Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Downey Named DCAO for Planning and Economic Development

Lee Downey, who has been the City’s Economic and Community Development Director since May of 2011, has accepted a new post as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Planning and Economic Development. Downey had been serving in the DCAO post on an interim basis since October of 2014. The permanent placement became effective December 26, 2015.

“Lee is no stranger to the economic development needs of the city,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “He has continued to impress me, now having been a part of my executive team since 2011. One of the highest priorities of this administration has been and continues to be intentional and aggressive economic development efforts.  Lee has been a part of our comprehensive effort; including everything from establishing the Arts District, to attracting new businesses like Stone and retaining businesses like McGuire Woods and The Martin Agency. I look forward to our continued work together to position the city to remain competitive and attractive within a growing city and region.”

“Lee has served in the DCAO position on an interim basis, and we are pleased to now make that appointment on a permanent basis,” stated Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn. “This particular DCAO post is central to helping the city strengthen neighborhoods and commercial corridors so that we can generate new jobs and revenue for the city’s needs. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we are building on a great foundation as the city’s marketability has been strengthened substantially in recent years.”

Jones, now in his second term, placed a strong emphasis on the city’s economic development efforts upon entering office. Citing the need for a comprehensive approach to economic development as a means to effectively address the high poverty rate in the city and create jobs, Jones has also since created the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building to augment the economic and community development work of the city. 

“The Mayor’s strong focus on economic and community development strategies has strengthened the city’s overall approach to development strategies,” said Lee Downey. “Our comprehensive approach has led to tangible opportunities to look at corridors and neighborhoods and to balance opportunities in a methodical way. We’ve been able to have transformational impacts on whole neighborhoods; like downtown, the Arts district, what we’ll be doing in Fulton, and even the prospects for Boulevard. This is an exciting time for the city of Richmond and I’m pleased to accept this post.”

The city’s economic and community development focus has contributed to a renewed approach to revitalization. Downtown, for example, has been the recipient of fa├žade improvement grants, restaurants are returning to Grace Street, new apartments and long abandoned buildings like the CFB Building are being redeveloped. The city’s approach is intended to bring jobs and development to formerly neglected corridors, thereby increasing the city’s tax base and strengthening the city’s overall brand.

Downey is a University of Virginia graduate with a master’s degree in Urban Planning. He has over twenty years of experience in economic development at the local, regional and state level, as well as in the private sector. He previously worked at the architecture firm McKinney & Co. and McGuire Woods, and was a business development manager at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Recognize and Respond – The 3 S’s of a Gas Leak

A natural gas leak can be recognized in three distinct ways - Smell, Sight, or Sound.

SMELL:     Natural gas is colorless and odorless. Before it reaches you, we add a distinctive, pungent odor -- a rotten egg smell -- so that od natural gas is escaping it can be quickly recognized.

SIGHT:    You may see a white cloud, mist, fog, or bubbles in standing water, or vegetation that appears to be brown and dead or dying for no apparent reason.

SOUND:     You may hear an unusual noise like roaring, hissing or whistling coming from a 
natural gas pipeline in the area.

DO’s:    What should you do if you suspect a leak? Just leave! Protect life first. Move to a safe environment. Then call 911 or the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities at (804) 646-7000. City of Richmond residents may call 311.

DON’T’s: DO NOT strike a match, use telephones, switch on or off appliances, a light switch or even grab a flashlight in the area where you smell gas. Those actions could produce a spark that might ignite and cause an explosion.

For more information, visit http://www.richmondgov.com/PublicUtilities/index.aspx

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mayor Jones Issues Statement on Governor McAuliffe’s Biennial Budget Proposal

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement today regarding Governor Terry McAuliffe’s biennial budget proposal:

“I’m pleased by Governor McAuliffe's budget proposal, which has been carefully crafted to propel Virginia’s economy forward.

“It will take Virginia’s investment in public education to the highest level in history. This is an important step toward restoring reductions made during the recession.

“I’m especially encouraged because I’ve always believed that a strong city is one where all residents care about public education, even if they don’t have kids in the school system.

“As Governor McAuliffe said, ‘Our young children’s future should not depend on their parents’ financial condition or their ZIP code.’ I completely agree.

“Local governments know that additional state funds also bring additional costs, and we’re prepared to accept that challenge. I look forward to a robust debate—at the state and local level—about how best to deliver all of the services our residents expect and deserve.”

Thursday, December 10, 2015

City Partnership Highlights Poverty Reduction Initiative In Richmond Public Schools

The City of Richmond, in partnership with Richmond Public Schools (RPS) and the Richmond Public Schools Education Foundation, highlighted the poverty reduction initiative RVA Future Centers today at the Armstrong High School Future Center. RVA Future Centers have launched in all five comprehensive city high schools this semester.

Future Centers are dedicated classroom spaces within each school building that are resource hubs for connecting high school students and their families to college and career planning resources. Each Future Center is staffed by a full-time site coordinator, who develops and implements a school-specific plan to engage all students in developing a personal plan for life after high school, starting in their ninth grade year. Future Center staff work closely with RPS guidance staff and community organizations providing college and career planning assistance such as GRASP.

“Access to opportunity makes all the difference in a young person’s life. Making sure as many of our young people as possible leave high school with a plan to go to college or a solid career plan is one of the most cost-effective investments we can make in long-term poverty reduction,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “RVA Future Centers are the first step in building a comprehensive support system, including financial and non-financial assistance, to benefit all Richmond high school students as they begin the transition to becoming productive adults.”

RVA Future Centers are the result of recommendations made by the Promise Scholarship Task Force assembled by the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Building, which included representatives from RPS, RPS Education Foundation, all four local colleges and universities, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and other stakeholders. The City’s FY2015-16 budget provides $425,000 to the RPS Education Foundation to start the program. Additional support from private funders, including AT&T, Altria, Capital One, and the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, has allowed the program to open in all five schools this year.

“We are appreciative of the support and energy both the City of Richmond and RPS have invested to make this terrific program a reality in a very short period of time,” stated Brendan McCormick, chair of the Richmond Public Schools Education Foundation.

RVA Future Centers will function both as a bold anti-poverty initiative and as a supplement to the academic improvement plan of Richmond Public Schools, which has set targets for increasing the proportion of its graduates going on to enroll in post-secondary education.

“RVA Future will meet a critical need in our schools and our communities—the need to provide youth the guidance and support needed first to set big dreams and then to realize them. The private support this initiative has already garnered speaks to the strength of the program concept, and I am very impressed with the caliber, enthusiasm and experience of the RVA Future staff that the Foundation has assembled,” said Dr. Thad Williamson, Director of the City’s Office of Community Wealth Building. “With continued support and the development of linkages to community college, support services for graduates, and eventually scholarships, RVA Future is poised to become a significant force for systemic change in our community.”

Monday, December 7, 2015

Richmond Speaks Draft Report Issued about Lumpkin’s Jail Site

~Respondents consistent about dire need to tell the city’s whole story~

In September of 2015, the City of Richmond launched a community conversation about the future of the Lumpkin’s Jail site. Spearheaded by Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the Richmond City Council Slave Trail Commission, the public conversation has reached more than 1,000 individuals through public meetings, classroom visits, in-person engagements, social media and direct outreach.

Additional public meetings are upcoming as the discussion continues. However, a preliminary report is now available detailing the work of the consultant team thus far, and sharing preliminary information that the process has yielded.

“While we know the importance of the Lumpkin’s Jail site to our city’s history, it’s another thing to understand how best to transform that importance to an active site that represents the priorities of the broader community,” said Mayor Jones. “I believe the methodology we have employed is yielding the diverse input of opinion that we desired and especially the input of young people.”

“What I found most exciting were the ideas presented by the community to bring the site to life,” said Delegate Delores McQuinn. “Developing the Lumpkin’s Jail site as a meaningful place that puts our history in proper context is a top priority for the Slave Trail Commission and this process is taking us closer to achieving that.”

Generally, Richmonders want the site to be expansive, to include as much of any other significant vestiges of Richmond’s history as possible. They want the site to be a place that brings community together, where issues of race can be addressed and dialogue can be ongoing while education and scholarship are hallmarks. The site also must be accessible and sustainable.

Upcoming meetings will give participants the opportunity to vote on priorities and recommend next steps. The next public meeting is Dec. 10 at the University of Richmond in the Jepson Alumni Center at 6 p.m. Plans are also underway to present the report to the Virginia State Legislature in January; a key source of funding for the project’s advancement.

To view the draft report, please visit www.richmondspeaksaboutlumpkins.org.

Friday, November 20, 2015

City Completes Bond Sale and Obtains Lower Rates

On November 17, 2015, the City of Richmond successfully issued $85.8 million of taxable and tax-exempt series of bonds, which were sold by competitive bid. Seven bids were received for the $62.8 million Series 2015B bonds, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch winning the bid. Seven bids were also received for the $23.0 million Series 2015C bonds, with Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc., winning the bid.

Reporting before the Finance and Economic Development Standing Committee today, the City noted that investor demand for the City’s bonds was considerable and that the bonds sold with a lower than expected interest rate, saving money for the city. The City received an interest rate of 3.83% on its taxable bond issuance, over 1.25% lower than initial planning rates. The longer term tax-exempt series received a 3.16% interest rate.

The bonds sold will be used to finance spending related to general capital improvements for Stone Brewery as well general capital improvements in the City’s Capital Improvement Plan.

“These lower-than-expected rates are a benefit of the City’s strong credit rating, and sound management that has protected that rating,” stated Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

All three of the national credit agencies, Moody’s Investor Service, Fitch Ratings, and Standard & Poor’s, rate Richmond’s bonds Aa2, AA+ and AA+, respectively, with a Stable outlook, which is considered “very strong”. The City’s ratings are either one or two notches away from “AAA”, the highest possible credit rating. This fact, coupled with near historic low interest rates, provided the City the opportunity to achieve these excellent results.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Intermediate Terminal Project Plans Advance

The City of Richmond has announced plans to move forward with improvements to the Intermediate Terminal/Intermediate Wharf – a City-owned parcel that fronts the James River on the East side of the city.

Providing increased public access to the riverfront is one of the goals in the City’s adopted Riverfront Plan. Improvements to the Intermediate Terminal Dock are seen as especially timely with the completion of the Virginia Capital Trail – 52 miles of continuous multipurpose trail between Williamsburg and Richmond.

A structural stabilization project has been underway in the Intermediate Terminal area since August of this year. With the completion of that stabilization nearing in early Spring of 2016, the City is ready to move forward with broader plans for improving riverfront access in that area, to include passive and active Riverfront recreational opportunities. Conceptual plans for the development of the area include the possibility of a community pavilion, an event lawn, an interpretive tidal pool, a fishing area, or maybe even swings. An exploration of what the public would like to see created in that area will be undertaken with a planned public meeting process.

“While our Riverfront Plan suggests any number of possibilities for this area, we are ready to have a more direct discussion with the public and to develop more specific plans for enhancements in this area,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “We have an opportunity to lift up the richness of neighborhood history while creating a recreational asset that can unify the riverfront corridor. With the completion of the Virginia Capital Trail, the east riverfront area is being utilized more than ever, and we look forward to creating another accessible public space for the city’s enjoyment.”

Local civil engineering and design firm, Timmons Group, has been contracted to develop conceptual plans for the Intermediate Terminal. They will be holding public meetings beginning in mid-January 2016 to discuss project concepts and design recommendations.

The Richmond Riverfront Plan emphasizes the importance of the riverfront as a singular destination and attraction unique to Richmond which can catalyze growth for the whole city and in specific areas. The plan provides for phased riverfront improvements to reinvigorate existing public spaces and establish new public landscapes of varying character, program and scale. Along the east riverfront, other progress has been seen with the demolition of the Lehigh Cement silos and installation of the Low-Line project with CSX and Capital Trees. In other riverfront news, the City has also recently announced plans for Port of Richmond improvements and began construction on the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge.

Monday, November 16, 2015

RVA Reads - Committed to Improving Childhood Literacy

The Richmond Public Library, the Office of Community Wealth Building and Richmond Public Schools (RPS) have partnered to create RVA Reads to improve literacy in the city by improving access to books in low income homes of preschool children. RVA Reads is designed to expand or create home libraries for three and four year olds, increase the time parents and children read together and engage children and families in library services.

The program provides one book a month to hundreds of pre-k children participating in the Virginia Preschool Initiative. To introduce the books each month, community volunteers visit pre-k classrooms to lead fun, interactive readings with the students. These readings take place at the RPS preschool centers at Blackwell, Maymont and Mary Scott schools as well as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Preschool Learning Center. Members of the City Administration and parent volunteers will lead the next reading event at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Preschool Learning Center on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 9:30 a.m.

RVA Reads began as a pilot program in 2015. As a result of the program’s success, Mayor Dwight C. Jones designated funding in the FY16 budget to continue the program. The first books included in the program were The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, and Pete the Rocking Cat in my School Shoes by Erik Litwin. The December selection is a bilingual book by Alice and Martin Provensen entitled El Libro de las Estaciones / Book of Seasons.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mayor Jones Issues Thank You to Veterans

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issues the following statement today in honor of Veterans Day:

“As we celebrate Veteran's Day, it is important that we reflect upon what these brave men and women have selflessly done. We thank all of our veterans and active duty military personnel for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make to help keep our country safe. I would also like to recognize all the City employees and their families who have served, both past and present.

“Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces have given so much to ensure that we are able to continue to enjoy our rights and freedoms. Today, be sure to properly honor the debt we owe to them all.

“Thank you again to all our service men and women.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Floyd Avenue Bike Boulevard Construction to Begin November 16

Construction of the City’s first “Bike Boulevard” will begin on November 16. The Bike Boulevard is being installed along a 2-mile stretch of Floyd Avenue from North Thompson Street to North Laurel Street. This capital improvement project represents an estimated investment of $900,000, with the majority of funding coming from Federal funding sources.

“Forward movement with this Bike Boulevard project helps tremendously with our effort to develop a city-wide network of bike infrastructure,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Through this project, we are further diversifying mobility in the city and enhancing both transportation options and recreation. It’s very exciting to see us reach the point of starting construction.”

The targeted section of Floyd Avenue will receive engineering treatments to make it an efficient, safe bicycle route with low traffic speeds and volumes, while also incorporating improvements for pedestrians. The project includes the following safety measures:

    •    Landscaped residential traffic circles and bump outs
    •    Raised crosswalks
    •    Pedestrian crosswalk markings and signs
    •    Wheelchair accessible ramps
    •    Green sharrow markings

Final plans for the Floyd Avenue bike boulevard followed extensive community meetings and input. The enhancements will improve vehicular and pedestrian interaction through slower operating speeds for motorists and shorter crossing distances for pedestrians.

To minimize the impact on businesses and residents during construction there will be no complete street closures. On occasion, there will be single lane closures. As the project advances, residents and motorists are encouraged to adhere to signage in the work zones.

The City’s Bike Master Plan, released in May of this year, has identified several other corridors which would benefit from bike boulevards - such as North 29th Street in Church Hill and Allen Street in the Fan and Randolph communities. Funds are being sought to pursue these projects in the future.

Friday, November 6, 2015

City Announces Sustainability Success of Worlds

~ 2015 UCI Road World Championships event goals exceeded ~

The 2015 UCI Road World Championships Sustainability Report to be released next week by Mayor Dwight C. Jones shows that the event achieved or exceeded all of its sustainability goals. A goal was set to divert a minimum of 60% of event waste from going to the landfill, and the efforts undertaken surpassed that goal, achieving a 76% waste diversion rate.

Waste diversion was achieved by composting food wastes; requiring caterers and vendors to use compostable serve ware; operating a robust recycling effort that included cardboard, pallets, and plastic bags, reusing event signage, recovering and donating unused food, collecting cooking grease to turn into bio-fuel, using water filling stations and reusable beer cups in lieu of plastic. 

An additional goal of offsetting 100% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced from event operations was met. Sources of emissions included electricity use in the Greater Richmond Convention Center, fuel use for generators and equipment; propane and cooking fuel for vendors and caterers; and fuel use for official event vehicles, shuttle buses, refuse, recycling and compost haulers. The 100% offset was attained via Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) provided by the City of Richmond Sustainability Office through its participation in the Dominion Green Power Program. Dominion Green Power RECs come from wind, solar and biomass facilities in the mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions. 

“I want to recognize Alicia Zatcoff, the City of Richmond Sustainability Manager; Tom Griffin, Executive Director of Virginia Green Travel Alliance, and everyone who worked to make the 2015 UCI Road World Championships a sustainable event,” said Mayor Jones. “Sustainability was a significant factor in the success of the event and in providing athletes and spectators with an overwhelmingly positive experience. This effort also showed how sustainability can enhance tourism and economic development in our community.”

The 2015 UCI Road World Championships was the first Road World Championships ever to receive the official UCI reCycling eco-label. The eco-label recognizes environmentally responsible cycling events that submit an Environmental Management Plan documenting intended actions to address transportation, energy and water conservation, recycling and waste management, accommodations, catering and supplies.

The event was certified as a Virginia Green Travel Event. The Virginia Green Program is Virginia’s self-certifying program to encourage green practices in all aspects of its tourism industry including festivals and sporting events. The program is run through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association. 

The Worlds is in the process of obtaining the Council for Responsible Sport event certification which is based on the event’s actual performance in key areas of equity, access, community impact, and legacy. 

“We strategically aligned the focus of our sustainability activities for the Worlds in four key areas that were designed to move the city’s broader RVAgreen sustainability initiatives forward: reduce waste, reduce emissions, be healthy and leave a positive legacy,” said Alicia Zatcoff, City of Richmond Sustainability Manager. “As a result, we not only succeeded in our sustainability efforts for the event but we also made progress on big picture initiatives that will benefit our community for many years to come.”

As a result of the sustainability achievements for the Worlds, the City of Richmond and the Virginia Green Travel Alliance are developing a Green Event Toolkit to share lessons learned and provide free resources to enhance the sustainability of future events. 

“The Worlds was an opportunity for the Virginia Green Travel Alliance to help showcase how green an event can actually be when the proper planning takes place and adequate resources are made available,” said Tom Griffin, Executive Director of the Virginia Green Travel Alliance. “The Sustainability accomplishments of the Worlds have set a new standard for events and festivals in the community and the Green Event Toolkit will help organizers meet this new standard.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

All 3 Wall Street Agencies Re-Affirm Richmond Bond Ratings, Citing “Stable” Financial Outlook

All three Wall Street bond rating agencies have re-affirmed their rating of general obligation bonds to be issued by the City of Richmond. The re-affirmations follow six bond rating increases the city has received since Mayor Dwight C. Jones took office in 2009.

“We’re gratified to earn this re-affirmation of Richmond’s fundamental financial strength,” said Mayor Jones. “Wall Street looks only at the facts when they review a city’s finances. It’s clear that investors are confident in Richmond’s progress and our future outlook.”

Here are the key points from each agency:

Moody’s: Aa2 rating, Outlook is Stable
“The Aa2 rating incorporates the city’s prominent role in the regional economy and as the state capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a tax base that is expected to exhibit long-term stability, satisfactory financial operations characterized by conservative budgeting and an elevated but manageable debt position.”
“The stable outlook reflects the expectation of long-term moderate economic growth and a continued conservative fiscal approach that is expected to support the city’s healthy financial position.”
“Richmond’s financial position is expected to continue to remain healthy over the medium term, bolstered by strengthened fund balance policy and implementation of more conservative budgeting assumptions.”
“Richmond’s satisfactory financial position is supported by a history of conservative budgeting, which we expect to continue in the near term.”

Fitch: AA+ rating, Outlook is Stable 
“City management has implemented prudent financial practices and policies largely yielding positive operating results relative to budget.”
“City finances are well-managed, adhering to conservative policy guidelines.”
“The city’s employment base has increased annually between 2011 and 2014, with growth notably outpacing the state and national rates…The city’s historical trend of population declines appears to have reversed, with population increasing 7% since 2010.”

S&P: AA+ rating, Outlook is Stable
“Very strong management, with ‘strong’ financial policies and practices under our Financial Management Assessment methodology.
“Very strong liquidity, with total government available cash of 33.1% of total governmental fund expenditures and 3.7x governmental debt services, and access to external liquidity we consider exceptional.
“Strong budgetary performance, with balanced operating results in the general fund and a slight operating surplus at the total governmental fund level.”
“The stable outlook…reflects the city’s now strong budgetary performance, very strong fiscal flexibility, and liquidity. The city is guided by very strong management that has implemented, strengthened, and continues to implement strong fiscal policies and practices.”

Mayor Jones, city administrators, and the city’s financial advisors hosted the three bond rating agencies in Richmond in mid-October, in preparation for a scheduled issuance of bonds through competitive sale on November 12. The bonds will be used for school projects, general capital improvement projects throughout the city, and costs related to Stone Brewing’s investment in the Fulton neighborhood. The costs of the Stone project will be covered by the firm’s rent payments for the factory under construction in Richmond’s East End.

David Rose, senior vice president and manager of Public Finance for Davenport & Company, LLC, commented, “These ratings re-affirm Mayor Jones’s approach to managing the City’s finances in a prudent and fiscally responsible manner. These strong ratings will make it easier and cheaper for Richmond to borrow money to invest in the City’s future growth and development.”

In addition to the re-affirmations, the agencies also noted the city’s need to continue funding annual required pension contributions, the need to continue addressing Richmond’s poverty rate, and the need to return to timely financial reporting. The agencies also noted that the possibility of using budget reserves could lead to a lowered bond rating in the future.

Click here to view the letters from all three rating agencies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Public Art Meeting November 17

Richmond’s Public Art Master Plan will be developed with the input of the community, key stakeholders and other arts groups so that the plan will reflect Richmond’s vision for public art. The City will embark on a series of public meetings and focus groups as well as providing methods for the public to give input and feedback on the types of public art projects funded by the City. Currently all public art projects receive funding through a 1% allocation for art, earmarked from the City’s Capital Budget, of all new or renovation construction projects having budgets over $250,000. It is envisioned that the Master Plan will also identify ways to fund the preservation and long term maintenance of the current public art sites in Richmond.

“We want this roadmap to help ensure that our public art program is reflective of Richmond’s diverse communities,” said Mayor Jones. “This effort will help to refine policies and procedures that ensure equal opportunities for local and regional artists, as well as strengthen the collaborations between neighborhood groups, local arts agencies and City departments.”

The City has hired its first full-time public art coordinator in the Department of Planning and Development Review. While serving as public art coordinator, Ellyn Parker will also serve as secretary to the Public Art Commission. The City has also awarded a contract to Gail M. Goldman Associates in partnership with Gretchen Freeman and Co. , a nationally-recognized public art consultant team. They have extensive public art master planning and policy experience across the country. The consultant team will lead the effort to identify best practices for the Public Art Commission and create a custom-tailored public art master plan for Richmond that will help elevate the arts programs, stimulate tourism and economic opportunity, provide community collaborations, and showcase the unique character of Richmond’s already thriving art scene. 

“We are excited about this effort to establish a Master Plan for Public Art in Richmond,” said Mark Olinger, director of Planning and Development Review. “It is important to ensure that our resources are yielding the best results to support our thriving arts culture along with our tourism goals, and economic needs.”

The consultant team and the City are excited to announce the first kick-off meeting date of November 17, 2015, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Science Museum of Virginia. There will also be a series of smaller public focus groups conducted in October. Input, ideas and feedback can also be sent directly to the public art coordinator at Ellyn.Parker@Richmondgov.com.

More information on outreach efforts and public meetings will be posted on the City’s Public Art Commission webpage at www.richmondgov.com/CommissionPublicArt/index.aspx.

**Originally posted on August 19, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Maggie L. Walker Monument to Adorn Broad Street

Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the City’s Public Art Commission (PAC) announced today a new monument commemorating Maggie L. Walker that will be created by artist Antonio Tobias “Toby” Mendez. The Public Art Commission worked with a Site Selection team of neighborhood leaders and stakeholders to choose the artist and the location that would best reflect the important legacy of Maggie L. Walker and her contributions to the City of Richmond. The monument will be integrated into a new plaza and gathering space on Broad Street at North Adams Street.

The Maggie L. Walker monument will become embedded as a landmark in the City’s Downtown Arts District. “Not only will Richmond gain an important new monument that can reflect the diverse heritage and history of a significant local hero, but this effort will also underscore her role as a champion for civil rights on the national landscape,” said Mayor Jones. “Maggie Walker was a revolutionary leader in business, a champion for breaking down barriers between communities and showed incredible strength as a person that came out of extraordinarily challenging circumstances to create great things.”

Maggie L. Walker devoted her life to civil rights advancement during the Jim Crow-era. Maggie Walker’s home and business -- where she broke ground as the first woman of any race to found a bank -- are located within walking distance of the planned monument site. The downtown Broad Street location is also symbolic as that corridor once served as a divider between historically racially segregated neighborhoods. The new monument, targeted for completion in the fall of 2016, will serve as a gateway to the historic Jackson Ward community and the new home of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia at the historic Leigh Street Armory.

The Public Art Commission led an extensive community process that asked the public what elements of Maggie Walker’s life should be reflected in the art work. The images of her strength, perseverance and dedication to empower and educate were all consistent themes that will be reflected in the new monument.

Artist Toby Mendez said, “I see my role as a story teller or a director in search of a good story. I have had the luck to create monuments to Thurgood Marshall and Gandhi.  Maggie Walker is in that realm, a person who did so many great things. Her story is not just one story as she was a pioneer on several levels; a business person, a banker, a teacher and an innovator when it came to creating significant jobs for women in the community. She did this with every stumbling block placed in her path. As an artist, this is the story you want to tell."

Sarah Driggs, chair of the Maggie Walker Memorial team of the Public Art Commission shared that, “Richmond has been proud of Maggie Walker for generations. It is about time that we raised a monument to honor and share this strong woman's messages of economic literacy and the power of community.”

Friday, October 9, 2015

Leaf Collection Schedule Issued

The City of Richmond today released its annual leaf collection program schedule, which is set to begin Monday, Nov. 30.  The Department of Public Works will conduct one 10-week cycle to vacuum leaves throughout the entire city. In addition, the department will collect bagged leaves on a continual basis.

“Public Works will vacuum leaves throughout all Richmond neighborhoods beginning Nov. 30 through Feb. 5,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “The schedule we are issuing allows us to serve the entire city, and to deliver services in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”

In previous years, Public Works conducted two vacuum collection cycles that often lasted as long as 22 weeks. Following budget reductions approved earlier this year, City officials initially were faced with either eliminating vacuum leaf collections in many neighborhoods, or seeking additional funding. Mayor Jones asked that an alternative be identified that would maintain leaf collection services for the entire City, while doing so more efficiently.

“I’m pleased that we’ve found a way to ensure leaves are vacuumed from all of Richmond’s neighborhoods,” stated 4th District City Councilwoman Kathy Graziano. “This is a creative solution to continue delivering services despite reductions to the public works budget.”

The Department of Public Works reminds residents to rake leaves to the property line that is adjacent to the street prior to their scheduled vacuum collection date. Leaves and other debris should never be raked or placed into the street or culvert. Dirt, rocks, metal or branches should be removed from leaf piles, as this will prevent City crews from collecting the piles.

Residents who bag leaves should use biodegradable lawn or leaf bags, as they can be recycled with the leaves. During a neighborhood’s vacuum collection dates, City crews will pick up an unlimited number of bagged leaves per household.  At other times and on a continuous basis, up to 25 bags of leaves will be picked up on the same days as trash collection.

The schedule is as follows:

City residents may also dispose of leaves by taking them to several locations: East Richmond Road Convenience Center at 3800 East Richmond Road; Maury Street Landfill at 2900 Maury Street; and the “Powerline” at 8600 Huguenot Road at the northwest corner of Chippenham Parkway.

The above schedule may change as a result of inclement weather. The vacuum leaf schedule and information about other city services are available at www.Richmondgov.com.  The schedule is also available by calling the leaf hotline at (804) 646-LEAF (5323). 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Traffic Circle at Robert E. Lee Statue Being Converted to Roundabout

Construction will begin on Friday, October 9 on a major transportation project designed to improve traffic safety at the intersections of Monument Avenue and Allen Avenue by converting the existing traffic circle into a modern roundabout. The work is expected to last through early January 2016.

The scope of the work at the four legs, or intersections, leading into the current circle includes the installation of medians and corner island extensions, concrete sidewalks, ADA compliant curb ramps, pedestrian crosswalks, signage, pavement markings and landscaping.

The improvements will create an easier and safer means for motorists to travel through and pedestrians to cross the intersecting roads.

Those driving through the area may experience occasional single lane closures. Allen Avenue may be closed at times during construction, however proper work zone signage will be provided throughout the project construction.

The total project cost is estimated at $550,000, with half being paid through VDOT Revenue Sharing.

There are currently seven roundabouts in the City and approximately four others either under construction or in the planning stage.

For more information on City projects and services, visit www.RichmondGov.com.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

City Names John Buturla as Interim DCAO for Operations

The Administration of Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced that Deputy Chief John J. Buturla will serve as the Interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Operations, effective October, 14, 2015. Buturla will be filling the position being vacated by Christopher Beschler following his appointment to a state position which was announced last month.

The DCAO for Operations has the management and oversight responsibility for the Department of Public Works, Department of Public Utilities and Animal Care and Control. Buturla, who at one time served as a Chief Administrative Officer for the City of New Haven, Connecticut, is seen as having the management experience and knowledge necessary to lead the operations portfolio.

Mayor Dwight C. Jones recently tapped Buturla as the lead coordinator for the execution of the City’s logistics responsibility in hosting the UCI Road World Championships (Worlds). The success of the Worlds was in part attributed to his leadership.

“I am confident that John will be a welcomed addition to our executive team,” said CAO Selena Cuffee-Glenn.

City Completes 2014 CAFR

Today, the City of Richmond presented the completed 2014 CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) to the Richmond City Council’s Organizational Development Committee.

This completes the process for the outstanding 2014 report and allows the City to move forward with preparations for the 2015 CAFR. To read the 2014 CAFR, click here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mayor Jones Thanks City Workers and Richmond Region

Mayor Dwight C. Jones thanked workers and the community following the conclusion of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships. The nine-day event is estimated to have exceeded anticipated attendance with approximately 645,000 onsite spectators over the entirety of the event, including the Opening Ceremony.

“The Worlds in Richmond were a huge success thanks to the hard work of a great many people, including the city’s Department of Public Works, the Richmond Police Department and surrounding law enforcement and emergency management officials, fire crews, volunteers, the corporate community and the event management personnel,” said Mayor Jones. “My thanks and congratulations go out to everyone that helped Richmond show so well over the course of this event, and particularly to the people of the region whose excitement and enthusiasm has really shown off the best of Richmond.”

“We’ve delivered a spectacular World Championships and I’m extremely proud of the way the region pulled together in welcoming the world to our doorstep and showcasing our community globally,” stated Mayor Jones. “Hundreds of thousands of spectators have enjoyed our city over this time and millions have viewed Richmond from around the World in over 150 countries. I couldn’t be more proud of our city at this time. I hope we can harness this momentum in a way that continues to move the region forward.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Shockey Awarded Contract To Build Bridge Across James River To Brown’s Island

After two years of public engagement, planning and environmental permitting, the much loved Brown’s Island Dam Walk is on track to reopen to pedestrians. The new T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge will provide an access point to one of the most beautiful sections of the James River and the first bicycle and pedestrian-only crossing of the river.

Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc. will start construction this fall, and is expected to finish the bridge by August 2016. Once complete, the pedestrian walkway will infuse a new energy into the entire riverfront area.

“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.”

“This month’s groundbreaking will mark the culmination of nearly a decade of planning and visioning by the City of Richmond and Shockey is excited to get underway on the project,” says Jeff Boehm, President of Howard Shockey & Sons, Inc. 

Previously known as the Brown’s Island Dam Walk, the new T. Tyler Potterfield Bridge will transform sections of old dam infrastructure into a new pedestrian and bicycle walk path. The new structure will utilize as much of the existing, historic structure as possible and will be supplemented with new decking, decorative railings, and structural provisions to improve safety. Work on the South Bank will connect to the Floodwall Walk, Manchester neighborhood, and the climbing wall.

The total length of the bridge is 1,600 linear feet, approximately one-third of a mile. The completed work will provide a safe deck on which users can walk, run, ride a bike, push strollers, and even travel in a wheelchair across the river.

Among the planned improvements to the existing structure is an expansion of the “Three Days in April” overlook, which memorializes a significant point in Richmond’s history when- during three days in April 1865 - the city fell to the Union Army after four years of civil war. In addition, three new overlooks with interpretive content will be added to the bridge as part of the redevelopment project.

In June 2015, Shockey was awarded the contract to serve as construction manager at risk for the project. In this role, Shockey is responsible for implementation of the contract including daily oversight of all construction activities and subcontractor management. Earlier, the City of Richmond tapped AECOM to manage comprehensive redevelopment efforts. The landscape firm of Hargreaves Associates rounds out the team of professionals tasked with the design of the project.

“The Richmond Riverfront redevelopment is an especially rewarding project for our team. We believe it is a transformative project that will positively impact the city and all its residents,” says Jennifer Macks, VP at Shockey.

“The bridge will be a defining recreational landmark within the revitalized riverfront area,” said Macks, who noted there are several challenges that could impact the construction schedule, most notably the moratorium on working in the James River from mid-February to the end of June. A series of precautions will be implemented to protect the river and associated wildlife during construction. 

The project also entails extensive replanting of the embankment area to encourage enhanced wildlife habitats. More than 1,000 native ferns, shrubs and trees will be planted as part of the project.

Shockey’s Richmond office is located at 1805 E. Grace Street in Richmond’s historic Shockoe Bottom area. Over the past 10 years, Shockey established its presence in the Richmond area with high-visibility projects such as GRTC’s award-winning headquarters on Belt Boulevard, the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School on Mosby Street, and a downtown data center upgrade for VCU.

Monday, September 14, 2015

City Recognized with Governor's Technology Award

The City of Richmond was presented with a 2015 Governor’s Technology Award during the annual Commonwealth of Virginia IT Symposium held in Richmond. The City's Open Data Portal won the award in the category of Innovative Use of Open Data.

“This is truly an honor as we are continuing to strive for transparency in government operations,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “The portal signifies the City’s commitment to providing timely, consistent and relevant data for public consumption. By receiving this award, it helps reinforce that we are moving in the right direction in using technology and innovative strategies to increase efficiency.”

The City’s Open Data Portal was launched on July 1 as an online publication of government datasets in a computer consumable format. Initial datasets include a Check Registry; GIS maps of fire districts, parks, trails, enterprise zones, public schools by elementary, middle and high schools, building parcels, and more; public safety Information; and public works data for trash collection zones, recycling, and street cleaning.

“I want to recognize and thank our Department of Information Technology staff for their hard work,” continued Mayor Jones. “We are often working with such limited resources, but they are still working very hard to get the job done and to help the City improve its performance.”

For a full detail of all the award winners, visit www.covits.virginia.gov/winners.html.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Manchester Bridge Buffered Bike Lane Project

On September 9, Mayor Dwight Jones and Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA, joined in opening the new bike lanes on the Manchester Bridge. Here are some of the details about the Buffered Bike Lane Project as well as the Mayor's remarks from today.

Manchester Bridge Buffered Bike Lane details

  • Project Scope – 1.2 miles of buffered bike lanes extending from the bridge ramps at the south end of the bridge to E. Cary Street, with use of green pavement markings at conflict zones.
  • Total cost including design and construction - $150,000 

Lee Bridge Buffered Bike Lane details

  • Project Scope – 1.8 miles of buffered and standard bike lanes extending from W. 20th Street and Riverside Drive to S. 2nd Street, connecting with the existing bike lanes. 
  • Use of green pavement markings at conflict zones, including extending the lanes across the three bridge ramps.
  • Construction of the city’s first contraflow bike lane along Oregon Hill Parkway and under the Lee Bridge, allowing bicyclists to access 2nd Street from Oregon Hill without having to cross Belvidere Street.
  • Total cost including design and construction - $110,000 

W. Leigh Street Buffered Bike Lane details

  • Project Scope – 1.5 miles of buffered bike lanes extending Myers Street to Dineen Street, with use of green pavement markings at conflict zones.
  • Total cost including design and construction - $75,000 

 Hermitage Road Buffered Bike Lane details

  • Project Scope – 2.4 miles of buffered and standard bike lanes extending from Westwood Ave to Westbrook Ave. 
  • Total cost including design and construction - $45,000

Good morning residents and cyclists of the city of Richmond. Thank you all for joining us here today.

I really enjoy telling everyone I can that we have a very enthusiastic and significant cycling community here in the city of Richmond. That is why I am so pleased to be here today to mark this very important milestone.

As a “river city” bridges are critical linkages within our transportation network, providing limited opportunities to literally and metaphorically bridge the gap between downtown and other destinations north of the river with communities south of the river.

Our James River bridges carry high volumes of vehicles and are often unwelcoming environments for bicyclists.

The City is making a concerted effort to reduce these significant barriers to safe and comfortable bicycling corridors and the improvements on the Manchester Bridge and Lee Bridge, as well as last year’s MLK Bridge enhancements, have created bike lanes that go beyond a simple 4” wide stripe of paint.

We are building bike lanes with spacious buffers separating bike and motor vehicle traffic and utilizing green pavement markings in conflict zones such as turning lanes, merging points, and busy intersections to further increase bicyclist safety and motorist awareness of these bikeways.

Richmond is joining other forward-thinking cities in adopting these newer, but proven design treatments to make cycling a safer, more attractive transportation option for our residents and visitors, whether they bike by choice or necessity.

These bridge improvements, along with the buffered bike lanes on W. Leigh Street, Brookland Parkway, Oliver Hill Way and N. 18th Street all stem from the detailed work that went into creating the City of Richmond’s first Bike Master Plan which received tremendous public input.

These projects are only a first step towards building a robust network of bikeways across and throughout the City, whether they be additional buffered bike lanes, barrier-separated bike lanes such as the proposed Franklin & Main cycletrack, shared-use paths such as the Cannon Creek Greenway and long-awaited Virginia Capital Trail, or bike boulevards such as the Floyd Ave bike-walk street, set to start construction in October after a lengthy design and public involvement process.

The City is continuing with implementation of additional bikeways now, and into the future in order to bridge the network gaps and create connected and continuous bikeways.

These projects have begun the development of several critical “spine” routes throughout the city that we will continue to build upon and connect to, and we are aggressively pursuing funding sources such as federal transportation grant funds and state revenue sharing funds to leverage City dollars and maximize our investments in creating more multimodal transportation infrastructure.

The work that we are celebrating today also moves us closer to welcoming the world as the Cycling World Championships begin in a mere nine days. And I want to take a moment to acknowledge some of the infrastructure improvements we have completed in preparation for that event.

Over the past four years, we have paved 43 lane miles along the race route at a cost of about $3 million. To put this into perspective our entire paving budget for that four year period is $27 million.

We have completed eight miles of sidewalks, installed 275 ADA ramps, planted 180 street trees, finished 83 intersection markings, installed 950 signs and will have completed four new gateway signs before the race starts. The final sign, sitting along I-95 North at the 64 East interchange, will be completed by September 11.

Bike related infrastructure improvements include the installation of 420 bike racks, 2.57 miles of bike trails, and today’s event that acknowledges the completion of 23.5 miles of bike lanes.

I am extremely pleased that we are working to change our communities to accommodate more active modes of transportation. Even as we welcome the world, all of these infrastructure improvements will be here for future generations to enjoy.

I would like to thank all of our partners who have helped us move forward. In particular, I would like to thank Sports Backers and Bike Walk RVA for all of their efforts in not only promoting active lifestyles, but for supporting pedestrian-friendly infrastructure projects.

Now, I am pleased to welcome Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Bike Walk RVA, to the podium to help detail how to use and what these bike infrastructure improvements mean for the people who ride bicycles and for people who drive cars.

Monday, August 31, 2015

City Completes Several Downtown Major Transportation and Bridge Improvement Projects

Motorists can expect smoother traffic flow next week in the area of the 5th Street and the 7th Street bridges over Leigh Street.  The rehabilitated 5th Street Bridge will open Monday morning. The 7th Street Bridge re-opened in June.  Both bridges were closed earlier this year when the $3.6 million dollar refurbishment began.  The Leigh Street corridor between 5th and 7th streets, which closed during construction, also re-opens on Monday.

In Shockoe Bottom, the two-way traffic conversion of 17th Street between East Broad and Grace streets will open to traffic on Monday. The traffic pattern change is one of several improvements included in the $614,000 project funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Improvement Program under the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act. 
Other areas recently upgraded and now open to traffic include: 

17th Street, two-way traffic from Broad Street to Franklin Street
18th Street, two-way traffic from Grace Street to Broad Street
Franklin Street, two-way traffic from 17th Street to 19th Street
19th Street, two-way traffic from Grace Street to Main Street

The 19th Street two-way conversion also includes back-in angle parking to aid in increasing parking spaces in the area. Franklin Street between 18th and 19th streets has also been uncovered and restored to a cobblestone surface. 

The Shockoe Bottom improvements are plans that were included in the City Master Plan and recommended in the Shockoe Bottom Transportation Study

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

City and Partners to Receive AmeriCorps NCCC Team

~ Team to support UCI Road World Cycling Championships sustainability effort ~

The Southern Regional Office of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) selected the City of Richmond and HandsOn Greater Richmond, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Groundwork RVA, and Virginia Green Travel Alliance to receive an AmeriCorps NCCC Team this Fall. The Southern Regional Office received 50 applications and awarded only 20 teams. NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential national service program for young adults who want to give back to communities in need at different locations across the country. There are currently more than 50,000 members serving in AmeriCorps NCCC.

“Being selected as a recipient of an AmeriCorps NCCC team recognizes the importance the City places on volunteerism as a way to engage young people in the work of City government and improving the community,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

The Richmond NCCC team will have five to nine members and work in Richmond from September 17 through November 11, 2015. The team will support the City’s RVAgreen sustainability initiative by serving as Green Team leaders for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships and the 2015 Richmond Folk Festival to enhance recycling, composting and other sustainable event practices. They will also complete several community-based urban greening projects including removal of invasive species, trail erosion diversion and building an outdoor living classroom. The team will be housed at Second Presbyterian Church and Pocahontas State Park.

“The City of Richmond and our partners collaborated to get an AmeriCorps NCCC team because we knew it would be a win-win scenario,” said Alicia Zatcoff, City of Richmond Sustainability Manager. “Our RVAgreen sustainability efforts will receive additional support and the NCCC team members will gain invaluable experience while making meaningful contributions to our community.”

Richmond Region Ranked Third in National Survey of Business-friendly Cities

In a national survey of small businesses conducted by the website Thumbtack, the Richmond region ranked third in Business-friendly Cities. The survey included rankings in 11 different categories including; overall friendliness; ease of starting a business; ease of hiring; regulations; health and safety; employment, labor and hiring; tax code; licensing; environmental; zoning; and training and networking programs. The region received A+ ratings in nine of the 11 categories.

“A business-friendly climate is at the heart of our region’s efforts to attract and retain companies, said Lee Downey, City’s Interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Planning and Economic Development. “Surveys such as this, that ask companies their opinions directly, validate that our efforts are on-track.”

Richmond has been included in the survey since 2013 and the category ratings have improved greatly over the past two years. The first and second ranked cities are Manchester, N.H. and Dallas, TX respectively.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Special Cycle of the Arts and Cultural District Micro Grant Program

The City of Richmond and CultureWorks are pleased to announce a special cycle of the Arts and Cultural District Micro Grant Program. Arts and Cultural District Micro Grants provide funding assistance to district non-profits, small businesses and galleries located to reach visitors in the area during the 2015 UCI World Road Cycling Championships and major music and food festivals occurring between September 1 and November 1, 2015. Grants up to $1,000 are available to support arts related events, installations or programs in the Arts and Cultural District. Partnerships between entities located inside and outside the District are encouraged.

Previous recipients of an Arts and Cultural District Micro Grant are eligible and encouraged to apply for this special cycle. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.  Awards will be based upon creativity in design and approach, coinciding with major events occurring in/near to the District during the grant period, and need.

The application and full list of requirements are available at www.richmondcultureworks.org/services or contact Caron Sterling at CultureWorks, caron@richmondcultureworks.org or (804) 340.5280, ext. 1.

The City of Richmond and CultureWorks continue to collaborate with businesses, galleries, non-profits and artists to foster a vibrant arts community that generates enjoyment and civic pride for residents, stimulates the local economy, and develops an appreciation for diverse cultures and art forms.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Slave Trail Improvements and Plans for Lumpkin's Jail

Mayor Jones, along with Delegate Delores McQuinn, Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille, Virginia Union University President Claude Perkins, Joy Bailey of LORD Cultural Resourcs, and Matt Laird of the James River Institute for Archaeology spoke on Thursday, August 13, 2015 about the importance of the Slave Trail improvements and the plans for Lumpkin's Jail moving forward. The following are Mayor Jones prepared remarks.

Good afternoon. I am so pleased to be here today to talk about the progress that has been made by the Slave Trail Commission. 

I especially want to thank Delegate Dolores McQuinn for her introduction. Her passion and labor for this commission’s work is why we are as far along as we are today.

I also want to thank Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille and Dr. Claude Perkins from Virginia Union University for being here. Additionally, I want to welcome Joy Bailey Bryant from LORD Cultural Resources and Matt Laird from the James River Institute for Archaeology. Thank you for joining us.

Since the Slave Trail Commission was established in 1998, it has been tasked with not only preserving the history of slavery in our city, but helping tell the story that has been overlooked for far too long. Because of the hard work of this group, the city has tangible memorials and increasing opportunities to tell a fuller picture of our history. 

Over ten years ago, the slave trail commission began branding and design work and began distributing brochures throughout the community and tourism centers. In 2006, there began an archaeological assessment of the Lumpkin’s Jail site in Shockoe Bottom and two years later, an archaeological excavation backfilled the site to protect it until it can be safely revealed. What is there today is a commemorative landscape and interpretation of the original site.

In 2009 through 2011, the commission conducted extensive community engagement and research to create the 21 historical markers that are presently along the trail.
Then in 2014, my administration secured $11 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia to begin to develop a heritage site at the site of Lumpkin’s Jail and the burial ground.  Working with Richmond City Council, the City has committed another $8 million to this project, for a total of $19 million – a level of financial support that his project has not had before. This funding has helped us with the latest in a long series of accomplishments, which is the installation of the 53 new path markers along the trail.

These markers are just the beginning of the improvements that this funding will allow us to move forward with. I want to thank the General Assembly for their commitment to making enhancements to the slave trail. 

Standing here, at the beginning of the Slave Trail at Ancarrow’s Landing, I also want to thank and acknowledge the Exxon Company for the improvements that we can see have been made at this site. Exxon has made this site safer, more accessible, and beautiful. When I take in the various improvements that have been made and the work that has been done, I just want to say that we must keep this momentum going. 
That is why I am announcing today that we will begin the process of making the first phase of the heritage site a reality.

The location of Lumpkin’s Jail, also known as the Devil’s Half Acre, was the holding site for slaves before they were taken to auction houses and sold. During Robert Lumpkin’s ownership, the site was known for being a particularly cruel place. Those who tried to escape were publicly beaten and tortured.  However, out of a site of unspeakable and detestable acts grew a place of higher learning with the founding of Virginia Union University. The site went from the Devil’s Half Acre to God’s Half Acre. I have always found solace that despite the abhorrent treatment that the slaves in our city had to endure, something beautiful and important has grown. 

In this year, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation and the founding of Virginia Union University, I can think of no better way to honor our heritage than to begin to build up the telling of our story, a fuller and more complete history of our city and our country.
However, we cannot do this in a vacuum. A complete history cannot be told only in an academic setting. We cannot build a world class pavilion without world class community participation.

I am excited to announce that we will be holding the first in a series of community engagement opportunities on September 10th at Martin Luther King Middle School. We will also be hosting a meeting at Huguenot High School on September 15. Our series is called Richmond Speaks, and will essentially be a citywide conversation about the Lumpkin’s Jail Site.

Joy Bailey Bryant, of Lord Cultural Resources has been engaged to lead this process.
Joy led the process during the first phase of the commission’s public engagement and I am so pleased that she will be leading this phase as well.

At this time, I’d like to bring her up to provide more information about our public engagement efforts.

Mayor Jones, Delegate Delores McQuinn, and the Richmond Slave Trail Commission invite all residents to participate in "Richmond Speaks: A Conversation on the Lumpkin's Jail Site".
Here is the flyer for "Richmond Speaks".

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lehigh Cement Silos Demolition, Capital Trails Completion, Potterfield Bridge, all highlights of Riverfront Implementation Progress Report

Mayor Dwight C. Jones provided a progress report of the Richmond Riverfront Plan implementation. Citing several Phase 1 projects nearing completion, Jones spoke about the Richmond resurgence detailing progress made along the riverfront.

The Riverfront Plan was adopted in 2012 and the Jones Administration provided initial funding in the Fiscal Year 2013 Capital Improvements budget. Highlighted projects discussed during today’s press conference included the Lehigh Silos demolition, the Virginia Capital Trail, the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, the Low-Line, and Terminal Dock improvements.

“Demolition of the Lehigh Cement property is an important milestone in the implementation of the Richmond Riverfront Plan,” said Mayor Jones. “Removal of these silos represents the beginning of the transformation of the downriver portion of the Riverfront.”

Jones noted significant progress, calling it an exciting time for the city. Along with removal of the silos, plans have been announced for Port of Richmond improvements, the Low-Line project with CSX and Capital Tress is underway, improvements are being made to the Intermediate Terminal structure, final plans have been approved and the work has begun on the Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge and the Richmond portion of the Virginia Capital Trail will be completed by the end of August.

Investment in the Richmond portion of the Virginia Capital Trail totals $4 million. The City has contributed $820,000 of that costs. The City also invested $200,000 in the Low-Line project, while CSX and Capital Trees are providing the rest of the funding. Terminal Dock investments over two years amounts to $2.9 million and the Lehigh Silos demolition is expected to cost $740,000. The City has approximately $10 million available for Phase 1 Riverfront projects, which includes the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge work.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Farmers' Market Makeover Begins

~ Sheds to be re-purposed for other uses ~

Demolition crews will begin removal today of the sheds at the 17th St. Market (Farmers’ Market) in the first phase of planned improvements to open up the space into an expanded public market. The work is part of the Shockoe Bottom Revitalization Strategy – a process which included public engagement and recommended removal of the existing sheds to position the space as an open urban square conducive to flexible programming.

The City’s Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) has engaged Pryor Hauling, Inc., for the removal of the sheds. While fencing will be placed around the project site, no streets are scheduled for closure during the shed removals. Existing produce vendors at the 17th Street Market will be moved to the Main Street side of the market where they can continue to set up stands. Plans include salvaging and re-purposing the sheds, which will be coordinated by Enrichmond.

The Shockoe Bottom Revitalization Strategy was commissioned by the City of Richmond in 2010 to provide a strategic framework for revitalization actions. A charette (Public Workshop) was convened, as well as stakeholder interviews and a developer symposium in 2010/2011. Recommendations for the existing under-performing market included developing the space into a functioning urban square. A new public market ties in well to core identity themes for Shockoe of food, entertainment, entrepreneurship, and history. Plans include a combination of spaces that includes a permanent structure housing a year round public market of food, crafts and other items; outdoor or open areas serving as an expansion area for seasonal markets (farmers market, holiday market), programmed activities and events; and space for any administrative or small business development activities associated with the market.

As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Richmond, Shockoe has evolved from a river commerce center, to an industrial complex, to today’s reviving urban housing and entertainment district. Both the recent Downtown Plan and the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy build on this momentum, setting direction for future development in Shockoe. Current initiatives including the Slave Trail and Lumpkin's Jail Pavilion, enhanced rail service, improvements to the historic Main Street Station Multimodal Transportation/Travel and Welcome Center, and planning for increased arts and cultural attractions all outline the promise and potential of Shockoe for Richmond.

The initial work on the 17th Street Market is expected to take two to four weeks to complete. All the sheds, with the exception of the middle bay and the end bays on Franklin and Main Streets, will be removed. During the next phase, ECD will seek proposals to manage, operate and brand the 17th Street Market.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kanawha Pedestrian Bridge to be Removed this Weekend

Demolition crews will begin removing the pedestrian bridge connecting Kanawha Plaza to Dominion Plaza starting at 6 p.m. tonight. That’s when Canal Street will be closed between 7th and 8th Streets, and removal of the bridge will begin between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Drivers on 8th Street will still be able to turn left onto the Manchester Bridge. Removal is expected to be completed by late Sunday.

Prior to removing the bridge, preparatory work will include installing protective measures to prevent pedestrian access during demolition. Once the road is closed, crews will mobilize equipment, install shoring to support the bridge, and place protection on the road and sidewalks beneath it.

The first step is for a crane to break the north end of the bridge free, where the bridge ties into Dominion Plaza. Then the rest of the bridge will be removed using a CAT excavator. All debris will be hauled away and disposed of at the Cox Recycling Center. After the bridge is down, all materials will be removed and the road will be cleaned in time for Monday morning traffic.

The removal comes one week after Mayor Dwight C. Jones kicked off renovation of the 2.8 acre urban park located downtown on two city blocks surrounded by office towers. Over the past week, demolition crews have removed exterior walls that hampered sight lines across the park, have graded the site, and have preserved personalized bricks for reuse in the renovated park.

A public/private partnership allows for the restoration of this under-utilized downtown jewel and equally important to the long-term success of the park is improving access from neighboring streets. The renovation includes the retention and repair of the plaza’s fountain, large green space and landscaping improvements, canopies and a food truck area.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

UCI Road World Championship Interactive Website

Richmond 2015, in conjunction with officials from the City of Richmond and Henrico and Hanover counties met Wednesday, August 5, 2015 to brief the media on the comprehensive Transportation Plan and interactive navigation website for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships. They discussed race schedules, traffic management strategies, navigating around town during the event, parking, shuttles, and emergency information.

Visit http://navigate.richmond2015.com/ for more information on these topics for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships that will take place September 19 - 27, 2015.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

City to Open 25th Street Roundabout

The City’s Department of Public Works has completed work on a new roundabout at the intersection of 25th Street, Nine Mile Road and Fairmont in Churchill.  Plans for the roundabout were part of the corridor improvements presented in the East End Transformation Plan. Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Richmond City Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille, East End 7th Voter District, will announce the opening of the roundabout at National Night Out festivities in Churchill tonight.

 “I’m so pleased that we are seeing many of the things the community talked about during the Church Hill visioning process come into being,” said Mayor Jones. “Step by step, we are bringing about changes in housing, infrastructure, health and education and this roundabout project beautifies this anchor corridor providing a welcomed makeover that will improve traffic flow and safety.”

 “The 25th Street and Nine Mile Road corridor is an important commercial gateway for the East End/7th District,” commented Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille. “There has been comprehensive community informed planning for our district and this project is a reflection of that. We look forward to more improvements in the very near future.”

 The roundabout will open to traffic on August 5, 2015. The intersection will no longer be controlled by traffic signals; instead, the new roundabout provides a circular intersection with yield control for entering traffic, splitter islands on the approaches, and appropriate roadway curvature to reduce vehicle speeds. Minor work will continue to include ornamental and overhead street lighting installation.

 The City constructed this project using Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funds and the total cost of the project was $1,100,000.

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Mayor Kicks Off Kanawha Plaza Renovations

Mayor Dwight Jones, Debra Gardner, DCAO for Human Services, Barry Russell, Deputy Director for Parks and Recreation, John Snyder, Enrichmond Foundation, and Dwight Snead of Dwight Snead Construction Company joined in announcing the renovation of Kanawha Plaza on Friday, July 31, 2015. The following are Mayor Jones prepared remarks.

Good afternoon and welcome.

We appreciate all of you joining us for our Kanawha Plaza Renovations Kick-off today, as this is an important project for our downtown and an important project for our city.

Kanawha Plaza was conceived of over 40 years ago – back in 1972.

This park was designed to reconnect our central business district and the James River.

It was meant to also beautify our downtown, sitting astride the Downtown Expressway which was built after land was cleared for urban renewal.

Parks can be complex elements of a city, but in Richmond, we pride ourselves on our park amenities.

With over 100 parks in our city, ranging from our widely recognized James River Parks System to beautiful Maymont where we hold our growing international jazz festival, we’ve got a little something for everyone here and I believe our park system is a strong reason we are continuing to grow as a destination of choice.

Our downtown is our gateway to the city of Richmond, and Kanawha is a particularly important amenity right in the heart of the center of our city.

So it pleases me greatly to get to this point today of beginning the much needed renovations on the downtown jewel.

To understand the significance of the park at Kanawha Plaza,
it helps to understand a little Richmond history.

When this park opened back in 1980, a decade of prosperity had begun for many Americans.

But a transition was already underway in our country’s history.

Middle-class flight to the suburbs had already begun—white AND black—,

and the decline of cities was well underway across America. 

Crime started to tick up in most cities. 

Slowly at first, and then dramatically, here in Richmond.

So it was no surprise that businesses moved to new places like
suburban corporate parks like Innsbrook, which opened soon after this park.

Back then, Richmond was on just one “top 10” list: The murder capital of the country. Our population plummeted, and few people were proud to call Richmond home.

That experience seems a long time ago,
but we’re only now getting out of it.

This trip down memory lane is important for two reasons.
Number one, everyone needs to understand that OLD Richmond is gone,
and it’s not coming back.

Today, our downtown is thriving. 
Our population is rising, not shrinking
Our average age is getting younger, not older.

We’re showing up on “top ten” lists – but this time,
it’s for the best restaurants, the best beer, the coolest tattoos,
the best city to visit in the country this summer, and the home of the world cycling championships, back in the US for the first time since the James Center was built.

Here’s the other reason why that history lesson is important.
It explains why the park is in bad shape today.

As one resident said, “It looks the overgrown ruins of a Soviet era apartment block.” 
I agree. That’s why your employees don’t hang out there at lunch.

That’s why there’s no “tai chi” classes in the morning, or jazz concerts after work.
It’s a mess because the city deferred maintenance for too long.

I wish that hadn’t happened, but when Richmond was at rock bottom,
investing in park maintenance …was a luxury we couldn’t afford.

I wasn’t here for those decisions, but I understand why they were made.
For most of Kanawaha Plaza’s life, the city had been in decline. 

But today, it’s rising…and that’s why the time is right to fix up this park,
and return it to the downtown jewel it was a generation ago.

We are pleased that the City’s Planning Commission has approved designs for the first phase of renovating the park, and City Council has allocated $1 million in public funds to begin paying for it. 

We are also very pleased that our contracting team has been chosen for this first phase.

And we are especially pleased that several corporate donors have stepped up to the plate and are helping us make this happen.

I particularly want to thank Dominion Resources and McGuire Woods.

I’m also offering an appeal for others to step up and help us restore this park.

This upgrade will significantly improve access to comfortable green space in the middle of downtown. 

For the neighbors who work in the buildings surrounding the park, this upgrade will significantly improve your view and the way you experience the area and its connection to the James River.

And for the growing number of people who live downtown, this upgrade will help keep the transformation of our downtown from becoming a concrete jungle, and turn it into a thriving, diverse, and welcoming urban space.

That’s our goal in the short term: To make the park an inviting and welcoming space.

Our goal is to renovate it in a way that allows for any future concept that makes downtown more friendly to pedestrians, especially ideas that connect downtown with Manchester across the river.

So with that, I’d like to invite John Sydnor, our partner with Enrichmond Foundation, to say a few words, and then our DCAO for Human Resources, Debra Gardner, will introduce the project team.

Thank you.