Monday, December 22, 2014

City to Replace 5th Street Bridge and 7th Street Bridge

~Major detours will be in place during construction~

Beginning the first week of January, the City will begin replacing the 5th Street Bridge over Leigh Street and 7th Street Bridge over Leigh Street.  Motorists and pedestrians who travel the area will be affected.  While the bridges remain safe, the weight load for each bridge was reduced several years ago due to on-going wear.

The $3.6 million dollar project is being funded through City and state funds.  The contract has been awarded to Corman Construction.

The work will take place in two phases from January 5 through August.The following changes will be in place during construction:

Phase 1: 7th Street Bridge over Leigh Street (January 5 to mid-May)

  • 7th Street will be closed at Clay Street to through traffic.
  • Clay Street between 7th Street and 8th Street will be a detour route. No on-street parking will be permitted from January thru May.
  • 8th Street between Clay Street and Leigh Street will be a detour route. No on-street parking will be permitted from January thru May.
  • The Coliseum Parking Garage will remain open; however, access will only be granted via 7th Street or Clay Street.  Cars must exit onto 8th Street.
  • Leigh Street will be closed to vehicles, pedestrians, and parking between 4th Street and 8th Street. No on-street parking will be permitted. Traffic will be detoured to Jackson Street

Phase 2: 5th Street Bridge over Leigh Street (mid-May to mid-August)

  • 5th Street will be closed at Jackson Street to through traffic. Traffic will be detoured to 3rd Street, south on 3rd Street to Marshall Street, east on Marshall Street to 5th Street.
  • Leigh Street will remain closed to vehicles, pedestrians, and parking between 4th Street and 8th Street. No on-street parking will be permitted.

Motorists are strongly encouraged to adhere to all detour and parking signage posted in the construction area.

Additional details can be obtained by contacting the project manager, Thomas Westbrook, with the Department of Public Works, at 646-3421 or at

For more information on City projects and services, visit

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2015 Pet Photo Calendar Issued by Richmond Animal Care and Control

~ Mayor, Richmond Fire and Police are featured with pets ~

The City of Richmond’s Department of Animal Care and Control (RACC) has launched a calendar project for 2015 featuring Mayor Dwight Jones, Richmond Fire and Police officials and others. The 2015 RACC Calendar is a fundraising and exposure project and sales from the calendar will go to the RACC shelter for medical/surgery costs.

“Our calendar showcases great places and faces of Richmond, and we believe it will become a sought-after item,” said Christie Chipps Peters, director of RACC. “While we are working to raise funds, we also hope the calendar will help generate more interest in adoptions.”

The calendar features 12 unique photos, with dogs and cats that are available for adoption at RACC. Special locations like the Byrd Theater and the State Capitol are also featured. “I believe there is something for everyone in this calendar, and I’m proud of the effort RACC put forth to produce this,” said Mayor Jones. “I’m collecting a few that I will use as holiday gifts since being at a conference table with Pit Bulls is definitely a first for me.” (See photo below) “We joked during the shoot that the dogs were at City Hall to discuss the number of fire hydrants needed in the city.”

Rachel Day, a recent VCU photography graduate donated her time and talent to the creation of this calendar.  The RACC Calendar goes on sale today, December 10 for $10.00 each. All funds will be handled by the Friends of Richmond Animal Care & Control, a 501c (3) group in the city of Richmond. Please contact Christie Chipps Peters at to order a copy or stop by RACC at 1600 Chamberlayne Avenue, any City Police precinct, Carytown Bicycle Company, or the City’s Department of Public Utilities office on the first floor of City Hall to pick up a few calendars while they last.

RACC is the only open admission public shelter in the city of Richmond. RACC provides humane care for more than 3,000 stray, injured, lost, abused and relinquished pets a year.

Winter in RVA

Winter officially began on December 21st and lasts until March 19th. During these three months Richmond residents are often faced with times of severe cold which can be accompanied by winter storms that bring snow and ice. Winter Storms are often problematic because they often result in loss of power and communication, and can immobilize an entire region. It is important to be prepared to handle periods of severe cold, snow, and ice. During winter weather events consider minimizing travel on roads as most injuries and deaths are considered secondary and are usually the result of accident or injury. Take measure to prepare both at home and on the road. Consider keeping warm clothes and blankets in your vehicle and ensure your snow shovels are readily accessible in your home.

For more information and to obtain winter preparedness tips, please click here.

For information of preparing for a winter storm or other emergencies visit

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Richmond Riverfront Plan Progresses

~ Construction of access road, vegetation removal clearing way for memorial bridge ~

The City of Richmond announced that work is progressing on the Richmond Riverfront Plan. A top priority of the Plan is construction of the Brown’s Island Dam Walk, now known as the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge (TTPMB).

The area is regulated by the State Department of Conservation and Resources as a Low Hazard (Special Criteria) dam, and therefore all woody vegetation within 25 feet of the structure has to be removed. Since mid-November, the city and state have been working to clear the woody vegetation and to construct an access road in order to provide contractor access to the project site for the bridge construction. 

The dam inspection report recommended removal of woody vegetation and debris in the south section of the dam and along various piers. The tree removal work meets the Low Head Dam requirements and also benefits the TTPMB project, by providing a construction entrance that can be used by the contractor and erosion and sediment controls required for the small amount of earth (460 square feet) that will be disturbed at the construction entrance.

The clearing of vegetation in this area will help prepare the area where the elevated pathway for the Potterfield Memorial Bridge will be constructed over the next year. Work on the TTPMB is expected to begin by the end of 2014, following the preparatory work.

“The work to connect the north bank of the James River to the south has been a long-time coming,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “I’m so pleased to have been a part of the push for progress on the Richmond Riverfront Plan and to have been guided in this direction by champions like Tyler Potterfield. It is fitting that as we make tangible progress on these plans that we have also taken the time to recognize and memorialize the awesome contribution made by Potterfield.”

The TTPMB project has several important sustainability features, including: avoiding all impact to designated wetlands and the floodway, capturing run-off on site in bioswales, and improving water quality of run-off. More than 1,000 native ferns, shrubs, and trees will be planted as part of the project.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Help Choose the Name of RVA's New BRT Service

The City of Richmond encourages people throughout the Richmond region to complete a short online survey of proposed names for the future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service.

A list of possible names for the BRT service was developed by the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC). You can help make the final decision by taking a short survey about the proposed names and you will also have an opportunity to suggest a name yourself. Click here to take the survey, now through January 1, 2015.

Everyone who completes the survey will be eligible for a random drawing to receive two tickets for the VCU Men’s Basketball game on January 7 or January 10, 2015. Fourteen pairs of tickets will be given away!

GRTC will unveil the name of the BRT service, logo and vehicle design in the spring of 2015. To learn more about GRTC’s BRT Service and sign up to follow BRT progress, please visit

RVA’s first BRT line will be along a 7.6 mile corridor between Rocketts Landing and Willow Lawn. The new service is expected to open for business in October 2017. BRT buses will run frequently and make fewer stops, serving 14 stations that offer more amenities than traditional bus stops. To improve trip times even more, riders will pay for their trip before boarding the bus, using off-board payment stations.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mayor Jones to Host a Free Skate Night at RVA On Ice

Mayor Dwight C. Jones will host a Free Skate Night for the public on Wednesday, December 10 from 6 – 8 p.m. for the first 150 skaters at RVA On Ice. Mayor Jones will greet skaters and special guests before officially cutting the ribbon to kick off the Free Skate Night. Jack Berry, CEO of Richmond Region Tourism, will also welcome skaters and recognize the many generous sponsors who make this downtown holiday tradition possible.

The Richmond Police Athletic League Youth Band will perform a few selections during the ceremony and members of the Mayor’s Youth Academy will also be in attendance as special guests of Mayor Jones. The regular skate admission price will be waived from 6 to 8 p.m. Participants are welcome to bring their own skates and skate rentals are available as well; $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children three and under.

All upcoming events and promotions will be posted on both and Theme nights will return this year including Pajama Night, College Night, Church Night, Princess Skate and many more including the return of Ugly Sweater Night.

Regular hours are Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday from 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. The rink will be available for private rink rentals (groups, parties, corporate events and private skating lessons) and groups of 10 or more at a cost of $300 for two hours which includes skate rental. For additional group and private party information please contact Audrey Booth at

Special or Holiday Hours:
  • Wednesday, December 24 from noon – 8 p.m. – Christmas Eve
  • Thursday, December 25 from 4 – 10 p.m. – Christmas Day
  • Friday, December 26 – Saturday, January 3, 2015 from noon – 11 p.m.
Admission and Skate Rental
  • Season Pass $20.00
  • General Admission $ 5.00
  • Senior (60 & up with ID) $ 4.00
  • Military (with ID) $ 4.00
  • Children 5 and under FREE (must be accompanied by guardian)
Group Rates For Skating with General Population (not private parties)
  • 10 - 30 $7.00 each
  • 31 - 50 $6.00 each
  • 51 and over $5.00 each
  • Includes skates
  • For groups call (804) 592-3401
Skate Rental
  • Adults $ 5.00
  • Children 5 and under $ 3.00

Tickets for RVA On Ice are available at Richmond CenterStage Box Office. Cash and all major credit cards are accepted. Call 804-592-3330 for more information. The Box Office is located at 600 East Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23219. The rink is located between 6th and 7th Streets on East Broad Street, adjacent to Richmond CenterStage and across from the Richmond Marriott and the Miller and Rhoads building. Street parking is available as well as paid parking in 7th Street and Marshall Street Lot, 5th Street and Broad Street lot, 5th Street and Marshall Deck (Behind Marriott Hotel); fees vary.

Daily operational hours are subject to change due to weather and rink conditions and other factors. It is always best to call 804-592-3330 for the most up-to-date information. Visit and for more information about various programs and special events.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Richmond Adult Drug Treatment Court to Hold December 5 Graduation Ceremony

~ U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott to be ceremony guest speaker and retiring Judge Richard D. Taylor to be honored ~

The Richmond Circuit Court’s Adult Drug Treatment Court will hold a graduation ceremony on Friday, December 5 at 1 p.m. at the Richmond Police Training Academy, 1202 West Graham Road. The Honorable Robert “Bobby” Scott, U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, will be the guest speaker and Dalen Harris, representing the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy will also be present to acknowledge the achievements of the graduates. The ceremony will mark the completion of an intensive 18-month outpatient program of drug treatment, probation supervision, judicial monitoring and community service for five Adult Drug Court graduates. Additionally, a special presentation will take place honoring the years of service for retiring Judge Richard D. Taylor, Jr., Richmond Circuit Court (2002-2014) and former Juvenile Court Judge (1993-2002).

As one of more than 2,000 drug courts in the U.S. and one of 36 drug courts in Virginia, the Richmond Adult Drug Court serves non-violent, drug-addicted offenders with pending cases in Richmond’s Circuit Court. Offenders volunteer for the program and participate only after approval of the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Richmond Adult Drug Court participants enter the program with long-term drug addictions and lengthy non-violent criminal histories. More than 98% of the participants are probation violators, and do not receive a reduced or dismissed charge upon graduation. The program has been effective in reducing drug use and crime in the Richmond area, and is more cost-effective than incarceration. Drug Court graduates are employed, pay taxes and child support, and save taxpayers the costs of re-entry into the criminal justice system.

For more information, please contact Tanisha Moseley at (804) 646-3655 or

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bashaud Breeland Anti-Drug Message Released

~ Commonwealth Attorney, School Superintendent promote use ~

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring revealed a Public Service Announcement (PSA) today featuring Redskin’s Cornerback Bashaud Breeland. The PSA was produced as a result of Breeland being cited with misdemeanor possession of marijuana in August of this year by a VCU Police Officer.

The misdemeanor offense, which can often lead to community service sentencing, has instead resulted in the production of a public message that Herring sees as being more far-reaching and having potentially greater impact with young people than other more traditional forms of community services. “I saw this case, which qualifies for first-offender status, as a unique and different opportunity that presented us with the possibility of making a significant impact, as opposed to simply just giving out a punishment,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring. “Our goal here was to capitalize on Bashaud Breeland’s willingness to allow his experience to become a teaching tool to help young people make better decisions.”

Herring indicated that he knows of “no other instance in recent history where an active NFL player has been willing to be an exhibit concerning the lesson of how destructive drugs can be.”  Citing the target audience for this PSA as young people, and particularly student athletes, Herring was joined by Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden.

“This matter represents a very positive outcome to an unfortunate situation,” stated Dr. Bedden. “RPS now has the opportunity to make this PSA available through our health and athletics programs, as well as through our Family and Community Engagement office. The biggest message here is about decision-making and particularly decision-making as it come to illegal drugs. People are faced with tough choices every day. We feel this PSA will help young people stop and think about what to say no to or what to say yes to. We are going to use this as best we can to make a difference.”

The PSA can be seen on YouTube at

The PSA will also be broadcast on the City’s cable channel and it is available to be aired on other networks for broader audiences.

Friday, November 21, 2014

FY 2016 - FY 2017 City General Fund & Federal Funds Request for Funding Application

The purpose of the Request for Funding Combined Application is to solicit applications from various organizations to address unmet critical needs in both human services and economic and community development. Funding to support eligible programs is made possible through City General Funds and the following federal funds - Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Home Investment Partnership (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) and Housing Opportunity for Persons with AIDS/HIV (HOPWA).

Please click here for the City General Fund and Federal Fund guidelines, here to obtain the FY16/FY17 Non-Departmental and Federal Funding Application,or here to obtain the FY16/FY17 Non-Departmental Budget Pages Submission Form.

Please call the City of Richmond Office of Budget and Strategic Planning at (804) 646-5778 if you have questions or need additional information.

City Schedule for Thanksgiving Holiday

City of Richmond government offices, including City Hall, will be closed on Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28 for the Thanksgiving holiday. City offices will reopen at regular business hours on Monday, December 1, 2014.

This closure includes all City community centers which are closed Thursday, November 27 through Sunday, November 30. All City community centers will reopen on Monday, December 1 at normal hours. All branches of the Richmond Public Libraries will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 26 and will reopen at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 29. The Broad Rock Library is open on Sundays, and will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 30.

Richmond Animal Care and Control will also be closed on November 27. The shelter will open on November 28 to assist residents who find stray animals or who are looking for missing pets. Current volunteers are welcome at the shelter between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. during this time period to socialize with shelter animals. The shelter will remain closed for adoptions until Sunday, November 30 at which time it will open from noon to 4 p.m.

Refuse collection will not be performed on Thursday as the City’s Solid Waste Management Division will also be closed on November 27. This closure will result in a one day delay of refuse collection for residents whose refuse is normally collected on Thursday, as Thursday’s collection schedule will be performed on Friday, November 28. Refuse collection for Monday – Wednesday of this week will continue with its normal schedule.

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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mayor to Kick Off Richmond City Community Schools Initiative at Bellemeade Community Center This Saturday

~Event to include family activities, health screenings and health and wellness information~

The public is invited to the Richmond City Community Schools initiative Kickoff this Saturday, November 22 from 11a.m. to 3p.m. at the Bellemeade Community Center, 1800 Lynhaven Avenue. Mayor Dwight C. Jones will begin the event by officially announcing the initiative, which is a major collaboration between the City, Richmond Public Schools and community partners. Community Schools serve as community “hubs” designed to promote academic achievement, personal wellness, and holistic family and community stability through coordinated partnerships. The Richmond City Community Schools initiative is an outgrowth of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Policy. Mayor Jones will be joined in launching the initiative by Richmond Public School Board Member, Dr. Derik Jones and Richmond Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Dana Bedden.

Saturday’s kickoff event will be filled with a variety of family activities, tours of the facility, basic health screenings, and health and wellness resources as well as other social services information. Through several upcoming engagement events and a combination of on-and off-site social, health and other wraparound services, Richmond City Community Schools will serve thousands of city residents each year.

“No one factor determines poor academic achievement; and no single intervention will improve educational outcomes in our city’s youth. That’s why I’m pleased that we are partnering with Richmond Public Schools and our many private and public partners, to address determinants that give rise to poor outcomes in the lives of our students, their families and their communities,” said Mayor Jones.

“This is the type of collaborative effort that will give our principals, teachers and staff the opportunity to continue to maximize and remove obstacles to student learning,” said, Dr. Derik Jones, Richmond School Board, 8th District. “I am pleased that the 8th District is part of the initial rollout of the Richmond City Community Schools strategy with implementation underway at Oak Grove-Bellemeade and Broad Rock Elementary Schools.”

“Schools are often the nucleus of a community,” said Dr. Dana Bedden. “By bridging access to quality health care, social services and community resources, we advance the improvement of academic outcomes for our city’s youth and the quality of life for our families.”

In addition to Saturday’s kickoff, Broad Rock Elementary School will host an open house in December to showcase programs and services being offered to the community through the Richmond City Community Schools collaborative. Cigna is joining the City as a major partner to support the launching of Richmond City Community Schools.

“Cigna is proud to be a sponsor of the Richmond City Community Schools initiative and to join Mayor Jones and so many community partners to promote good health and well-being,” said Julia Huggins, president, Cigna MidAtlantic. “Together, we can help our children achieve academic success and build a strong support system for them, their families and our entire community.” 

For more information about the Richmond City Community Schools initiative, please contact Keisha Smith (804) 646-0586 or by email at

Friday, November 14, 2014

Donate to the City of Richmond and Radio One Toy Drive

The City of Richmond and Radio One Annual Toy Drive has begun! Donations of new, unwrapped toys, books and clothing are being accepted at any City fire station, the Department of Social Services Marshall Street Plaza (900 East Marshall Street), Southside Community Services Center (4100 Hull Street Road), East District Initiative (701 North 25th Street), and at City Hall (900 East Broad Street) until 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 11.

All Radio One Richmond DJ’s will broadcast live from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on December 9, 10, and 11 to “PACK THE PODS” with donations of new unwrapped toys targeting children ages newborn to Age 13 at the Walmart Supercenter, 2410 Sheila Lane. On behalf of Richmond area Lowes Stores, Richmond store General Manager Michael Sida has already committed to donating 75 new bicycles for the toy distribution. Other drop off locations will be announced on iPower92.1FM; Praise104.7FM; and KISS-FM 99.3/105.7FM. Donations will be distributed to children in need within the Richmond Metropolitan area.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

City to Install Additional Pay Stations Near VCU Monroe Park Campus

The City will begin installing approximately 40 new parking pay stations, to
include 12 to 14 more in the VCU area in late November.

The locations for the pay stations near VCU are:

  • 600 and 700 blocks of West Franklin Street
  • 600 and 700 blocks of West Main Street
  • 300 through 500 blocks of West Franklin Street

The new stations, near the campus, are being placed in areas where there are no parking
meters and on-street parking is time-regulated with a two-hour limit.

The City began replacing parking meters with pay stations in the Central Business District in
2012. To date, approximately 125 parking stations have been installed.

It costs 75 cents per hour to park at a pay station. The meters accept credit cards, debit cards,
cash and coins. The machines dispense a receipt that must be placed on the dashboard and is
visible from the windshield.

To learn more about City services and programs, please visit

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Richmond and Henrico to Partner with Amtrak for Emergency Response Training

The City’s Office of Emergency Management, the City’s Fire Department along with Henrico County’s Division of Fire and Office of Emergency Management are partnering with Amtrak for a hands-on training that will demonstrate to first responders how to properly size-up and manage an incident involving Amtrak equipment. The two training sessions will take place at the Staples Mill Amtrak Station, 7519 Staples Mill Road, on Friday, November 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Media is invited to attend and watch the training for either session.

“Emergencies on the railway do not happen very often. However, it is important that we train with external partners, like Amtrak, to learn these incident-specific skills, so in the event that an emergency does occur, we are prepared to respond and assist those residents in need,” said Steven Pyle, Emergency Management Planner for the City of Richmond Office of Emergency Management.

Prior to the hands-on training on Friday, public safety personnel from both Richmond and Henrico will participate in 4-hour classroom sessions throughout the week of November 3rd that will cover topics to include railroad terminology and maps, past incident reviews, right-of-way safety, and passenger evacuation.

For more information, please contact Steven Pyle at (804) 646-5281.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

City Announces Reduction in Purchased Gas Cost

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

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

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

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

Remediation and Restoration Work Begins at Historic Ancarrow's Landing

~ Project completion targeted for the end of 2014 ~

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

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

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

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

Specific changes resulting from the restoration effort include:

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

City Adopts Complete Streets Policy

~ City Administration begins development of guidelines for implementation ~

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 20, 2014

City Names Several to Leadership Posts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

City Recognizes Rappahannock Restaurant on Esquire Magazine Recognition

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

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

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

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mayor to Direct Additional Funds to RPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

City of Richmond Wins Stone Brewing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 3, 2014

Mayor Jones Comments on Peter Chapman's Departure

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced that he has accepted the resignation of Peter Chapman, the City’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic and Community Development. Chapman has accepted the role of Deputy City Manager for Economic Development and Housing for the City of Norfolk.

“Peter has been a strong member of Richmond’s leadership team for more than five years,” Jones said. “He has spearheaded the transformation of Richmond’s East End, creation of the Arts District to spur development downtown, and repositioning the historic Main Street Station for next-generation rehabilitation and development.”

“Peter is pursuing a great professional opportunity, and we wish him all the best,” Jones said.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mayor Comments on Children's Hospital

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following comment today regarding speculation about a free-standing children’s hospital in Richmond:

“Our region would be well-served by a free-standing, independently operated children’s hospital. The city of Richmond certainly would do everything we can to gain the opportunity to house such a facility within the city, where it can be easily accessible to all. This discussion stands on its own, and we anticipate that a decision about a children’s hospital location will be made independent of other issues, including the ballpark.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mayor Announces Marshall’s Resignation

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced that he has accepted the resignation of Byron Marshall. Marshall resigned from his position as chief administrative officer (CAO) after having served over five years in the top operations position.

“Mr. Marshall has served in the position of CAO longer than most would have had an opportunity to do so, as a result of my being elected to a second term,” said Jones. “We are grateful to have had his service for more than five years, and we wish him well in his future endeavors. The city has benefited in many ways during his tenure.”

Christopher Beschler, deputy chief administrative officer for operations, has been named as interim CAO by Jones. Beschler has served in this capacity previously and is seen as amply-qualified to manage city operations during the transition period.

“Along with Chris, we have a capable team in place – many of whom have been with me since the beginning – and we are anticipating moving forward without interruption.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

City to Hold 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance Event

Mayor Dwight C. Jones invites the public to join in a Day of Service and Remembrance on Thursday, September 11, 2014 in recognition of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The event will be held outside of Marshall Plaza at 900 East Marshall Street.

The formal event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the ringing of bells, color guard and moment of silence. One of the youngest first-responders at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, Evandra Thompson will be the event’s keynote speaker. Additionally, United States Army Brigadier General Jack Haley, 38th Chief of Ordnance at Fort Lee will also bring remarks regarding preparedness. Following the formal event, there will be an opportunity to learn more about emergency preparedness with the City’s Office of Emergency Management and to tour the City’s Mobile Command Post. The Richmond Fire Department will review fire safety in the home with the use of the City’s mobile Fire Safety House. The Richmond Ambulance Authority will provide Hands-Only CPR training and event attendees will be able to pick-up a free take home kit to share with family and friends.

At the conclusion of the formal program, volunteers will depart to begin work on several service projects throughout the city. Residents are encouraged to support the local community on September 11 by participating in the City of Richmond and AARP food drive. Donations of nonperishable foods will be accepted at the September 11 Day of Service and Remembrance event and prior to the event at City Hall, 900 East Broad Street; Marshall Plaza; Richmond Fire Headquarters, 201 East Franklin Street; Richmond Police Headquarters, 200 West Grace Street; East District Center, 701 25th Street; and Southside Community Services Center, 4100 Hull Street Road. All food collected with be donated to FeedMore.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mayor Jones Establishes Working Group

~Funding options for schools is focus of finance experts~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced that the following individuals have agreed to serve as part of a working group reviewing financing options for school needs:

Matt Grossman                 CFO, Health & Beauty Group, MeadWestvaco
Jeff Hemp                         CFO, Philip Morris USA & Director, Altria Client Services
Scott Hetzer                      SVP & Treasurer, Dominion Resources Inc.
Alma Showalter                VP of Tax, Dominion Resources Inc.

“I am grateful to these companies for their willingness to lend us these valuable human resources,” said Mayor Jones. “I’m asking that this group undertake an aggressive review schedule of financing options for schools needs, as I’m eager to chart a course of direction that will ultimately strengthen our school district.”

On August 18, 2014, Mayor Jones outlined a number of financing options the City could explore to support schools. These include:

a)    The use of third-party financing models like public-private partnerships and that can fund repairs while producing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; the savings from which can repay the private company.

b)    The possible use of tax-exempt private activity bonds for the construction of school facilities that could be leased back to the school system.

c)    A look at available tax credits that can be utilized, at the state and federal level and a look at what changes ought to be sought to jump start the use of available tax credits; including also the possible advocacy of an entirely new education tax credit.

d)    Available borrowing options and the implications for the city’s general revenue fund and/or real estate tax rate.

e)    Possible use of capital leases whereby a private company would finance and build a school and lease it back to RPS, who would ultimately own it at the end of the lease period.

The City is anticipating a formal report from the Richmond City School Board in November laying out the prioritized facilities needs of the school system. Mayor Jones indicated that it is his hope that the review of the various financing models the City may want to consider to support schools will be completed within a similar timeframe.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mayor Jones Prepared Remarks Concerning Richmond Public Schools' Funding Needs

In just 15 days, Richmond’s children will be heading back to classrooms all across the city, and I wanted to take this time to address the funding needs that we’ve all heard about of late with respect to school facilities.

Education has been a priority for me since I took office, and it remains a priority.  I believe that the investment we, as a city, make in our children is the best investment we can make. That’s why I’ve pushed for and built new schools, representing over $170 million dollars in investment – am building the first new high school in 40 years – and have increased the schools maintenance budget by nearly 700%. We’ve reduced capital funding in other areas to help with school needs.

I’m encouraged that we also have a Governor that wants to increase the focus on the education and general welfare of youth through 21 years of age. Last week, our Governor established a Children’s Cabinet.  The initiative, in part, is meant to address students in high poverty, low-achieving school districts, and I commend Governor McAuliffe for focusing on youth in our communities. We need the support.

The Governor’s announcement came only days after our own school district issued a preliminary report listing $35 million in repairs needed throughout Richmond City schools. In fact, for many months, when it comes to schools, the focus has been almost solely on fixing HVAC systems and roof repairs – with some even suggesting that a facilities gap is what leads to an achievement gap.

I agree that we need proper facilities within which to educate our children.  And every maintenance request that we’ve received from Richmond Public Schools has been fully funded. In fact, my Administration has provided the largest increase of capital funding and maintenance funding in decades.

But I’m here today to say that we cannot address the issue of school maintenance in a silo, cut off from other issues that we face in our school system. Performance, enrollment, graduation and dropout rates have to be at the core of the discussion when it comes to doing the best we can for our children. We do a disservice to our taxpayers when we don’t take a comprehensive approach.

In the last few months the discussion about Richmond Public Schools has centered on the state of the facilities. The task force that issued the preliminary report last week did a good and necessary job of pointing out the needed repairs, and I commend them.

However, that task force, in its own report stated that many, if not most, of these issues were present in reports dating as far back as 2002. It’s clear that the neglect that is now being focused on is neglect that did not happen overnight, and it won’t be fixed overnight.

We also have to acknowledge that little attention has been given to the fact that changing demographics, population patterns, and program needs must be factored in.  Also, the much needed conversation concerning right-sizing still has not taken place. As hard as it may be for the School Board to tackle these tough decisions, we’ve simply got to move past the tough obstacles to determine what is best for our students.
Enrollment in Richmond City Schools has steadily declined for four decades. Our school system is presently serving less than half of the students that we once served.

Enrollment in our schools has fallen, even as our population has grown. Now, Superintendent Bedden has done a great job in bringing to light the maintenance needs of the school system. He has also, thankfully, indicated that he wishes to initiate a citywide assessment of schools relative to demand.  I want to underscore the urgency of conducting this study so that we will know where and when to invest scarce dollars.
This is the responsible thing to do before we can wisely invest our limited resources. And the matter of limited resources is not only a concern because of our dwindling or flat revenues in the city; the State just last week has asked us to brace for more cuts as well.

Fixing our schools has to be defined beyond improving buildings, and must include improved outcomes.  If you only look to the schools that are brand new, for example, they have beautiful new facilities, and poor student performance. Two of the three new schools we have opened are on warning status with their accreditation.
In 2010, 100% of our Schools were accredited and held that status for the next three years.  These are the same schools that are now being underscored for decades of neglect regarding maintenance repairs.

Presently, 30 of our 44 schools are in warning status with their accreditations, because of tougher test score standards. Richmond Public Schools has an on-time graduation rate of 76% - the lowest for all students in the state. We have a cohort drop-out rate of 17% - the highest in the state for all students.

The problems that our schools face go well beyond building maintenance repairs.  I will not stand by any longer while the real discussion that needs to be highlighted goes ignored. I’ve heard numbers get thrown about ranging from $35 million, $100 million, to even $1 billion for repairs and modernization -- all while the city is running under-enrolled schools that are expensive to maintain and that are under performing.

Just a few months ago, there was talk about how at the middle school level, we have schools that average 400 to 600 fewer students per building than similar schools in the surrounding counties. In our high schools, we have 500 to 800 fewer students than in similar schools in the counties. It was said that the schools need a “true plan” for how to achieve economies of scale – but we have not seen any such plan.

With respect to improving student performance, a plan was submitted by the interim Superintendent in October of last year, but that plan came up short and did not meet School Board expectations.  Since that time, we haven’t seen a plan addressing exactly HOW Richmond Public Schools will improve student performance.
I’ve expressed these concerns to Dr. Bedden, and I’m proposing a course of action that we can take together.

As Mayor, my job is to manage competing interests. As much as I wish the city had the revenue stream to write a check for all of our needs – things like putting more police officers and firefighters on the streets, maintaining an aging public infrastructure, developing our Riverfront, building a cycling infrastructure, paving streets, reducing poverty – but we simply don’t have the necessary resources to do everything that we’d like to do. With the school system suggesting that they may be asking for as much as $100 million in maintenance, we need to have a very serious conversation about the state of affairs before we are forced into having to raise taxes to cover those projected costs.

I want to be clear; I don’t want to raise taxes. I want to cut taxes. We already have the highest taxes in central Virginia, which hits everyone hard. But at the same time, I know that everyone wants a strong and sustainable school system. So it is imperative that we undertake the due diligence necessary to ensure that the money we do have and the money we will seek is invested wisely. We must be sure that we’ve explored all options for sharing the financial burden.

That is why I’ve begun reach out to business and finance experts to research and explore to the options available to address the needs. There are several things that need to be immediately explored so that by the next budget cycle we can act from an informed position.

1.    We need to explore financing options that may be available to support our needs. These include:

  • The use of third-party financing models like public-private partnerships and that can fund repairs while producing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects;  the savings from which can repay the private company.
  • The possible use of tax-exempt private activity bonds for the construction of school facilities that could be leased back to the school system.
  • A look at available tax credits that can be utilized, at the state and federal level and a look at what changes ought to be sought to jump start the use of available tax credits; including also the possible advocacy of an entirely new education tax credit.
  • Available borrowing options and the implications for the city’s general revenue fund and/or real estate tax rate.
  • Possible use of capital leases whereby a private company would finance and build a school and lease it back to RPS, who would ultimately own it at the end of the lease period.
The last option, involving capital leases, is something we are already exploring with respect to building the new school in Highland Grove. If this option proves viable, then the money currently budgeted for Overby-Sheppard construction can be reprogrammed for other school capital needs, including some of the emergency needs.

2.    At the same time, the School Board must undertake the work to look at the growth areas, changing demographics, population patterns, and program needs to determine how many schools should remain operational in our system. This is what is needed in order for us to move forward together.
This issue of right-sizing is paramount in order to know where to invest our dollars. For example, we simply must know:

  • what schools are no longer needed,
  • where to build new schools, 
  • where are we faced with continued declining enrollment, 
  • what transportation strategies are needed, 
  • what are the housing trends,
  • birth rates, etc.
I believe we can offer better education with lower costs.  Sometimes less is actually more, and we have to make sure the taxpayers are getting every dollar worth.

There are many talented people invested in our city who can conduct this much-needed financial and operational review so that all aspects of this discussion will get the attention needed. Ideally, by the time we receive the School Board’s prioritized listing in November and we begin the process of developing our budget for the next fiscal year, we will have the data, plans and strategy we need to allocate funding appropriately and wisely.

Building a strong and sustainable school system is a top priority for the city. We all know that strong and vibrant neighborhoods come about, in part, because of strong schools that bring out the best in all our children. In the context of addressing poverty in our city, we’ve started the process of collaborating with schools through the use of our anti-poverty commission. I’ve been talking about the role of schools and the need for community centered schools. I get it! And my record shows that I’ve been walking the talk.

A few years ago, I said that we needed to stop celebrating mediocrity when it came to our schools. That we have got to let go of the mediocrity and embrace excellence. I don’t want the distraction of poor building maintenance to keep us from focusing on teaching our kids and maximizing the potential of every last child in the City of Richmond. I’m taking these steps to ensure that that doesn’t continue to happen.

I’d like to close with this. A few months ago, when I met with the students from Open High, I was moved by their passion to speak up for not just their own school conditions, but for students all across the city. There was one young lady who said that while the conditions at Open were good for an old building, that what they enjoyed most was what was happening inside their classroom. Let’s work to bring that experience to every school in the city of Richmond. Let’s work to enrich the inner experience, even as we improve the outer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

GRTC Announces Scheduling Changes to Several Routes

~Scheduling changes are effective August 24, 2014~

The following routes will have significant schedule changes.
     Routes: 11, 43, 62, 101
     New Route: 21 Brook Azalea
     Discontinued Routes: 22 and 67

     Routes 24, 44, 45 and 72-73 will have Transfer Plaza Bay changes.

Routes that serve the Temporary Transfer Plaza may have minor schedule changes.  Please check the new printed public timetables/schedules available closer to August 24.

Look for new individual route schedules on, closer to August 24, 2014, or call the Customer Service Center at 804-358-GRTC (4782).

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Online Survey Launched to Determine Space Needs for Area Artists, Arts Organizations and Creative Businesses

The City of Richmond is partnering with CultureWorks, the Cameron Foundation and City of Petersburg to conduct a major online survey of artists, individuals involved with arts organizations and creative businesses in the region to determine the feasibility of creating one or more multi-use arts facilities. The survey will conclude on September 5, 2014.

This effort represents a collaboration of multiple partners, including The Cameron Foundation, Artspace Projects, CultureWorks, and the cities of Richmond and Petersburg. Artspace Projects, the nation’s leading developer for the arts, will use the survey to identify the types and number of spaces needed by those who are part of the area’s creative economy. The results of the survey will help Artspace Projects determine the size of the market in Richmond and Petersburg region for affordable live/work housing, studio and public space of various kinds.

The survey is the second phase of a scope of work that began last year when an Artspace Projects team conducted preliminary feasibility visits in Richmond and Petersburg. If the survey identifies a market for one or more Artspace Projects developments and the community decides to proceed, survey results will inform both the project concept and site selection as well as provide data on affordability. The survey results will also impact specific design and programmatic decisions, such as square footage, parking spaces, types of shared creative spaces to include, rent levels, etc. Artists who take the survey will have the option of being among the first to be informed of project developments, including leasing opportunities.

Additional information about the survey is available at, where interested artists, arts organizations and creative businesses are encouraged to take the survey.

“This project has something to offer residents who are involved with a creative pursuit or organization as it is a unique tool that can help the City revitalize and inject positive energy into some of our most underinvested neighborhoods,” said Lee Downey, director of the City of Richmond’s Department of Economic and Community Development. “Growing the creative economy will not only help grow the overall local economy, but also make it more diverse and more resilient to economic downturns.”

Friday, June 20, 2014

Richmond Earns Top Ranking for Small Business Friendliness

The City of Richmond recently received recognition for being a national leader in overall small business friendliness. Finishing as the 10th best city, Richmond earned an A grade for its small business friendly policies and earned an A+ for the friendliness of its licensing rules.

“Receiving this honor acknowledges the City’s continued efforts to provide quality resources to our local businesses,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Helping entrepreneurs and local businesses grow and thrive is central to the City’s anti-poverty strategy. By being a ‘business-friendly’ city, we are also creating local jobs and advancing our neighborhood revitalization efforts.” 

Thumbtack, a consumer service headquartered in San Francisco, partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to conduct a survey of more than 12,000 small businesses nationwide. The Small Business Friendliness Survey is the largest survey of its kind and is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide sample of small business owners to determine the most business-friendly locations.

Some of the key findings for Richmond include:

Richmond earned an A+ for the ease of starting a business, and was the easiest place in the southern United States to start one, improving from a B+ last year.

Richmond excelled in the friendliness of its licensing and its environmental regulations, earning A+ in both categories.

Richmond was the 6th best city in the nation for starting a small business.

The full survey results are available at and the Kauffman Foundation evaluated most states and 82 cities against one another along more than a dozen metrics that business owners say are critical to a friendly business environment. The full methodology paper can be found at:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mayor Jones Issues Statement on the Passing of Ray Boone

Richmond, VA – Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement in respect to the passing of Richmond Free Press founder, publisher and editor Raymond H. Boone, Sr.:

“The passing of Ray Boone really marks the end of a personality who was an integral part of our city. His stalwart support for the black community, for economic justice and fairness paved the way for change in so many ways. As Founder/Editor/Publisher of the Richmond Free Press, week after week, he offered many a window into the world of black Richmond. He provided visibility for people who might otherwise be invisible to some. He voiced concerns and desires in ways that might not otherwise have gotten expressed. When I think of Ray, the word that comes to mind for me is ‘crusader.’ It’s clear to me that Ray Boone was a giant of a personality that won’t soon be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this time of loss.”

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mayor Addresses Recent Incidents of Crimes Involving Children

Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic addressed media today regarding recent incidents of crimes involving children. The following are Mayor Jones’ remarks as prepared for delivery for today’s press briefing.

Thank you for joining me here this morning.

I wish we could be meeting under better circumstances, but I’m here with Police Chief Tarasovic to talk about some of the challenges we’ve been facing recently.

As Mayor, one of the standards I’ve set is for prompt notification – no matter what time of day or night – when there is a major crime incident in the city and incidents involving children. Over time, I’ve taken calls from our chief at 1:00 a.m. in the morning, 4:00 a.m. in the morning, and at various other times.

It’s horrible when I receive the calls that a tragedy has occurred somewhere in our city. The only thing worse is the Police Chief having to make the call to report in on something tragic that has sadly occurred. Today, I feel that I’ve been getting too many of those calls lately, and that’s what I’m here to speak about.

I want to first thank our Police Chief and the men and women of our police force for the hard work they have been doing. They are often on the scene of these incidents in less than a minute. They have a strong case-closing rate and have actually improved our overall crime statistics in recent years. They do a fine job of standing for excellence, integrity and justice.

But we must do more.

In February, a 7-year old was struck by a random bullet. In May, a 5-year old was struck. This past weekend, a 2-year old.

No child should grow up gathering memories of being shot in their neighborhood. That is unacceptable, and I am outraged.

We should all be outraged at this and we must all recognize that this is not just a policing problem, this is a community problem.

What I want to do today is call on the community to help us. Rise up against this type of behavior. If you see something, say something.

We’ve got to combat this together.

I can’t stress enough the importance of the community’s involvement in our efforts. For example, our efforts at sorting out what happened this past weekend when the 23 month old child was shot were greatly aided by the help of neighbors - neighbors who wanted the correct information to be known.

But we still have several cases of children being harmed where no one has come forward with information.  Cases where many people were present and know what happened, but have chosen not to get involved.

I implore you to take a stand and get involved. Take a stand against criminal activity in your communities.

Now there are several things we are continuing to work on to improve safety in our communities.

  • Our community policing model is designed to forge relationships with the police in neighborhoods. We’ve actually intensified our community policing model.
  • Police Chief Tarasovic has also recently reinstituted the sector community meetings, the first of which was held this past Saturday.
  • These problem-solving workshops are designed to help everyone work together and to give the public an opportunity to voice concerns, come up with solutions and craft a plan of action.
  • Get involved with these meetings as they come up in your communities. We are going to also use reverse 911 calls for upcoming meetings to help ensure that people know about these meetings and are more likely to get involved.
  • We continue to work to get illegal guns off the street – a major factor as it relates to violent crime. Since the 22nd of May, our police force got 14 illegal guns off the streets over a 9 day period.  And we must do everything we can to close loopholes and get illegal guns off the streets – an effort I’ve joined over 1,000 Mayor in as a part of Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns.
  • In June, we will be getting assistance from the State with our annual Fugitive and Firearms Initiative. Every year our police department seizes large numbers of illegal guns with the help of area law enforcement partners. Last year 146 weapons were taken off of the street. The effort also focuses on locating persons wanted for crimes.
  • We continue our community walks – door to door. I’ve participated in past walks and will be participating in more.  This provides an opportunity for us to go directly to the public, to hear concerns, provide information, and to gather ideas.
  • Our faith leaders remain active – working to build a sense of community and to help with healing and nurturing troubled areas of our city. Embrace these faith leaders and work with them to build better neighborhoods.
Our efforts have been consistent and working in many ways – thankfully. And I have no doubt that these efforts are saving somebody’s life.

Now I think we all know that when it comes to crime and criminal activity, there is no instant panacea and there never will be. But if we work together, we can strengthen our ability to prevent rather than simply solve crimes. And one of the things that I want the community to understand is that we must address this issue on all fronts.

One of the reasons I’ve focused so heavily on poverty mitigation and economic development strategies for our city is because I know that crime is, in large part, inextricably a symptom of poverty. Our city is paying a heavy economic and social price for cramming the poor into concentrated areas. As Mayor, my job is to work to steer us in the direction that will create quality of life for everyone. And we are consistently working on those things that will lead to improved workforce training and job opportunities, better educational outcomes and community schools, transportation options, and redevelopment of public housing. All of these things are preventative responses to crime and we must continue to work for those gains.

But we also must start right where we are and there are several things every individual can do right now:

  • Get to know the police officers who patrol your neighborhood.
  • Attend those neighborhood meetings hosted by your city council representatives or Richmond police.
  • Talk to young people about how they should conduct themselves and encourage your local high school to invite police in to get to know the students, for example.
  • And, if you see something, say something. Silence only empowers the wrong doers.
Communities can and must be proactive. And I have that same message across the board – be it incidents involving children, or robberies, or any incidents of crime in our city.

I recently met with merchants from Broad Street after the Victoria Jewelers Homicide.  I met with Muhammad Baig’s father. I felt and saw his grief. We’ve reached out to the families of the children recently harmed, like Marty Cobb’s family. And I make it a point to have more direct involvement when minors are involved.

These senseless acts of violence tear at the very fabric of our city, but as I tell everyone, we cannot give in. The only way we will succeed is if we work together, take ownership of what is happening in our streets, and not stand for it or give into it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mayor Jones Issues Statement on Proposed Shockoe Bottom Development Ordinance

Mayor Jones issued the following statement concerning the anticipated vote on the Shockoe Bottom Development Ordinance:

“I was disappointed to read in the news media that certain Council members plan to vote against new jobs, tax revenue, and a Slavery Heritage site in Richmond. Doing that would hurt Richmond by leaving money on the table.

“That’s because keeping the ballpark on the Boulevard would restrict the revenue-producing potential of our most valuable piece of under-utilized land. That’s a bad business decision, and it demonstrates a failure to consider the needs of the city as a whole.

“This decision is surprising since they’ve chosen to vote against something without learning about it first. At no point have all City Council members been briefed on the most up-to-date information about all aspects of the plan. Council members are receiving the detailed information they requested, but most briefings have taken place in committee meetings or in lightly-attended informal sessions. Nevertheless, they now want to kill the project before hearing the information that staff, the developers and the baseball team have invested a great deal of time and expense to gather. This is the second time in less than a month that two members have tried to kill the plan without first understanding all the details.

“They fret that this process has taken a while, and I wish it could have moved more quickly too. But it’s important to remember that since we introduced the concept last November, we’ve presented Revitalize RVA to more than 50 community meetings attended by thousands of Richmonders. We’ve continually refined it along the way, in response to concerns raised by the community and City Council members. Moreover, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a transformational economic development plan has taken time to complete properly. Anyone who’s ever bought a house knows that getting to closing can take a while, and this plan is like closing on 200 houses at once. It’s no suburban frozen yogurt shop or used car lot. Big cities do big things, and big things take time. Richmond’s still learning about that.

“For months, I’ve worked to build trust with City Council members under the leadership of Charles Samuels. That trust has been damaged.

“I intend to move forward on generating upwards of $10 million a year in new revenue for the City of Richmond. Here are the facts:
  • A Kroger, a Hyatt hotel, and new apartment buildings will help create more than 400 new jobs in a blighted area of Richmond. That’s a powerful business opportunity in a city with a 26% overall poverty rate, where some Council districts thrive and others are wracked by generations of joblessness.Unleashing the untapped potential of the Boulevard's 60 acres will produce at least as many jobs as Shockoe will produce, if not more.
  • The Shockoe development plan will benefit the community through an agreement to include at least a 40% minority business participation rate and at least a 20% minority ownership stake. Richmond has never seen community wealth-building commitments like these on a project this big.
  • After 400 years, this is Virginia’s first serious opportunity to build a Slavery Heritage site at the place where Virginia Union was born. There’s a reason this hasn’t happened before. It’s possible today because it’s part of a comprehensive economic development plan. If we pass up this opportunity now, it may never come again.
  • A new downtown ballpark—like Charlotte opened last month—will help keep the Flying Squirrels in Richmond, as certain Council members have pledged.
“The reaction of some Council members reminds me of some initial reactions to the Redskins Training Camp and other economic development initiatives with Bon Secours. Many people did not recognize the benefit these projects would bring to our economy, but they have proven to be big successes. That’s why Richmond will have two NFL teams playing here this summer. It takes vision to get things done.

“There’s still time for Council members to change this hasty decision. I’ll present exhaustive details of this plan on Thursday.

“I encourage Council members to make informed decisions after Thursday, unless they simply don’t want to hear the facts.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mayor Jones Announces DCAO Appointments

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced the appointments of Norman D. Butts as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Finance and Debra D. Gardner as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services.

Norman Butts, previously Director of Finance for the Town of Leesburg, will begin his tenure with the City on June 23. Butts is a lawyer, accountant, educator, public administrator, and a former elected official. He has been an Inspector General, Auditor, Chief Finance Officer, Debt Manager, and a City Manager.

His decade of service as Director of Finance for the Town of Leesburg has positioned Leesburg for a Triple A bond rating, up from an A1 standing when he started. His career includes being named the first Inspector General for Montgomery County, Maryland, one of the most diverse and complex jurisdictions in America. He was also an auditor in Concord, New Hampshire, where he served three terms on the City Council. In that elected office, he served as a member of the fiscal policy committee and as chairman of the ethics committee. He also served as a Debt Manager in the Commonwealth’s State Treasurer’s office when Jerry Baliles was Governor of Virginia.

As the City’s DCAO for Finance and Administration he will be responsible for the Departments of Finance, Procurement, Human Resources, Budget and Strategic Planning, and Information Technology.
Debra Gardner, previously Chief Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, begins her term with the City today. Gardner has career-long success as a public administrator, corrections professional, justice services administrator, intervention specialist, and a prevention expert.

She began her career as a social worker and she has a background in drug treatment, substance abuse, domestic violence prevention and foster care. As Chief Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, she shared oversight of more than 12,000 employees in 94 operational units, with an annual budget of $1.3 billion.

Her career includes helping to establish the Commission on Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, where she ultimately served as Executive Director.

As the City’s DCAO for Human Services she will be responsible for the Departments of Social Services; Justice Services; and Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities; the Mayor’s Youth Academy; the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Volunteer Initiative and the new Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building. She will also serve as the City’s liaison to Richmond’s Public Libraries, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority and Richmond City Health District.


“Debra Gardner is the change agent we need for our Human Services portfolio,” said Mayor Jones. “Debra understands case management, programs to help crime victims, special investigations, programs to help people who once broke the law re-enter society, and she is guided by an overall commitment to addressing social challenges.”

“Norman Butts is a career professional who can help us improve our operations,” said Mayor Jones. “Norman is a lawyer, accountant, educator, public administrator, and a former elected official. He has been an Inspector General, Auditor, Chief Finance Officer, Debt Manager, and even a City Manager. I think he’s got all the bases covered.”