Military Book Sale At Va. War Memorial Saturday

From FaceBook event page:

Booklovers, stock up on a great selection of military and history books from the Memorial’s USS Birmingham Library on sale at bargain prices. All proceeds benefit the Virginia War Memorial Foundation which funds our educational programs, exhibits and events.

Saturday at 9 AM – 4 PM

Virginia War Memorial
621 S Belvidere St, Richmond, Virginia 23220

Fireworks’ Future

Oregon Hill residents have had a real love/hate relationship with the annual fireworks displays surrounding the Fourth of July. And if asked, I am sure it would mostly be ‘love’.

That said, this year the RVA Fireworks on The James (usually on July 3rd) is not happening. Before everyone complains and accuses certain Oregon Hill residents of being NIMBY party poopers, it should be recognized that the reason that they are not happening is that major sponsors decided not to support the event this year.

So, fireworks fans can certainly attend other fireworks displays throughout the area, including the free one sponsored by the City at the Dogwood Dell on the 4th. What happens in future years is anyone’s guess, but one way to adjust is to change the nature of the fireworks displays themselves by making them more respectful of nature.

The New York Times has a wonderful recent article on the increasing popularity of ‘quiet fireworks’:

In parts of Europe, quiet fireworks displays have grown increasingly common. In Britain, venues close to residents, wildlife or livestock often permit only quiet fireworks. One town in Italy, Collecchio, passed a law in 2015 that all fireworks displays must be quiet.

By relying on rich color effects and tight visual choreography, designers of quiet fireworks programs can forgo the big explosions and still deliver a stunning show. The hope is that softer celebrations mean less stress for noise-sensitive children, veterans, older people, pets and wildlife.

“We’ve seen more competitors in the last decade or so,” said Rino Sampieri, a senior display manager at Fantastic Fireworks, a company based in England that started selling a quiet fireworks package 30 years ago. “Today, quiet fireworks are part of everybody’s inventory.”

Quiet fireworks are not a new invention. In fact, they are used routinely in classic firework shows as visual effects to accompany the loud bangs. Think of the “comet tail,” which shoots into the sky with a trail of sparkles before quietly fizzling out. Or the “flying fish,” which features tiny tadpole embers scattering away from a silent burst.

What is new is the emergence of a genre of low-key, quiet fireworks displays for audiences that want the fanfare of fireworks without the auditory disturbance.

In addition, there is more development being done on ‘green fireworks’ that do not dump as much heavy metal residue as regular ones. Still, there are a lot of compelling reasons to just not do fireworks altogether. Perhaps the City leaders can take more responsibility and promote better alternatives. Laser light shows, for example, are becoming increasingly sophisticated and crowd pleasing.

Change In Command At Virginia War Memorial

From the Richmond Times Dispatch article:

John C. “Clay” Mountcastle, a professor of military history at Fort Lee, will succeed Jon Hatfield to become just the second executive director at the memorial.

The war memorial first opened in 1956. By the time Hatfield became executive director in 1997 as the memorial’s first employee, the shrine’s eternal flame was snuffed out and the memorial wall was on the verge of collapse. Hatfield oversaw the restoration of a monument drawing fewer than 10,000 visitors annually and the addition of an 18,000-square-foot education center. Last year, the memorial overlooking downtown Richmond drew more than 70,000 visitors.
Hatfield, who will retire June 15, also began the work on another $23 million project to expand the memorial’s signature shrine to include veterans who have died since 9/11 while adding more educational space and an underground parking deck.

Click here for the Virginia War Memorial website.

5th Annual 5K Run/Walk to Remember On Saturday

This Saturday, starting at 8 am is the 5th Annual 5K Run/Walk to Remember.

From Virginia War Memorial website:

Join us as we honor and remember the sacrifice of our United States military both past and present. The 5K race starts and finishes at the Memorial with a special Kids Fun Run. Memorial flags, each with the name of a deceased veteran or KIA, are placed at the finish line, reminding everyone of the purpose of this event. All funds benefit the Virginia War Memorial Foundation’s education programs.

Description in Richmond Family Magazine:

Join hundreds of active servicemen and women in uniform for this walk/run. The course starts and ends at Virginia War Memorial and includes a trek through Hollywood Cemetery and Oregon Hill.

Va. War Memorial and Hollywood Cemetery To Collaborate On ‘Tunnel of Honor’

The Virginia War Memorial and Hollywood Cemetery directors are announcing planning has started for a giant new collaborative project, “The Virginia Tunnel of Honor”, that will connect the two institutions.

Design specifications are still in their infancy, but the concept is to expand upon the already planned underground parking garage expansion for the War Memorial and build a pedestrian tunnel from that point that would go underneath Belvidere Street roughly at Holly Street and have a corresponding entrance in Hollywood Cemetery. The tunnel, which would be roughly 60 feet underground at its deeper points, would be very finished and allow wheelchair access. It may include a branch tunnel to the North Bank trail area, if the City approves the concept.

The overall theme of this new collaboration would build upon the underground nature of the project and would be dedicated to “Virginia’s Fallen Secret Warriors” who have fought and died in clandestine conflicts around the world and throughout American history. This will include honoring ‘secret veterans’ previously and newly buried in Hollywood Cemetery.

Because of new, quiet tunneling technology, project organizers have told Oregon Hill residents that they will not be disturbed by this additional new construction, which will take at least three years to finish. Construction is not expected to start for at least another year.


Times Dispatch Issues Correction- THANK YOU CHARLES POOL!

Thanks to some polite correspondence from Laurel Street neighbor, Charles Pool, the Times Dispatch kindly made this correction to their earlier story on the history of the Virginia War Memorial.

The Virginia War Memorial lies on the eastern side of Oregon Hill. A Feb. 24 story on Page A1 about the memorial’s 60th anniversary incorrectly described its location.

See earlier post here by clicking here.

Before the Virginia War Memorial….

The Times Dispatch ran an article this morning on the 60th anniversary of the Virginia War Memorial. Unfortunately, it lacks acknowledgement of the historical fact that many Oregon Hill homes were demolished to build the War Memorial.

Instead the article begins with this: “In 1953, the hill overlooking the James River along Belvidere Street was home to a couple of small buildings and a billboard for Purelube motor oil.” The article later describes the site as being atop Gambles Hill rather than Oregon Hill: “But for decades, the memorial often stood vacant atop Gambles Hill …”

The reality is that the Va. War Memorial is sited on Oregon HIll where many homes were demolished to make way for the memorial.

From the”>National Parks Service website, regarding the Oregon Hill Historic District:

“In 1847, the Harvie Family platted their property east of Belvidere and south of the penitentiary as the Oregon Hill subdivision. The community’s name came from the witty geographic observation that a pedestrian excursion trip from the center of Richmond to Oregon Hill seemed the equivalent of a trip to Oregon by the standards of the day. The original portion of Oregon Hill consisted of modest houses east of Belvidere and south of Spring Street. Its early occupants were a mixture of white and African American laborers and artisans. This area, just outside the boundary of the district, was demolished to construct the Virginia War Memorial and state office buildings.”

‘Tredegar Green’ – Still No Response To Neighborhood Concerns

Venture Richmond, a very powerful special interests group, still has plans to apply for re-zoning the Tredegar Green property near Oregon Hill. Venture Richmond has talked about the need for Oregon Hill to compromise on the site’s planned use, and discussions between Venture Richmond and the neighborhood have been conducted over the last few years. However, the lawyer representing Oregon Hill, Andrew McRoberts, reports that there has been no reply from Venture Richmond representatives, not even a confirmation of the letter he sent outlining Oregon Hill’s very reasonable wishes over six months ago. All other inquiries by all residents of Oregon Hill had likewise been ignored (so much for “public-private partnership”).

The latest Venture Richmond communications to City staff reveal gross inadequacy:
No real commitment to event management planning- crowd, parking, trash, etc.
Sound levels are to be monitored, but this is meaningless because there is no decibel limit on sound, etc.
No height limitation (even though the DCC zoning would allow any owner of the property to build up to 95 feet in height by right — right in front of the Va. War Memorial’s view of the river!)

All the media has reported is that Jack Berry, Venture Richmond’s Executive Director, is planning to run for the position of Mayor of the City of Richmond. Perhaps he thinks he can do an even better job of putting off the public’s concerns than the current Mayor.