VCU Master Plan Process

VCU announcement:

“VCU Vice-President for Administration Dr. Meredith Weiss announced the second round of public meetings in support of the University’s ONE VCU master site plan process. Please see the attached document or visit https://masterplan.vcu.edu/ for more information. The University is committed to providing an open, thoughtful, transparent and inclusive master planning process designed to engage the VCU community and our external stakeholders. To that end, we are holding several public presentations (details below) that may be of interest to you.”
Please feel free to distribute this information:
Daytime
MCV Campus
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Location: Kontos Medical Sciences Building Auditorium (basement level), 1217 E. Marshall Street
A live webcast of the MCV campus presentation will be streamed on VCU’s Facebook page: go.vcu.edu/vcufacebook.

Monroe Park Campus
Wednesday February 28, 2018
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Location: Temple Building room 1160 (first floor), 901 W. Main Street
Evening
Monroe Park Campus*
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Time: 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Temple Building room 1164 (first floor), 901 W. Main Street
*Free parking is available at the West Main Street Parking Deck, 801 W. Main St., for those who attend the evening session. Ask for parking validation before you leave the meeting room.

It’s noteworthy that many neighbors are still very concerned about VCU’s encroachment into Oregon Hill and the neighborhood association has repeatedly asked for a memorandum of understanding over the last fifteen years.

VCU Stormwater Survey

Virginia Commonwealth University graduate student, Jesse Harris, is looking into stormwater infrastructure surrounding the Monroe Campus. She has a short survey to help identity areas that VCU should be mindful of in planning for sustainable community development in the future.
This office as asked for the final results to report and share with the city’s stormwater division.

https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/efc0baf4a81f4d429e94637019eaabf9

Councilperson Agelasto’s Meeting Tonight

From Amy Robins, 5th District Liaison:

REMINDER: Councilmember Parker Agelasto is holding a 5th District meeting this Thursday, February 22, 2018 at Southside Community Service Center (4100 Hull Street).
Richmond Public Schools new Superintendent Jason Kamras and 5th District School Board Representative Dr. Pat Sapini will be holding a “Meet & Greet” at the same location starting at 6pm.
Starting around 6:45pm, the meeting will cover the following agenda:
~Cigarette Tax Discussion
~Crime & Public Safety, Richmond Police Department
~5th District Updates & Discussion
~Q&A
UPDATE: Code Enforcement has been moved to the April 26th meeting.

Monroe Park Conservancy Shortfall And Tree Removal

Neighbors are still very disheartened by the Monroe Park Conservancy. They keep contacting City Council members about their actions.

From Cherry Street neighbor and Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association president Todd Woodson:

Dear Councilman Agelasto,

As you know, I recently sent a list of concerns/questions to Councilperson Gray and MPC president Alice Massie regarding the renovation of Monroe Park which is scheduled to be completed in Spring of this year. Although the request for information has not been responded to, the MPC website has just been updated not only to include a new board chair for Dominion Energy, but also the revelation that the Conservancy is now short $1.5 million to complete the renovation “with all amenities”. You may have noticed that work in the park has slowed to a crawl.

The City of Richmond has already made up well over $800,000.00 in shortfalls for the park redo in addition to over $3 million in infrastructure and “soft” costs.

The Falls of the James chapter of the Sierra Club has already called for the termination of the lease to the MPC and I add my voice to that end. Monroe Park is Richmond’s oldest and most historic city park and although the MPC doesn’t get control through the lease until after the renovation, they have meddled constantly with changes to the master plan to include a most unfortunate destruction of much of the old growth tree canopy as well as other historically inappropriate park “features”.

Details of the shortfall may be found here:
https://www.monroepark.com/about/monroe-park-conservancy/

Other concerns include inconsistencies of the design changes with approved master plan and work documents.

The current situation is extremely troubling as is the persistent lack of transparency and community involvement with the project. Please take action on behalf of your constituents.

Thank you,

Charles T. Woodson.

He followed up with this:

In addition to the MPC previously having posted their completion of fund raising on their website, they, along with Dwight Jones, made this press release in 2016 on the completion of the fundraising for the park renovation.

https://www.monroepark.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/PressRelease-9-21-16.pdf

The “amenities” they refer to in the update on the shortfall are garbage like the gazebo and the “rill” that the citizens have spoken up against time and time again. I’ve heard you use the meaningful phrase “get back to basics” in reference to city government policy. I truly believe we need to get back to basics and restore the park as the community vetted master plan envisioned, not with architectural detritus and treeless corporate campgrounds. Ms Massie has not approached the public for financial support because she doesn’t care what the community says and prefers her corporate funds. Instead, she has fomented non transparency and divisiveness and she has indulged in back room shady corporate deals and unnecessary features/alterations of the master plan. I know you see this. Hopefully, now that there is another substantial shortfall the rest of council will see the wisdom of getting back to basics and honoring a historically sensitive renovation of the park. Please terminate the lease, especially now that there is a real parks director.

Thanks again.

And if that was not enough…on February 18, Todd added this:

Although the planning commission requested that the Monroe Park “Conservancy” consider alternatives to the destruction of a beautiful healthy and mature Magnolia as well as a nearby Maple, this is what is left of the Maggie. It was destroyed over the last two days…

The lack of coverage in the local media is troubling.

Councilperson Agelasto Proposes Cigarette Tax For Schools

With the Mayor and City Council having successfully jammed through a meals tax increase this past Monday, it will be interesting to see if Councilperson Agelasto receives support from the rest of City leadership for his upcoming attempt at implementing a cigarette tax, something that has not passed before. After all, it’s also ‘for the children’ and has the support of the American Heart Association.

In the meantime, the original Put School First referendum is still in the Virginia General Assembly. Oregon Hill’s state senator, Glen Sturtevant, was able to navigate it through the senate side quite easily.

More Street Closings

The City sent this message:

Note: Due to weather conditions, Idlewood Avenue and the off ramp will remain closed until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, February 6.

For Immediate Release
February 1, 2018
For more information, contact:
Paige Hairston – (804) 646-3659

Street Closure – Idlewood Avenue and Belvidere Street Off-Ramp
WHO: City of Richmond Department of Public Works

WHAT: Street Closure

WHEN: Starting at 9 a.m. on Monday, January 29 through ending at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, February 6

WHERE:

· Idlewood Avenue from Harrison to Cherry streets and

· Belvidere Street off ramp at the I-95 Downtown Expressway

BACKGROUND: The aforementioned areas will be closed to complete the final stages of paving and to convert two-way traffic and pavement markings for the roundabout construction at the intersection of Idlewood Avenue, Grayland Avenue and the I-95 off ramp. Please use caution and follow the detour signs.

###

In addition, as related by neighborhood association president Todd Woodson:

The following message was just received from the location manager of the Showtime TV series Homeland:

“The 2nd Street downtown exit off the Lee Bridge and S 2nd Street between S Pine and Spring St will be closed next Monday, Feb 5th from 4am until about 2pm.The bike path going underneath the Lee bridge from Oregon Hill will remain open.”

A bit cryptic with the 2nd street location between Pine and Spring but you get the gist. The show must go on!

Thanks, Todd.

More Depressing Local Politics – Taxes & Water

An email has been circulating which reportedly calls for a boycott of restaurants that are resisting Mayor Stoney’s meals tax increase proposal. I would hope that Mayor Stoney would disavow this email and tactic, but perhaps he does not recall how bitter the last meals tax increase debate was. The Virginia Performing Arts Foundation and Center Stage backers told City Council that they would personally lobby to rescind the increase once the Carpenter Center was fully renovated. They dishonorably lied, and on top of that, the City has had to continually bail out that private project. Now, once again, citizens are being told it is ‘for the children’ and must hurry and approve a meals tax increase.

We were hearing about an impending tax increase this past October, but it is becoming more obvious that this current proposal is more about distracting from the original Put Schools First referendum, which received overwhelming support from Richmond voters. I urge folks to continue to support the referendum in the General Assembly.

Sadly, there are still dishonest people spreading disinformation about the original referendum. Two very important points for people to understand- One, If the referendum had included language about raising taxes, it would not have been allowed on the ballot. Two, the referendum language does require the City leadership to first come up with a plan to modernize ALL the schools without considering a tax increase in their budget wrangling, HOWEVER, that does not preclude the City leadership from coming up with a second plan that does include a tax increase.

What’s even sadder is that the City leadership continues to ignore other income sources. Consider the Larus Park deal. What a waste of an opportunity to fairly increase revenues. Why is Mayor Stoney going to lease park land to Chesterfield County for only $1.00 per year? Why is the Mayor not willing to increase the mark up on the water sold to the counties from 5% to 10% (from $0.035 per ccf to $0.07 per ccf). So what if Chesterfield has to raise it’s water cost to $1.88 per ccf, Richmond residents are paying $4.04 per ccf. We have covered the need for water utility reform here before, yet City leadership would rather we hurry up and support another(!) ridiculous meals tax increase.

Speaking of the Larus Park deal, its worth watching City Council Monday (if they can get their microphones to work this time) and see how they handle it. The deal is a lose, lose, lose, for City parks, water reform, and residents, but evidently it is a City leadership priority that Chesterfield County get its cheap water.

A scorecard of sorts:

There are five ordinances and one resolution (some are relatively good and some are bad) regarding the Larus Park issue that are to be considered at the special February 5th City Council meeting:

Ordinance 2017-208: this ordinance authorizes utility PILOT money for the purchase of the 18 acres

Ordinance 2017-209: this is the “stinker” ordinance that allows Larus Park to be leased to the county, along with the lease agreement that is unfavorable to the city

Ordinance 2017-221: this is the ordinance that declares a public necessity to purchase the 18 additional acres

Ordinance 2017-253: this is the “stinker” ordinance that states that “not withstanding” city code section 8-2 (c) [which specifically prohibits leasing Larus and other parks] the city is leasing Larus Park

Ordinance 2017-254: this is the “stinker” ordinance “notwithstanding” city code section 8-2 (c) AND city code section 8-57 granting easements by the county to work in Larus Park [passing this ordinance would mean that all of the city parks are just one vote away from being sold]

Resolution 2017-R097: this is the “excellent” resolution to authorize the conservation easement on Larus Park.

Neighborhood Association Meeting Tomorrow Night

From email announcement:

Good morning neighbors!

Here is the agenda for our first OHNA meeting of 2018 which will be held tomorrow, Tuesday night 1/23/2018 at 7 PM at the ST Andrews Parish House next to the church on S Laurel. The times are most certainly not set in stone but I want to keep things moving to make the most of your valuable time. Lots of important people to meet and things to discuss so please come if you can and tell/bring a neighbor. ALL residents are welcome!

Todd.

Agenda 1/23/2018

7:00 Welcome

7:05 Introduction to new sector 413 leader Lt Roberts and update from RPD

7:15 Update from VCU PD Officer Greg Felton

7:20 Update fro Councilman Agelasto’s office- Amy Roberts

7:30 Introduction to Planning Director Mark Olinger followed by presentation on Richmond 300 Master Plan and discussion regarding inappropriate B3 Zoning on Oregon Hill Cary Street Corridor (Cherry to Belvedere and Belvedere to Cumberland)

7:55 Discussion of Holly St playground stabilization and improvements

8:05 Proposed development 800 block W Cary

8:20 New business
1. $200 grant for clean up/improvements discussion

8:25 Closing remarks

8:30 Adjournment