Friday, June 20, 2014

Mayor Encourages Youth to Read on Summer Learning Day


~ Support learning throughout the community on Summer Learning Day, June 20~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones joins leaders across the country to recognize the importance of learning throughout the summer and encourages City youth to participate in Summer Learning Day. Friday, June 20 is Summer Learning Day, a national advocacy day to spread awareness about the importance of summer learning for the nation’s youth in helping close the achievement gap and support healthy development.

“I encourage all City youth to participate in Summer Learning Day by reading for at least 15 minutes this Friday and I am hopeful that our youth will continue to read for at least 15 minutes every day this summer,” said Mayor Jones. “Reading is a wonderful tool that can expand learning opportunities while taking the reader on amazing journeys, provide insightful how-to’s and teach the reader more about our world. I encourage everyone in our community to stop and read 15 minutes a day, every day, especially with a child.”

Richmond’s Grade Level Reading Initiative, with more than 30 partner organizations, encourages youth to read 15 minutes every day during the summer. Children who do not read over the summer school break show loss of reading, spelling and math skills – entering school in the fall farther behind than when they left school in June. Research shows that reading as little as 15 minutes a day can help children retain reading and spelling skills.

On Friday, June 20, Summer Learning Day, Richmond Public Library's branches will have special book displays featuring STEM and other different kinds of books for learning --- cookbooks, craft books, science experiments as well as promotional materials for the Library Summer Reading Program Fizz, BOOM, Read! Partner organizations include PBS, Communities in Schools and Richmond Public Schools.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mayor Jones Issues Statement on Proposed Shockoe Bottom Development Ordinance


Mayor Jones issued the following statement concerning the anticipated vote on the Shockoe Bottom Development Ordinance:
 

“I was disappointed to read in the news media that certain Council members plan to vote against new jobs, tax revenue, and a Slavery Heritage site in Richmond. Doing that would hurt Richmond by leaving money on the table.
 

“That’s because keeping the ballpark on the Boulevard would restrict the revenue-producing potential of our most valuable piece of under-utilized land. That’s a bad business decision, and it demonstrates a failure to consider the needs of the city as a whole.
 

“This decision is surprising since they’ve chosen to vote against something without learning about it first. At no point have all City Council members been briefed on the most up-to-date information about all aspects of the plan. Council members are receiving the detailed information they requested, but most briefings have taken place in committee meetings or in lightly-attended informal sessions. Nevertheless, they now want to kill the project before hearing the information that staff, the developers and the baseball team have invested a great deal of time and expense to gather. This is the second time in less than a month that two members have tried to kill the plan without first understanding all the details.
 

“They fret that this process has taken a while, and I wish it could have moved more quickly too. But it’s important to remember that since we introduced the concept last November, we’ve presented Revitalize RVA to more than 50 community meetings attended by thousands of Richmonders. We’ve continually refined it along the way, in response to concerns raised by the community and City Council members. Moreover, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a transformational economic development plan has taken time to complete properly. Anyone who’s ever bought a house knows that getting to closing can take a while, and this plan is like closing on 200 houses at once. It’s no suburban frozen yogurt shop or used car lot. Big cities do big things, and big things take time. Richmond’s still learning about that.
 

“For months, I’ve worked to build trust with City Council members under the leadership of Charles Samuels. That trust has been damaged.
 

“I intend to move forward on generating upwards of $10 million a year in new revenue for the City of Richmond. Here are the facts: 
  • A Kroger, a Hyatt hotel, and new apartment buildings will help create more than 400 new jobs in a blighted area of Richmond. That’s a powerful business opportunity in a city with a 26% overall poverty rate, where some Council districts thrive and others are wracked by generations of joblessness.
  • Unleashing the untapped potential of the Boulevard's 60 acres will produce at least as many jobs as Shockoe will produce, if not more.
  • The Shockoe development plan will benefit the community through an agreement to include at least a 40% minority business participation rate and at least a 20% minority ownership stake. Richmond has never seen community wealth-building commitments like these on a project this big.
  • After 400 years, this is Virginia’s first serious opportunity to build a Slavery Heritage site at the place where Virginia Union was born. There’s a reason this hasn’t happened before. It’s possible today because it’s part of a comprehensive economic development plan. If we pass up this opportunity now, it may never come again.
  • A new downtown ballpark—like Charlotte opened last month—will help keep the Flying Squirrels in Richmond, as certain Council members have pledged.

“The reaction of some Council members reminds me of some initial reactions to the Redskins Training Camp and other economic development initiatives with Bon Secours. Many people did not recognize the benefit these projects would bring to our economy, but they have proven to be big successes. That’s why Richmond will have two NFL teams playing here this summer. It takes vision to get things done.
 

“There’s still time for Council members to change this hasty decision. I’ll present exhaustive details of this plan on Thursday.
 

“I encourage Council members to make informed decisions after Thursday, unless they simply don’t want to hear the facts.”

Monday, March 31, 2014

SCAN Loans Executive to Richmond Social Services


Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the Executive Director for Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now), Inc. has agreed to work as an executive-on-loan to the Richmond Department of Social Services. Jeanine Harper has served as Executive Director of SCAN since 1999. SCAN was founded in 1991 to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect in the city of Richmond and the surrounding counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, and Henrico. The purpose of SCAN’s services is to promote positive parenting, strengthen families and help create a community that values and cares for its children.

“Ms. Harper has agreed to specifically help us retool the City’s Child Protective Services unit,” said Mayor Jones. “While matters of compliance have been heavily reviewed, serious operational concerns plague this agency and I believe that her leadership will go a long way toward strengthening the division’s operations. We’ve simply got to do a better job with respect to protecting the safety of vulnerable children and I want to thank the board of SCAN for allowing Ms. Harper the opportunity to bring us her expertise.”

Mayor Jones named his senior policy advisor, David Hicks, as interim director of the Department of Social Services in February. Ms. Harper will serve as special assistant to the director and will augment the support being provided by the Virginia Department of Social Services.

“Jeanine’s passion and expertise are a welcomed addition as we work to rebuild this essential component of our agency,” said Hicks. “Coupled with the support we have been receiving from the Commonwealth, I’m optimistic that we will meet the Mayor’s goals for turning around this critical agency.”


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mayor Jones Outlines Archaeological and Historical Review Process For Shockoe Bottom Baseball Stadium Project Site

~ Focus on understanding and memorializing historical sites, preserving artifacts,
and sharing information with residents ~

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today shared details of his administration’s plans to conduct an archaeological and historical review of the Shockoe Bottom site proposed for a new baseball stadium.

The comprehensive process includes historical research, expert reviews, archaeological excavations, curation of found artifacts, public review and participation, and long-term sharing of historical information.

“Shockoe Bottom has played a central role in our city’s history since its earliest development. Today, it is a vibrant, thriving commercial and residential area. Its history must continue to be discovered, recorded, memorialized, and shared with our citizens and those who visit our capital city from around Virginia, the nation, and the world,” said Mayor Jones. 

“We have taken great care to put together an archaeological and historical review process that would be regarded by experts as the right thing to do and the right way to do it,” said Mayor Jones. “The process we are laying out is what archaeologists and historians would expect us to do.”

The archaeological investigation and historical review will be led by Dutton + Associates, LLC, a Richmond-based historical and cultural resources management firm that has conducted archeological surveys for public and private projects throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Archaeologists and historians from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, local historical organizations, and area universities also will be involved.

As part of the archeological and historical investigation and review, Mayor Jones will appoint a panel of experts to review the research, data collection, excavations, found artifacts, and technical reports and other publications.

There also will be extensive opportunities for citizens and visitors to observe the excavations and interact with archaeologists. A special focus will be on outreach to schools, providing opportunities for teachers and students to visit the excavation site to see history being discovered and recorded.

“Public involvement is important,” said Jones. “We want our citizens and students to be a part of this process and project. We must share this valuable learning experience.”

Archaeological and Historical Review Process

The archaeological and historical review process will include the following:
 

Documentary Research

o   Research and record development, patterns, and trends in the Shockoe Bottom project area, including existing historic buildings;

o   Concentrate on identifying sites related to the slave trade and other noteworthy religious, commercial, and residential sites;

o   Identify historic and modern development impacts; determine location of archaeological deposits; and

o   Prepare report on documentary research, including historic maps, photographs, and graphics.

Expert Review and Validation of Documentary Research

o   Present research for third-party expert review and validation;

o   Experts likely to be from Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Library of Virginia, Richmond Virginia Slave Trail Commission, Historic Richmond Foundation, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Union University, University of Richmond, and University of Virginia, among others; and

o   Place research online for public review and input.

Archaeological Excavations

o   Develop archaeological excavation plan based upon results of documentary research;

o   Plan will include identification of areas of proposed excavation, relevant research themes and questions, and proposed field methods.  Field methods will include a combination of the following:

§  Monitor areas where significant archeological deposits may exist but have been compromised due to past development; monitor during construction;

§  Investigate significant archaeological deposits and record information from unique historical residential and commercial areas; sampling will take place before construction; and

§  Recover and record significant archaeological data from historically important or unique sites at the project area; recording will take place before construction.

§  Prior to implementation, the archaeological excavation plan will be submitted for expert third-party review and comment.

o   Prior to implementation, the archaeological excavation plan will be submitted for expert third-party review and comment.

Public Participation

o   During project archaeological investigations, archaeologists will establish field areas for public observation of excavations, artifact recovery, and interaction with archaeologists;

o   Onsite field laboratory to be established for cleaning and processing of artifacts, with public interaction with archaeologists;

o   Archaeologists to prepare written monthly updates on archaeological investigations, and will schedule monthly site visits and tours for City officials, members of the public, and City school groups; and

o   During field investigations, a program for using social media to provide updates regarding progress and finds will be coordinated through the City’s website and Facebook page.

Reporting and Artifact Curation

o   When archaeological fieldwork is completed, a written and illustrated document summarizing excavations will be submitted to City officials, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the Library of Virginia, and Historic Richmond Foundation;

o   Final results of all archaeological investigations will be presented in a written and illustrated technical report in accordance with current state and federal guidelines for such studies; report will be reviewed by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the Library of Virginia, and the Historic Richmond Foundation before being finalized; final report will be filed with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the Library of Virginia, and the Richmond Public Library;


o   A popular publication will be prepared summarizing key findings from excavations; publication will be made available for distribution;

o   An interactive web site – keyed to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Standards of Learning – will be developed for classroom use in K-12 schools; and

o   All artifacts recovered during excavations will be processed and curated in accordance with federal and state guidelines; artifacts will be curated at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and made available to institutions and organizations for education and display purposes.

Early documentary research and expert review is expected to take three months. Archaeological excavation will take approximately four months. Preparing final technical reports for submission to City and state officials as well as other educational materials documenting findings at the Shockoe Bottom site will take some 18 months. If additional consultation is required by state or federal law, the City will adjust this archaeological and historical review process accordingly.
 
About Dutton + Associates, LLC

Dutton + Associates, LLC located in Richmond, Virginia, is a cultural resources management firm and provides services to public, private, and institutional clients. The firm conducts archival research, archaeological investigations, architectural investigations, National Register nominations, and educational and interpretive programs. Past clients have included the National Park Service, the United States Navy, NASA, numerous Virginia local governments, Dominion, Rolls Royce, Martin Marietta Materials, and others.

David H. Dutton, Managing Partner at Dutton + Associates, LLC, has more than 25 years of experience in archaeology, cultural resource management, and historic preservation law. He formerly worked for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, where he managed all federal and state environmental reviews, rehabilitation tax credit project certification, historic preservation easements, covenants, and archaeological permits. He also worked as a project review archaeologist for the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Mr. Dutton received his B.S. in anthropology and sociology from Virginia Commonwealth University and his M.A. in archaeological studies from Boston University.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Riverfront Development to Move Forward

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today issued the following statement regarding the City’s proposed Capital Improvement Program for FY2015-2019 and Riverfront Development:
“It is clear to me after hearing from some very good friends who are aware of my ongoing commitment to riverfront development, that the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) budget put forth sends the wrong signal about the city’s intentions concerning riverfront development and specifically the Brown’s Island Dam Walk. I want to be clear: we are moving forward and it is my understanding that we are well on track to complete the Dam Walk before the World Road Cycling Championships come to Richmond in 2015.
 “The city has approximately $4 million in unspent funds for this project, because of the initial funding that I included in my CIP for FY2013-2017. We are also anticipating grant funding in the amount of $2.5 million; meaning we may have as much as $6.5 million on hand. The Brown’s Island Dam Walk is a key project in this first phase of riverfront development and early conceptual plans for the Dam Walk estimated a cost of $2 million. This would indicate that we have ample funds on hand to move the project forward and is the only reason new funding was not included for the immediately approaching fiscal year. Staff has been hard at work to have this key project move forward in a timely manner and this is the information I’ve been relying on.
“Additionally, not including funding in the current CIP does not mean that more funding won’t be provided for another five years. That is not my intention. I am mindful of the fact that project refinements and technical requirements will likely push the need for resources higher. We present a five-year CIP every year and I fully expect that with the presentation of next year’s CIP, additional funding will be sought  for riverfront development and other projects in the pipeline that will create new public spaces around our beautiful riverfront.
“This plan of action should have been conveyed in our budget, and it is unfortunate that the budget advanced without appropriate mention of our ongoing Riverfront plans. I look forward to working with Richmond City Council on this aspect of the budget as well as many others.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mayor Jones Issues Statement on Revitalize RVA Vote

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following statement following the vote by Richmond City Council on Resolution No. 2014-R29, to express the City Council’s support for further negotiations with respect to “Revitalize RVA.”

 “I want to thank the City Council for saying yes to the future of our city. Tonight’s vote was a vote to support our efforts to find ways to generate new tax revenue for our city, to create jobs and opportunity, and to honor our heritage. This was an important and difficult vote tonight, and I’m pleased that Council is willing to allow discussions to move forward.

 “I also want to thank Council members for their service to the city’s residents in working extremely hard over the last few months on this proposal and for their insistence on getting the best deal for our taxpayers.  I look forward to the continued review of this proposal and the continued scrutiny of a plan that I believe can be transformative for our city. Ultimately, I’m hoping that we can bring a final proposal forward that will generate willingness from all to embrace growth and to use culture as a bridge rather than a barrier.”
 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mayor Jones Statement on City's Winter Storm Preparedness Actions


Mayor Dwight C. Jones discussed how the City of Richmond is preparing for the anticipated major snow storm event that is expected to impact the city beginning Wednesday afternoon.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the city of Richmond from 1 p.m. February 12 until 7 p.m. February 13. City officials have urged residents to prepare for the weather, and city government is also preparing for this storm.

City Government held a Winter Weather Briefing on Tuesday at City Hall involving all agencies of City Government, Richmond Public Schools, Richmond City Sheriff’s office, Richmond Ambulance Authority, Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority, Richmond City Health District and GRTC.

“It is routine for us to hold such a preparatory meeting when a major event is anticipated,” stated Mayor Jones. “By bringing all the agencies and related authorities together well in advance, we can better lay out our plans for resident notification efforts, storm response tactics, as well as efforts to deal with any aftermath of the storm.”

Actions taken by the City in preparation include the testing of generators at sites that may be used for public shelters and coordinating efforts with the Red Cross. The City plans to have shelter space set up and ready to open Wednesday afternoon in the event major power outages are experienced.  Specific locations and information will be announced throughout the day. Shifts have been set for workers that may work the City’s call center to help provide residents with vital information, and a strike team (to work the call center for extended hours) has been assembled to begin working from 4 p.m. tomorrow until the event ends.  As the storm is expected to be a consistent snow event, the City’s vehicle fleet is being checked for readiness and to determine which vehicles may need to be outfitted with snow chains. There will be a dedicated mechanical team to provide the snow chain application support to City vehicles.

“Our plans at this time include the opening of our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 1 p.m. on Wednesday,” said the Mayor. “The EOC serves as our command center where we will continue to gather information and roll out our plans. I will continue monitoring the forecast and we will get targeted updates from the National Weather Service at 11 a.m. and then again at 4 p.m. The forecast at this time remains somewhat complex and there is still considerable uncertainty with regard to the track and intensity of the storm. I will make a decision regarding a possible local state of emergency at the proper time. The important thing at this particular juncture is that we have our preparatory actions in order ahead of time, even if we later declare a state of emergency.”

The Declaration of a local State of Emergency empowers the City with enhanced procurement authority beyond what is normally granted in the City Charter and provides more flexibility to City government when responding to a weather event. The declaration also places the City in consideration for possible costs reimbursements from the State if the event becomes sizeable enough to trigger State and Federal reimbursements.

“With the potential of power outages and roads possibly being blocked because of heavy snow, I again urge residents to prepare ahead of time for this storm and to make an emergency supply kit to include essential supplies that will last at least three days,” continued Mayor Jones.

For up-to-date information and additional instructions from the City of Richmond during this weather event, please visit www.Richmondgov.com, follow the City on Twitter @CityRichmondVA, and stay tuned to local radio and television stations.