Monday, July 18, 2016

Mayor Jones Applauds Maggie Walker Memorial Plaza Approval


The Richmond City Planning Commission voted unanimously today to approve the construction of a memorial plaza around a commemorative statue in honor of Richmond native and historic leader Maggie L. Walker. The unanimous vote marks the completion of the memorial plaza approval process which is needed to move the project forward.

“Seeing this effort cross this hurdle is very gratifying,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “The vision for the Maggie L. Walker statue and this project has been under discussion for quite some time. I am pleased to have had a hand in making sure this happens. This is right for our city, our state and our country.”

Richmond City Council voted unanimously in 2010 to erect the statue at the corner of Broad and N. Adams streets in downtown Richmond. The Public Art Commission and Planning Commission approved the conceptual design for the memorial and public art components in April 2016. The plaza design was approved by the Public Art Commission last week, and the Planning Commission’s action today completes the approval process for the plaza.

“We can now move forward to create this memorial to Maggie Walker,” said sculpture Toby Mendez, who won the contract for the design. “This will be a permanent statement that will send forward her story and legacy to future generations. To have a role in telling her story is the best a sculptor can pray for.”

Maggie L. Walker was not only a Richmond icon as a leader in entrepreneurship, education and advocacy for the African American community, but she held national prominence as a trailblazer. The City’s Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn, who serves on the Planning Commission stated, “Richmond will be on the right side of history with the approval.”

“This is a long-overdue recognition,” continued Mayor Jones. “This new public space in our downtown presenting this august leader to our residents and visitors will further Richmond’s reputation in the public art realm and with respect to our recognition of African-American history.”

The statue will receive final Public Art Commission and City Planning Commission approval in August. The project is expected to begin this fall with an anticipated completion timeframe in the spring of 2017.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Joint Statement From Mayor Dwight Jones and Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham


Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham issued the following statement today:

We should all be deeply troubled by the shocking events of the last few days, to include the questionable killings of two black men by police officers and the subsequent killings of five police officers in Dallas, Texas.

The community and police grieve together this morning. We offer our condolences to all of the families and communities and to law enforcement professionals that have been impacted by these tragic events.

There is simply no excuse and no justification for what we’ve all seen transpire. And it is up to all of us to speak up and to come together to make sure events like these do not occur in any community.

Everyone, including police, has a right to feel valued and respected. Community protest in the face of injustice is understandable. But police should not be the target. Rather, we must target bad policing where it exists and work to bring about change in that regard.

We are grateful in Richmond to have strong community and police relations. We can and do care about both Black lives and the lives of our police officers. Indeed, we care about all lives. At the end of the day, everyone has a right to expect to go home safely and no one should be fearing for their lives.

We stand united today to say that we will work against these events generating any kind of divisiveness in our community.  We stand united today to say that we will be vigilant in working together for strong communities.



Monday, June 27, 2016

Multi-Year School Investment Funding Team Presents Triple-Action Investment Plan


Mayor Dwight C. Jones today presented a Triple-Action Investment Plan that grew out of the work of the Multi-Year School Capital Investment Project Evaluation Team that he convened in April of this year.

The Project Evaluation Team was charged with charting a funding course for the long-term renovation and construction plans of Richmond Public Schools in a way that would protect the overall funding needs and fiscal integrity of the City. The Team met its goal of completing its review by the end of June.

The Triple-Action Investment Plan calls for immediate action of expanding the Governing Debt Policy ceiling from 10% to 12%. This action will expand debt capacity to over $580 million over the next decade, making that borrowing capacity available to the City if the governing body elects to utilize it. At the same time, the City is charged with coupling that action with additional policies; concerning the City’s unassigned fund balance, reserve levels, and equalization policies; in order to maintain and protect the City’s’ current credit ratings, to the extent possible.

The Triple-Action Investment Plan then maps out action for the intermediate term and the long term, to include adoption of a Strategic Funding Plan and the necessary tax adjustments that will be needed to fund the plan.

The final report of the Project Evaluation Team narrowed the options down to six potential revenue sources that met the necessary criteria. Those criterion include that the source of funds be sustainable, reliable, available and under the locality’s control and discretion. The governing body will have to decide which tax adjustments or combination thereof will be utilized to fund the plan.

Long-term recommendations include accountability measures on both the Schools and the City Administration in order to show smart utilization of the dollars provided. 

“This is a realistic approach that provides a 10-year program to move us forward,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “This is a well thought-out plan that will require discipline, but that will make us a better city in the long run.” Both the Schools and the City are now working to finalize their lists of targeted projects to be pursued over the 10-year funding period.

The following chart shows the Triple-Action Investment Plan in brief. The full report of the Multi-Year School Capital Investment Project Evaluation Team is available here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Richmond Wins 1st Place for Climate Protection Efforts


Today at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Richmond was announced as the nation’s 1st Place winner for the Large City Category in the 2016 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this mayors’ awards program recognizes mayors for their energy and climate protection efforts, selected by an independent panel of judges from a pool of mayoral applicants. New Bedford, MA Mayor Jonathan F. Mitchell won first place in the Small City Category.

Click here to watch the live stream of Mayor Jones receiving the award.

“Mayors Jon Mitchell and Dwight Jones are both innovators and leaders, showing us how to confront the energy and climate protection challenges before our cities and the nation,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “As we witnessed in Paris late last year, it is the mayors who are the first responders in this global battle, whether it is reducing harmful emissions or fortifying their cities to withstand increasing threats from climatic events.”

"Improving the quality of life for our residents and creating a healthy environment while enhancing economic development and job creation opportunities are our triple bottom-line goals of RVAgreen,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “As the first and only local government in Central Virginia to create a formal sustainability program, we’ve been able to lead the way with improvements from our CNG fleet conversions, expanded recycling efforts, community gardens program, new bike infrastructure, and many other efforts that make up our 55 initiatives under the plan.”

The following comes from the Mayors and Climate Protection Best Practices report sent out by The United States Conference of Mayors:

First Place Winner Richmond, VA and Mayor Dwight C. Jones -- RVAgreen, the City’s Sustainability and Energy Management Program, makes the city of Richmond more livable, more competitive, and more resilient, while improving the economic and environmental performance of its government operations. This community-based plan developed over a yearlong process with the input of more than 400 citizens and 65 stakeholder organizations and has five focus areas: economic development, energy, environment, open space and land use, and transportation.

From the baseline year of 2008-2013, the program has reduced CO2 emissions within city government operations by almost nine percent and community GHG emissions by nearly six percent.

Richmond was the first and is still the only local government in the Central Virginia region to create a formal sustainability program. An innovative feature of this city effort is the depth of collaboration with the community. RVAgreen is a community-based plan that was the result of a yearlong community-based planning effort, involving more than 400 citizens and 65 stakeholder organizations. The plan’s 55 initiatives are being implemented in partnership with the community.

RVAgreen has improved the city’s quality of life in many ways:

  • Converted all 520 signalized intersections in the city limits from incandescent to LED lamps;
  • City construction and renovation projects over 10,000 sq. ft. to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver Certification;
  • CNG fleet conversions to save money, operate more efficiently and reduce harmful emissions: fleet of 32 diesel refuse trucks converted to 25 CNG trucks; assisted Richmond International Airport in converting its 14 shuttle bus fleet to CNG vehicles, and working with the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) to replace its fleet of diesel buses with CNG buses;
  • Created a stormwater utility to better manage stormwater runoff and encourage green practices by offering credits to commercial and residential customers that implement practices on their property;
  • Expanded curbside recycling service to all city residents and in the process of implementing pay as you throw to enhance recycling further;
  • Installed 44 Big Belly solar-powered trash cans and recycling units on city sidewalks;
  • City’s Community Garden Program to offer vacant parcels to residents to grow fresh, organic food in neighborhoods;
  • Created the James River Park Conservation Easement to conserve 280 acres along the James River from future development;
  • Since 2010 the city has planted and established nearly 2,000 trees annually;
  • Expanding multi-modal transportation options via Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on a main artery through downtown;
  • Developed a Bicycle Master Plan that strategically plans greenways and connectors;
  • Obtained Bronze level Bike Friendly Community status;
  • Built 25 miles of bike infrastructure since 2010; and
  • Completed the Virginia Capital Trail – a 53-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail that connects Richmond to Williamsburg.
One initiative that attracted attention to the city’s efforts was its hosting of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships (2015 Worlds), one of cycling’s preeminent events. Richmond was the first U.S. city to host this event in thirty years.

The international event attracted more than 645,000 spectators with more than 1,000 professional cycling athletes from 75 countries competing in 12 world championship races. The city rose to the challenge and accelerated its RVAgreen sustainability initiatives, ensuring the event was a sustainability success and that it had a lasting positive impact on the community.



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

City Introduces New Bike Share Program, The B


Along with Jakob Helmboldt, City Pedestrian, Bicycle and Trials Coordinator for the City of Richmond and Aaron Dotson, Principal for Elevation, Mayor Jones introduced on Wednesday, June 8, the City’s new Bike Share Program, the B! The B is fast, the B is healthy, the B is sustainable.

“Implementing the bike share program is one of the 55 initiatives in the RVAgreen Sustainability Plan and is a recommendation of the City’s Strategic Multi-Modal Transportation Plan and Bike Master Plan,” said Mayor Jones. “This is great news as in addition to adding more bike infrastructure and public bike racks; the “B” is another step in making RVA even more bike friendly.”

Bike Share is a public system of bikes and stations where the bikes may be quickly checked in/out with the swipe of a card or a smart phone. Think of it as bike transit, often used for short trips, usually “utility trips” like errands, meetings, or even commuting. Bike Share serves as a means to provide people a convenient travel mode that is readily available, while negating the need to have a personal bike available for short trips around the city.

“The project has been under development for some time and has entailed a lot of planning and logistics to bring it to fruition. But we are finally seeing the fruits of our labor,” said Jakob Helmboldt. “With the development of this exciting and creative brand, fabrication of our equipment can proceed and we can enter the final stages of project delivery.”

The first phrase of the Bike Share Program will include a fleet of 220 bikes and 20-22 docking stations, or “hives”. The second phase will launch in 2017 with hopes of doubling the amount of both bikes and hives.

The fee schedule ordinance will be introduced to City Council on Monday, June 13 and the City’s Urban Design Committee will begin review of the 20 Bike Share Station locations on Thursday, June 9.

Following an RFP procurement and selection process, the City executed a contract in February 2016 with Bewegen Technologies. The City received grant funding from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program for both capital costs and the first year of operational costs. The City was required to provide a 20% match for the first phase of the system launch. As a result, the first phase is currently funded at $1.34 million, which includes the CMAQ funding and the City CIP contribution ($280,000). The first phase of funding covers $393,000 paid to Bewegen to operate the system for the first year.


Click the image of the maps for a larger image.
    Phase I

    Phase II
 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

City of Richmond Recognized as 2016 Playful City USA


The City of Richmond received KaBOOM’s designation as a 2016 Playful City USA.  This designation, the first of its kind for the city, is the result of a partnership between the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities (PCRF), the Capital Region Collaborative, and Active RVA - a program of Sports Backers. KaBOOM’s national recognition program honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playful.

“This recognition is a great accomplishment as we continue to grow and highlight the abundant recreational opportunities available in Richmond.  Playability adds to the quality of life for all members of our community, and especially families,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Playful City USA is a national recognition program that honors cities and towns across the country for taking bold steps to ensure that children in their communities, particularly kids from low income families, obtain the balanced and active play they need to thrive. Cities and towns, along with leaders from every sector working together, have the power to turn play spaces, and all spaces, into transformative theaters of activity, inspiration, and discovery.

As one of KaBOOM’s corporate partners, this designation brings the award home for Richmond’s CarMax.  "We are proud to partner with KaBOOM! and are excited that our hometown is receiving this designation," said Craig Cronheim, president of The CarMax Foundation.  "We look forward to continuing to work with KaBOOM! to ensure that all kids have a childhood filled with balance and active play, here in Richmond, and across the country. "

The City of Richmond was chosen as a Playful City, USA because of its dedication to a healthier community through its natural resources, partnerships, and innovative programs.  With assets such as the James River Park System, PCRF’s CarMax Summer Basketball League, the ARCPark, the Children’s Museum, and this weekend’s Dominion Riverrock festival, Richmond’s opportunities for activity and play are better than ever.

“Play is far more than just entertainment and leisure. It’s a fundamental component of a thriving community,” said Ashley Hall, Manager of the Capital Region Collaborative. “In a playable environment, children’s creative adventures on the playground create a foundation for classroom learning. For adults and families, play creates connections, expands social networks, and helps to build stronger and safer neighborhoods. We’re proud to join the commitment to playability, which connects across our region’s eight priority areas – from education and quality place, to the James River and healthy communities.”

Active RVA’s Director, Jeff McIntyre, states “Active play is crucial to the well-being of kids, families, and their communities.  By integrating play into cities, play provides a competitive advantage for cities looking to attract and retain residents.  We are proud of Richmond’s designation as a Playful City USA and are committed to providing opportunities for all members of the Richmond community to play and be more active.”

As a Playful City USA, Richmond will receive gateway road signs, policy tools that leverage up-to-date city data and play space mapping data, and access to grants that support increasing opportunities for play.

To learn more and see the full list of communities named 2016 Playful City USA honorees, or to gather more information on the Playful City USA program, visit www.playfulcityusa.org

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Reginald E. Gordon Named Director of the Office of Community Wealth Building



Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that Reginald E. Gordon will be the next Director of the Office of Community Wealth Building. Gordon follows the tenure of Dr. Thad Williamson, who was named the first director of the new office two years ago.

“We’ve been well-served by Thad Williamson in the post and appreciate the sabbatical he took to work with us during this time,” said Mayor Jones. “Given the great work and good stewardship that Thad has offered, our challenge had been in identifying a viable successor. I’m confident that we’ve identified the right fit for this next phase of our community wealth building efforts in the personality of Reggie Gordon.”

Beginning June 13, Gordon will serve as the central point of contact for the Office of Community Wealth Building (OCW). OCW initially grew out of the work of the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission, now known as the Maggie L. Walker Initiative for Expanding Opportunity and Fighting Poverty. Jones successfully worked to make the office a permanent department within city government so that the work toward de-concentrating poverty and transforming Richmond’s public housing will continue, even with changing leadership.

“Reggie’s leadership with the American Red Cross, along with his previous posts with the William Byrd Community House, Homeward, and United Way, have all had him working in the same wheelhouse of focus on communities and transformation,” noted Mayor Jones. “He is bringing a wealth of experience and a heart for the issues that will help further anchor our efforts and advance our goals.”

Mr. Gordon has served as the Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross Virginia Region since July of 2007. He earned a Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law (1986) and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University (1982). He is the recipient of numerous honors including the John Jasper Trailblazer Award, the Ukrop Community Vision Award, the Better Housing Coalition Creative Collaborator Leadership Award, and also previously served on the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Policy as well as the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Commission.

“I look forward to Reggie’s leadership in improving the lives of our residents through programs, projects, and initiatives aimed at reducing levels of poverty throughout the City of Richmond,” said the City’s Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn.