August 17, 2009 Vol. 1 Issue 5
Welcome to issue five of the "Building a Better Richmond" newsletter. I hope
you are enjoying the summer months and I thank you for taking time out of your
busy schedule to read this newsletter.
To begin, I joined Governor Tim Kaine, Richmond region elected officials, and
the business community in a show of
support for high speed rail. Without a doubt, if we are successful in our unified effort,
high-speed rail will spur unprecedented economic growth and development in the
I was extremely honored to join T.K. Somanath, President and CEO of the Better
Housing Coalition, and Anthony Scott, Executive Director of Richmond
Redevelopment Housing Authority, for a ribbon cutting ceremony for Oak Summit
at Goose Creek. Oak Summit is a traditional neighborhood of 45 homes featuring
green building technologies, which can cut homeowner's energy costs in half.
Monthly mortgages starting as low as $800 per month, the affordability of the
initial home purchase, and the low maintenance costs will make it possible for
families, public servants, and many other individuals to build their assets
through home ownership. The city received $150,000 in federal stimulus funding
to perform public infrastructure improvements to accommodate these new homes.
You can learn more about this and other city projects funded by federal
stimulus funds by visiting the
Richmond Stimulus Tracker.
At this time, I would like to highlight the input of Mr. Stanley Davis who
provided insight into a glaring issue at City Hall. During the Southside Town
Hall meeting at the Southside Community Services Center, Mr. Davis noted that
there were no handicap parking spaces adjacent to, or in the immediate area
surrounding City Hall. After an immediate review it was determined that the two
existing handicap parking spaces on the 9th Street side of the building were
not in use due to the temporary generators being placed on top of them. We have
corrected this problem by converting three existing parking spaces around City
Hall into handicap reserved spaces. Thank you for your valuable input Mr.
Davis, and thanks to all residents who participated in this town hall meeting.
Southside Town Hall Meeting
The Southside Town Hall was the first
of a series of town hall meetings designed to bring City Hall to you, the
residents of Richmond. Utilizing the mantra of "communication, cooperation and
collaboration," I believe the meeting was a tremendous success as directors
from a variety of city departments addressed resident concerns and provided
first hand information.
The main focal point of the town hall was public safety, so Police Chief Bryan
Norwood and Fire Chief Robert Creecy discussed measures their respective
departments will be undertaking to ensure resident safety. The primary message
is that public safety is a partnership between residents and government. If you
have any information about crimes in the city of Richmond, please call
(804)780-1000. If you would like to start a neighborhood watch in your community, call (804)646-0407.
Another topic discussed at the town hall was the importance of resident
participation in the 2010 census. Richmond's current population is estimated to
be above 200,000 residents and it is vital that we not only maintain but
increase this count. Why is an accurate census important for the city of
Richmond? Census data is used to distribute United States Congressional seats
to states; to make decisions about what community services to provide; and to
distribute $300 billion in federal funds to local and state governments each
year. So, I invite you to visit the
and participate in the 2010 census on April 1, 2010.
As I've said in previous newsletters and reiterated during this town hall, we
have begun to receive federal stimulus funding under "The American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009" for shovel ready projects. But we will not wait for
every project submitted to receive funding as it is imperative that we continue to move
our city forward. Roadway improvements are well underway in not only the
Southside, but all over Richmond. Southside projects highlighted during the
town hall include German School Road improvements, repaving portions of Broad
Rock Boulevard, Belt Boulevard, and Cofer Road. Over the past month the city's
Department of Public Works filled 122 potholes, chip sealed some streets, and
repaired 21 alleys and three streets.
The city's Department of Public Utilities (DPU) recently completed a sweep
through portions of Southside to repair, replace, and report defects in our
street lighting system. DPU is collaborating with the Hull Street Merchant
Association for lighting improvements along Hull Street between Jefferson Davis
Highway and Commerce Road. DPU's Street Lighting Utility has been working at
the intersection of Bells and Commerce roads in relocating electric utility
infrastructure to support construction of a new Hampton Inn Hotel.
The city's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities has also
performed a significant amount of work in the Southside area, including the
restoration of the lake and the renovation of the Stonehouse in Forest Hill
Park. The department also partnered with the NFL to build new football and
baseball fields to include the installation of bleachers, goal post, and a
scoreboard at the Blackwell Community Center.
Projects such as these demonstrate our commitment to ensuring infrastructure is
intact, as this will aid us in building our economy and securing jobs in our area.
Businesses have noticed our commitment and that we are "Building a Better
Richmond," as economic development in the area includes the renovation and
expansion of the Manchester Courthouse. Old Manchester Plaza, a historic
property near Manchester Courthouse, has been completely renovated to
accommodate 50 residential units and a second location of one of Richmond's
favorite restaurants, "Croaker's Spot."
Additional economic development includes the expansion of the Hunter Holmes
McGuire Richmond Veterans Affairs Medical Center's Polytrauma Transitional
Rehabilitation facility. This new 22,000 square foot facility will serve
thousands of our armed service personnel as well as bring new jobs to our area.
The recently expanded Beaufont Health and Rehabilitation Center off High Oaks
road has brought new healthcare jobs as well as more business opportunities to our city.
In fact, Richmond education and health care employment has increased 10 percent
from last year and the city possess the highest percentage increase in these
categories in the United States, according to a
analysis of mid-year Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In fact, Richmond added about 8,000
jobs in health care and education since last year.
At the end of this town hall meeting, I briefly discussed the launching of the
Mayors Participation And Communication Corps or M-PACC for short. This
initiative involves citizen input on how we can impact our neighborhoods,
communities, and city. M-PACC will be launched in a few short months and will
be a method of continuing open dialogue with residents.
In conclusion, I want to remind you that the Southside Town Hall was the first
of several town halls that will be held throughout the city in the upcoming
months and continuing for years to come. I hope to see you at the next town
hall and that you will provide valuable input so that we can continue to "Build a Better Richmond."
Dwight C. Jones
Mayor, City of Richmond