Friday, August 2, 2013

City Uses Pet-Friendly Approach to Promote Employee Health

The City of Richmond has launched an innovative model designed to promote employee health and wellness while at the same time providing some much needed support to Richmond Animal Care and Control (RAC&C). The program, called Walk-A-Hound, Lose-A-Pound, is part of the City of Richmond and Richmond Public Schools Employee Wellness Program and provides a mechanism for city employees to help shelter dogs get regular physical activity.

“An active lifestyle is vitally important to the overall health of our city,” says Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “I welcome this new walking program to encourage our employees and residents to become more active, and be able to enjoy the outdoors with a great walking companion from Animal Care and Control.”

The dogs that are walked are all up to date on shots and have been behavior tested. While the program is directed toward city employees, friend and family can join them for their scheduled walks. City employees can volunteer to walk the dogs for any distance and amount of time. Hours to walk the dogs are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The health of our pets is our top priority at RAC&C,” stated Christie Chipps Peters, Director of RAC&C. “This will allow the opportunity for our shelter dogs to get on an exercise plan and employees and residents to get acquainted with our pet community.” 

City residents who are interested in volunteering with RAC&C, should call (804) 646-5584 to learn more about this and other opportunities.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

City Updates Parking Plans for Training Camp

Click and Park now available to schedule parking for Fan Appreciation Day

The City of Richmond today issued an updated parking lot schedule for the remainder of the Washington Redskins Summer Training Camp season. A variety of parking options have been offered to Redskins fans for a flat fee of $5 for lots within walking distance, or $7 if a roundtrip shuttle is included.

“We are pleased that patrons visiting the city have found ample parking opportunities, as it was our intent to ensure there would be adequate parking available for NFL Fans visiting Richmond,” said Lynne Lancaster from the city’s Department of Public Works. “A review of our operations since the beginning of Training Camp has led to a revision in our plans for parking lot use and shuttle services. We are able to scale back on some lots and to redirect resources to those lots that we believe will gain the most usage.”

The revised plan eliminates parking and shuttle service at City Stadium for the upcoming Fan Appreciation Day on August 3. Several other smaller lots on the city’s original list of places to park are being eliminated.  Available daily parking lots include the following:

DAILY parking during remainder of  training camp - 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Parking facility
Number of spaces

840 Hermitage- Next to Fire Station
2200 W. Broad Street- Old Taxation Building
Diamond Parking Facility-3001 N. Boulevard
Number of spaces

Revised 7/31/13

On Fan Appreciation Day (August 3), with the VCU and Virginia Union lots coming on line, the city believes there will be ample spaces available to accommodate needs based on usage patterns to date. Shuttle service will be provided on Fan Appreciation Day from the lots at VCU and Virginia Union to transport Fans from their vehicles to Training Camp.

Fans can now also go to to reserve parking in advance. Click on Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center on the Venue Selection page and then indicate when you will need parking. The City will continue to provide handicapped parking directly across the street from the Training Camp on DMV Drive.

Fan Appreciation Day Parking - August 3

Parking facility
Number of spaces

840 Hermitage- Next to Fire Station
2200 W. Broad Street- Old Taxation Building
Diamond Parking Facility-3001 N. Boulevard
Sauer's Employee lots - 901 E. Hermitage
Virginia Commonwealth University lots- 609 N. Bowe St. & 1101 W. Broad St.
VCU providing shuttle service
Virginia Union University- 1500 Lombardy St.
Shuttle Service Provided
(available 7a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Total spaces

Revised 7/31/13

Mayor Jones Introduces New GRTC Bus Fueled By Compressed Natural Gas

Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones will preside at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the first of its new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueled buses. The ceremony will be held at 11:15 am, Thursday, August 1, 2013, at the GRTC Transit System Maintenance Facility located at 301 East Belt Boulevard. Among honored guests will be a representative of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

Immediately following the ribbon cutting ceremony, the Mayor will board the first GRTC bus fueled by CNG for its maiden trip, on a route which will deliver him to City Hall.

In 2011, the Mayor’s Office met with GRTC officials about the benefits of transitioning the bus fleet to CNG fueled vehicles as retired buses are replaced. The benefits included significantly reduced fuel costs, improved air quality, and reduced noise pollution. GRTC initiated the procedure to replace vehicles, as they are retired from the fleet, with new CNG fueled vehicles for both its paratransit and fixed route services.

In early July 2013, GRTC received its first shipment of 8 CNG buses, with plans for an additional 21 to arrive at the end of the year. GRTC already has 15 CNG paratransit vans that have been in service since November 2012, and has 15 additional vans on order.

To support the transition to CNG fueled vehicles, GRTC’s maintenance and fueling facilities are being modified to accommodate CNG vehicles. A new CNG fueling station that will be located at the GRTC facility is scheduled to break ground in October 2013.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, informational handouts will be distributed listing benefits that CNG powered buses will bring to Richmond.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mayor Jones Advances Anti-Poverty Work

~Names initiative after Maggie L. Walker~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission will be called the Maggie L. Walker Initiative for Expanding Opportunity and Fighting Poverty. The Mayor named the initiative today at a press conference mapping out the way the work of the Commission will be organized going forward.

“The Maggie L. Walker Initiative will honor the social and entrepreneurial legacy of this homegrown hero,” said Mayor Jones. “Our work, in honor of one of Richmond’s great historical figures, is being done in hopes of reviving Maggie Walker’s legacy of person-centered community economic development and empowerment.”

Mayor Jones spoke about the implementation plan to move the work of the Anti-Poverty Commission forward. Task forces consisting of key administrators in each policy area, issue experts, and nonprofit and business stakeholders will develop specific implementation proposals to specify what is to be done, who is to do it, timelines, metrics, and estimated costs.

Taskforces and Chairs
Workforce Development
Jamison Manion, City of Richmond
Economic Development
John Moeser, VCU Emeritus and University of Richmond
Rev. Ben Campbell, Richmond Hill

Dr. Amy Howard, University of Richmond and City Planning Commission
Early Childhood Education and Parental Engagement
Dr. Kevin Allison, VCU
Adolescent Transition Initiative
Dr. Harold Fitrer, Communities in Schools
Richmond Promise Scholarships
Del. Delores McQuinn (70th District) and Kim Bridges (former School Board chair)

“Task force membership was determined based on our desire to assure that key actors needed for implementation are at the table, that issue experts are present, and that appropriate community partners are at the table,” said Initiative Co-Chair, Councilwoman Ellen F. Robertson. “We want to move ideas from concept to a discernible action plan that we can follow over a three-year timeline.”

Mayor Jones also announced the formation of the Citizens Advisory Board as a mechanism for ensuring that poverty stays at the tops of the agenda and that persons living or working in or near poverty have a seat at the table of the discussions. “At least one half of members of the board will be people living in or near poverty or working in high poverty communities.” The membership roster for the Citizens Advisory Board (Maggie L. Walker Board) is as follows:

-        Ken Ampy, CEO and Owner of Astyra
-        LeAngela Baker, Master’s degree student, parent, Richmond NAACP member
-        Channel Bea, East End Community Resident/Promise Neighborhoods
-        Twandra Lomax Brown, Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension
-        Tawana Bryant, Small business owner, parent, Richmond NAACP member
-        Lillie A. Estes, Gilpin Court Resident, Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Advisory Board member
-        Lupita Gonzalez, Spanish Teacher, Richmond Public Schools
-        Brenda Kenney, Whitcomb Court Resident/Promise Neighborhoods
-        Shawn Lancaster, East End resident
-        Vanessa Lopez, Teacher, Richmond Montessori School
-        Raoul Mason, Formerly homeless man, educator, Richmond Street Soccer participant
-        Jennifer Spann, The Village Children and Family Services, and
-        Albert Walker, VCU Center on Human Need

“The idea is that the work of the task forces along with the Citizens Advisory Board will inform the Mayor’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014-2015,” said Co-chair, Thad Williamson of the University of Richmond. “This work will also be relative with respect to the city’s legislative agenda for the next sessions of the General Assembly.”

“We should all be advocates for anti-poverty policy strategies, and I’m especially grateful for these individuals that have made a commitment to serve in this capacity,” concluded Mayor Jones. “We are looking for the initial work of these task forces to be done between now and November in terms of developing policy, but we are realistic in that we cannot expect proposals to be fully implemented overnight. But we will remain steadfast in our efforts to combat poverty because it is utterly important that we succeed for the overall health and strength of the entire city and its future.”

Monday, July 29, 2013

Work to Begin on Gateway Plaza Project

~Traffic Conversions will happen in three phases~

Motorists in Downtown Richmond should prepare for pending changes in traffic patterns as work gets underway for the $110 million Gateway Plaza building. The project encompasses a city block bounded by 8th and 9th Streets to the east and west and Canal Street to the south.  

Road modifications must begin before construction on the building can start.  Staging and preparation began on Thursday, July 25, however motorists will not notice an immediate impact.  The work is scheduled as follows: 

Phase I (3 weeks)
  • 8th Street Connector remains open, but reduced to 3 lanes
  • Construction of median strip at intersection of Canal and 9th begins
  • New eastbound lanes established on Canal Street
  • Northbound 9th Street reduced from 5 to 4 lanes from Canal Street to Cary Street to accommodate tower construction.
  • Install striping on South 8th Street to move to Phase II
  • Install temporary signs and signals on Canal Street at 8th and 9th Streets
  • Westbound Canal Street reduced from 5 to 2 lanes
Phase II (3-4 weeks) 
  • Close 8th Street Connector and re-route traffic
  • Complete permanent street improvements on Canal Street
  • Westbound Canal Street remains at 2 lanes

Phase III (3-4 weeks)
  • Install permanent signals and signage on Canal Street at 8th and 9th Streets
  • Remove temporary traffic controls
  • Expand road surface along the north side of Canal Street in front of the project to allow the re-opening of the 3rd westbound lane
  • New improvements fully open to traffic 

Once the 8th Street Connector closes, drivers on 8th Street will turn left on East Canal, travel east on the new, one-block, two-way portion of East Canal and, then turn right at 9th Street onto the bridge approach. All related traffic and road work should be completed within the next eight to ten weeks. Signage will be posted instructing motorists about detours and changes in traffic patterns throughout each phase of the traffic conversions.