Last Updated: 2010-01-19

City Seal

August 17, 2009 Vol. 1 Issue 5

Welcome

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 High Speed Rail 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 Richmond region.

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

Town Hall MeetingThe 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 census website and participate in the 2010 census on April 1, 2010.

Street Repair 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.

Blackwell Scoreboard 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 Business First 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.

Conclusion

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."

Thank you.

Dwight C. Jones
Mayor, City of Richmond

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