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.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

City of Richmond Wins Stone Brewing

~Company to invest $74 million and create a minimum of 288 new jobs~

Richmond, VA – Mayor Dwight C. Jones joined Governor Terry McAuliffe today in announcing that Stone Brewing Co., the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States, has chosen Richmond as the preferred location for the establishment of an east coast operation.

“We are thrilled about Stone's decision to choose Richmond as its East Coast production and distribution facility location,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “After competing with more than 20 other states, we are so pleased that Stone has discovered those attributes that make Richmond a great place to do business. The fact that they have chosen a site in the Greater Fulton Community underscores their understanding of the rich history and natural assets that we have to offer. As they bring their unique craft beer and visionary business model here, I look forward to the many opportunities that lay ahead with Stone.”

Mayor Jones thanked his economic development team for their work on securing the agreement, citing the project as one that had many moving parts, requiring various amounts of expertise and a collaborative effort. The project will generate a minimum of 288 jobs in the first three years, a minimum of $41 million in machinery and equipment, and a minimum of $1.7 million in personal property.  The city also received a $5 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist with the project.

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Today’s announcement marks the fruition of months of partnership and aggressive efforts to show Stone Brewing Co. that Virginia is the best state for its new craft beer production and hospitality facility. The company received submissions from more than 20 states, and the Commonwealth of Virginia was selected. This competitive, high-profile project really puts Virginia on the map and cements our standing as a serious player in the craft beer industry. In addition to Stone’s significant investment and more than 288 new jobs, the far-reaching economic benefits of this operation are innumerable. The City of Richmond offers the infrastructure, available site and
building, and natural resources that will allow the company to thrive and grow, and we are confident that Stone will benefit from the Commonwealth’s excellent business environment for years to come. Today is an achievement of great magnitude, and we are thrilled to welcome Stone Brewing Co. to Virginia.”

“The search for our location east of the Mississippi River was no easy endeavor,” said Stone President and Co-founder Steve Wagner. “We received and reviewed hundreds of proposals, visited more than 40 sites, and received quite a bit of attention from communities and craft beer fans. The three finalist cities each provided diverse offerings; however, we decided to begin next-step negotiations with Richmond because of their ability to meet our extensive site requirements, subject to the city’s approval. We also feel that Richmond’s vibrant energy and impressive craft beer culture, along with the uniqueness of the property, will allow us to create a truly memorable Stone experience for our fans. We are honored by the amount of time and effort all the communities that submitted proposals put forth, and we want to specifically thank Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones for welcoming us.”

 “We are working very hard on the economic development front to expand the city’s tax base, increase economic opportunity, and to provide opportunities for jobs and growth,” said Mayor Jones. “Our city has many needs, and we are working to provide the environment to meet those needs. Today’s announcement further cements the City of Richmond as a prime location for business.”

Mayor Jones noted that the agreement does require Richmond City Council approval, which he plans to advance the papers for their consideration next week.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Mayor Jones Comments on Peter Chapman's Departure

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced that he has accepted the resignation of Peter Chapman, the City’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Economic and Community Development. Chapman has accepted the role of Deputy City Manager for Economic Development and Housing for the City of Norfolk.

“Peter has been a strong member of Richmond’s leadership team for more than five years,” Jones said. “He has spearheaded the transformation of Richmond’s East End, creation of the Arts District to spur development downtown, and repositioning the historic Main Street Station for next-generation rehabilitation and development.”

“Peter is pursuing a great professional opportunity, and we wish him all the best,” Jones said.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mayor Comments on Children's Hospital

Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following comment today regarding speculation about a free-standing children’s hospital in Richmond:

“Our region would be well-served by a free-standing, independently operated children’s hospital. The city of Richmond certainly would do everything we can to gain the opportunity to house such a facility within the city, where it can be easily accessible to all. This discussion stands on its own, and we anticipate that a decision about a children’s hospital location will be made independent of other issues, including the ballpark.”


Monday, September 15, 2014

Mayor Announces Marshall’s Resignation

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced that he has accepted the resignation of Byron Marshall. Marshall resigned from his position as chief administrative officer (CAO) after having served over five years in the top operations position.

“Mr. Marshall has served in the position of CAO longer than most would have had an opportunity to do so, as a result of my being elected to a second term,” said Jones. “We are grateful to have had his service for more than five years, and we wish him well in his future endeavors. The city has benefited in many ways during his tenure.”

Christopher Beschler, deputy chief administrative officer for operations, has been named as interim CAO by Jones. Beschler has served in this capacity previously and is seen as amply-qualified to manage city operations during the transition period.

“Along with Chris, we have a capable team in place – many of whom have been with me since the beginning – and we are anticipating moving forward without interruption.”