Tuesday, January 13, 2015

City Receives Grant and Will Upgrade Recycling Program

~ Funding will facilitate alley collection in some areas ~

Following a rigorous process involving municipalities throughout the southeast, Richmond has been selected as one of four cities to partner with Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) during a first of its kind private/public recycling agreement, called CVP’s The Recycling Partnership. The program will help the City move forward with plans to collect recycling in alleys in neighborhoods where trash is picked up in alleys. Currently recycling is limited to curbside pick-up.

Under the terms of the Richmond agreement, the City will receive nearly $560,000. Of that amount, $350,000 will be used to purchase the 95-gallon recycling carts, each equipped with a radio frequency identification device (RFID) tag tracking mechanism; another $210,000 will go toward an expanded community outreach/education campaign and the implementation of a six month phase-in program to begin alley collection at approximately 6,000 homes. The plan is to expand the program city-wide by the end of 2015.

The City is working locally with Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA) and TFC Recycling to facilitate the phase-in program. CVWMA currently provides the recycling contract service with TFC, which collects curbside recyclables citywide.

Residents in the targeted phase-in areas will begin receiving carts and educational information about the program and how it works on January 16. As the program rolls out, residents will receive information ahead of the program coming to their neighborhood.

“I am extremely pleased that Richmond has been selected for this partnership. We’ve been working to increase our sustainability efforts and this grant will help us prevent waste and protect our natural environment by creating new products from used ones,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “I have long said that our supercans should be smaller than our recycle bins and this partnership helps move us closer to that goal.”

In addition, residents who use recycling carts will be able to utilize Recycling Perks, which is a program that rewards those who recycle by offering incentives from local businesses who participate in the program. The program has three key advantages: (1) promotes local merchants, (2) helps divert waste from landfills, (3) allows you to save money through discounts as participating merchants.

The recycling project originated with the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC), but is now fully funded by CVP Recycling Partnership. Initially, 11 states recommended 20 municipalities in the southeast region for the funding. Ten of the recommended cities completed the process and four, including Richmond, Columbia, South Carolina and Florence, Alabama were selected. The fourth city will be announced by the end of the year.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mayor Jones Statement Concerning Retirement of Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic

Today, Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement during a joint press conference held with Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic:

“I’m here to announce the decision of Ray Tarasovic to step down as police chief for the City of Richmond. Ray plans to return to a life of retirement and will officially leave the post as of February 20th.

“Chief Tarasovic and I have been in discussion for some months now about his plans. When Ray joined the City of Richmond in February of 2013, he allowed me to draw him out of what was a fifth retirement when he agreed to serve the citizens of Richmond again.  It was clear at the onset that he was here to fill a gap in leadership in our police department and that he was willing to do so for as long as necessary during my tenure.

“Ray has been an excellent police chief. I’ve appreciated all of the energy and effort that he has put into the job. He has worked with a real heart for the community of Richmond and the public that he serves and loves. When I think about my time as Mayor, I know I will always think fondly of Ray Tarasovic.

“The Richmond City Police Department has performed well under Ray’s leadership over the past two years. With his leadership, and that of his able and committed command staff, we’ve held steady on improving public safety in the city of Richmond. We have faced some challenges as all urban centers do, but there is no doubt that we have a police department that we can be proud of and that adds positively to the fabric our community.

“I want to take a moment to mention recovering officer William Turner, who was shot in the line of duty last week. I’ve remained in contact with Officer Turner’s family and our prayers and support remain with him and his loved ones. We’ll continue to do everything that we can to support all of our public safety officials and we’ll continue to work to find the necessary resources to provide increasing support.

“Concerning the leadership of the department going forward, considerations have already been underway for a replacement. We have some interviews and reviews to complete, and expect to be announcing a final decision by the end of the month.

“I offer my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Ray Tarasovic for this time that he has dedicated to the city of Richmond. We are wishing him all the best in his pending retirement.”

Monday, January 5, 2015

Mayor Jones Comments on 2015 Richmond City Council Leadership Elections

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement today on the outcome of the City Council President and Vice President elections.

“I offer my congratulations to the new Richmond City Council President Michelle R. Mosby.  As the first African-American woman to be chosen to lead Council as well as one of the few women to ascend to the position, this is a truly historic and notable accomplishment.  I also offer congratulations to the new Richmond City Council Vice President Chris Hilbert.

“Our city has made significant steps forward and experienced tremendous progress over the past six years, to include today’s opening of the first high school built in Richmond in more than 40 years. As we enter 2015, Richmond is poised for many more great things to include the UCI Road World Cycling Championships in September! I look forward to working with the City Council president, vice president and entire council as we continue to move Richmond forward together.

“Additionally, I would like to thank outgoing City Council President Charles Samuels and Vice President Ellen Robertson for their continued dedication in helping to make Richmond a more vibrant and stronger city.”

Mayor Launches E-time Capsule with Huguenot Students

~ Richmond opens first new high school in 40 years ~

A grand opening ceremony took place at the new Huguenot High School this morning as students officially began attending classes at the first new high school to be built in the City of Richmond in 40 years. Mayor Dwight C. Jones marked the occasion by cutting a ribbon with Huguenot High School students and by participating in an official program with 4th District City Councilwoman Kathy Graziano, 4th District School Board Member Kristen Larson, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden, and Huguenot High School Principal Jafar Barakat.

The occasion was also marked by the launch of a time capsule project called Hugh-E – a digital time capsule designed to capture the current student lifestyle as the new school opens. Hugh-E will be the current student body’s way of showing future students what life was like in 2015. Students were invited to submit photos, videos, music or any other digital submission that represents their perspective on current lifestyles. The project is expected to collect information on favorite artists, dances, fashion trends, social media trends, as well as documentation of trophies and awards and videos of performances and presentations.

“Every student needs to be a part of this project,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “This is our first foray into a time capsule project of this nature, and it may set a trend for other schools to follow. I’m very excited about using technology this way to capture what is important to this student body at this time.”

Hugh-E will be accepting submissions until April 30, 2015, and will officially close for good in September of 2015. Hugh-E will be housed in a display case in the gallery of the new Huguenot High School and will not be opened until the year 2035.

Aside from the gallery space, the new 250,400 square foot school provides the student body with:

  • Sustainable design features, including extensive day lighting, rain gardens and a green roof (set to receive US Green Building Council LEED Gold certification)
  • Extensive wireless technology throughout
  • 1,000 seat auditorium with premier staging and sound production
  • State competition approved athletic facilities (Football, Track and Field, Basketball, Baseball, Softball and Tennis)
  • 3 court basketball gym
  • 3,500 seat football stadium

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Richmond Riverfront Plan Progresses

~ Construction of access road, vegetation removal clearing way for memorial bridge ~

The City of Richmond announced that work is progressing on the Richmond Riverfront Plan. A top priority of the Plan is construction of the Brown’s Island Dam Walk, now known as the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge (TTPMB).

The area is regulated by the State Department of Conservation and Resources as a Low Hazard (Special Criteria) dam, and therefore all woody vegetation within 25 feet of the structure has to be removed. Since mid-November, the city and state have been working to clear the woody vegetation and to construct an access road in order to provide contractor access to the project site for the bridge construction. 

The dam inspection report recommended removal of woody vegetation and debris in the south section of the dam and along various piers. The tree removal work meets the Low Head Dam requirements and also benefits the TTPMB project, by providing a construction entrance that can be used by the contractor and erosion and sediment controls required for the small amount of earth (460 square feet) that will be disturbed at the construction entrance.

The clearing of vegetation in this area will help prepare the area where the elevated pathway for the Potterfield Memorial Bridge will be constructed over the next year. Work on the TTPMB is expected to begin by the end of 2014, following the preparatory work.

“The work to connect the north bank of the James River to the south has been a long-time coming,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “I’m so pleased to have been a part of the push for progress on the Richmond Riverfront Plan and to have been guided in this direction by champions like Tyler Potterfield. It is fitting that as we make tangible progress on these plans that we have also taken the time to recognize and memorialize the awesome contribution made by Potterfield.”

The TTPMB project has several important sustainability features, including: avoiding all impact to designated wetlands and the floodway, capturing run-off on site in bioswales, and improving water quality of run-off. More than 1,000 native ferns, shrubs, and trees will be planted as part of the project.

Monday, October 20, 2014

City Names Several to Leadership Posts

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced that several vacancies created in the city administration’s leadership were filled with interim appointments utilizing existing personnel. The following appointments were made:

James A. Jackson, Director of the Department of Public Works since February of 2011, has been appointed to serve as Interim Deputy Chief Administration Officer (DCAO) for Operations. Jackson will serve in that capacity to fill the vacancy created by Christopher Beschler being named Acting Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

Emmanuel Adediran, Deputy Director/General Services, has been appointed to serve as Interim Director of Public Works.

Lee Downey, Director of Economic Development since April of 2011, has been appointed to serve as Interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Economic and Community Development. Downey will serve in that capacity to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Peter Chapman.

Douglas Dunlap, Deputy Director for Planning and Development Review, has been appointed to serve as Interim Director of Economic and Community Development.

“I’m pleased with the talent that we have available to us within the city government and the willingness of these individuals to take on the expanded roles in our operations,” said Mayor Jones. “We’ve worked to develop a team approach in our administration, and I look forward to working with these individuals as a part of our leadership team.”

The City Administration plans to conduct a full search for a permanent replacement to fill the CAO position as well as the DCAO for Economic and Community Development.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mayor to Direct Additional Funds to RPS

~Measure would establish $2 million reserve fund for short term~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that he intends to introduce an ordinance to establish a reserve fund for maintenance needs of Richmond Public Schools (RPS). The plan is designed to capture anticipated surplus funds that will result if City Council decides against rolling back the tax rate.

“While it was my desire to see us, as a government, offer the first reduction in the city’s real estate tax rate since 2007, it seems the will of the many is headed in a different direction and it is unlikely that City Council will approve the reduced rate,” said Mayor Jones. “I agree that the city has many needs that the additional funds can be directed toward, and I am suggesting that we initially establish a reserve fund for maintenance needs of Richmond Public Schools.”

RPS was allocated over $7 million in funds for FY2015 for school maintenance needs. Mayor Jones requested a status report on spending and learned that RPS has spent over $3 million of those funds in the first three months of the fiscal year. “Establishing this reserve fund is designed to provide a source of readily available funds for RPS to draw down from as their spending continues. This is a short-term measure to ensure they have a continuing source of available funds for maintenance needs that may arise in fiscal year 2015, while the long-term solutions are still being discussed and analyzed.”

Several long-term options are being explored by Jones’ finance working group, including possibly using funds from new assessed real estate to finance payments for a major loan, using savings from performance contracting to pay for maintenance needs, state and federal tax credits, and tax-exempt bond financing.

“I’m confident that we will chart a course for the long-term that will meet necessary needs,” continued Jones. “As the body responsible for the funding, we are doing our work to ensure we meet that responsibility. At the same time, I’m hoping to receive a plan from RPS that will address enrollment and performance concerns.”

A 2002 review of school facilities showed that Richmond Public Schools were under enrolled by more than 3,000 students at that time. Data today shows that trend continuing, as projected.

 “I still believe that sometimes less is more and that if RPS can work towards correcting the size of the system they are operating, we can save money, better direct the available resources, and hopefully return to lowering the tax burden on the residents of the city.”

The Mayor also indicated that he was not ready to direct all surplus funds toward RPS’s needs, citing police and fire career development and salary increases as other funding priorities the city needs to find ongoing money to support.