Friday, November 18, 2016

City Upgrading Parking Pay Stations with Two New Payment Options


Enhanced technology is in the works for the City's nearly 160 solar-powered parking pay stations that will enable motorists to pay using their license plate information. Motorists will also be able to extend the time on the pay station by mobile text message.

The Pay-by-Plate option will take effect on January 2, 2017. Those using pay stations can enter their license plate number directly into the machine when they pay. The system will save the information for parking enforcement officers. This helps streamline the process by eliminating the need to print a ticket and place it on the dashboard. However, receipts can still be printed for those who want them.

In addition, there also will be an Extend-by-Phone option. The driver will receive a text message notification when the parking space time is running out. As long as there is time available within the posted time zone, more time can be added via text message.

Benefits for the City and motorists include:
  • Reduced paper usage, which is environmentally friendly and could cut costs by $25,000 annually 
  • Streamlined parking experience – no trip back to the car to display the printed receipt, or to renew parking (when text renewal option is used)
  • Anticipated overall lower downtime and maintenance costs
  • Anticipated reduction of customer calls by as much as 50 percent
Payment options are still coins, bills or debit/credit cards.

The City will educate the public to help ensure a smooth transition to these new technology options. Educational materials will be available for the public and "Meter Greeters" will be stationed at selected new installation sites. Staff will be trained to maintain and service the stations.

To view a demonstration on how to use the new Pay-by-Plate, click here.

For more information on City services, Pay-by-Plate and Extend-by-Phone, visit
www.RichmondGov.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The City of Richmond Successfully Enters the Bond Market - Saves $100 Million


The City of Richmond successfully sold $502 million in Public Utility Revenue and Refunding Bonds of which $169 million was for new money projects and $333 million was to refund existing debt service for interest rate savings.

The cost of funds for the City’s New Money Projects was approximately 3.47%, which is near the lowest cost of funds in several decades. In addition, the City took advantage of the historic low interest rate environment to refund two outstanding bond issues, which will result in the City reducing its existing debt service by roughly $100 million over the next 24 years.

The Bonds were highly rated by all three national credit rating agencies - Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch (Aa2, AA, AA respectively).

Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Raymond James and Siebert Cisneros Shank served as underwriters on the financing. Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Raymond James have offices in Richmond. Siebert Cisneros Shank is based out of New York and is the nation’s largest minority owned bond underwriting firm.

“These extraordinary savings underscore the confidence that investors have in owning a piece of Richmond’s future,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.  “Additionally, as a result of the savings, we’ll be able to help offset operating costs and ongoing debt service related to these transactions.”  

David Rose, Senior Vice President and Manager of Public Finance at Davenport & Company LLC, the City’s Financial Advisor, said “As best we can determine, the level of debt service savings is unprecedented for a Virginia Local Government.”

The City’s Director of Public Utilities, Bob Steidel, commented, “The City’s Utility System has experienced consistent credit rating upgrades over the past several years. As a result, the level of savings has been augmented because our credit worthiness has increased.”

“Today’s results serve to confirm that the City’s Utility System is well run and well respected by major investors,” said Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn. “We recognize there is no way this result could have occurred unless that was the case.”


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Monroe Park Conservancy, VCU and major donors break ground on $6 million Monroe Park renovation


Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones today joined representatives from the Monroe Park Conservancy, Virginia Commonwealth University and major donors to break ground on a $6 million extensive renovation of Monroe Park.

"This park has a long history and has always served as an important hub in our city," stated Mayor Jones. "Working in partnership with the Monroe Park Conservancy group and VCU to restore the park’s luster is an opportunity that we’ve embraced with great enthusiasm. We thank all of those contributing to help us reach our goal for the park’s restoration, building on our efforts to provide beautiful open and sustainable spaces that improve Richmond communities."

The park will be closed during renovation beginning Monday, Nov. 14, and the work is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. The project will include extensive infrastructure upgrades to underground sewer, gas, water and electrical systems. The first five-week phase of construction will focus on arbor care. Park light poles and fixtures will be removed, stored and recycled in other parks. Park benches will be removed and saved.

When the 8-acre park reopens, it will be fully sustainable, with a goal of mitigating water runoff, and will include the installation of LED lighting and native plants.

“Monroe Park will continue to be a place that is welcoming to everyone — a green, urban living room” said Alice Massie, president of the Monroe Park Conservancy that has led the renovation effort.

Supporters said a revitalized Monroe Park will be a vibrant, urban oasis for nearby residents and for VCU faculty, staff and students. VCU has committed to provide maintenance of the renovated park.

“We are very excited to work with our partners from the City of Richmond, the private sector and the Monroe Park Conservancy to bring this project to fruition and ensure its success,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “Richmond is our home and Monroe Park is a major asset for our city and for our university.”

The renovation of Richmond’s oldest city park was made possible through the successful completion of a multi-year $3 million private fundraising campaign. Altria and the Dominion Foundation each provided $500,000 in support of the project.

“Monroe Park has been a landmark in the heart of the City of Richmond for generations,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion chairman, president and CEO. “This green space, once renovations are complete, will add to the vitality of the community, benefiting students, nearby residents, businesses and visitors to downtown. Dominion is privileged to play a role in reconstruction of this historic urban setting.”

Also, a major gift from The Beirne Carter Foundation will support sustainability and safety improvements at the park.

Under a 30-year lease agreement that City Council approved in March 2014, the non-profit Conservancy will operate the park following the City’s completion of the renovation. The Conservancy will steward the park in a partnership agreement with the city, ensuring that it remains a public park with access for all. This is a common practice nationally, including Central Park in New York and Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. Richmond’s Maymont Park operates through a similar arrangement.

Organizations that support the homeless, including Homeward and the United Way urge those interested in providing food or clothing to the homeless or those in need of food or clothing to call 2-1-1 for assistance while the park is closed. 

History of Monroe Park
Established in 1851, Monroe Park is Richmond’s oldest park and one of the capital city’s most culturally and environmentally significant open spaces. Once a state fairground and later a military encampment, the registered historic park now provides passage and respite to VCU students, as well as residents of Carver, Oregon Hill, and the Fan.

Forming the western edge of the City’s downtown grid, Monroe Park is bounded by Belvidere Street to the east, Main Street to the south, and Laurel and Franklin Streets to the west and north. It is often considered the front yard of Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and the newly-renovated Altria Theater.  VCU’s expansion of the Business and Engineering Schools and nearby dormitories has significantly altered the context and use of the Park. Such a shift offers an unprecedented opportunity to transform the Park into a vibrant, urban oasis.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

City FY15 CAFR Submitted


The City of Richmond’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for fiscal year (FY) ended June 30, 2015, was submitted on October 31, 2016. The external certified public accounting firm that audited the City’s basic financial statements rendered an unmodified opinion stating that the City’s financial statements are fairly presented and conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The FY15 CAFR also shows an increase to the unassigned fund balance of $4.6 million.

“Given the challenges that we have faced recently with timely reporting, it is affirming to have the CAFR again confirm our strong financial position and verify a surplus in operations for the Fiscal Year 2015,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “I am more confident than ever in the personnel that we have assembled for our financial operations. Now that we have closed this chapter on FY15 with a clean opinion, we will be moving forward aggressively to have the FY16 CAFR completed as quickly as possible and to set future CAFR’s on track for consistent timely reporting.”

The mayor noted that the preparation of the FY15 CAFR report could not have been accomplished without the dedicated services of the entire staff of the City’s Department of Finance. The CAFR shows that the City has also exceeded its Fund Balance Guidelines, which require that the Unassigned Fund Balance reaches at least 10 percent of the General Fund expenditures. The Unassigned Fund Balance, as a percent of the Adopted General Fund Budget, is presently at 12.1%.  Given the healthy Unassigned Fund Balance and confirmed surplus, Mayor Jones has indicated that he is optimistic that any available resources can be invested in the city workforce.

The FY 2015 CAFR is available online at www.Richmondgov.com, http://www.richmondgov.com/Finance/documents/2015cafr.pdf


Monday, October 24, 2016

Mayor Jones Welcomes CoStar Group to Downtown


Mayor Dwight C. Jones welcomed CoStar Group to downtown Richmond during a press conference held with Governor Terry McAuliffe today.  The Governor announced that CoStar Group, the leading provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and online marketplaces, will invest $8.17 million in a new research and software development center in Richmond. Virginia successfully competed against states in the Southeast and Midwest for the project, which will create 732 new jobs and have a total economic impact of $250 million.

“We are thrilled to welcome CoStar Group to Virginia and to our capital city,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at the event. “This will be a transformational project for the City of Richmond and the greater metropolitan area, bringing a new, high-profile corporate partner and more than 700 high-paying jobs. With our outstanding technology infrastructure and our unparalleled higher education system, the Commonwealth is a hub for the IT sector and the perfect home for CoStar’s research operation. Today is a huge milestone for Richmond and for our efforts to diversify and build a new Virginia economy.”

“The fact that CoStar, the world’s leader in commercial real estate information, has chosen the City of Richmond as the location of its new research headquarters, says a lot about the quality of our workforce and our real estate,” said City of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. “The company’s 732 new, full-time employees, working in the heart of our central business district along the James River, will bring additional life to an increasingly thriving downtown. We look forward to partnering with CoStar through our Office of Community Wealth Building workforce programs and our multi-modal transportation initiatives to immediately promote new, high-quality jobs to our city’s residents that will be available early calendar year 2017.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Richmond and the Greater Richmond Partnership to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $4 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund (COF) to assist Richmond with the project. CoStar Group is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

For the $4 million grant the City receives from the COF, the City will provide the required local match through local Enterprise Zone incentives, public transportation improvements, installation of a bike share station, Business Professional Occupational License (BPOL) tax relief, and job training and recruitment assistance.

“CoStar is excited to become an essential business partner to the city of Richmond and the state of Virginia,” said Andrew Florance, CoStar Founder and Chief Executive Officer.  “This is an opportunity that allows us to expand our research and software development capabilities in a city that provides a highly educated labor pool, a superior quality of life for our employees and a culture that aligns to our business model.”

Founded in 1987, CoStar Group is the leading provider of commercial real estate information and marketplaces combining research, technology and powerful marketing to connect commercial real estate professionals with the data, insights, networking and leads they need to succeed. Their suite of brands includes CoStar, Apartments.com. LoopNet, LandsofAmerica and BizBuySell to name a few, and together it serves as the primary source of business intelligence and communities that fuel the real estate industry. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., CoStar maintains offices throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Canada with a staff of approximately 3,000 worldwide, including the industry’s largest professional research organization.



Monday, October 17, 2016

Mayor Jones, Flying Squirrels, VCU Announce Agreement to Keep Minor League Baseball in RVA - Agreement opens final stage of plans for new RVA ballpark

Mayor Dwight C. Jones, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, and Virginia Commonwealth University said today that the minor league baseball team intends to commit to stay in Richmond for a minimum of 30 years once a new ballpark is constructed, according to a newly signed agreement. The memorandum of understanding will guide the final stages of planning for a new ballpark in Richmond to be used by VCU and the Flying Squirrels.

“This is a significant step forward for baseball in the Richmond region,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “More importantly, it advances our efforts for economic development along the Boulevard to generate revenue for schools and city services, consistent with our longstanding goals for Richmond.”

The agreement continues progress that began in April when the parties announced a new partnership to maintain minor league baseball for the region. The partnership was energized by the City’s planning for economic development of 60 acres of city-owned North Side land bounded by North Boulevard and Hermitage Road. That effort included extensive public comment, with more than 6,000 people participating.

The agreement includes the following terms:

Location: The parties anticipate that the location of the new baseball stadium will be in close proximity to the current facility (The Diamond) in the City of Richmond, but off the city-owned 60-acre parcel.

Cost: Construction is estimated in a range of approximately $50 million to $60 million. As primary users of the new ballpark, the Flying Squirrels and VCU will be major contributors. Annual rent paid by the Flying Squirrels will be “approximately $1 million, or roughly four times their current annual rent at the Diamond.

Design: The new ballpark will be able to accommodate non-athletic events such as concerts, festivals, or other community events, and it will be substantially similar in size, quality, programming, and amenities to BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte and Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.

The MOU was signed by VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin and by Lou DiBella, President of Navigators Baseball LLC, which does business as the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The Flying Squirrels maintain their commitment to remain in Richmond in a new ballpark and reaffirm that they have no desire to look elsewhere. 

“This is an exciting next step toward improving quality of life and driving economic development for the entire region while at the same time advancing VCU's athletic programs,” said VCU President Michael Rao. 

“The Flying Squirrels are excited by the progress and spirit of cooperation that is evidenced by this new agreement. We look forward to playing our games in a new ballpark, as tenants in a Boulevard area that is being economically developed to best serve the interests of our Greater Richmond community, neighbors and fans,” added Lou DiBella.

The agreement reflects the current status of ongoing discussions among parties that may include the Commonwealth of Virginia, the City of Richmond and other localities, private developers and investors, among others. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

City of Richmond Announces SmithGroupJJR as Project leader for the development of the Lumpkin’s Jail Site


At a special ceremony marking the kick-off of the development of the Lumpkin’s Jail Site, Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced the selection of a team led by SmithGroupJJR to be awarded the contract to develop the site. The City of Richmond signed a $1.4 million contract today to engage the team’s services.

“The team led by SmithGroupJJR has a depth of experience in museum organization and development, museum building design, archaeology, historic preservation, landscape architecture, exhibit design and community engagement…you name it, they’ve got it,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “SmithGroupJJR was recognized just a few weeks ago as an integral member of the design team of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which just opened in Washington, DC. Their accomplishments have been recognized both inside and outside of the United States.”

It was also announced today that Lonnie G. Bunch, III, will serve as a scholarly advisor to the Lumpkin’s Slave Jail Site project. Dr. Bunch is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Lumpkin’s Jail was a slave-trading complex located in the Shockoe Bottom district of Richmond, Virginia. It operated from the 1830s until the end of the American Civil War. The initial Lumpkin’s Jail Archeological Assessment was completed in 2006. Following the discovery of artifacts, a second phase of excavation was undertaken in 2007 – 2008. The City of Richmond and the Commonwealth of Virginia have since funded advancing the Lumpkin’s Jail Site towards an interpretive and reflective site, the services for which SmithGroupJJR were contracted for today.

Hal Davis, SmithGroupJJR’s principal-in-charge, cited the Richmond project as an invaluable opportunity, something that can help all of us heal.

“We are humbled to be selected to explore and foster the definition of this significant and meaningful project,” Davis said.

Click here http://www.richmondgov.com/mayor/documents/LumpkinsJailPressPacket20161010.pdf for more about the SmithGroupJJR team.


Friday, September 30, 2016

City Breaks Ground for the Maggie L. Walker Memorial Plaza


Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Governor Terry McAuliffe, the City's CAO Selena Cuffee-Glenn, members of Richmond City Council, and the City’s Public Art Commission (PAC) joined together on Thursday September 29 to break ground on the memorial plaza commemorating Maggie L. Walker at Broad Street and Adams Street.

“This is a long-overdue recognition,” said Mayor Jones. “Through this memorial in honor of Maggie L. Walker and the creation of this new public space to celebrate her legacy, we will be reminded of Maggie Walker’s vision, courage, and determination and her contribution to our country’s history.”

The PAC and the Site Selection Team selected the location for the memorial plaza on Broad Street, and Richmond City Council approved the site as it serves as a main corridor in the city and an important entryway into the Jackson Ward community, where Maggie L. Walker resided. The Maggie L. Walker monument will become a destination point in Richmond’s vibrant downtown and further Richmond’s reputation in the public art realm.

The memorial plaza is expected to be completed in the spring of 2017.



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Kanawha Plaza Reopened


Early on Tuesday, September 20, Mayor Dwight C. Jones, along with the City's Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities, in association with Enrichmond, helped kick off the Grand Reopening Celebration for Kanawha Plaza. The renovation process of the public space began in July of 2015, and the ribbon cutting event marked the completion of the first phase of the renovations.

The City invested $2.9 million in the renovations. Kelso & Easter, Inc., of Richmond was the contracted designer and the Contractor was Southwood Building Systems, Inc. of Virginia. The renovations that were undertaken include the retention and repair of the plaza's fountain, the parks most prominent feature. There were also landscaping improvements, a new food truck area, and improved lighting.

The City welcomes this improved public green space and thanks everyone that helped achieve the enhancements.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Construction to Begin on Belmont Road Roundabout


On Tuesday, September 6, the Department of Public Works will begin construction of the Belmont Road Roundabout at the intersection of Belmont, South Belmont and West Belmont roads. The roundabout will enhance the gateway corridor into the city of Richmond. 

The project will include landscaped islands, pedestrian crosswalk markings, handicap ramps and new signage. The $700,000 project has received state and City funding. Work is expected to last three to four months, depending on weather.

The improvements will decrease operating speeds for motorists and shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians. In addition to reducing the number of vehicle and pedestrian accidents, experts say roundabouts can reduce fatal accidents by as much as 90 percent.

There will be occasional lane closures during construction. Motorists are encouraged to follow work zone signage. 

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


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Newly Constructed Six Points Roundabout to Help Make Area Safer for Highland Park Community


On August 23, at the corner of East Brookland Park Avenue and Dill Avenue, Mayor Jones, Councilwoman Ellen Robertson and others celebrated the newly constructed Six Points Roundabout with a ribbon cutting.

“As we stand here today at this roundabout, I want our residents to know that getting to this point took a lot of hard work, championed by Ellen Robertson along with the Department of Public Works Transportation Engineering Division, who initially applied for the federal grant back in 2009,” said Mayor Jones. “Together, they demonstrated true perseverance with this project, staying in it for the long-haul to make sure this got done.”

“Mayor Jones has been a strong supporter of what goes on in Highland Park in a huge way ever since he became Mayor, and we would like to thank you for that,” said Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, 6th District. “This roundabout is such a wonderful addition to our community in providing safety for both drivers and pedestrians.”

The newly devloped traffic control design is located at the intersections of Brookland Park Boulevard, Meadowbridge Road, 2nd Avenue and Dill Avenue. It includes landscaped islands, pedestrian crosswalk markings, handicap ramps and new signage at each intersection. These enhancements were developed to improve vehicular and pedestrian interaction through slower operating speeds for motorists, and shorter crossing distances for pedestrians.


The Six Points Roundabout installation project cost $1.2 million, 90 percent coming from federal funding and 10 percent from the state.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fire Station 20 Undergoing Renovations


Fire Station 20, 4715 Forest Hill Avenue, is currently closed for extensive building renovations. As a result, all station operations have moved to Fire Station 17, 2211 Semmes Avenue. This action will have minimal effect on service delivery to the fire district serviced. The building renovations are projected for completion in April 2017 at which time normal operations will resume.


A few of the Fire Station 20 renovation highlights include:

  • Exterior wall, window and concrete ramp repair

  • Addition of public access area and bathroom

  • Safety storage area for firefighter turnout gear

  • Employee health and fitness area

  • Added privacy in employee bathrooms

  • New fire alarm notification system

The total renovation budget for Fire Station 20 is $1,309,169.  This fire station renovation will be the third undertaken during Mayor Dwight Jones’ Administration, as part of the multiyear station renovation and replacement plan. The renovation of Fire Station 13 was completed in December 2013 at a cost of $1,502,701 and the Fire Station 10 renovation was completed in April 2015 at a cost of $1,700,440.


In addition to the three fire station renovations, the Jones Administration also completed construction of the new LEED Silver Fire Station 17 in 2012 at a cost of $5,170,109.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

ICMA-RC Retirement Planners to Add 200 Jobs in Richmond


The city of Richmond and the Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP) are pleased to announce that ICMA-RC, one of the top financial service corporations, has chosen to expand into Richmond. The non-profit individual financial services corporation, headquartered in Washington D.C., provides retirement plans and related services to more than a million participants in the U.S. The company plans to hire roughly 100 new employees and bring more than 100 employees from their Washington, D.C., headquarters to Riverfront Plaza, in the city of Richmond’s Central Business District.

“We are so pleased to have worked closely with GRP on this great project for the city and are thrilled that ICMA-RC has chosen the city's vibrant and growing downtown as its new location,” said Mayor Jones. “They will be a valuable addition to the vibrant and growing downtown business community.”

ICMA-RC conducted an extensive search for their second location, narrowing the list of prospective cities to seven, including Dallas and Atlanta. Bob Schultze, President and CEO of ICMA-RC explains, “After reviewing the results of our extensive search, it became clear that the city of Richmond met our needs of a low cost, high quality business environment, as well as a location close enough for our home office to continue a productive work flow. The synergy between our Washington, D.C., HQ and Richmond made the most sense for our operational needs.”

Barry Matherly, President and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, added, “With plans to add anywhere from 200-250 net new employees to the City of Richmond and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and make more than $10 million in capital investment, ICMA-RC’s entry to the market is another excellent return on the economic development investment of the region.”

Founded in 1972 through the assistance of a Ford Foundation grant, ICMA-RC’s mission is to help public sector employees build retirement security. Today, ICMA-RC serves more than a million participant accounts and about 9,000 plans across the country.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

City Electoral Board to Offer Classes for Election Officers


The City’s Electoral Board voted on July 20 to offer 97 different classes, representing almost 300 hours of training, this fall for its officers of election. The first classes for new election officer training begin August 20 and September 19. The majority of the classes will begin the week of September 22, and conclude the week of October 31.

Residents must be an officer of election in order to enroll in any of the offered classes. Persons interested in becoming an officer of election for the City of Richmond can apply online at www.elections.virginia.gov or call (804) 646-5950 to request an application. 

The Electoral Board is planning to recruit 200 more individuals in the coming weeks, bringing the total amount of sworn officers close to 1,200. Once accepted as an officer, individuals will be informed of the basic training calendar. Upon completion of basic training, the full calendar of training options will be made available.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Joint Statement From Mayor Dwight Jones and Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham


Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham issued the following statement today:

We should all be deeply troubled by the shocking events of the last few days, to include the questionable killings of two black men by police officers and the subsequent killings of five police officers in Dallas, Texas.

The community and police grieve together this morning. We offer our condolences to all of the families and communities and to law enforcement professionals that have been impacted by these tragic events.

There is simply no excuse and no justification for what we’ve all seen transpire. And it is up to all of us to speak up and to come together to make sure events like these do not occur in any community.

Everyone, including police, has a right to feel valued and respected. Community protest in the face of injustice is understandable. But police should not be the target. Rather, we must target bad policing where it exists and work to bring about change in that regard.

We are grateful in Richmond to have strong community and police relations. We can and do care about both Black lives and the lives of our police officers. Indeed, we care about all lives. At the end of the day, everyone has a right to expect to go home safely and no one should be fearing for their lives.

We stand united today to say that we will work against these events generating any kind of divisiveness in our community.  We stand united today to say that we will be vigilant in working together for strong communities.


 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Multi-Year School Investment Funding Team Presents Triple-Action Investment Plan


Mayor Dwight C. Jones presented on June 27 a Triple-Action Investment Plan that grew out of the work of the Multi-Year School Capital Investment Project Evaluation Team that he convened in April of this year.

The Project Evaluation Team was charged with charting a funding course for the long-term renovation and construction plans of Richmond Public Schools in a way that would protect the overall funding needs and fiscal integrity of the City. The Team met its goal of completing its review by the end of June.

The Triple-Action Investment Plan calls for immediate action of expanding the Governing Debt Policy ceiling from 10% to 12%. This action will expand debt capacity to over $580 million over the next decade, making that borrowing capacity available to the City if the governing body elects to utilize it. At the same time, the City is charged with coupling that action with additional policies; concerning the City’s unassigned fund balance, reserve levels, and equalization policies; in order to maintain and protect the City’s’ current credit ratings, to the extent possible.

The Triple-Action Investment Plan then maps out action for the intermediate term and the long term, to include adoption of a Strategic Funding Plan and the necessary tax adjustments that will be needed to fund the plan.

The final report of the Project Evaluation Team narrowed the options down to six potential revenue sources that met the necessary criteria. Those criterion include that the source of funds be sustainable, reliable, available and under the locality’s control and discretion. The governing body will have to decide which tax adjustments or combination thereof will be utilized to fund the plan.

Long-term recommendations include accountability measures on both the Schools and the City Administration in order to show smart utilization of the dollars provided. 

“This is a realistic approach that provides a 10-year program to move us forward,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “This is a well thought-out plan that will require discipline, but that will make us a better city in the long run.” Both the Schools and the City are now working to finalize their lists of targeted projects to be pursued over the 10-year funding period.

The following chart shows the Triple-Action Investment Plan in brief. The full report of the Multi-Year School Capital Investment Project Evaluation Team is available here.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Richmond Wins 1st Place for Climate Protection Efforts


Today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Richmond was announced as the nation’s 1st Place winner for the Large City Category in the 2016 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this mayors’ awards program recognizes mayors for their energy and climate protection efforts, selected by an independent panel of judges from a pool of mayoral applicants. New Bedford, MA Mayor Jonathan F. Mitchell won first place in the Small City Category.

Click here to watch the live stream of Mayor Jones receiving the award.

“Mayors Jon Mitchell and Dwight Jones are both innovators and leaders, showing us how to confront the energy and climate protection challenges before our cities and the nation,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “As we witnessed in Paris late last year, it is the mayors who are the first responders in this global battle, whether it is reducing harmful emissions or fortifying their cities to withstand increasing threats from climatic events.”

"Improving the quality of life for our residents and creating a healthy environment while enhancing economic development and job creation opportunities are our triple bottom-line goals of RVAgreen,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “As the first and only local government in Central Virginia to create a formal sustainability program, we’ve been able to lead the way with improvements from our CNG fleet conversions, expanded recycling efforts, community gardens program, new bike infrastructure, and many other efforts that make up our 55 initiatives under the plan.”

The following comes from the Mayors and Climate Protection Best Practices report sent out by The United States Conference of Mayors:

First Place Winner Richmond, VA and Mayor Dwight C. Jones -- RVAgreen, the City’s Sustainability and Energy Management Program, makes the city of Richmond more livable, more competitive, and more resilient, while improving the economic and environmental performance of its government operations. This community-based plan developed over a yearlong process with the input of more than 400 citizens and 65 stakeholder organizations and has five focus areas: economic development, energy, environment, open space and land use, and transportation.

From the baseline year of 2008-2013, the program has reduced CO2 emissions within city government operations by almost nine percent and community GHG emissions by nearly six percent.

Richmond was the first and is still the only local government in the Central Virginia region to create a formal sustainability program. An innovative feature of this city effort is the depth of collaboration with the community. RVAgreen is a community-based plan that was the result of a yearlong community-based planning effort, involving more than 400 citizens and 65 stakeholder organizations. The plan’s 55 initiatives are being implemented in partnership with the community.

RVAgreen has improved the city’s quality of life in many ways:

  • Converted all 520 signalized intersections in the city limits from incandescent to LED lamps;
  • City construction and renovation projects over 10,000 sq. ft. to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver Certification;
  • CNG fleet conversions to save money, operate more efficiently and reduce harmful emissions: fleet of 32 diesel refuse trucks converted to 25 CNG trucks; assisted Richmond International Airport in converting its 14 shuttle bus fleet to CNG vehicles, and working with the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) to replace its fleet of diesel buses with CNG buses;
  • Created a stormwater utility to better manage stormwater runoff and encourage green practices by offering credits to commercial and residential customers that implement practices on their property;
  • Expanded curbside recycling service to all city residents and in the process of implementing pay as you throw to enhance recycling further;
  • Installed 44 Big Belly solar-powered trash cans and recycling units on city sidewalks;
  • City’s Community Garden Program to offer vacant parcels to residents to grow fresh, organic food in neighborhoods;
  • Created the James River Park Conservation Easement to conserve 280 acres along the James River from future development;
  • Since 2010 the city has planted and established nearly 2,000 trees annually;
  • Expanding multi-modal transportation options via Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on a main artery through downtown;
  • Developed a Bicycle Master Plan that strategically plans greenways and connectors;
  • Obtained Bronze level Bike Friendly Community status;
  • Built 25 miles of bike infrastructure since 2010; and
  • Completed the Virginia Capital Trail – a 53-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail that connects Richmond to Williamsburg.
One initiative that attracted attention to the city’s efforts was its hosting of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships (2015 Worlds), one of cycling’s preeminent events. Richmond was the first U.S. city to host this event in thirty years.

The international event attracted more than 645,000 spectators with more than 1,000 professional cycling athletes from 75 countries competing in 12 world championship races. The city rose to the challenge and accelerated its RVAgreen sustainability initiatives, ensuring the event was a sustainability success and that it had a lasting positive impact on the community.



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

City Crews Collect More Than 700 Tons of Thunderstorm Debris


~ East Richmond Road landfill is target location for residents’ debris removal efforts ~

City of Richmond crews reported that a total of 711 tons of debris had been removed from City streets since storm recovery efforts began. With the exception of Willow and 2nd streets, all City streets are now passable. 

The City’s arborist has begun to measure the storms impact on the existing tree inventory to determine what additional trees may have to be removed for safety.

The City’s recovery effort includes code enforcement work. City officials have surveyed hundreds of properties to ensure public safety and are identifying those properties that will require repair.

Byrd Park, which initially had been closed due to downed wires and trees, is now open during regular hours. Bryan Park remains closed as clean-up continues in that area. Battery Park Pool remains closed at this time.

At Bellevue and Hermitage roads, the traffic signal remains out. Temporary signalization will be installed by Friday, weather permitting. Motorist should continue to treat this intersection as a four-way stop. In other areas, city crews are continuing to check intersections and roadways for damaged signs, minor malfunctions or skewed apparatus and making the necessary adjustments.

The East Richmond Road landfill is open and operating on its regular schedule from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Residents are encouraged to bring storm related debris to that location. Residents can also place yard debris, such as limbs and brush, near their property line at the curb or near the alley for collection. If at all possible, large limbs and trees should be cut into manageable sizes to make the removal process easier and quicker. However, leave large jobs to professionals. Yard debris should not be placed in the street, alley or on the sidewalk. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Information concerning food safety and precautions to take during electrical power outage

The Richmond City Health District advises residents to take precautions regarding their refrigerated and frozen foods as well as their medications and medical supplies during a power outage.

If your electrical power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.  The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4-hours if it is unopened.  A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half-full) if the door remains closed.

Frozen foods should be kept well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and refrigerated foods should be kept below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.  If at any point the food in your refrigerator was above 40ºF for 2-hours or more, it is not safe to eat and you must discard it.

If you have medicines such as insulin that require refrigeration you should call your pharmacy to talk about what options are available.  According to product labels from U.S. insulin manufacturers, it is recommended that insulin be stored in a refrigerator at approximately 36º to 46º F. Insulin products contained in vials or cartridges supplied by manufacturers may be left unrefrigerated at a temperature between 59ºF and 86ºF for up to 28 days.  Check with your pharmacist to be sure.

Always plan for emergencies; if you take medicine or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have enough on hand to last at least a week.  This includes oxygen.  If you use oxygen, please contact your regular supplier and request to have extra bottles delivered to you.  Don’t rely upon emergency responders as a primary resource to assist you with these types of supplies.

For more information, visit these websites:
www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085213.htm



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

U.S. Department of the Interior Selects Richmond as Priority City to Connect Youth to the Great Outdoors


As part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative to engage the next generation of outdoor stewards and inspire millions of young adults to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors, Mayor Dwight Jones joined Craig Dorsett, Advisor to the Assistant Secretary, Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior, and Tim Joyce, President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Richmond today to announce that Richmond has been selected as one of the 50 cities to participate in the nationwide movement.

The initiative, funded through a $5 million national commitment by the American Express Foundation, will provide two years of funding for the YMCA of Greater Richmond to help coordinate efforts, facilitate collaboration, grow resources, and increase participation in outdoor programs on all public lands – from local parks to federal lands and waters.

“Engaging people of all ages, especially youth, in enjoying and caring for parks and public lands builds a sense of stewardship and fosters deep connections to nature that will last a lifetime,” said Secretary Sally Jewell. “Richmond is blessed with amazing public parks and a strong network of public and nonprofit leaders committed to getting kids outdoors, active and connected to nature. Through this new partnership with financial support from the American Express Foundation and community connections of the YMCA, we are nurturing a movement to foster the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, stewards and leaders, while helping young people connect to the public lands in their community.”

“The City of Richmond is proud to partner with the U.S. Department of Interior for this important initiative to engage youth with the outdoors,” said Mayor Dwight. C. Jones. “Our city was previously named ‘Best Town Ever’ by Outside Magazine. We are also one of only three U.S. cities ranked on the Global Sports City Index by SportCal. It’s a natural for us to be one of the 50 cities to kick off this active volunteer program under First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative. This provides another opportunity for us to showcase all that Richmond has to offer in our urban environment with amazing and varied outdoor access; and to engage young people while doing so.”

“Many people in our urban neighborhoods don't always have the chance to experience all that our public lands in and around the city have to offer,” said Tim Joyce, CEO & President, YMCA of Greater Richmond.  “This initiative will help us bring together leaders in conservation, education, recreation and service to provide opportunities for children and families to have fun, deepen connections to the city’s natural and historic sites, develop important skills, and engage in activities where they can give back and strengthen our community.”

“Community service and historic preservation have a long heritage at American Express,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation. “Since our founding more than 160 years ago, American Express has seen how America's parks and public lands contribute to our sense of national and local identity, and we are proud to lead an effort to mobilize a new generation of volunteers to protect, conserve and revitalize America's public lands and treasured national parks.”

The Department of the Interior is leading First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative getting millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in America’s great outdoors. In March 2015, Secretary Jewell announced this partnership with the American Express Foundation and kicked-off the first cities across the country to be a part of this movement. Richmond joins 26 cities announced in 2015. The remaining cities will be announced throughout 2016. For more information about the initiative, visit: www.doi.gov/youth.

This work is part an overall strategy by the Obama Administration to connect young people to the outdoors. Other efforts include the “Every Kid in A Park” program to provide all fourth grade students and their families with free admission to national parks and other public lands and waters for a full year. These complement the National Park Service’s Find Your Park campaign preparing for this year’s centennial of the National Park System.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

James River Park System Water Safety Tips for Residents and Visitors


The James River Park System is the city of Richmond's largest, most unique and best known park. This park system is made up of parks along both sides of the James River as it passes through the city, making Richmond the only urban city in the country with Class IV white water rapids in the middle of downtown. The James River Park System normally receives more than 500,000 visitors a year.

As temperatures rise, the City reminds residents and visitors to the park of the many dangers along and within the river as well as those associated with any body of water. Click here or continuing reading below for tips on a safe visit to the park or around any body of water:

  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well and only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Never leave a young child unattended in or near water without adult supervision; teach children to always ask permission to go near or in water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone, ensure they always have supervision.
  • By law, when the water level on the James River is 5 feet and above, everyone on the river must wear a lifejacket. When water levels are 9 feet or above, no one is allowed on the river without a permit.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious wading around natural bodies of water including ocean shorelines, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall very dangerous.
  • Never mix alcohol and water activities as it impairs judgment, balance and coordination, swimming skills, and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm. Alcohol is not allowed in the James River Park System.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or utilize the local emergency call system.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.

Click here for more information on the James River Park System.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

City of Richmond Recognized as 2016 Playful City USA


The City of Richmond received KaBOOM’s designation as a 2016 Playful City USA.  This designation, the first of its kind for the city, is the result of a partnership between the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities (PCRF), the Capital Region Collaborative, and Active RVA - a program of Sports Backers. KaBOOM’s national recognition program honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playful.

“This recognition is a great accomplishment as we continue to grow and highlight the abundant recreational opportunities available in Richmond.  Playability adds to the quality of life for all members of our community, and especially families,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Playful City USA is a national recognition program that honors cities and towns across the country for taking bold steps to ensure that children in their communities, particularly kids from low income families, obtain the balanced and active play they need to thrive. Cities and towns, along with leaders from every sector working together, have the power to turn play spaces, and all spaces, into transformative theaters of activity, inspiration, and discovery.

As one of KaBOOM’s corporate partners, this designation brings the award home for Richmond’s CarMax.  "We are proud to partner with KaBOOM! and are excited that our hometown is receiving this designation," said Craig Cronheim, president of The CarMax Foundation.  "We look forward to continuing to work with KaBOOM! to ensure that all kids have a childhood filled with balance and active play, here in Richmond, and across the country. "

The City of Richmond was chosen as a Playful City, USA because of its dedication to a healthier community through its natural resources, partnerships, and innovative programs.  With assets such as the James River Park System, PCRF’s CarMax Summer Basketball League, the ARCPark, the Children’s Museum, and this weekend’s Dominion Riverrock festival, Richmond’s opportunities for activity and play are better than ever.

“Play is far more than just entertainment and leisure. It’s a fundamental component of a thriving community,” said Ashley Hall, Manager of the Capital Region Collaborative. “In a playable environment, children’s creative adventures on the playground create a foundation for classroom learning. For adults and families, play creates connections, expands social networks, and helps to build stronger and safer neighborhoods. We’re proud to join the commitment to playability, which connects across our region’s eight priority areas – from education and quality place, to the James River and healthy communities.”

Active RVA’s Director, Jeff McIntyre, states “Active play is crucial to the well-being of kids, families, and their communities.  By integrating play into cities, play provides a competitive advantage for cities looking to attract and retain residents.  We are proud of Richmond’s designation as a Playful City USA and are committed to providing opportunities for all members of the Richmond community to play and be more active.”

As a Playful City USA, Richmond will receive gateway road signs, policy tools that leverage up-to-date city data and play space mapping data, and access to grants that support increasing opportunities for play.

To learn more and see the full list of communities named 2016 Playful City USA honorees, or to gather more information on the Playful City USA program, visit www.playfulcityusa.org


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Reginald E. Gordon Named Director of the Office of Community Wealth Building


Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that Reginald E. Gordon will be the next Director of the Office of Community Wealth Building. Gordon follows the tenure of Dr. Thad Williamson, who was named the first director of the new office two years ago.

“We’ve been well-served by Thad Williamson in the post and appreciate the sabbatical he took to work with us during this time,” said Mayor Jones. “Given the great work and good stewardship that Thad has offered, our challenge had been in identifying a viable successor. I’m confident that we’ve identified the right fit for this next phase of our community wealth building efforts in the personality of Reggie Gordon.”

Beginning June 13, Gordon will serve as the central point of contact for the Office of Community Wealth Building (OCW). OCW initially grew out of the work of the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission, now known as the Maggie L. Walker Initiative for Expanding Opportunity and Fighting Poverty. Jones successfully worked to make the office a permanent department within city government so that the work toward de-concentrating poverty and transforming Richmond’s public housing will continue, even with changing leadership.

“Reggie’s leadership with the American Red Cross, along with his previous posts with the William Byrd Community House, Homeward, and United Way, have all had him working in the same wheelhouse of focus on communities and transformation,” noted Mayor Jones. “He is bringing a wealth of experience and a heart for the issues that will help further anchor our efforts and advance our goals.”

Mr. Gordon has served as the Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross Virginia Region since July of 2007. He earned a Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law (1986) and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University (1982). He is the recipient of numerous honors including the John Jasper Trailblazer Award, the Ukrop Community Vision Award, the Better Housing Coalition Creative Collaborator Leadership Award, and also previously served on the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Policy as well as the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission.

“I look forward to Reggie’s leadership in improving the lives of our residents through programs, projects, and initiatives aimed at reducing levels of poverty throughout the City of Richmond,” said the City’s Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn.



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Reinvestment Fund and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation name City of Richmond one of 50 Invest Health Cities

~ City of Richmond to join innovative, national program to improve
health in low-income neighborhoods ~

The City of Richmond has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative, aimed at helping community leaders work together to help low-income communities thrive.

The City of Richmond was selected from more than 180 teams from 170 communities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 that applied to participate in the initiative.

 “We are excited about this opportunity to build new partnerships and forge alliances to help improve communities" said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "This is a unique opportunity to initiate real change with a collaborative approach.”

Mid-size American cities face some of the nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health and a lack of investment, according to Invest Health. But they also offer fertile ground for strategies -- such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise and quality jobs -- that improve health and have the potential to boost local economies.

The initiative has the potential to fundamentally transform the way the City of Richmond improves opportunities to live healthy lives by addressing the drivers of health, including jobs, housing, education, community safety and environmental conditions.

As an Invest Health city, Richmond will receive about $60,000 in grant funding, primarily to support convening and learning opportunities for cross-sector groups. Richmond Memorial Health Foundation will serve as fiscal agent for the grant.

The initiative launches in June with a gathering of representatives of the 50 selected cities in Philadelphia.

Richmond's application was supported by a cross-sector team representing city government, philanthropy and major city institutions. Members were:

  • Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond City Health District,
  • Dr. Risha Berry, with the City of Richmond's Office of Community Wealth Building,
  • Mark Constantine, president and CEO of Richmond Memorial Health Foundation,
  • Sheryl Garland, MHA,  vice president for health policy and community relations at VCU Health System,
  • TK Somanath, chief executive of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

Specific goals of the project include:
  • BRING TOGETHER DISPARATE SECTORS to align around a vision for better health, create innovative ideas, and unlock new sources of investment.
  • HELP ATTRACT CAPITAL to improve health outcomes in low-income communities.  
  • BUILD LASTING RELATIONSHIPS that extend beyond the length of the program and help inform work in other communities.
  • TEST POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS to inform the national conversation about how to best invest to achieve health equity in more communities throughout the U.S.
  • ADVANCE SYSTEMS-FOCUSED STRATEGIES that reach across sectors to support health improvement in low-income communities.
  • USE DATA AS A DRIVER for change, beginning with an evidence-based understanding of the problem and continuing to a data framework for assessing impact.

“With a long history in community development finance, we are excited to help create a pipeline to channel capital into low-income communities through public and private investments,” said Amanda High, Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Reinvestment Fund. “Our goal is to transform how cities approach tough challenges, share lessons learned and spur creative collaboration.”
“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” said Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, RWJF Vice President, Program. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”

ABOUT THE PARTNERS
Richmond City Health District
The Richmond City Health District works to improve health and health equity for the residents of Richmond, VA through efforts to promote healthy living, protect the environment, prevent disease and prepare the community for disasters.

Richmond Memorial Health Foundation
The Richmond Memorial Health Foundation invests financial, intellectual and leadership resources through grantmaking, strategic initiatives and partnerships with nonprofit organizations, foundations, government, businesses and academic institutions to improve health and healthcare.
Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority
RRHA fulfills its mission of building vibrant communities by providing quality, affordable housing to families in need, transforming neighborhoods and revitalizing communities, building strategic partnerships to advance our work and supporting resident success through self-sufficiency programs.

Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU also encompasses VCU Health, which comprises five health sciences schools, VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, VCU Massey Cancer Center and Virginia Premier.
Reinvestment Fund

Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives. Learn more at reinvestment.com.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

Zoning Application Made for New Grocery Store in East End Food Desert


Mayor Dwight Jones, Councilperson Cynthia Newbille, and the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority announced that a development team has made a rezoning application to develop a mixed-use residential and neighborhood retail development at the northern corners of the Nine Mile Road and North 25th Street intersection in Richmond’s North Church Hill neighborhood, anchored by new grocery operator Jim’s Local Market.

The partners said a grocery store at this location has been conceptually discussed for many years since the area became known as a food desert, and recent efforts began in earnest in 2011 during the East End Initiative planning process attended by the Mayor, Dr. Newbille, Bon Secours Heath System, RRHA, and members of the community.

“I am thrilled that this proposal is finally advancing,” said Mayor Jones. “The East End food desert has needed healthy groceries and good jobs for a long time, and I hope that success here can be replicated in other neighborhoods across the city.”

“I have heard members of the community asking for a full-service grocery store in this area,” said Councilperson Newbille.  “And that is what is being proposed for the East End community. Further, we will be going to the community together with the developer to talk about how this project will look, the services that will be provided, employment opportunities, and other ways that it can enhance the neighborhood.”

Jim Scanlon, president of Jim’s Local Market, believes that the time is right to build on the success of their recent grocery store opening in Newport News.  “We believe we have a business model that’s right for urban areas like the East End of Richmond – combining quality products, affordability for all customers, and a level of employee engagement that creates a culture of great customer service.” 

T.K. Somanath, president and CEO of RRHA, added “We are doing everything we can to ensure that this is a development we can all be proud of, and that it will be the cornerstone of a stable, healthy East End.”

Steve Markel, senior member of the private team implementing the development, said, “Seeing what Jim has done in Newport News, and seeing the commitment the City, Housing Authority, and so many community partners are willing to contribute to the East End, has convinced me that this is the right thing to do.”

Councilperson Newbille and the development team plan to meet with neighbors to answer questions about the development and potential neighborhood impacts as soon as possible.

The zoning application made yesterday is the beginning of a months-long approval process and is the first of several steps that must occur before construction could begin.  Design and layout of the grocery site and for accompanying mixed-use development is still in development.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Schools Funding Draft Report Issued to Multi-Year School Capital Investment Funding Plan Executive Committee

~ Team to narrow down viable revenue options for future needs ~

The Multi-Year School Capital Investment Funding Plan Executive Committee received a draft report today concerning potential revenue sources that could support new capital investment in the city of Richmond. The menu of options was developed by the Revenues & Financing Working Group of the Project Evaluation Team.

The report outlines revenue options and includes an analysis of the viability of those options. Seventeen potential revenue sources were represented in the draft report. The report also offers a history of annual funding for Richmond Public Schools and an outline of future Capital Improvement Project (CIP) needs for the city.

Mayor Dwight C. Jones indicated that the menu of options and the report analysis will be presented and discussed with Richmond City Council as well as Richmond Public Schools, community stakeholders and the public over the next several weeks. The Project Evaluation Team will be working to obtain feedback and to narrow down the list of revenue options to those choices that will be agreeable for the parties to pursue.

The next scheduled meeting of the Executive Team is June 20, 2016, at which time the group is expected to bring forth final recommendations for the development of a long-term sustainable funding program for the city’s needs.

To view a copy of the draft report click here.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Mayor Dwight Jones Issues Statement on Passage of FY2017 Richmond Government Budget



Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement today following passage of the FY2017 Richmond Government Budget:
“I again want to thank Richmond City Council for the hard work undertaken through a very difficult budget deliberations process.  A great deal of work was done and hard decisions made to identify the additional $9.5 million in capital and operating funds for Richmond Public Schools.  These additional funds build on the more than $145 million in operating funds submitted as part of my budget. With this increased funding, that brings the total operating funding for Richmond Public Schools to $151.5 million; again the largest single share of the city’s entire budget. I’m also pleased that additional funding was provided in other much needed areas like public works, police, fire, and finance.

"The fact that budget discussions are always difficult discussions is not new.  Budget deliberations have even intensified as the country entered into a major recession over this last decade and State lawmakers were faced with making deep cuts to public education funding. So even as these deliberations have been particularly hard, the important thing is that we continue our work to identify future sustainable funding options to meet the growing needs of Richmond Public Schools. We are also continuing our work to position the City to pursue available revenues to address the growing needs of the city overall."

“I say again, that we all share similar priorities: meeting core commitments, protecting education, preserving fiscal integrity and ensuring a well-managed government. It is my hope that we will continue the dialogue and continue to work together in the interest of the greater good.”


City’s Office of Minority Business Development Convenes Empowerment 2016 Forum


The City’s Office of Minority Business Development (MBD) hosted more than 200 program graduates at the Empowerment 2016 forum for small and minority owned businesses at the Carillon at Dogwood Dell on May 12. The event acknowledged the individuals who have completed courses offered through the MBD Technical Assistance Program including - Money Smart, Construction Series, Emerging Small Business 101, Intermediate Small Business 201, and a host of other elective courses over the past year. Many of the program participants completed business plans during the program and are now implementing strategies to meet their goals.

In speaking of the Empowerment 2016 forum, Mayor Dwight C. Jones noted, “We recognize the importance of providing the necessary assistance to help entrepreneurs build better, stronger businesses, as a sturdy, diverse business base of successful small and minority businesses expands economic opportunities for all Richmonders.”

During the event Penny Gregory, Owner of A Penny for Your Thoughts Cleaning Services said, “The programs and services offered through this program and Mayor Jones have been essential for small businesses like mine. The program helped me to write my vision and my business plan. Now, I have an inheritance to pass down to my sons.”

Event speakers included Richmond City Council President Michelle Mosby, Senior Editor and Publisher of Northside Vibes Deone McWilliams, CEO of Rent-A-Wreck, Matthew Allen, and renowned leadership and productivity strategist and CEO of Randolph Unlimited, Wade Randolph who challenged attendees to unleash their power to reach their next levels of success.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Press Release on the Settlement of the Federal Mobile Home Lawsuit, ALTAMIRA-ROJAS ET AL. v. CITY OF RICHMOND


           The City of Richmond (“City”) has reached a settlement in the federal lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP regarding the City’s code enforcement efforts in mobile home parks.  The suit alleged that the City discriminated against mostly Latino residents in two of those mobile home parks where some of the most numerous and serious maintenance code violations were found.

            Through the course of the case, the City maintained that it took many steps to assist mobile home residents in repairing health and safety code violations. This included reaching out to mobile home manufacturers, local non-profits, and others to obtain free or inexpensive help for those residents. The City also maintained that it took great steps to be flexible with mobile home residents in the two mobile home parks where the plaintiffs resided. Although the City provided language assistance services to those mobile home residents, those efforts did not meet all the language needs of those residents. As a result, the City will be in a better position going forward and better able to serve all City residents.

            In an effort to resolve this matter more quickly and inexpensively than through continued litigation, the City has offered to work with a third-party organization which will assist mobile home residents in identifying and making home repairs before concentrated inspections begin in mobile home parks. The City has also agreed to adopt a language access policy consistent with federal guidance documents, which will benefit Richmond’s growing Latino population and enable the City to serve those residents more effectively. The City will also ensure that key City managers and departments will participate in applicable Fair Housing training.

            The City will also pay a very modest $25,000, to be divided among 33 current and former plaintiffs, for their home repair or relocation needs. The City will also provide another $15,000 to the plaintiffs’ counsel, for them to allocate more broadly for home repairs in mobile home communities.

            The City will also add mobile home communities to its list of high-priority communities under a City contract which assists qualified home owners with critical home repairs. The City will also be working collaboratively with non-profits assisting mobile home residents as the City continues to address critical health and safety needs in mobile home parks.

            The City appreciates the efforts that the Legal Aide Justice Center and Crowell & Moring took to help an often underserved population which can have a difficult time obtaining adequate legal representation. The City also appreciates the assistance from Mark Rubin and VCU’s Center for Consensus Building in helping to resolve this case in an amicable manner.


Please see the following for a Spanish translation of the above Press Release

Para su difusión inmediata – martes, 10 de mayo, 2016

COMUNICADO DE PRENSA SOBRE EL ACUERDO CON RELACIÓN A LA DEMANADA FEDERAL SOBRE LAS CASAS MÓVILES - ALTAMIRA-ROJAS CONTRA LA CIUDAD DE RICHMOND

La Ciudad de Richmond (“Ciudad”) ha llegado a un acuerdo con relación a la demanda federal presentada por el Centro de Justicia y Ayuda Legal (Legal Aid Justice Center en inglés) y la firma Crowell & Moring LLP referente a los esfuerzos por hacer cumplir con el código de la ciudad en los parques de casa móviles. La demanda alegaba que la Ciudad discriminaba en contra de los habitantes, mayormente latinos, en dos de estos parques de casas móviles donde fueron encontrados la mayoría de las violaciones de mantenimiento, más serias, del código.

A través del curso de este caso, la Ciudad mantuvo que tomó muchas medidas para ayudar a los habitantes de las casa móviles a reparar las violaciones del código en cuando a salud y seguridad. Esto incluyó contactar a los fabricantes de casa móviles, a organizaciones locales sin ánimo de lucro y más para obtener ayuda barata o gratuita para esos habitantes. La Ciudad también mantuvo que tomó grandes medidas para ser flexible con los habitantes de las casa móviles, en los dos parques donde los demandantes residían. Aunque la Ciudad ofreció servicios de ayuda con el idioma a los habitantes de esas casa móviles, estos esfuerzos no cumplían con las necesidades de lenguaje de esos habitantes. Como resultado, la Ciudad estará en una mejor posición, avanzando y mejorando el servicio a todos sus habitantes en el futuro.

En un esfuerzo por resolver este asunto de una manera más rápida y menos costosa que en una continua litigación, la Ciudad ha ofrecido trabajar con una organización que funja como tercera parte, la cual ayudará a los habitantes de las casa móviles a identificar y hacer las reparaciones a las casas antes de que las inspecciones concentradas comiencen en los parques de casas móviles. La Ciudad también acordó adoptar una política en cuanto al acceso al lenguaje consistente con las guías federales, la cual beneficiará a la creciente población latina de Richmond y permitirá a la Ciudad servir de manera más eficiente a dichos habitantes. La Ciudad también se asegurará de que los departamentos y directores claves de la Ciudad participen en el entrenamiento aplicable sobre Vivienda Justa.

La Ciudad también pagará la muy modesta cifra de $25,000 dólares, para que sea dividida entre los 33 antiguos y actuales demandantes, para la reparación de sus casas o necesidades de reubicación. La Ciudad además dará otros $15,000 dólares al concejo de demandantes, para que lo puedan distribuir de manera más amplia para reparaciones de casas en las comunidades de casas móviles.

La Ciudad también incluirá las comunidades de casas móviles a su lista de comunidades de alta prioridad en un contrato de la Ciudad, el cual ayuda a propietarios de casas que califiquen con reparaciones críticas a las casas. Además, la Ciudad estará trabajando de manera colaborativa con organizaciones no lucrativas para ayudar a los habitantes de casas móviles, a medida que la Ciudad continua atendiendo las necesidades críticas de salud y seguridad en los parques de casas móviles.

La Ciudad aprecia los esfuerzos que el Centro de Justica y Ayuda Legal, y Crowell & Moring realizaron para ayudar a una población frecuentemente carente de servicios, la cual puede tener momentos difíciles obteniendo una representación legal adecuada. La Ciudad también aprecia la asistencia de Mark Rubin y del Centro de Creación de Consenso de la VCU por ayudar a resolver este caso de una manera amigable.



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Multi-Year School Capital Investment Funding Plan


In April, Mayor Dwight C. Jones convened a Multi-Year School Capital Investment Funding Plan Work Group to work collaboratively to develop a long-term, sustainable funding program. This program will identify resources that will provide Richmond Public Schools needed funds for facilities and operations, while preserving the city’s financial integrity.

Please click here for more work group information and compiled data.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mayor Jones, Flying Squirrels, and VCU Lay Out Path to New Ballpark Near Boulevard


Mayor Dwight Jones, the Richmond Flying Squirrels, and Virginia Commonwealth University said today they are working together to explore identifying a location for a new RVA ballpark, near the Diamond, but off the city-owned 60 acres bounded by the Boulevard and Hermitage Road. The announcement follows yesterday’s issuance of a report which recommends full development of the city’s 60 acres and inclusion of sports and entertainment in the larger area.

The partners said extensive stakeholder engagement had brought them together in recent months, fueled by numerous public meetings and survey participation of more than 5,000 residents of the Richmond region.

“This new initiative may very well serve everyone’s interests, particularly the community’s, while allowing the Squirrels to stay in our hometown,” said Lou DiBella, President and Managing General Partner of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. “It feels like we’re closer to a solution than ever before.”

“It’s vitally important that we find ways to generate maximum revenue to fund public schools and other services that a growing city needs,” said Mayor Jones. “This approach opens a pathway for full development of the city’s most valuable land, provides the Squirrels and VCU baseball with a new home and keeps the ballpark in an area that Richmonders love.”

Todd “Parney” Parnell, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Richmond Flying Squirrels underscored the team’s desire to offer year-round programming in addition to baseball. A new facility will help the team accomplish that.

Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin said that while VCU’s baseball team plays at The Diamond (under a sub-lease with the Squirrels), the facility is not ideal for the team’s future needs.

“VCU and the Squirrels have a great sports partnership, and we are excited about moving toward a new ballpark in Virginia’s capital city that enables our teams to compete at the highest level and improve the fan experience at our games,” said VCU President Michael Rao.

The partners emphasized that a new ballpark would likely be funded primarily by the ballpark’s users. They agreed to report progress to the public by the end of an approximately 90-day period, during which the city would pursue a “request for qualifications” from national real estate developers, engage regional partners, and continue public engagement to determine the long-term future of the Boulevard area.

To demonstrate the city’s commitment to a long term solution, Mayor Jones said the city intends to extend the Squirrels’ current lease on the Diamond for a second one-year extension to December 31, 2018.