Put Schools First, Breaking Records and the Status Quo

While some Richmonders discuss how to deal wth the past, others are acting on its future.

The Richmond Crusade for Voters (a historic black civil rights group) gathered over 6,000 signatures on primary election day, which may be a new record for petitioning on one day! The signatures are for www.PutSchoolsFirst.org, a petition for a future voter referendum to make school modernization first priority in the City budget planning. It’s important to note that this is revenue-neutral and allows for proper adjustment with City Council’s input. For the petition language, please visit the website.

In addition, The Sierra Club Falls of the James, an (almost all white) environmental group, is supporting the www.putschoolsfirst.org petition/referendum campaign, adding that school modernization should include green building and solar energy (other Virginia localities like Charlottesville and Arlington are doing it, why not Richmond?).

Despite some of the projections in the local corporate media, this school modernization effort is not ‘against’ anyone, not Mayor Stoney, not his ‘Education Compact’. It is neutral other than stating that the status quo is unacceptable.
It’s worth noting the grassroots aspect of this and it comes after many previous grassroots movements, including from Oregon Hill’s Open High School.

Right now, the Richmond Crusade for Voters is reaching out to black churches across the City, and the Sierra Club is reaching out to like minded environmental organizations. Hopefully more progressive groups will reach across racial lines and join this very important school modernization effort. To paraphrase Dr. King again, If not now, when?

Utility Message On Gas Safety

From Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities (one of our great advertisers!):

The Natural Gas Safety Awareness Program of the city of Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities is here to educate our customers and non-customers – all those who live, work, shop, worship or play near natural gas pipelines – about natural gas safety.

Please watch this brief 17 minute video that will offer a brief history of the natural gas distribution system, and a detailed overview of the public awareness component of our overall safety program.

Harrison Street Closure Next Week

From City press release:

For Immediate Release
June 13, 2017
For more information, contact:
Paige Hairston – (804) 646-3659

Street Closure – South Harrison Street
WHO: City of Richmond Department of Public Works

WHAT: Street Closure

WHEN: Starting at 6 a.m. on Sunday, June 18 and ending at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 20

WHERE: South Harrison Street between Grayland and Parkwood Avenues

BACKGROUND: The area will be closed to resurface the bridge over the Downtown Expressway. Traffic will be detoured around the work zone. Please use caution and obey the traffic signs.


Oregon Hill and Randolph Neighborhood 5th District Cleanup

From 5th District City Council Liaison Amy Robins:

Hi OH neighbors! Your neighborhood cleanup is this Saturday from 9am-12pm.
Jimmy Blackford is going to need 4-5 volunteers to help in the alleys with the city waste truck. He’ll be meeting you at Pleasant’s Park (Albemarle & S. Laurel).
Councilmember Parker Agelasto & I will be meeting everyone else at Idlewood & Harrison along with Randolph neighbors. (This is the official neighborhood line.) We will tackle litter pick up, graffiti removal, and I’m trying to line up some more Tree Stewards for clearance pruning.
Being the dork I am, I normally have a birthday cleanup. This year since the dates were so close together I decided to leverage the volunteers into this one event. After the cleanup (~12:15pm), we’ll be doing a quick pot luck in P. Jones Park (Idlewood & Temple) in Randolph. Bring a swim suit if you like, it’s right next to the Randolph Pool and there is a playground for the little ones too.
My wife & I will provide water, plates, napkins, condiments, hotdogs, buns, and birthday cake. If you can bring a dish, chips or whatever please do. If you can’t, don’t let that hold you back from swinging by after volunteering!
I hope to see you at some point on Saturday!

From Cherry Street neighbor Jimmy Blackford:

William Byrd Center finally mowed the grass in their overgrown lot (& the baseball field, too!). So we can keep up the momentum with this Saturday’s Oregon Hill Alley Cleanup. Can you join us at 9 am Sat. 6/17 at Pleasant’s Park? We’ll go thru the alleys with a city trash truck to gather all the discarded furniture etc. If that’s not your bag, join us anyway & we’ll give you a trash bag & grabber fior you to pick up litter in the neighborhood. We’ll meet at the park at S. Laurel St & Albemarle St.

Also, here’s the link for the FaceBook Event Page.

Chesterfield County’s Water

Why is the Oregon Hill community news site posting about Chesterfield County’s water?

You probably still need to read this week’s Richmond Free Press. As with last week’s article on Monroe Park, reporter Jeremy Lazarus is supplying some valuable insight to how this area (dys)functions. For some mysterious reason, the following front-page article does not appear on the newspaper’s website, but here are photos of the printed version:

Please take the the time to read the second page, which includes hard-hitting quotes from former Sierra Club leader Dr. Charles Price on this attempted usurping of a public park as well as from Laurel Street neighbor Charles Pool on the City’s regressive water utility fees.

Although the Richmond Free Press article does not mention it, some neighbors are also speculating about how Chesterfield County might resell their ‘bargain’ on City water to Niagra Bottling LLC. Is City of Richmond not only forced to provide Chesterfield Co. water at a fifth the cost that Richmond customers must pay, but also subsidizing cheap water for the Niagara Bottling LLC? Are we really going to be damaging a Richmond city park to build a water facility so that Niagara Bottling Company can have cheap water?!

While Oregon Hill is not in Chesterfield County, our neighbors continue to keep an eye on local water issues and hope more media like the Richmond Free Press does the same.

Editorial: Free Press Article On Monroe Park Both Vindicates and Condemns City Council

There was a great piece of reporting this week from the Richmond Free Press on Monroe Park financial wrangling. From reporter Jeremy Lazarus:

After telling City Council in December that the projected $6 million Monroe Park project — half to be paid by private donations — had adequate funding, the city’s chief administrative officer, Selena Cuffee-Glenn, quietly shifted $833,569 to the project in recent months from reportedly unused capital funds.

The shift was made without notice to City Council and was disclosed as the result of queries from Councilman Parker C. Agelasto, 5th District, and the council’s budget staff.

Mr. Agelasto also was surprised to learn that nearly half of the money shifted, $394,000, was listed as coming from two paving projects in his district that already had been completed and paid for — one involving Allen Avenue and the other involving paving at Meadow Street, Colorado Avenue and Harrison Street.

As the article mentions, this vindicates City Council’s amendment to Mayor Levar M. Stoney’s proposed budget that requires the administration to seek council approval before shifting funds between programs in major departments. Despite some previous editorials’ characterizations, City Council is not ‘overreaching’ by trying to get a handle on the City’s finances. (Special appreciation to 5th District Councilperson Agelasto for his dogged questioning.)

On the other hand, these revelations reflect City Council’s poor judgement in turning historic Monroe Park over to the Monroe Park Conservancy in the first place. Many citizens and the Sierra Club Falls of the James have previously called for a termination of the Conservancy’s lease and a return to public investment and public oversight of renovations of this public park. Many are questioning why corporations seem to have special tent rights for park use. While it’s too late to save many park trees, it’s not too late for City Council to do the right thing.

Illegal Parking From RiverRock Crowds

Despite previous complaints and subsequent meetings with City, police, and Venture Richmond, Oregon Hill is still experiencing some issues with illegal parking during the annual Dominion RiverRock festival.

The problems are most evident around Riverside Park and the southern portions of the neighborhood. The City acquired the land which became Riverside Park in 1889. Neighbors don’t want historic Riverside Park to become a de facto parking lot the way Monroe Park was before being privatized.

Special Recycling Today/Litter Pickup Tomorrow

Reminder- Today
May 6 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
The City of Richmond , Clean City Commission and Department of Public Utilities- Stormwater Utility will be hosting a special recycling collection event on Saturday, May 6 from 10 am – 2 pm at 6807 Midlothian Turnpike (former Kmart store location). Electronics, document shredding ( up to 5 boxes) , and pesticides, herbicides, and *oil based paints (*ONLY) will be accepted for recycling.
City recyclers can drop off their 24 gallon green bins for reuse in city schools since residents now have 95 gallon green recycling cart with a blue lid.
There are fees to recycle CRTs televisions and CRT monitors. CRTs require special handling due to the leaded glass and mercury they contain.
$10 fee for CRT Items < 27” diagonal width $20 fee for CRT Items = or > 27” diagonal width
Pay by cash or check.
Bring unwanted electronics such as:
Computer systems (hard drive, CPU)
Computer accessories (cables, wires, keyboards, mice, speakers, etc.)
Printers, scanners & copiers
Fax machines
VCRs & camcorders

As for tomorrow, Cherry Street neighbor Jimmy Blackford is calling for a litter cleanup-

I invite you to join our Oregon Hill Litter Pickup this Sun. 5/7 at 11am. We’ll meet in parking lot of Fine Foods Market 700 Idlewood Ave. I will supply grabbers, bags & gloves. Enjoy the nice
weather & get some exercise. Will take about an hour. But you can cut out whenever you want. (best, jimmy & joe)