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 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 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.

Getting School Legislation Ready…

Below is the first draft of the legislation to be introduced by Senator Sturtevant and Delegate Bourne.

SENATE BILL NO. __________ HOUSE BILL NO. __________
A BILL to amend Chapter 116 of the Acts of Assembly of 1948, which provided a charter for the City of Richmond, by adding a section numbered 6.15:3, relating to equal educational opportunities; school infrastructure.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That Chapter 116 of the Acts of Assembly of 1948 is amended and reenacted as follows:
§ 6.15:3. School buildings and infrastructure modernization.
(a) Not later than January 1, 2019, the mayor shall formally present to the city council a fully
funded plan to modernize the city’s K-12 educational infrastructure consistent with national standards or inform city council such a plan is not feasible. In fulfilling the duties herein, the mayor shall consult with
the school board and city council, consider cost savings available in state or federal law, and further
provide an opportunity for public participation.
(b) Such fully funded plan required in subsection (a) shall not be based on the passage of new or
increased taxes for that purpose.
(c) Nothing herein shall alter powers previously given to the school board.
(d) Once the mayor has complied with subsection (a), the city council shall have 90 days to take such action as it deems appropriate.

VCU Commonwealth Times: “We’re talking about someone’s life”: VCUarts adjuncts plan a day of action to demand equitable pay

Excerpts from VCU Commonwealth Times article:

VCUarts adjunct professors will stage a day of action Dec. 8 to demand fair pay from the School of the Arts. They plan to hold a rally at the Compass, deliver a petition with more than 900 signatures to the Board of Visitors meeting and demand to have their wages raised for the upcoming semester.

An estimated 120 adjuncts in the No. 1 public art school in the country currently make $750 to $850 dollars per credit hour taught. They are capped at teaching two classes per semester, which means they would make an estimated $9,000 to $10,200 per year, before taxes.

The federal poverty line in the United States sits at $12,082, according the Census Bureau.

For example, in the 2016-2017 academic year, the school had a total budget of $33,659,043. Of that, VCUarts allocated more than $32 million on educational and general expenses. The school distributed $890,000 of restricted university funds, which consist of gifts to the particular departments, investment earnings and more throughout the school.

The organization argues the school should use other funds in the school to properly pay their adjunct faculty rather than turning to raising student tuition.

The organization presented Brixey and other VCUarts administrators with research examining the average cost of living in Richmond and the federal poverty line in the United States — this led them to their suggestion of $2,000 per credit hour taught for adjuncts.

According to Trepanier, Brixey said the school will raise adjunct pay to $1,000 per credit hour for the upcoming semester by tapping into reserve funds, per approval from the Board of Visitors. However, it was never clarified whether the funds were primarily from VCUarts or from the university.

“This is an urgent crisis. The Dean is moving into a new house, but there are a lot of adjuncts that have been homeless within the last year,” the adjunct said. “When we’re talking about equity issues, we’re not just talking about what’s fair and unfair, we’re talking about someone’s life and where they’re going to sleep at night.”

The adjunct also raised the concern of not being able to dedicate enough time to students because of the various jobs art adjuncts often work to pay bills.

“In terms of budgeting time, when a lot of us are working three jobs or have to drive to Virginia Tech the next day to teach, a lot of that does take a toll on the classroom,” they said. “I don’t think it’s fair to the career development of the students.”

Trepanier spoke out because she does not plan to return to VCU after her contract ends in December. She also has other forms of income she relies on, but said that’s not that case for all of her colleagues.

“People are terrified to speak up because they don’t want to lose that little bit of income that they do have,” Trepanier said. “If you eventually want a full-time job, and you go on record and they see that out on media, then schools won’t hire you because you’re a troublemaker.”

From FaceBook event page:

What: VCU Adjunct Fair Pay Rally and petition drop

When: 9am December 8th, 2017

Where: In front of the VCU Cabell Library (bring signs, wear t-shirts) From the front of Cabell Library we will walk as a group and deliver the petition to the VCU Board of Visitors.

If you haven’t signed the petition yet please do so at https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/vcuarts-adjuncts-deserve-fair-pay

What’s The Plan For Open High?

From Times Dispatch article:

Open

Plan A: A complete renovation/replacement would be done starting in fiscal year 2027.

Plan A cost: $5.6 million ($559,723 in 2027; $3.9 million in 2028; $1.1 million in 2029)

Plan B: A complete renovation/replacement would be done starting in fiscal year 2027.

Plan B cost: $5.6 million ($559,723 in 2027; $3.9 million in 2028; $1.1 million in 2029)

“Congratulations, you’re the park!”

An online quiz includes Monroe Park as one of the answers.

QUIZ: Which Ongoing VCU Construction Project Are You?

“Congratulations, you’re the park! You’ve got a cute charm about you and big ideas that you’re ready to share with the world. The problem is that your anxiety has driven you to make changes for yourself that didn’t need to be made. Not to mention you’re not doing much about any of your previous flaws. And this whole debacle has cost over $6 million dollars.”

“North Bank / Oregon Hill end plant list”

VCU Field Botany has posted notes on “rampages.us”:

Excerpt:

Here is a list of all the plants I observed on our walk to North Bank (Oregon Hill end), broken up into sections.

Section 1: This section received a lot of south facing sun, had little to no canopy, was heavily disturbed, compacted poor soil, lots of foot and bicycle traffic, and subject to a lot of urban runoff and pollution.

Paper mulberry
privet (everywhere)
hackberry
Johnson grass
blackberry
honeysuckle (abundant)
pokeweed
lespidizia?
mimosa (abundant)
tree of heaven
black cherry tree
sweet gum
black locust
eastern red cedar
sweet potato vine
greenbiar
Virginia creeper
ragwort
dock
hops vine
daisy fleabane
morning glory
trumpet creeper
kudzu (abundant)
osage orange
bradford pear
sycamore
white pine?