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.

The Boss At Monroe Park

Re-post from neighbor Todd Woodson in the Fans of Monroe Park FaceBook group:

There was a free show in Monroe Park on June 1, 1969 including the Richmond debut of the band Child featuring a young Bruce Springsteen. They did 3 songs before, as I recall, they got shut down by police at the urging of the residents of the Prestwould. The songs played were Voodoo Child, Jennifer and Crown Liquor. This photo, courtesy of BruceBase was supposedly taken of the Boss at Monroe Park at the 1969 show. They would return to Monroe Park on July 18, 1971 as the Bruce Springsteen Band…

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.

Interview With Beth Marschak, Richmond Earth Day Founder

Style magazine has a nice interview with Beth Marschak, one of the founders of the Richmond Earth Day celebration (and a former Oregon Hill resident).

Here’s an excerpt:

Beth Marschak, now an HIV prevention specialist, was 20 when she helped organize the city’s inaugural Earth Day at Monroe Park in 1971.

In a nod to Saturday’s yearly acknowledgement of the planet, Style spoke with Marschak about some of the progress made — and to worry about the future.

Style: Why did you want to bring Earth Day to Richmond?

Marschak: I was in a student group at Westhampton-University of Richmond called S.H.A.M.E – Studying and Halting the Assault on Man and Environment. That was back when people liked names like that.

Most of the people in our group were science majors. I was a chemistry major at that time. People had a fairly sophisticated view of the problems affecting the environment and ecology from a scientific standpoint.

And, of course, if you looked at the James River back then, it was terrible. Sewage was going directly into the river. You would not want to get into it. Now people tube down it and swim in it and fish. You could not do that then. You wouldn’t put a toe in it.

So it was really one of those things where, right here in this area, you could see some major impacts from not having policies protecting clean water, clean air.

She also recently wrote a letter to the Planning Commission, asking that they spare remaining mature trees in Monroe Park. However the Planning Commission voted in favor of removing the trees.

More Monroe Park Trees Threatened

The City’s Planning Commission yesterday ignored the recommendation of the Urban Design Committee and the staff of the planning department to consider alternatives to cutting down the magnolia and maple trees in Monroe Park for temporary tents.

On Sunday, at the Monument Avenue Easter Parade, the Sierra Club Falls of the James collected many petition signatures in favor of saving the the trees.

It will be really awful if the City continues to ignore PUBLIC concern for trees on PUBLIC property.

The photo below of the maple tree was previously published in the Times Dispatch: