Larus Park Revisited

Again, public park Larus Park is no where near Oregon Hill, but it is something that should concern all citizens.

More correspondence from Laurel Street neighbor Charles Pool:

It is incredible that the DPU negotiated a lower reimbursement rate for the trees removed in Larus Park than the trees in Bryan Park in part because the trees in Larus Park were not planted in “in a linear arrangement.” [Where is it written that trees planted in a straight line are seven times more valuable per caliper inch diameter than trees not planted in a straight line?]

Why was the DPU and not the Urban Forestry division negotiating the reimbursement price for the trees?


From: Green, Rosemary H. – DPU
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2017 3:39 PM
To: Charles Pool; Turk Sties
Cc: Agelasto, Parker C. – City Council; Larson, Kristen N. – City Council; Gray, Kimberly B. – City Council; Cuffee-Glenn, Selena – CAO; Steidel, Robert C. – DPU; John Zeugner; Jeremy Lazarus
Subject: RE: 2017-208

Mr. Pool – The Urban Forestry guidelines for tree replacements are intended for trees that are removed from the public right-of-way. These are generally applied to trees in a linear arrangement and are for project areas that are usually very small in size. Projects that are outside of the right-of-way are evaluated on a case by case basis. DPU believes that a 3 to 1 replacement of mature trees for the tree area that will be impacted by construction is a fair negotiation. There are no changes planned for the Ordinances related to this project.

Rosemary “Posy” Green, PE
City of Richmond, Department of Public Utilities
Interim Director
804-646-8517 (Office)
804-317-0283 (Mobile)

From: Charles Pool []
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2017 11:46 AM
To: Green, Rosemary H. – DPU; Turk Sties
Cc: Agelasto, Parker C. – City Council; Larson, Kristen N. – City Council; Gray, Kimberly B. – City Council; Cuffee-Glenn, Selena – CAO; Steidel, Robert C. – DPU; John Zeugner; Jeremy Lazarus
Subject: Re: 2017-208

Dear Ms. Green,

Why did the city negotiate an astonishingly lower rate of reimbursement with Chesterfield for trees proposed to be removed in Larus Park than the city negotiated with Henrico for trees removed in Bryan Park?

Henrico paid $169 per caliper inch for trees removed from Bryan Park for utility work. By contrast, Chesterfield would pay only $25 per caliper inch for the trees proposed to be removed from Larus Park.

Using the formula that Henrico paid (at $169 per caliper inch) Chesterfield would pay $619,554 for the trees proposed to be removed in Larus Park. The trees proposed to be removed in Larus Park have a combined diameter of 3,666 caliper inches. Instead, the city has negotiated a much lower reimbursement of only $91,136

The city determined in Bryan Park that the $256 dollar amount that you cite would be the replacement value for only a 1-1/2″ diameter tree. All of the 356 trees proposed to be removed in Larus Park are larger, some as large as 28″ in diameter.

If Chesterfield pays the city’s previously accepted reimbursement rate of $169 per caliper inch, the city would not have to pay any towards the land offset of the 18 additional acres.

Please let me know if the ordinance 2017-208 will be amended to reflect the reimbursement rate of $169 per caliper inch that was negotiated with Henrico County.

Thank you for your assistance.



From: Green, Rosemary H. – DPU
Sent: Friday, December 15, 2017 11:20 AM
To: Turk Sties; Charles Pool
Cc: Agelasto, Parker C. – City Council; Larson, Kristen N. – City Council; Gray, Kimberly B. – City Council; Cuffee-Glenn, Selena – CAO; Steidel, Robert C. – DPU
Subject: RE: 2017-208

Mr. Sties – I will answer your second question first. When the FY2018 General Fund Budget was adopted, it assumed an amount for the PILOT payment tied to the DPU Water Utility for FY2018. Using four months of actual water sales for FY18, we have projected that the Water portion of the FY18 PILOT Payment will exceed the budget by at least $328,864. We have recommended that this part of the payment in excess of budget be applied to the Parks budget, along with the payment from Chesterfield County, to allow Parks to purchase the 18 acre parcel from the Redford Land Trust.

In regard to the fee paid to reimburse for the trees that will be removed when the pump station and ground storage tank are built, we looked first at the cost per replacement tree ($256 x 356 trees removed). We compared that value to the amount of forested land that payment would purchase. At a purchase price of $420,000, the Redford Land Trust property was valued at approximately $23,000 per acre and therefore, the Chesterfield payment was paying for over four acres of forested land and seemed a reasonable payment (3 to 1 recovery of what was being removed). This solution also meant that the replacement trees (land purchase) would have a direct benefit for the residents living closest to where the trees were being removed.

The 2021 date is tied to when the pump station and water tank are scheduled to come on-line. That is, when the asset is put into service. This is in keeping with how our water contract has managed payments for the past 20 years.

Rosemary “Posy” Green, PE
City of Richmond, Department of Public Utilities
Interim Director
804-646-8517 (Office)
804-317-0283 (Mobile)

From: Turk Sties []
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2017 2:46 PM
To: Green, Rosemary H. – DPU; Charles Pool; Agelasto, Parker C. – City Council; Larson, Kristen N. – City Council; Gray, Kimberly B. – City Council
Subject: 2017-208

Ms. Green, please help me understand ordinance 2017-087. 1) the dollar offer for reimbursement for lost trees seems low compared to other similar tree loss reimbursements, e.g. with Henrico County at Bryan Park, and 2) How is $328,864 being obtained through PILOT fees, is the DPU raising the PILOT rate charged to the County? Is the City actually receiving an additional $328,864 that it would otherwise not receive from the county because of water sales?

I feel I am missing something.

p.s.Congratulations on receiving $420,000 but getting a “Revenue to City” of $4,103,000.00, but why are we waiting until 2021? Couldn’t the County at least pay the $420,000 a bit sooner?

Turk Sties

“North Bank / Oregon Hill end plant list”

VCU Field Botany has posted notes on “”:


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)
Johnson grass
honeysuckle (abundant)
mimosa (abundant)
tree of heaven
black cherry tree
sweet gum
black locust
eastern red cedar
sweet potato vine
Virginia creeper
hops vine
daisy fleabane
morning glory
trumpet creeper
kudzu (abundant)
osage orange
bradford pear
white pine?

Depressing Local Politics

After listening to a talk by local mass transit experts today, I am feeling pretty down. The universities and counties are still very noncommittal when it comes to financial support of the new BRT or expanded GRTC service. The universities would rather keep running their private shuttles and students are ok with that. I expect that means City residents will bear most if not all operating costs, as with so many other supposedly ‘regional’ projects. This is in turn is going to force many poor people out of the City, never mind any mobility advantages. Perhaps this was the hidden intention all along.

Also, along those lines… I did not attend the meeting of City Democrats last night (I am a Green, not a Democrat), but my understanding is that they rejected endorsing the federal Kaine/ Warner/Evans legislation to allow historic tax credits for school buildings. They also rejected endorsing the local Put Schools First referendum because it would require the Mayor to come up with a school modernization plan that does not rely on a big tax increase and the Democrats, including Mayor Stoney, want to put a big tax increase forward next year. That’s what I am hearing….

Oh, and despite public opposition, the City’s Urban Design Committee approved the latest Monroe Park Conservancy/VCU plan to to remove MORE trees from Monroe Park, AND (conversely) if you happen to be one of those Richmonders who think the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue should be removed, the state and City governments will not allow it.

Welcome to RVA, still very much like the old Richmond, which does not tolerate any uppity grassroots politics.

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.

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: