The Sierra Club Falls of the James Executive Committee sent this public request today (Disclosure: I am a member of the SCFOJ Executive Committee and actually wrote the following):
The Sierra Club Falls of the James Executive Committee, recognizing VCU’s representation on the Monroe Park Conservancy board, respectfully asks for a public pledge to keep, at the very least, the same amount of mature trees and natural shade canopy as what is currently in Monroe Park. Given some past Monroe Park proposals, we believe this public pledge is necessary. We also request a careful inventory of the current mature trees, and ask to be notified before any are removed. While it is understandable that dead and dying trees may need removal and replacement, it is vital that Richmond retain valuable urban green resources. City trees, and groups of trees, are extremely important to offsetting downtown’s heat island effect, creating a habitat for birds, supplying a calming presence on human beings, and offsetting climate change caused by global warming.
We also note that Monroe Park has been a historic place of public gathering and political protest, and we request that the Monroe Park Conservancy continue to allow these important civic activities. The ACLU of Virginia recently sent a letter that raises questions on these points in regard to the City’s Monroe Park lease.
Lastly, it is also worth noting City Councilperson Parker Agelasto’s resolution, adopted by City Council, to work with the Conservancy to expand the board, and consider requesting an increase in the membership of the board to include a.) the Director of the city Parks Dept.; b.) a representative from the city’s Urban Forestry Division; c.) a representative of the Falls of the James Sierra Club; d.) representatives of the neighborhoods near the park that rely on the park as a fundamental community resource.