Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Mayor Stoney Announces the City of Richmond has the Highest Municipal Equality Index Score in Virginia


Mayor Stoney is proud to announce that the City of Richmond received the highest Municipal Equality Index scorecard in the Commonwealth of Virginia as determined by the Human Rights Campaign. Out of the 11 municipalities scored in Virginia, Richmond received a 94. Out of the 506 municipalities scored in 2018, the City of Richmond experienced the most significant score increase nationwide.
Richmond was named a “MEI All-Star” and spotlighted as a “city boldly leading the way to equality” in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 MEI report. 
“I am thrilled that Richmond has taken so many positive steps to protect and support our LGBTQ community,” said Mayor Stoney. “I have always said that no matter the color of your skin, the neighborhood you live in, or who you love, that you are welcome in the City of Richmond – and Richmond’s 2018 MEI scorecard echoes that message.”
Each year the Human Rights Campaign rates cities across the United States based on their initiatives to support LGBTQ communities. This process is called their Municipal Equality Index (MEI) scorecard where cities are scored from 0-100 on items such as non-discrimination laws, transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, inclusive workplaces, and LGBTQ liaisons in the city’s executive office, to name a few. 
In 2017, Richmond received a 42 on the MEI scorecard. By working with City Council to establish a Human Rights Commission and non-discrimination laws, designating a policy advisor to serve as the Mayor’s LGBTQ liaison, and offering transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, Richmond was able to increase its score by 52 points since 2017.
Richmond’s score increase is celebrated by state groups such as Equality Virginia, a non-profit that advocates for equality for LGBTQ Virginians, and Virginia Pride, an organization that provides support and resources for the LGBTQ community.
“The work for full lived equality begins in our local communities,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “Equality Virginia applauds the efforts of Mayor Stoney and the Richmond City Council towards creating a city where gay and transgender people can live, work, and play free from discrimination. To see Richmond’s MEI score double in one year shows just how seriously Mayor Stoney values creating an inclusive city.” 
“The work that Mayor Stoney’s Administration has done to make Richmond a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ community members to live, work, and visit is incredible,” said James Millner, President of Virginia Pride. “Mayor Stoney campaigned on making Richmond a more inclusive city that celebrates its diversity and he has kept his promise.” 
“I am delighted that Richmond is able to progress at this level,” said Mayor Stoney. “However, we would not have been able to make it this far without the help of officials, such as Councilmembers Parker Agelasto and Ellen Robertson, who were key in moving Richmond’s Human Rights Commission and non-discrimination laws forward in the city council.”
Fortune 500 companies look to the Human Rights Campaign report as a guide to where they may relocate as they need cities that reflects their values.
Local organizations have also demonstrated support of Richmond’s efforts to protect the LGBTQ community.
“Richmond is leading the way on a national level,” said Bill Harrison, Executive Director of Diversity Richmond, an organization dedicated to being a voice and resource for LGBTQ Richmonders. “Mayor Stoney is building bridges to make Richmond a stronger, healthier, and more prosperous city.”
“We are grateful for Mayor Stoney’s leadership to make Richmond a more inclusive place,” said Katherine O’Donnell, Richmond Region Tourism Executive Vice President. “Celebrating diversity and equality is important for Richmonders, as well as visitors. With tourism in our region continuing to grow, the Human Rights Campaign’s latest index score is a reminder to LGBTQ+ travelers that Richmond is welcoming, friendly and open to all.”
Mayor Stoney said that the news should be celebrated by the entire city. 
“We have come a long way over the past two years, and will continue our great work to make Richmond more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mayor Announces Appointments to Teacher Advisory Council



Composed of 19 teachers from across the Richmond Public School system, the council will help provide insight into what attracts teachers to Richmond and what will keep them living and working here. It will also offer input to the administration on ways the City can support students outside the school day so they can enter the classroom eager and ready to learn.

“Our educators are a valuable asset with a unique perspective on how to help our children,” said Mayor Stoney. “I look forward to hearing their ideas and I am grateful for their commitment to our kids.”   

The Council will hold its first meeting on Monday, October 15, and will convene bimonthly thereafter with strategic support from Brionna Nomi, doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education.

The Mayor has appointed 19 teachers to the inaugural MTAC representing the diversity of Richmond’s teaching force. They include:

Ms. Coretta (Cory) Adkins, G.H. Reid Elementary School

Mr. Derrick Bates, George Mason Elementary School

Mr. Joshua Bearman, Franklin Military Academy

Ms. Victoria Carll, Open High School

Mr. Brian Condit, Albert Hill Middle School

Ms. Christal Corey, Boushall Middle School

Mr. Marvin Gilliam, George Wythe High School

Ms. Mary Gresham, Richmond Technical Center

Ms. Giles Harnsberger Garrison, Albert Hill Middle School

Dr. Stephanie Hooks, Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School

Ms. Kieasha King, Woodville Elementary School

Mr. Chris Lombardi, Mary Munford Elementary School

Mr. Luis Luna, Huguenot High School

Ms. Catherine Marchetti, Maymont Preschool Center

Ms. Kerry L. Richardson, Barack Obama Elementary School

Ms. Ester Orellana, Huguenot High School

Mr. Darrell Turner, Blackwell Preschool Center

Ms. Elizabeth Wait, Armstrong High School

Ms. Mayzie Zechini, J.L. Francis Elementary School

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

City Launches “Change for RVA Schools” Campaign


Dine in. Take out. Build Schools. Click here to watch Mayor Stoney’s video.

Today the City of Richmond launched a new campaign, “Change for RVA Schools”, to promote and encourage dining in Richmond restaurants as a means to support funding for new school facilities in the city.

“The conditions in many of Richmond’s aging city schools detract from the positive learning environment our kids deserve,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “Making a difference and creating positive change for our kids is deliciously simple; eat city food, help city schools.”


Every time someone visits a Richmond restaurant, 1.5% of their bill will go toward building revenue for new school facilities.

Residents will see ads on GRTC buses and messages posted via social media encouraging them to visit restaurants throughout the city.


For more information, visit ChangeForRVASchools.com and follow the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Virginia Municipal League and Mayor Stoney Call for State to Fund the True Cost of Education



On October 2, 2018, the Virginia Municipal League (VML) adopted its 2019 legislative program, which includes support for funding the true cost of public education.

Specifically, VML calls for the Commonwealth of Virginia to recognize that the current Standards of Quality do not acknowledge the actual cost of educating students, which includes pupil transportation, school support staff, access to broadband and other necessary technology and competitive staff salaries. These operational costs are in addition to the necessary facility maintenance and construction costs borne by school systems across the state. 

Since 2009, local governments have taken on a much larger share of the funding, which has resulted in approximately $4 billion above the required local effort for Standard of Quality programs in 2016 and 2017.

“I applaud VML for acknowledging that the Commonwealth of Virginia needs to fund the true cost of education,” said Mayor Stoney. “Since 2009, Virginia has decreased state funding for K-12 education by an estimated $378 million per year. Expecting localities to make up the difference is unsustainable and irresponsible, and does an injustice to our children.” 

Mayor Stoney today announced that he will submit a resolution on October 8, 2018 that, if adopted by city council, would call upon the Virginia General Assembly to fulfill its constitutional obligation to adequately fund the true cost of education in Virginia.

“I am calling on leaders in other localities to join us and adopt similar resolutions that underscore our unified commitment to our kids,” the mayor said. “Localities need more money, for better schools, to build stronger students. Our children are counting on us, and it’s time for the General Assembly to step up.”

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mayor Announces New Location for 2018 - 2019 Cold Weather Overflow Shelter



Working with the City of Richmond’s Department of Social Services, Mayor Levar Stoney today announced the City’s 2018 - 2019 Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will operate from the Conrad Center, 1400 Oliver Hill Way.

“Allowing some of our most vulnerable residents to spend another winter in the deplorable conditions of the old Public Safety Building is unacceptable,” said Mayor Stoney. “That is why the City of Richmond will step up and relocate programs and services to a more suitable and accommodating city building as a temporary solution to provide safety and warmth this winter.

“The ultimate long-term goal is to find permanent, suitable housing for all of our citizens year-round, so that we don’t have to have this same challenge every year,” the mayor continued. “That is why I am pleased to support Councilwoman Robertson’s ordinance that would require the city to develop a strategic plan to address homelessness.”

The City of Richmond has previously operated the cold weather shelter at the city’s Public Safety Building, 501 N. 9th Street, to help prevent the possibility of hypothermia of citizens during extremely cold weather, when wind chill or temperature forecasts reach or drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, from October 1 through April 15. The Conrad Center, which is currently being used by the Office of Community Wealth Building (CWB), will have suitable restrooms, reliable heat and enough sleeping space to accommodate 150 to 175 persons. During the coming winter season, CWB services will transfer to the East District Initiative, located at 701 N. 25th Street.

“In an ideal scenario, we would have an organization or a ministry that would have been able to step up and commit to providing shelter from the extreme cold for people during the winter months, and that organization or ministry would have access to a site in a neighborhood filled with residents who embraced the opportunity to help people in need,” said Reggie Gordon, Interim DCAO for Human Services. “That did not happen. Therefore, the city will step up with the Conrad Center and we will rely on the existing shelter providers in the homeless services system, hoping that they, too, will be able to expand their bed space on the coldest nights.”

Gordon said citizens should make plans now for the cold weather or take advantage of existing bed space in the homeless services system, so they will not have to rely upon the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter, which should be used as a last resort.

Additional Information:
Single adults needing overnight shelter are to call the Housing Crisis Line at (804) 972-0813 for a referral to the appropriate shelter. Single adults residing in the City of Richmond who are not eligible for existing shelter or are advised all available beds have been filled, should report to Commonwealth Catholic Charities (511 West Grace Street) to receive a referral to the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter.

Individuals seeking access to the Overflow Shelter must have a referral. Food will not be provided and pets are not allowed.

The Department of Social Services provides emergency assistance with gas and electric disconnection notices for City residents who qualify. Residents may also call the Fuel Line at (804) 646-7046.

The elderly or residents with disabilities should contact Senior Connections for assistance at (804) 343-3000, Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Office of Community Wealth Building Career Center services, previously offered at the Conrad Center will now be available at the East District Initiative, located at 701 North 25th Street.

Limited client services provided by the Department of Social Services at the East District Initiative will now be available at Marshall Plaza, located at 900 East Marshall Street.

 

Monroe Park Officially Reopened September 27



Monroe Park, one of Richmond’s oldest and most historic parks and public spaces, reopened on Thursday, September 27, 2018. 
Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney, VCU President Michael Rao, Monroe Park Conservancy President Alice Massie and other representatives from the city, VCU and the community participated in the ceremony. 
“Monroe Park is our Central Park,” said Mayor Stoney. “It is again a cultural, urban oasis, made possible thanks to the unique partnership between the city, VCU and Monroe Park Conservancy. The hard work and dedication put into the restoration of this welcoming greenspace will ensure this park provides respite, relaxation and enjoyment to city residents and visitors for years to come.” 
“Everyone at VCU will benefit from this magnificently restored Monroe Park, which now includes the necessary infrastructure to meet the needs of our 21st century community,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “Generations of Richmonders have used and loved this park, including VCU faculty, staff, students and alumni. For many, it has been part of their educational experience. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with the Monroe Park Conservancy and City of Richmond to restore this park.” 
This progressive collaboration has resulted in the first comprehensive renovation of Monroe Park since its creation in 1851. The conservancy, a coalition of representatives from the city, VCU and the community raised $3M for the renovation. 
This was matched by a $3 million grant from the city to complete the funding for the $6 million first phase of the renovation. The Monroe Park Conservancy has a 30-year lease with the city to operate and manage the park in cooperation with the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. 
“The Monroe Park Conservancy is extremely excited to complete this first phase of construction; we look forward to the park’s future,” says Alice Massie. “Please visit this beautiful green living room. Bring a picnic, do some homework, exercise, enjoy the noise of the fountain, play ping-pong or bocce right here in the middle of the city.” 

The park was closed for this renovation in November 2016. The project was originally expected to take 12 – 18 months, but the construction schedule was delayed because of harsh weather last winter and unprecedented rainfall this year. 
Safety and security in the park will be shared by the Richmond and VCU Police Departments. A police substation, to be used by both RPD and VCUPD, has been installed in the Checkers House in the park. Security cameras have also been installed throughout the park.

In addition to the improved safety features, the renovation also includes: 
  • A complete restoration of the 1906 fountain, improvements to the railings and basin and a modernization of the water filtration system;
  • 132 new trees, more than doubling the tree count from the 2008 master plan;
  • More than 13,000 new plants and shrubs;
  • A .56 mile bioretention system around the perimeter to retain water runoff;
  • Permeable pavers at each entryway and around the fountain, with the capacity to store 
    and filter more than 25,000 cubic feet of storm water; 
  • 68 new low-energy usage LED pedestrian lights;
  • A ping pong table and game areas to include bocce, petanque and quoits
  • 20 tables and 80 chairs, all moveable;
  • Proximity to the Dominion Energy pavilion across from the Altria Theater and flexible event space for weddings, small musical performances and other activities. 
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Monroe Park will be open dawn to dusk. For more information about the park, how to reserve space and other rules and regulations, please visit the conservancy website at monroepark.com

FOR MORE INFORMATION: 
Alice Massie:             (804) 516-3233  |  amassie@monroepark.com
Jim Nolan:                 (804) 646-3110  |  james.nolan@richmondgov.com
Mike Porter:               (804) 828-7037  |  mrporter@vcu.edu

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Update on North of Broad Development


After months of thorough negotiations, the city administration is pleased to report significant progress in its discussions with NH District Corporation on the proposed North of Broad Development. Negotiators for the city report consensus among the parties on Mayor Stoney’s key priorities regarding affordable housing, minority business participation and a new GRTC transfer station. “Things are moving in the right direction,” said Mayor Stoney, “While this is not a done deal, I’m optimistic our negotiations will continue to be productive.”
Before the terms of a Master Development Agreement can be structured, city officials and the city’s financial advisors must analyze the financing proposed for the project and will await results of a third-party review of the proposal by Hunden Strategic Partners. Further updates will be provided when they are available.