Thursday, October 28, 2010

City of Richmond to Adopt Electric Vehicle Pilot for CIty Fleet

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the city will launch an electric vehicle pilot for the city’s fleet. The announcement coincided with a visit from Ford Motor Company as part of Ford's "Charging into the Future Electric Vehicle Tour" that began in Portland, Ore. in August. Richmond was chosen as one of 14 stops where Ford is debuting the Transit Connect Electric demo vehicle. The following is Mayor Jones' statement from the press conference:

"I want to thank everyone for being here today. I don’t get very many "firsts" in life anymore; but today I've just completed another first for me - the driving of an all-electric vehicle. It's amazing to be standing here in front of Main Street Station - an historic railroad station originally built in 1901 - and today one can drive up in an all-electric powered vehicle. Main Street Station is a focal point for much of the city's multi-modal transportation efforts; like bus rapid transit, the capital trail and our strategic multi-modal transportation plan. So, it is fitting that we gather you all at this site today as we look into the future.

"I'm pleased to announce the city of Richmond's plans to conduct a test pilot of electric vehicles in our city fleet. We plan to purchase and test up to four all-electric vehicles in our city motor pool fleet. And if the pilot is successful, we may replace as many as 40 vehicles with all-electric vehicles as the fleet vehicles are scheduled for replacement over the coming years.

"Today's test drive involves the Ford Transit Connect Electric demo vehicle, manufactured in conjunction with Azure Dynamics. Ford has chosen Richmond as one of 14 city stops that are part of the 'Charging into the Future Electric Vehicle Tour.' I want to thank Ford for selecting Richmond as part of the tour and I want to thank Azure Dynamics for bringing the vehicle to Richmond. I hope you all will test drive the vehicle while they are here in our city for this effort.

"For the city fleet, the vehicles we will be procuring will be passenger sedans. These types of electric vehicles are just starting to come to market. The city will have a competitive process for the vehicles that we will purchase, and the pilot project will depend largely on when the vehicles are available; however we anticipate mid to late next year.

"Electric vehicles are just one part of my overall sustainability strategy for the city of Richmond. Under the Green Richmond Initiative, we've implemented a number of efforts designed to help us operate more efficiently, reduce energy and fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this week we accepted the Silver Green Government certification from the Virginia Municipal League. And we were recognized for several new environmental initiatives that reduce the carbon emissions within our government and within our community.

"In the transportation sector alone, we are transitioning the fleet of garbage trucks from diesel to compressed natural gas. We are reducing the number of trucks from 37 to 25 and not only will the trucks operate more efficiently, use less gas and save money, but the trucks will produce less carbon dioxide and other emissions. The city has long been encouraging alternative transportation to work and we offer free bus fare to employees that participate in the GRTC Rideshare Program. In addition, we are exploring opportunities for telecommuting and more carpooling as well as teleconferencing.

"An effort I'm particularly proud of involves the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Planning Commission which I formed earlier this year to recommend specific measures to reduce vehicle miles traveled and make Richmond more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Those final recommendations are on the way to me in the coming weeks.

"So, we've been busy, ladies and gentlemen, establishing our vision and moving forward with Building a Better Richmond and a Green Richmond. The city of Richmond is committed to sustainability and I want the residents of Richmond to enjoy an improved quality of life, a healthy environment and enhanced economic development and job creation opportunities. This pilot project and other sustainability efforts on behalf of the city are poised to help continue to move us toward becoming a Tier One city and we look forward to embracing the future with all of you."


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mayor Announces Upcoming City of Richmond Bond Sale

Mayor Announces Upcoming City of Richmond Bond Sale
~More than $100 million in highly rated bonds will be sold November 1st and 2nd~

Richmond, VA - Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today that the city will be selling bonds on November 1st and 2nd, to finance a part of the construction costs of the four new schools that will be built beginning this fiscal year. “Because of Richmond’s ability to compete for low-cost debt that was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) we are lowering the overall costs of these projects,” said Mayor Jones. As authorized, close to $15 million in ARRA bonds will be sold.

In addition, the city will also be refinancing up to $96 million of existing bonds due to the favorable interest rates in the market. “Richmond’s efforts to become a Tier One City warrant that we aggressively go into the bond market and lower our costs – we expect that more than $13 million in savings over time will result without extending the retirement of the debt,” said the Mayor.

In early October, Mayor Jones led a delegation comprised of members of City Council and senior staff to New York to meet with the three bond rating agencies. All three agencies rated the upcoming sale as strong AA debt and the city’s stable and diversifying economy, sound financial position, and experienced management team assembled by the Mayor as reasons for the strong rating. Standard & Poor’s rating notes “Although the current administration is relatively new to the city, it comes with much previous experience. Each new administration member has 16-35 years of previous experience in municipal government.… Together they have been focusing on consistent and sustainable economic development efforts, as well as improving on the city’s already sound financial position by adhering to the well-embedded fiscal policies and strengthening policies and implementing new ones.”

A copy of the rating agency presentation can be found by clicking here.

A copy of the Preliminary Offering Statements (POS) for the November 1st and 2nd bond sale can be found by clicking here

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Richmond Honored for Important Achievements in Sustainability and the Environment

The city of Richmond was honored recently with two important awards in recognition of its commitment to and achievements in climate protection and sustainability. On October 5, 2010, the city of Richmond received a Silver Award in the 2010 Virginia Municipal League (VML) Green Government Challenge during the VML Annual Conference in Hampton, Virginia. The VML will ceremonially present the award to Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the Richmond City Council at tonight's regularly scheduled city council meeting.

The Green Government Challenge is a friendly competition among local governments to encourage the implementation of specific environmental policies and practical actions that reduce carbon emissions. Local governments can earn between 100 and 124 “green points” by adopting policies or implementing actions in categories ranging from energy efficiency and green buildings to land-use and innovation. In addition, local governments can earn Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of certification for scores of 125 points or higher. Thirty-one cities, towns and counties participated in the 2010 Green Government Challenge. Of those 31 participating, 21 achieved the minimum score of 100 “green points” that was necessary for certification as a “VML Green Government.”

Richmond earned its Silver Award by implementing a number of new initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and utilize energy resources more efficiently including:

· Hiring the city’s first Energy Manager, Larry Burkett, a certified energy manager with over 30 years experience in the energy field to work with the city’s Sustainability Manager, Alicia Zatcoff, to develop a comprehensive Energy Management Program that includes improving the energy performance of all city agencies, creating operational efficiencies and identifying cost savings;

· Retrofitting traffic signals with LED lights. The Department of Public Works will convert 220 intersections by the end of 2010. This is estimated to save taxpayers more than $108,000 in annual energy costs. The city will also save more than $78,000 in annual maintenance costs. The city has a total of 469 signalized intersections.; and

· Creating the first two Green Alleys in the city, the 5th Street Alley and the 12th Street Alley, to reduce stormwater pollution by using permeable pavers which allow water to soak through rather than run off.

Mayor Dwight C. Jones indicated that he is "pleased with the progress the city is making thus far. We've already identified annual savings of over $100,000 because of our sustainability efforts with city agencies and I want to continue our efforts to improve the environment and save taxpayer dollars."

Also, on September 25, 2010, the city of Richmond was recognized for completing its Baseline Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and therefore completing Milestone One of the ICLEI Five Milestone process. ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the leading local government association addressing climate change and sustainability, made the presentation before an audience of 250 local leaders and sustainability experts in Washington, D.C. as part of its biannual Local Action Summit.

“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to recognize the great work and continued commitment to sustainability and the environment demonstrated by Mayor Dwight C. Jones. The city of Richmond’s commendable efforts are improving the quality of life of its residents, and in doing so our larger global community,” said Martin Ch├ívez, Executive Director, ICLEI USA and three-term mayor of Albuquerque, NM.

“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the city of Richmond, our community, our committed employees and community partners. We are working hard to continue our progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and clean energy use, developing the local green economy and improving the quality of life for our residents,” said Alicia Zatcoff, Sustainability Manager.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

City of Richmond and Chesterfield County Awarded $400,000

City of Richmond and Chesterfield County Awarded $400,000
~ Planning grant funded to revitalize 4.7 miles of Hull Street Road~

Richmond, VA - The city of Richmond and Chesterfield County were awarded a $400,000 grant as part of an unprecedented collaboration between two federal agencies. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) jointly awarded the funds to help stimulate a new generation of sustainable and livable communities, connect housing, employment and economic development with transportation and other infrastructure improvements.

The HUD-DOT funding will support 62 local and regional partnerships seeking to create a more holistic and integrated approach to connecting affordable housing, job opportunities and transportation corridors. The Richmond/Chesterfield collaboration is the only partnership in Virginia to be in the group of 62. The application being funded, which was filed in August, is to develop an inter-jurisdictional comprehensive plan to revitalize 4.7 miles of Hull Street Road from just west of Belt Boulevard in Richmond to Walmsley Boulevard in Chesterfield, a commercial and residential corridor.

"This inter-jurisdictional approach toward corridor revitalization reflects the type of comprehensive economic development strategy that is necessary to move communities forward and to address issues surrounding poverty reduction, jobs, and opportunity," said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. "HUD and DOT get that we've got to connect all the dots in order to make communities more sustainable and livable."

The plan will incorporate an analysis of the corridor including zoning/land-use, traffic circulation/connectivity, streetscape, housing, infrastructure, demographics, public open space and community services ending in sector analysis, a community outreach strategy, a sustainability approach incorporating green building principles, green infrastructure and methods of mitigating environmental conditions, a market analysis, a housing strategy, a list of proposed incentives for businesses, property owners, and developers, and residences, an open space and recreation plan, adaptive reuse of vacant property and the identification of funding sources.

"Revitalization of the Hull Street Road corridor is key to the future health of adjacent neighborhoods,” said Chairman Dan Gecker of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. “By all of us working together, we can secure a healthy and vital future for area residents and businesses."

For more information, contact Juanita Buster, City of Richmond Planner III at (804) 646-6361, and Latisha Jenkins, Chesterfield County Revitalization coordinator at (804) 748-1065.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Mayor Dwight C. Jones' Economic Development Update

The city has developed a publication to update residents on the Mayor's aggressive economic development efforts. The administration is focused on not only attracting and retaining business in the city, but also resolutions for poverty, housing and workforce issues in Richmond.

Click here to view Mayor Dwight C. Jones' Economic Development update. For more information on the city of Richmond's Department of Economic and Community Development, visit