Letter to City Council On Historic Canal

Neighbor Charles Pool sent this email to members of City Council yesterday.

(Ed. note: He received permission to send them an attachment of the “Tiller” magazine article, but I have not received permission to post that here. If I do receive it or a public website link to it, I will be sure to post it here.)

Dear Richmond City Council members,

Please take time to read the article entitled, “New Richmond Amphitheater Endangers Canal Plans” by Elizabeth Davis in the attached Winter/Spring 2013 edition of the “Tiller,” the wonderful publication of the Virginia Canals and Navigations Society (VCNS).

This article highlights the threat to the historic canal by Venture Richmond’s proposed amphitheater. If the canal bank is lowered as proposed, it would destroy the long-range plan of a canal boat trip to Maymont. Concern for our canal has arrived from as far away as Yangzhou, China, where the World Canal Conference “urged the people of Richmond, Virginia to prevent further destruction to the canal and to preserve, restore, interpret and wisely use this irreplaceable amenity for Virginia and her visitors.”

Other cities would be envious of our canal, running through the heart of downtown Richmond, that was promoted by George Washington at Mount Vernon, the canal company’s honorary President!

As noted in the “Tiller” editorial by Holt Messerly, “I want all people to enjoy this precious national resource for the betterment of Richmond, and for the preservation of our history and for the enjoyment of all — not just for someone to be able to cut the grass easier and see a straighter line to an amphitheater. We must look at the big picture and consider all of the areas as one big entity; a green way with a blue way …”

Dr. Bill Trout’s article in the “Tiller” entitled “Puddling on the James River Canal,” points out that the canal was carefully constructed with a leak-proof “puddled” clay liner. When the 2nd Street Connector was recently constructed, “the towpath was cut through, and it was almost entirely composed of a brown/yellow clay.” (This impermeable clay liner could be irreparably damaged by lowering the canal bank for an amphitheater.) Notes Dr. Trout: “It was part of the original James River Canal, the first canal system in the United States with a lock and towpath, and Washington was the company’s honorary president.”

The Va. Canals and Navigations Society has devoted countless hours toward the preservation of Virginia’s historic canals, and more information is available at their web site: www.vacanals.org. Hardcopy editions of this Tiller are available from the VCNS for $5/copy.

I hope that the Richmond City Council will be inspired by this edition of the “Tiller” to pass a resolution calling for Venture Richmond to fully protect the canal when building an amphitheateron the site adjacent to where the Council spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect the canal when building the 2nd Street Connector.

Thank you for your consideration of this pressing issue.


Charles Pool