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.

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.

Water Issues

As Richmond thaws from this past week’s cold weather, infrastructure problems are rearing their ugly heads. Please report to City as soon as possible before things refreeze. Call ‘311’- its as simple as that.

This photo is from the 600 block of S. Laurel, where water is seeping up through cracks in the street.

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

Saturday Happenings

From Rev. Bailey:

Santa Breakfast this Saturday at St. Andrew’s School hosted by St. Andrew’s Church. Pancake and sausage breakfast, pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and Christmas shop. Breakfast is $3/person; $10 for immediate family. 9:00 am to 11:00 am. Come on over!

Keep in mind that the Dominion Energy Christmas Parade is happening and Broad Street will be closed.

Also, Water is Life Rally and Concert, in protest against the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley fracked gas pipelines, is being held at the State Capital and then the National Theater. A state wide coalition of over 30 environmental organizations are collaborating to pull this event together.

Neighbor Brings Important Correction On Larus Park Water Deal To Fore

Pay attention, Laurel Street neighbor Charles Pool holding school.

Dear Honorable Members of Richmond City Council,
There is an important correction printed on page A4 of today’s Richmond Times Dispatch:
“CORRECTION: The city of Richmond could generate $4.1 million in gross revenue under a revised water agreement with Chesterfield County that, if approved, would permit the county to construct a water tank and pumping station in Larus Park. The figure was misstated in a story Nov. 22 on Page B2.” [The misstated figure was given as NET revenue rather than GROSS revenue in the Nov. 22 article.]
The O&R Request accompanying Ordinance 2017-209, which would allow the county to build a 2 million gallon water tank in Larus Park, deceptively states:
“REVENUE TO CITY: $4,103,000 five year total starting in 2021.” (Please see attachment.)
Now the city administration has acknowledged to the Times Dispatch that this projected revenue to the city from the Larus Park project is GROSS not NET revenue.
The $4.1 million in projected GROSS revenue from Ordinance 2017-209 includes all of the city’s high costs for providing up to five million gallons of additional water per day (or 9.1 BILLION additional gallons of treated water over five years) to Chesterfield County. The city’s costs for providing an additional 9.1 billion gallons of treated water to the county include salaries of employees, costs for running the electrical pumps, chemicals for purifying the water, etc.
Because the city would be contractually responsible for the 4,000 feet of supply water line to the proposed facility at a cost to the city of $1.7 million, the city would actually run a NET LOSS in the five years starting in 2021.
Ordinance 2017-209 would continue for another generation the agreement where the city makes only 5% over actual costs on water volume sold to the county, which comes to only 3.5 cents per ccf (hundred cubic feet) or about $85,000 per year. Capital cost reimbursement from the project is contractually limited to reimbursement for the ACTUAL COSTS the city incurs.
Selling water volume to the county at 5% over actual costs while selling water to Richmonder’s at 500% over actual costs puts city businesses at a serious competitive disadvantage. This cheap water provided by the city is fueling the county’s potential new MEGA SITE and new Niagara water bottling plant.
Even worse: if the county unilaterally decides not to renew the lease, Ordinance 2017-209 would contractually obligate the city to pay the county for the entire $7.5 million water tank and pumping station in Larus Park, less depreciation, even if the city does not need or want the water facility.
Why should Richmond sacrifice sacred city parkland in Larus Park in order to run a NET LOSS over the next five years with the county on this water deal that puts Richmond businesses at a serious competitive disadvantage?
Honorable Members of Council, please look closely at the terms of the proposed Ordinance 2017-209 in light of the revelation in today’s Times Dispatch that the administration is deceptively projecting GROSS rather than NET revenue from the project.
Thank you very much for closely examining this issue.
Charles Pool

Questions For Utility “Cost of Service” Meetings

Tonight is the first of four meetings the City of Richmond Department of Utilities is holding. This one starts at 5:30 and is being held at the Byrd Park Roundhouse (700 S. Davis Avenue).

“Ratepayers are encouraged to attend one of the sessions to learn more . There will be opportunities to ask questions.”

Here are some sample questions:

No alternative site for Chesterfield’s 2 million gallon water tank was considered other than Richmond’s Larus Park. The Dept. of Public Utilities claimed that the site was chosen because of its high elevation, but topography maps indicate that the entire Huguenot corridor is at the same elevation or higher? Will a site outside of Larus Park be selected for Chesterfield’s water facility?

How does selling water to the County at 74 cents per ccf (748 gallons) promote conservation?

Does not selling water to the county at a fifth the rate that City residents must pay put City businesses at a competitive disadvantage? (County pays 74 cents per ccf, while City residents pay $4.04 per ccf.)

If Chesterfield’s proposed 2 million gallon water tank is located in the County instead of in the City’s Larus Park, would not the relieve the contract provision that the City must pay the County for the $10 million water facility if the County does not renew the lease?

According to the latest City filings with the Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality, it is anticipated that the demand for water in the region may outstrip supply in about five years. But the proposed contract with Chesterfield County would lock in the ridiculously low price of water at only 5% over the City’s actual costs (currently at 74 cents per ccf) until 2045. Is it not reckless to lock in such low rates when we have there is not an unlimited water supply from the James River?

Richmond customers must pay a minimum monthly water/sewer service charge of $32 even if no water is used. This is one of the highest minimum water/sewer service charges in the country that places a disproportionate burden on water customers who conserve water and use little water. When will the Dept. of Public Utilities lower the base service charge to offer a reasonable rate to those who conserve water?

The Richmond Dept. of Public Utilities charges Richmond customers a payment in lieu of federal income tax on the water bill that is put into the city’s general fund. No other locality in Va. charges a federal income tax surcharge on the water bill. Will DPU remove the federal income tax surcharge on the water bill?

Other localities encourage conservation by offering customers a discounted volume rate for those using 3 ccf or less. When will the Richmond Dept. of Public Utilities initiate rates that encourage conservation?

The public was excluded in the selection of Larus Park for Chesterfield’s water facility and the public is not involved in setting water rates. When will the Richmond Dept. of Public Utilities start involving the public in these important decisions?

The city residents own Richmond’s utility but are frustrated to see that the utility showers the counties with low rates while city residents pay high water rates. As a result, Richmond with high rates is surrounded by localities, which purchase water from Richmond, that have remarkably lower water rates. Richmond residents are tired of hearing the utility trying to explain this away by saying that Richmond has rusted water pipes. When will Richmond’s residents start seeing a benefit of owning the utility in lower rates from their utility?

Richmond has a much higher poverty rate than the surrounding counties, yet the city-owned utility sells water to the county at a fifth of what Richmond residents must pay for the necessity. When will the city initiate like Petersburg a base life-line rate so all residents who conserve water will have basic service at a low rate?

When will we see solar panels on utility facilities? What does the utility use now for backup power and disaster recovery?