, prospectively only, to authorize partial exemptions for non-profit organizations from taxes on real estate.
Allow the waiver on accrual of interest on criminal or traffic fines or costs to apply to any case of an incarcerated defendant.
Provide state income tax credit to businesses that provide employee transportation assistance.
Study to review the Composite Index in order to ensure equitable treatment of urban localities.

Funding Priorities
Public Education: Increase the current level of state funding for basic aid, at-risk programs, Virginia Preschool Initiative, and other education funding streams.
HB 599 Funding: Increase funding for state aid to localities with police departments.
General Aid to Local Governments: Increase state aid job training, job readiness training, job retention, job creation, state enterprise zone program, brownfields, mass transit, combined sewer overflow projects, juvenile & adult drug court programs and justice services.

Funding Priorities - Schools
Continue composite index “hold harmless” for additional year due to unprecedented change in Richmond’s composite index.
Protect Virginia Preschool Initiative funding.
Prevent basic aid supplanting with Federal Education Jobs Funding.
Give flexibility on unfunded Standards of Quality/Standards of Accreditation mandates.
Give flexibility on K-3 reduction funds.
Fully fund Virginia Retirement System based on actuarial requirement.

Legislative Positions
Legislation to close the “gun show loophole”.
Legislation to support Technology, Nanotechnology and Biotechnology Investment Fund.
Funding and tax incentives for “green initiatives”.
Legislation that would provide relaxation of the Dillon Rule by giving localities greater local autonomy.
Support legislation directing the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the feasibility of creating state financial incentives for localities in developing/operating facilities and services on a multi-jurisdictional or regional basis.
Support legislation that would reduce federal and state mandates when funding is reduced, so that localities are not required to spend additional local dollars to comply with those mandates.
Support continued state financial assistance for local jail construction.
Funding for alternatives to incarceration programs.
Legislation to allow localities to charge higher fees for registering vacant buildings and include derelict properties on registries.

ABC Privatization and its impact on the city of Richmond.
2010 SJR 63 – Y. Miller: Study of passenger rail operations funding.
Legislation/studies related to the school funding formula.

Any legislation that would reduce local tax authority.
Any legislation that increases mandated services without appropriate resources.
Adverse changes to the funding formula for local jail construction.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mayor Jones Statement on Marcus Jones

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement concerning Marcus Jones, deputy chief administrative officer for Finance, and his appointment as city manager for the city of Norfolk.

"Marcus Jones' appointment to the role of city manager for the city of Norfolk is bittersweet for me. When I recruited Marcus to Richmond, I knew what a great talent we were bringing to our city. The work that he has done over the past 16 months has met or surpassed every expectation that I had. Marcus has the ability to build organizations and get the best performance from his staff. In the area of finance, he was able to curtail the use of costly consultants and restructure operations with city employees. Under his leadership, staff implemented programs that have resulted in significant budget savings. Marcus is a unique talent and it would be natural for my good friend, Mayor Paul Fraim, to lure him back. This is clearly an important move for Marcus' career, and he deserves this opportunity to ascend to the city manager role. I know that it was a difficult decision for him to make, as he has been a key member of my leadership team and we've all established strong working relationships with one another. However, it would be selfish of us to try to hold him back. We will deeply miss him as a part of our inside team but we will be rooting for his every success and even bigger accomplishments going forward."

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Mayor Cites Taxpayer Costs and Conditions at the Jail as Drivers for Moving Jail Project Forward Now

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement reiterating plans to build a new jail at the current site:

“A modern and humane jail is critical for our City and is long overdue. We have given adequate attention and consideration to varying ideas for a jail. Now we must work against the city’s plans for a new jail being held hostage by competing political interests and indecisiveness. It was our duty to consider whether alternative proposals would likely save both time and money and we’ve done that. It is clear now that delay will only serve to cost taxpayers additional money and leave existing conditions in place that have for too long gone unaddressed.

“In order to improve safety and other conditions, a new jail has to be built as quickly as practicable. The current facility on Fairfield Way offers the clearest opportunity to build quickly and effectively. The fact that the city owns the land will keep costs down for the taxpayer and help avoid further scheduling delays. Additionally, the existing site avoids the need for any new environmental impact studies saving yet more costs and time and possible remediation expenditures that would be associated with a new site.

“When we began moving forward with plans for a new jail and a model for alternatives to incarceration over a year ago, we worked to ensure adequate opportunities for community input. We hosted three tours to other cities to research the operation of their facilities and programs, and the community has had an opportunity to offer input on the location of the jail through two budget cycles now. The City Council has voted affirmatively on the current site four times. The consideration of a variety of proposals has served to inform the decision about moving forward on the existing site and has underscored that the existing site is the most cost-effective and timely approach.

“What we must do now is continue to work to ensure that the new jail is not only an improvement for the population that it serves and the brave men and women who work there, but also for the surrounding community. The existing site will be approached in a way that improves the aesthetics of the community surrounding the jail. We envision the new facility having the appearance of an office complex and not a jail. There will also be no visible barbed wire fencing and the jail will be architecturally and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

“Finally, it is imperative that we readily pursue alternatives to the incarceration of nonviolent individuals. Alternative programming is to be implemented over the next two years while the jail is being constructed. These alternatives will ultimately move us forward with reducing the jail population and lowering the costs of jail operations.

“This Administration is serious about change and the need to develop comprehensive solutions to the challenges we face. This is not a time to further stall forward movement on this pressing need and we are confident that the existing site is the most workable site and in the city’s overall best interest.”

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

City of Richmond to Adopt Electric Vehicle Pilot for City Fleet

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the city will launch an electric vehicle pilot for the city’s fleet. The announcement coincided with a visit from Ford Motor Company as part of Ford's "Charging into the Future Electric Vehicle Tour" that began in Portland, Ore. in August. Richmond was chosen as one of 14 stops where Ford is debuting the Transit Connect Electric demo vehicle. The following is Mayor Jones' statement from the press conference:

"I want to thank everyone for being here today. I don’t get very many "firsts" in life anymore; but today I've just completed another first for me - the driving of an all-electric vehicle. It's amazing to be standing here in front of Main Street Station - an historic railroad station originally built in 1901 - and today one can drive up in an all-electric powered vehicle. Main Street Station is a focal point for much of the city's multi-modal transportation efforts; like bus rapid transit, the capital trail and our strategic multi-modal transportation plan. So, it is fitting that we gather you all at this site today as we look into the future.

"I'm pleased to announce the city of Richmond's plans to conduct a test pilot of electric vehicles in our city fleet. We plan to purchase and test up to four all-electric vehicles in our city motor pool fleet. And if the pilot is successful, we may replace as many as 40 vehicles with all-electric vehicles as the fleet vehicles are scheduled for replacement over the coming years.

"Today's test drive involves the Ford Transit Connect Electric demo vehicle, manufactured in conjunction with Azure Dynamics. Ford has chosen Richmond as one of 14 city stops that are part of the 'Charging into the Future Electric Vehicle Tour.' I want to thank Ford for selecting Richmond as part of the tour and I want to thank Azure Dynamics for bringing the vehicle to Richmond. I hope you all will test drive the vehicle while they are here in our city for this effort.

"For the city fleet, the vehicles we will be procuring will be passenger sedans. These types of electric vehicles are just starting to come to market. The city will have a competitive process for the vehicles that we will purchase, and the pilot project will depend largely on when the vehicles are available; however we anticipate mid to late next year.

"Electric vehicles are just one part of my overall sustainability strategy for the city of Richmond. Under the Green Richmond Initiative, we've implemented a number of efforts designed to help us operate more efficiently, reduce energy and fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this week we accepted the Silver Green Government certification from the Virginia Municipal League. And we were recognized for several new environmental initiatives that reduce the carbon emissions within our government and within our community.

"In the transportation sector alone, we are transitioning the fleet of garbage trucks from diesel to compressed natural gas. We are reducing the number of trucks from 37 to 25 and not only will the trucks operate more efficiently, use less gas and save money, but the trucks will produce less carbon dioxide and other emissions. The city has long been encouraging alternative transportation to work and we offer free bus fare to employees that participate in the GRTC Rideshare Program. In addition, we are exploring opportunities for telecommuting and more carpooling as well as teleconferencing.

"An effort I'm particularly proud of involves the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Planning Commission which I formed earlier this year to recommend specific measures to reduce vehicle miles traveled and make Richmond more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Those final recommendations are on the way to me in the coming weeks.

"So, we've been busy, ladies and gentlemen, establishing our vision and moving forward with Building a Better Richmond and a Green Richmond. The city of Richmond is committed to sustainability and I want the residents of Richmond to enjoy an improved quality of life, a healthy environment and enhanced economic development and job creation opportunities. This pilot project and other sustainability efforts on behalf of the city are poised to help continue to move us toward becoming a Tier One city and we look forward to embracing the future with all of you."


Monday, October 25, 2010

Richmond Honored for Important Achievements in Sustainability and the Environment

The city of Richmond was honored recently with two important awards in recognition of its commitment to and achievements in climate protection and sustainability. On October 5, 2010, the city of Richmond received a Silver Award in the 2010 Virginia Municipal League (VML) Green Government Challenge during the VML Annual Conference in Hampton, Virginia. The VML will ceremonially present the award to Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the Richmond City Council at tonight's regularly scheduled city council meeting.

The Green Government Challenge is a friendly competition among local governments to encourage the implementation of specific environmental policies and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions. Local governments can earn between 100 and 124 “green points” by adopting policies or implementing actions in categories ranging from energy efficiency and green buildings to land-use and innovation. In addition, local governments can earn Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of certification for scores of 125 points or higher. Thirty-one cities, towns and counties participated in the 2010 Green Government Challenge. Of those 31 participating, 21 achieved the minimum score of 100 “green points” that was necessary for certification as a “VML Green Government.”

Richmond earned its Silver Award by implementing a number of new initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and utilize energy resources more efficiently including:

· Hiring the city’s first Energy Manager, Larry Burkett, a certified energy manager with over 30 years experience in the energy field to work with the city’s Sustainability Manager, Alicia Zatcoff, to develop a comprehensive Energy Management Program that includes improving the energy performance of all city agencies, creating operational efficiencies and identifying cost savings;

· Retrofitting traffic signals with LED lights. The Department of Public Works will convert 220 intersections by the end of 2010. This is estimated to save taxpayers more than $108,000 in annual energy costs. The city will also save more than $78,000 in annual maintenance costs. The city has a total of 469 signalized intersections.; and

· Creating the first two Green Alleys in the city, the 5th Street Alley and the 12th Street Alley, to reduce stormwater pollution by using permeable pavers which allow water to soak through rather than run off.

Mayor Dwight C. Jones indicated that he is "pleased with the progress the city is making thus far. We've already identified annual savings of over $100,000 because of our sustainability efforts with city agencies and I want to continue our efforts to improve the environment and save taxpayer dollars."

Also, on September 25, 2010, the city of Richmond was recognized for completing its Baseline Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and therefore completing Milestone One of the ICLEI Five Milestone process. ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the leading local government association addressing climate change and sustainability, made the presentation before an audience of 250 local leaders and sustainability experts in Washington, D.C. as part of its biannual Local Action Summit.

“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to recognize the great work and continued commitment to sustainability and the environment demonstrated by Mayor Dwight C. Jones. The city of Richmond’s commendable efforts are improving the quality of life of its residents, and in doing so our larger global community,” said Martin Chávez, Executive Director, ICLEI USA and three-term mayor of Albuquerque, NM.

“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the city of Richmond, our community, our committed employees and community partners. We are working hard to continue our progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and clean energy use, developing the local green economy and improving the quality of life for our residents,” said Alicia Zatcoff, Sustainability Manager.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

City of Richmond and Chesterfield County Awarded $400,000

City of Richmond and Chesterfield County Awarded $400,000
~ Planning grant funded to revitalize 4.7 miles of Hull Street Road~

The city of Richmond and Chesterfield County were awarded a $400,000 grant as part of an unprecedented collaboration between two federal agencies. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) jointly awarded the funds to help stimulate a new generation of sustainable and livable communities, connect housing, employment and economic development with transportation and other infrastructure improvements.

The HUD-DOT funding will support 62 local and regional partnerships seeking to create a more holistic and integrated approach to connecting affordable housing, job opportunities and transportation corridors. The Richmond/Chesterfield collaboration is the only partnership in Virginia to be in the group of 62. The application being funded, which was filed in August, is to develop an inter-jurisdictional comprehensive plan to revitalize 4.7 miles of Hull Street Road from just west of Belt Boulevard in Richmond to Walmsley Boulevard in Chesterfield, a commercial and residential corridor.

"This inter-jurisdictional approach toward corridor revitalization reflects the type of comprehensive economic development strategy that is necessary to move communities forward and to address issues surrounding poverty reduction, jobs, and opportunity," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "HUD and DOT get that we've got to connect all the dots in order to make communities more sustainable and livable."

The plan will incorporate an analysis of the corridor including zoning/land-use, traffic circulation/connectivity, streetscape, housing, infrastructure, demographics, public open space and community services ending in sector analysis, a community outreach strategy, a sustainability approach incorporating green building principles, green infrastructure and methods of mitigating environmental conditions, a market analysis, a housing strategy, a list of proposed incentives for businesses, property owners, and developers, and residences, an open space and recreation plan, adaptive reuse of vacant property and the identification of funding sources.

"Revitalization of the Hull Street Road corridor is key to the future health of adjacent neighborhoods,” said Chairman Dan Gecker of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. “By all of us working together, we can secure a healthy and vital future for area residents and businesses."

For more information, contact Juanita Buster, City of Richmond Planner III at (804) 646-6361, and Latisha Jenkins, Chesterfield County Revitalization coordinator at (804) 748-1065.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

City Receives Funding For Neighborhood Stabilization Program

The city of Richmond has been allocated $2.4 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to address foreclosed and abandoned properties in the Highland Park, Barton Heights, and Church Hill neighborhoods.

The city is partnering with Bradley Development, LLC, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, LLC; Lifetime Homes; Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity; Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority; and, Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation to redevelop and facilitate the homeownership and rental opportunities of the acquired properties.

Currently, 20 vacant and foreclosed properties have been acquired under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and are currently undergoing renovations. These properties will either be sold for homeownership or rented to persons whose total income is at or below the 120% Area Median Income (AMI). At least six homeownership opportunities will be created for persons who are at 50% or less of the AMI. Six rental units are proposed to be made available to low income persons who are at 80% or less of the AMI.

Marketing and sale of properties will be provided to income qualified households for homeownership at a discounted price consistent with program guidelines. Down payment and closing cost incentives will be available to qualified buyers seeking homeownership. The city’s non-profit partners will handle the sale and rental of all properties included in this program.

The following list is of the 20 foreclosed properties that are currently being renovated:

Church Hill Neighborhood
2614 P Street
1309 N. 23rd Street
822, 824, 826 N. 27th Street
1220 30th Street
1435 N. 32nd Street
1305 N. 37th Street

Highland Park Neighborhood
3600 Delaware Avenue
3315 Florida Avenue
1030 Fourqurean Lane
3020 Garland Avenue
509 Gladstone Avenue
1805 Rose Avenue
1700 4th Avenue
1201 Spruce Street
1203 Willow Street

Barton Heights Neighborhood
206 Home Street
1802 Monteiro Avenue
3023 Montrose Avenue

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Mayor Announces Manning as City's New Chief Service Officer

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today introduced Paul Manning as the city of Richmond’s first Chief Service Officer. As Chief Service Officer, Manning will serve as a senior city official, reporting to Chief Administrative Officer, Byron Marshall. Mr. Manning is charged with developing and implementing a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and target volunteers to address the city’s greatest needs.

Mayor Jones stated, “Paul Manning has a proven record as a senior level executive in the Richmond area in developing long and short term strategic business/financial plans; building financial, operational and administrative infrastructure which supports corporate objectives as well as, cultivating philanthropic donor relationships. In order to expand on our efforts to increase volunteerism, we needed an individual with the proven ability to provide proactive leadership in creating, developing and utilizing corporate resources to deliver growth of volunteerism in our city.”

Mr. Manning will be the lead for the city’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program; a program launched by Mayor Jones in April of this year designed to engage citizens in volunteerism, as they support their neighbors with a commitment to service. Neighbor-to-Neighbor projects have included mentoring to children in schools, visiting the elderly, as well as providing home repairs for elderly population, beautification projects throughout the city, supporting various special events, and youth programs to include back-to-school shopping and several others.

Manning’s position of Chief Service Officer is being funded through a Cities of Service Leadership Grant that was awarded to the city on June 30, 2010. “We went through a very competitive process with cities from across the country as only 10 cities were selected to receive the $200,000 grant over a two year period,” said city Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall. “Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the funds were made available exclusively for the hiring of a Chief Service Officer.” In addition to Richmond, Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Chula Vista, CA; Houston, TX; Little Rock, AK; Orlando, FL; and Pittsburg, PA were also selected as grant recipients.

Manning is the founder of U-Turn, Incorporated, and is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

City and RPS Host Community Conversation on Educational Alignment for Young Children

~Richmond one of only four cities selected to host such an event~

The city of Richmond, in conjunction with Richmond Public Schools (RPS) and the National League of Cities (NLC) Institute for Youth, Education and Families are hosting Richmond's Community Conversation: Educational Alignment for Young Children on Wednesday, September 22, from 2 to 7:30 p.m., at the Richmond Convention Center. Based upon a review of efforts in 11 cities to improve outcomes for young children by third grade, NLC chose Richmond as one of only four municipalities to join with the NLC in planning and hosting local "community conversations" on this topic.

Richmond was chosen for the Educational Alignment for Young Children Initiative after interviews with Dr. Carolyn Graham, deputy chief administrative officer for Human Services, and other city and school officials. The Community Conversation will focus on educational alignment efforts and identify ways that community stakeholders can work together to continue to improve outcomes for young children. The discussion will build on the current efforts of the RPS Preschool Grade Level Alliance and the city’s Early Childhood Development Initiative, and will serve as the first in a series of steps toward articulation of a formal system-wide prekindergarten – kindergarten alignment plan for the city.

According to the National League of Cities, in the long run, a high-quality, well-aligned system for young children that bridges the divide between early childhood programs and K-12 education can help improve outcomes for children, engage and support families, and strengthen the local schools and workforce. In turn, these benefits contribute to the economic and social vibrancy of a city. "Family and individual economic stability is of paramount importance in our anti-poverty strategy for the city of Richmond," said Mayor Jones. "We are developing a strategy that will lead to increased quality early learning opportunities as part of our intentional approach to youth development."

Federal officials with the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will participate in the meeting to learn more about local efforts and inform federal policy in this area. Event participants include area child care providers, teams from 12 city elementary schools to include parent representation, as well as community organizations that partner with area child care providers and schools.

Richmond's Community Conversation: Educational Alignment for Young Children is being planned by a work group including Richmond Public Schools, city of Richmond, Richmond’s Early Childhood Development Initiative, parents of young children, community child care providers, the Richmond Public Library, Smart Beginnings of Greater Richmond/ United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, Richmond Communities in Schools and other organizations.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mayor Calls for Enhanced Tax Relief for the Elderly and Disabled

~Proposal submitted to City Council for action~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones is calling for enhanced tax relief for the elderly and disabled for 2011 and beyond. The Mayor's proposal follows state tax relief guidelines, but streamlines the city's current program by simplifying the relief schedule.

The Code of Virginia allows localities to provide real estate tax relief to senior and disabled homeowners who meet certain income and net worth requirements. The city of Richmond has been providing such relief, but the structure under which the city has operated shows that Richmond is below the average of its peers for maximum income and net worth guidelines as well as per person participation.

"By streamlining the current program we can increase the number of participants and provide more relief to some of our most vulnerable residents," said Mayor Jones. "With making a few simple changes, we can provide additional relief to more people without exceeding the current budget."

The Code is very flexible in regards to how each locality may determine the amount of tax relief granted to qualifying applicants. Currently, the city program has over 20 possible scenarios for the administering of the program. The Mayor's proposed changes reduce and streamline the program to four possible scenarios and make the program easier to administer.

"The amount budgeted for tax relief has consistently exceeded the amount of relief provided," Mayor Jones explained. "We are working to make this program easier to understand so that we'll reach more applicants and provide a greater level of relief." Under the proposal, an average participant with income from $20,001 to $30,000, for example, could receive up to $570 in additional relief. In some cases, this could be double the amount of relief previously received. An additional 145 households with an income of less than or equal to $20,000 will receive much needed 100% relief. Many of these households are presently only eligible for 70% relief.

The city administration plans to hold a series of workshops to educate the public about the availability of this relief if the changes are enacted. Mayor Jones indicated that he is working closely with Richmond City Councilman Marty Jewell on this effort who has expressed great support for the proposed changes.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

City of Richmond Receives Several Digital Achievement Awards

The city of Richmond Department of Information Technology (DIT) was recognized for several digital achievements as e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government announced its 2010 Best of the Web and Digital Government Achievement Awards. The Digital Government Achievement Awards recognize outstanding agency and department websites and projects at the application and infrastructure level. The city received awards for the Richmond Public Library (RPL) Debt Setoff System in the Government-to-Government category, Land Use Projects Parcel Mapper in the Government-to-Citizen City Government category, CommonCents – Employee Budget Feedback Process in the Government Internal category, and an honorable mention for the city’s Traffic Accidents and Hazards web page in the Government-to-Citizen category.

“Congratulations to the hardworking employees of the city’s Department of Information Technology for receiving this national recognition,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “DIT is responsible for administering, developing, implementing and supporting complex and critical technological systems for 38 city government agencies, to include police, fire, 911, public utilities, public works, financial operations, payroll, Richmondgov.com website, and much more. It is a testament to their work ethic of not only fulfilling the status quo, but pushing the envelope in developing new technologies and systems for internal customers as well as the residents of the city of Richmond.”

The RPL Debt Setoff System utilizes provisions within the Virginia Set-Off Debt Collection Program by submitting overdue book fines as well as charges for lost books. City DIT resources work with Richmond Public Library staff to automate the fine process and save staff hours in processing billings for non-returned items. RPL estimates this system will save $47,000 annually in administrative costs, and as of June 1 the recovered amount for 2010 is $17,854.

The Land Use Projects Parcel Mapper contains familiar property information while also providing residents with current land use-related projects throughout the city and combines the use of both consumer mapping (Microsoft's Bing Maps), and the city's new GIS-based approach for managing land use projects.

Mayor Jones’ CommonCents initiative is designed to include employee feedback in addressing the city’s fiscal year 2011 budget shortfalls. Within a two week period, DIT provided a web application to allow employees the opportunity to provide feedback under the CommonCents initiative. The goal of creating efficiencies in government through the CommonCents program resulted in more than $2 million in savings.

The city’s Traffic Accidents and Hazards web page provides advanced traffic mapping capabilities for the entire metro Richmond area. The site permits users to view active incidents within a separate map display window, select a single incident to display, or choose from predefined areas of the City of Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield counties to display all active incidents within the metro Richmond region.

The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. The Center is a division of e.Republic, Inc., the nation‘s leading publishing, research, event, and new media company focused on information technology for the state/local government and education sectors.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Mayor Jones Announces $6.7 Million Positive Budget Surplus

~Proposes savings as well as funding for low-income GRTC ridership, household weatherization improvements and neighborhood blight efforts~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced an estimated $6.7 million positive budget surplus for fiscal year 2010. The improved performance is attributed to the city's stepped up collection efforts, which have yielded $3.5 million more than anticipated, as well as tightened expenditure controls which have resulted in savings in overall expenditures for the past fiscal year.

"This Administration stands for well-managed government and we've been working to strengthen the city's financial operations and fiscal controls. Today's announcement reflects our improved controls and operational advances," said Mayor Jones. "As I assembled my finance team, I made a commitment to City Council that you would receive financial information on a more-timely basis. Not only is the information more timely, but it is welcomed news that gives us resources to address some other areas of concern."

Fiscal Year 2010 ended June 30th of this year. In the past, Richmond City Council received year-end budget information in the November time-frame. Mayor Jones plans to submit a paper tonight detailing his plans for the use of funds.

"We'd like to see these funds used primarily in two areas: well-managed government and what I call people-focused initiatives," said Mayor Jones. Expressing continued concern for the pending rate increase from Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC), Mayor Jones proposed $500,000 to help capitalize a fund that will subsidize GRTC ridership for the working poor and low-income riders. One million dollars is being proposed for a Neighborhood Blight Remediation program and a Low-income Weatherization Program. Another $1.7 million is being recommended for various capital improvement projects to include street, sidewalks, and bikeways. The mayor also proposed to save $3.75 million -- over half of the surplus. Two million dollars is to be designated for a revenue stabilization fund for unanticipated needs or obligations.

"Most localities agree that you cannot simply rely on state government to continue to meet many of the needs they've met in the past. We must be prepared for unforeseen obligations and this stabilization fund is a smart move for a well-managed government," said Mayor Jones.

The Mayor has asked City Council to approve the proposed expenditures within the next two weeks as the Administration has scheduled its regular visit with bond rating agencies at the end of September. The actions to establish a revenue stabilization fund, to invest in city infrastructure with non-borrowed funds, as well as efforts to reduce poverty are encouraged by the rating agencies and can help the city move toward a Triple A bond rating.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mayor Jones Responds to Coliseum Study Interim Report

City officials, along with county and corporate partners, today received an update from the consulting team that was retained by the Coliseum Study Group to evaluate the long-term options associated with the Coliseum and the Greater Richmond area. Barrett Sports Group, LLC and Populous Architects, P.C. provided the update to the Coliseum Study Group, which consists of a group of private corporations and public sector entities.

"The market research thus far supports what we know about Richmond being an optimal location," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "Richmond is a sizable market with limited entertainment options. What we have to do now is get the right facility in the city to put us in a position to capture the events that will expand our tourism footprint where sports and entertainment are concerned."

A total of seven potential arena sites in the city of Richmond were reviewed in Phase 1 of the study. The consulting team has narrowed the options down to four locations for the group's consideration. The recommended sites include the existing Coliseum, the Public Safety Building and adjacent parking lots, the Diamond and the ABC warehouse site.

Today's report is preliminary and no conclusions have been drawn at this stage. The next phase of the study will explore economic and financial feasibility considerations in more detail, and will also assess the potential of a new or renovated facility to catalyze new development and neighborhood revitalization. There will be a public input process to evaluate recommendations.

"Tourism, sports and entertainment can help stimulate our city's economy; providing jobs and employment growth, an expanded tax base and other direct benefits to local residents," continued Mayor Jones. "We want a facility that accommodates what this market can support and what this market deserves. Dollars are leaving this area and going to other places because of the limitations of the existing facility and we are going to turn that around."

The consulting team retained by the Coliseum Study Group consists of Barrett Sports Group, LLC, Populous Architects, P.C. and Weston Sports & Entertainment. A final report is expected by mid-November.

Click here for the interim status report.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mayor Jones Statement Regarding Port of Richmond

The Port of Richmond is owned by the City and managed by the Port of Richmond Commission. A special session of City Council is scheduled today to discuss issues related to the lease of the Port. Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement on the matter:

“Events in the last two years have resulted in questions concerning the Port’s long-term economic benefit to the City. These events include 1) worldwide economic downturn, 2) loss of the weekly trans-Atlantic shipments, 3) loss of the long-time Port operator, and 4) declining working capital for investments in infrastructure maintenance.

“The financial condition of the Port has deteriorated to such a point that it is not generating sufficient revenue to pay its expenses. In June 2010, the City Council appropriated $1 million in general funds to the Port to cover its operating expenses and authorized another $500,000 of in-kind or cash equivalents to address the immediate infrastructure maintenance needs. While this action was necessary at that time, it is not in the best interest of the city to have an asset that is designed to be self-sustaining to consume general fund resources over the long term.

“In a June 15, 2010 letter, the Administration expressed that ‘the Commission needs to report regularly to City Council and the Administration on its business operations and future outlook. Additionally, the Port must present an in-depth business outline that details the plan for returning the Port to a viable operational status.’ A subsequent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Port Commission Chairman and the city’s Chief Administrative Officer reaffirmed these requirements.

“In July, the Administration provided the Port with almost one quarter of the $1 million general fund appropriation. This initial draw down of the appropriation has allowed the Port to pay all known obligations that have been reported to city. However, the Port is at a point where an additional draw down may be required in order to pay for obligations that have occurred during the month of August and beyond.

“While the Administration and City Council have made substantial efforts to enable the Port’s success during this difficult transitional period, at this point the Port has provided limited information concerning its business outline. This condition of the MOU between the Port and the Administration is the key condition of the provision of funds. Moreover, without a comprehensive business development and marketing plan, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Port and the city to evaluate the multiple options concerning future Port operations that are currently being discussed.

“Today, the Administration, City Council, and the Port will discuss one key option that is before the Port and analyze how that option aligns with the Port’s business outline. It is our hope that City Council, who has the authority over Port decisions, will soon be in a position to determine the best operating structure for the Port of Richmond.”

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City of Richmond Announces Two-Year Extension with CAA

~CAA Men's Basketball Championship to remain at Richmond Coliseum through 2014~

The city of Richmond and the Colonial Athletic Association announced today a two-year extension of their agreement to conduct the CAA Men's Basketball Championship at the Richmond Coliseum through 2014.

"We are pleased that the CAA has agreed to extend our relationship at this time," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "This is a longstanding and very important partnership for the city of Richmond as well as the Richmond region and we are working to ensure that we will continue to have a relationship well into the future."

Last year, Mayor Jones set in motion a plan to address both short and long-term issues related to improving the Coliseum. Investments have been made to improve the current facility for the short-term, and for the long-term, community partners and business leaders are involved in a review to determine the best future approach for the Coliseum structure.

“Richmond has served as the host of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship since 1990 and our current contract covers the 2011 and 2012 tournaments,” CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said. “The City of Richmond is in the process of studying the long-term future of the Richmond Coliseum and, in the spirit of partnership that we have developed with the City of the past 21 years, signing this extension provides both sides with time to chart a course for the future. We are also satisfied with the City’s commitment to enhance some of the amenities in and around the Coliseum during the on-going decision-making process.”

An economic impact study conducted during last year's tournament determined that the combined economic impact and economic significance of the conference on the Richmond Region is $5.8 million during the four days of the event. The long-term future of the Richmond Coliseum is under review with corporate partners including Dominion Resources, Genworth Financial, MeadWestvaco and Altria.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Richmond Partners with Chesterfield County for Hull Street Revitalization Plan

~ Planning grant filed to revitalize 4.7 miles of Hull Street Road~

Richmond, VA - The city of Richmond is partnering with Chesterfield County and Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corp (LISC) on a grant application through the jointly announced U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER II Planning Grant and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Challenge Planning Grant. The application is to develop an inter-jurisdictional comprehensive plan to revitalize 4.7 miles of Hull Street Road from just west of Belt Boulevard in Richmond to Walmsley Boulevard in Chesterfield, a commercial and residential corridor.

"This inter-jurisdictional approach toward corridor revitalization benefits everyone involved and maximizes the anticipated return on investment for each jurisdiction," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "We will be looking for a range of housing opportunities, unique communities offering a good quality of life including walk ability, nearby job opportunities and viable retail options as well as multiple transportation choices."

The livability plan will include mixed-use, affordable housing, and multimodal transportation elements for a community redevelopment approach characterized by a grassroots resident participation process. The application is for $400,000 in federal funds with a $50,000 match from Richmond, a $50,000 match from Chesterfield, and in-kind staff contributions from LISC.

"Revitalization of the Hull Street Road corridor is key to the future health of adjacent neighborhoods,” said Chairman Dan Gecker of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. “By all of us working together, we can secure a healthy and vital future for area residents and businesses."

Resident participation will be vital in order to secure buy-in from stakeholder organizations and individuals. The project partners and consultant will work closely with the community and the grassroots organizations as the plan is being developed. The project will develop a plan to address vacant property, infrastructure, land acquisition, landscaping and streetscape amenities, bicycle and pedestrian needs, repaving, incentives for commercial and residential property owners and potential investors, traffic patterns and connectivity changes, land use and zoning analysis, recreational amenities, and improving the existing housing stock. Sustainable and equitable development principles will be applied to site development, open space policies, and construction. Non-profits and faith-based organizations will be encouraged to take an active role.

Grant recipients will be announced this fall. For more information, contact Michael Wallace, City of Richmond public information manager, at (804) 646-2772, and Tom Jacobson, Chesterfield County Revitalization director, at 748-1040.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Contractor Assistance Loan Program Invites Pre-Applications

~Program to support working capital needs of under-utilized local businesses, especially minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprises ~

The city of Richmond's Office of Minority Business Development (OMBD), and Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) are inviting local businesses to submit pre-applications for financing under the newly created Contractor Assistance Loan Program. The loan program represents one of several measures being implemented by the administration of Mayor Dwight C. Jones to address the ongoing challenges confronting under-utilized small businesses and entrepreneurs. Access to capital is a persistent problem for many enterprises, and the Contractor Assistance Loan Program is designed to help those entities that would otherwise lack the financing necessary to pursue contract opportunities in the public or private sectors.

Earlier this year, Mayor Jones established a new department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) to move the city toward a comprehensive economic and community development model. The Office of Minority Business Development was also recently strengthened to ensure that minority- and locally-owned firms are afforded greater opportunity to participate in city projects and develop the required capacity to successfully pursue work in the private market place.

"As we work to develop economic opportunities in Richmond, it is important to ensure that no one is excluded," said Mayor Jones. "Providing access to capital is a necessary step toward strengthening our infrastructure of smaller local employers, and also improving the overall business environment."

The new loan program, funding for which was approved by Richmond City Council as part of Mayor Jones's FY2011 budget, will also help foster procurement opportunities for urban entrepreneurs. OMBD is ready to accept pre-applications at this time. The pre-application is a critical prerequisite to determining who may be eligible to advance to the formal loan underwriting stage. The first round of loan approvals will likely be completed in September. The Contractor Assistance Loan Program has initially been capitalized with $1 million, and individual loans will generally be in the $25,000 to $100,000 range.

"The Administration is fundamentally changing the paradigm for economic development programming for the city. In addition to continuing our keen focus on attracting and retaining primary employers, we are also pursuing best practices-centered approaches to bolstering small businesses and neighborhood revitalization. This program is reflective of this new, comprehensive approach to economic development," said Peter H. Chapman, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic and Community Development.

Last month, Mayor Jones named a new, cabinet-level director for OMBD. Vicki Rivers, a seasoned economic development practitioner, not only directs the city's minority business development efforts, but also supports the neighborhood revitalization programs and objectives of ECD. Additionally, Ron N. Johnson, a well-regarded loan fund manager and former banker, has been appointed as a member of the executive management team of ECD, serving as the agency’s Chief Financial Strategies Officer. Both Rivers and Johnson will factor prominently in the Administration’s economic development efforts.

Interested contractors should contact Debra Moore at OMBD at 804-646-3985, or via e-mail at debra.moore@richmondgov.com.

The pre-application package can also be accessed at: www.richmondgov.com/content/MinorityBusinessDevelopment/Forms.


Friday, July 30, 2010

City Names Interim Directors of Public Utilities and Public Works

Chief Administrative Officer Byron C. Marshall today announced that Letitia Shelton has been selected to serve as Interim Director of Public Works and Robert Steidel has been selected to serve as Interim Director of Public Utilities. Shelton and Steidel will begin to serve in their interim positions on Saturday, July 31, 2010.

For seven years, Steidel has served as the Deputy Director for the Department of Public Utilities. Prior to beginning city service, Steidel served as the Environmental Manager for the city of Hopewell’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Steidel replaces Chris Beschler who served as Director of Public Utilities as well as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Operations. Beschler will continue to serve as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Operations, overseeing the Departments of Public Utilities and Public Works, the Richmond Animal Care and Control agency and the 3-1-1 Call Center.

Shelton, a city employee for 12 years, most recently served as the Deputy Director of Finance and Administration for the Department of Public Works. Shelton was the Rates Manager for the Department of Public Utilities for nine years. She was named Deputy Director of Finance and Administration for the Department of Public Works in April 2007.

A national search for permanent directors of public utilities and public works is currently underway. Shelton and Steidel will serve as interim directors of their respective departments until this search is completed.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

City's Neighbor-to-Neighbor Initiative Seeks Volunteers

The city of Richmond’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor program is currently recruiting volunteers to conduct well-being checks on the city’s elderly and disabled population during periods of extreme temperatures and to assist the city in operating cooling shelters when the temperature reaches or exceeds the 95 degree mark. Persons interested in volunteering for these efforts should log onto www.richmondgov.com/NeighborToNeighbor or contact the Neighbor-to-Neighbor office at (804) 646-7491.

Mayor Dwight C. Jones established the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Initiative to inspire residents, businesses and city employees to volunteer and develop a closer relationship with their neighbor, with an express focus to help the youth, elderly and disabled residents of the city of Richmond. If a resident is interested in volunteering for the positions detailed above or for a list of volunteer opportunities, please visit www.richmondgov.com/NeighborToNeighbor.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Broad Street Corridor Improvement Project Getting Underway

The City of Richmond Department of Public Works (DPW) is beginning a Capital Improvement Project for corridor improvements on Broad Street from 5th Street to Adams Street. The initial work includes sidewalk replacement, adding tree wells, and planting trees. In addition, DPW will renovate and re-landscape medians and repair the existing irrigation system from 2nd Street to Adams Street.

“This project is the second phase of a four phase program designed to turn Broad Street into one of the most pristine streets in the city leading into the heart of downtown. The City of Richmond is the region’s core and we are continuously working to Build a Better Richmond. Addressing the gateways and commercial corridors like Broad Street is important to that vision,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

The project will begin on the east bound lane beginning at 5th Street and moving toward 4th Street. Construction is scheduled to start Wednesday, July 21, 2010 and run through October 2010. The contractor will make every attempt to minimize interruptions to local businesses.

The Broad Street Corridor Improvement Project will cost $550,000. All funding is available through the City of Richmond’s Capital Improvement Program.

Phase three of the project involves milling and overlaying Broad Street with asphalt from Belvidere to Boulevard. It will start in September 2010 and conclude in October 2010.

Phase four which involves milling and overlaying Broad Street with asphalt from Boulevard to Staples Mill will begin by September of 2011. Phase one was completed in the fall of 2009 and encompassed repaving Broad between 15th and Belvidere Streets.

“The Broad Street Corridor Improvement Project is an important element of Mayor Jones’ emphasis on investing in Richmond’s infrastructure as part of his overall strategy for growing the City’s economy,” said Byron C. Marshall, Chief Administrative Officer.

"After a significant period where there was insufficient investment in our streets, sidewalks and bridges, at the Mayor’s direction we will be investing approximately $25.5 million over the next five years; and over 30% of our streets will be paved during this period,” Mr. Marshall continued.

For more information on city services and schedules, please visit us online at www.RichmondGov.com.


Friday, July 16, 2010

City Receives Shelter Plus Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

The city of Richmond has received two Shelter Plus grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to aid local homeless assistance programs. The HUD grants, totaling approximately $748,800, will provide critical support to the city’s housing and human services for homeless individuals and families. The city received $449,280 for the Richmond Shelter Plus Care – A Place To Start and $299,520 for the Richmond Shelter Plus Care.

“These programs are essential to the health and well-being of many homeless individuals in our city,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Programs such as Shelter Plus provide rental assistance and day-to-day support services for the homeless, particularly those battling disabilities. We look forward to joining HUD in the fight to prevent, and eventually end homelessness in the city of Richmond.”

Shelter Plus Care is a program designed to provide rental housing assistance and supportive services on a long-term basis for homeless persons with disabilities, (primarily those with serious mental illness, chronic problems with alcohol and/or drugs, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or related diseases) and their families who are living in places not intended for human habitation or in emergency shelters.

Shelter Plus Care – A Place To Start provides permanent, independent housing (in the form of Shelter Plus Care rental subsidies) for adults who are chronically homeless and are experiencing a persistent mental illness. Many of these individuals also have co-occurring substance abuse disorders. This program places individuals in housing and ensures access to intensive and appropriate health and mental health services around them.

HUD’s homelessness grants are awarded competitively to local programs such as the city of Richmond’s Department of Human Services. The grants fund a wide range of programs and services including job training, health care and substance abuse treatment for individuals in need. For more information on HUD’s Shelter Plus program, visit www.hud.gov .

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jail Alternative Recommendations Ready for Consideration

Richmond CCJB finalizing plans to present to City leadership

The Richmond Community Criminal Justice Board (RCCJB) will meet to vote on the 2011-2012 Biennial Plan which focuses on alternatives to incarceration on Wednesday, June 9 at 3:30 p.m. The plan is being prepared to present to city leadership following Mayor Dwight C. Jones' charge for a review of alternatives and request for recommendations.

Last year, Mayor Jones, city officials and RCCJB members visited alternatives to incarceration models in three other cities. "The current overcrowding conditions at the City Jail have been a huge problem in the city for years," said Mayor Jones. "I'm convinced that the proper application of alternatives will successfully reduce our jail population and connect individuals to the services they need."

High priority recommendations expected to be presented today include:

Increase the capacity of specialty housing and homeless programs targeted to offenders with a history of homelessness or housing instability. Increase the number of permanent supportive housing beds in the city.

Explore a special docket for non-violent offenders with mental illness. Increase the capacity of mental health services for these offenders.

Increase the capacity of substance abuse treatment and recovery programs for offenders involved in diversion or alternatives to incarceration.

Implement best-practice pre-trial and community-based programs that reduce incarceration for low impact offenses.

The overall goal of this Biennial Plan is to reduce the jail census by approximately 400 persons, to connect individuals to treatment, and to achieve economies of scale in the use of best practice alternatives to traditional incarceration. The RCCJB meets today at 3:30 p.m. at 3600 West Broad Street.

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Mayor's Pedestrian, Bicycling and Trails Planning Commission Holds Inaugural Meeting Today

Pursuant to Mayor’s Order #2010-02, Mayor Dwight C. Jones has established a Pedestrian, Bicycling and Trails Planning Commission. This commission was established to provide city administration advice on ways to incorporate bicycling and walking as viable methods of transportation in the city of Richmond. The commission will hold its inaugural meeting today at 2 p.m. in the 2nd floor large conference room of City Hall, 900 East Broad Street.

“According to the City of Richmond Transportation Plan and the City of Richmond Master Plan 2000 – 2020, the city’s current transportation system is not friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Mayor Jones. “There are limited pedestrian or bicycle routes with limited signage; a lack of walking and bicycle maps and park and lock facilities; limited venues for the ease of exercise for disabled residents; and a lack of pedestrian and bicycle safety education resources.”

The recommendations made by the commission will lead to the creation of a Richmond City Pedestrian, Bicycling and Trails Plan that will include education, safety and public awareness components.

“It is my hope that this plan will improve the environment by reducing the city’s dependence on motor vehicles, reduce traffic by getting more cars off of the roads, and improve the health of our residents by promoting physical activity,” said the Mayor.

The commission will hold its inaugural meeting today under the direction of the city’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services Dr. Carolyn Graham. Commission members include City Councilman Doug Conner, Dr. Carolyn Graham, Viktoria Badger, Champe Burnley, Nathan Burrell, Mark Cooper, Shane Cusick, Ralph Davis, Dr. Sheryl Finucane, Dr. Sylvia Gale, Murty Gollakota, Laurie Mehler, Paz Ochs, Jay Paul, Dr. Kimberly Perry, Tyler Potterfield, Karen Reed, Greg Rollins, Jennifer Wampler, Charles Ward, Dr. Michael Welch, and Alicia Zatcoff. The Commission will also be supported by a cross-functional team made-up of representatives from the departments of Public Works, Budget and Strategic Planning, Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, Human Services, and Economic and Community Development.