Friday, March 21, 2014

Riverfront Development to Move Forward

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement regarding the City’s proposed Capital Improvement Program for FY2015-2019 and Riverfront Development:

“It is clear to me after hearing from some very good friends who are aware of my ongoing commitment to riverfront development, that the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget put forth sends the wrong signal about the city’s intentions concerning riverfront development and specifically the Brown’s Island Dam Walk. I want to be clear: we are moving forward and it is my understanding that we are well on track to complete the Dam Walk before the World Road Cycling Championships come to Richmond in 2015.
 “The city has approximately $4 million in unspent funds for this project, because of the initial funding that I included in my CIP for FY2013-2017. We are also anticipating grant funding in the amount of $2.5 million; meaning we may have as much as $6.5 million on hand. The Brown’s Island Dam Walk is a key project in this first phase of riverfront development and early conceptual plans for the Dam Walk estimated a cost of $2 million. This would indicate that we have ample funds on hand to move the project forward and is the only reason new funding was not included for the immediately approaching fiscal year. Staff has been hard at work to have this key project move forward in a timely manner and this is the information I’ve been relying on.
“Additionally, not including funding in the current CIP does not mean that more funding won’t be provided for another five years. That is not my intention. I am mindful of the fact that project refinements and technical requirements will likely push the need for resources higher. We present a five-year CIP every year and I fully expect that with the presentation of next year’s CIP, additional funding will be sought  for riverfront development and other projects in the pipeline that will create new public spaces around our beautiful riverfront.
“This plan of action should have been conveyed in our budget, and it is unfortunate that the budget advanced without appropriate mention of our ongoing Riverfront plans. I look forward to working with Richmond City Council on this aspect of the budget as well as many others.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mayor Orders Faster Progress in Filling Vacancies

~City Reorganizes Positions as Interim DCAO Departs~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the service of Stephen Harms as Interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Human Services is concluding. Harms, who was appointed to the position in January of 2013, has chosen to pursue other opportunities.

“We are grateful to Steve for the time that he has dedicated to the City in this capacity,” said Mayor Jones. “This interim appointment has extended out beyond one year; much longer than we anticipated we would have the benefit of his expertise and we are grateful that he was able to dedicate this much time.”

“I was honored to have been asked to serve with the Mayor and his team,” said Steve Harms. “I’m grateful for his and City Council’s support in our efforts to improve city services. The experience has been meaningful and I appreciate the dedicated city employees that I had the privilege of working with.”

The DCAO for Human Services has oversight of the Department of Social Services, Human Services, Libraries and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. Until a permanent placement is found, the portfolio will be shared by existing leadership staff. Chris Beschler, DCAO for Operations, will exercise oversight of Libraries and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. Byron Marshall, CAO, will continue with ultimate oversight over the Departments of Social Services and Justice Services, while David Hicks continues to serve in an acting capacity as director of the Department of Social Services and Justice Services. Byron Marshall will also take general oversight responsibility for the City’s Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs, the Office on Aging and Persons with Disabilities, the Mayor’s Youth Academy and the Neighbor to Neighbor Volunteerism office.

“I have instructed City officials to fill these vacancies quickly,” said Mayor Jones. “This process has moved too slowly. I remain optimistic that we will have substantial announcements in the coming weeks regarding our overall organization.”

Mayor Jones also announced that Grant Neely is now serving as his Chief of Staff, replacing Suzette Denslow who joined Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration. A soft announcement was made when Neely assumed the role in late January. Neely previously worked as a strategy and communications advisor to the CEOs of Pfizer in New York City and Novartis in Switzerland. He served as a longtime policy and communications advisor in the administration of then-Governor Mark R. Warner.