RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond City Council met on Monday, Dec. 12, to discuss funding needs, upcoming projects and future goals for the city. The meeting brought new developments to city projects from the past year, and also provided a look forward at what might be next for Richmond. Here are some of the most notable things that were discussed, from new funding allotments to entirely new projects.
The Byrd Park Christopher Columbus statue has new owners
A city-owned monument to Christopher Columbus will now be transferred to the Italian-American Cultural Association of Virginia, which celebrates Italian culture. The statue of Columbus, which stood over Byrd Park, was torn down and thrown into a nearby lake in 2020 during a demonstration in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
Hillside Court Playground is getting a new art installation
The city approved a $52,000 grant for a new art installation at Hillside Court Playground. After a 3-year-old girl was shot and killed in the Hillside Court community in 2020, a large-scale renovation has transformed the playground. The $600,000 renovation added a new basketball court mural by Richmond muralist Hamilton Glass, a new playground, volleyball courts, a soccer field and walking trails to the once-dilapidated playground.
$17 million is going towards city development, including City Center
Just over $17 million of real estate tax revenue will be dedicated to various city agencies and programs. This includes $100,000 for business recruitment and retention, economic development and the much-discussed City Center redevelopment project.
A plan for the City Center was first adopted by City Council in January, and in more recent months the city has prepared for the next steps. This includes creating a zoning district, redeveloping city-owned properties and developing a new high school on the campus.
The city ultimately wants the City Center to help expand Richmond’s life sciences industry.
More progress is underway for the Civilian Review Board
The city will provide $204,199 to establish a Civilian Review Board. City Council unanimously approved a plan to establish a police civilian review board back in October. Under this plan, the civilian review board will act as an independent advisory board that makes recommendations for discipline or policy changes to the police chief.
It was initially proposed that the board would include members appointed by the chief of police but was changed after criticism.
Department of Justice is providing $100k for body-worn police cameras
The city will receive $100,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice to buy body-worn cameras for Richmond Police. This funding will also be placed in a special fund, called the BJA Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program Special Fund.
In 2020, a Virginia law took effect requiring localities to have a written policy for the operation, maintenance and storage of police body cameras.
Plans are starting for work on Mayo Bridge
The city will provide funding for a joint project with the Virginia Department of Transportation to implement the Mayo Bridge Replacement Project. No set amount of funding was determined at the meeting.
City leaders visited the Mayo Bridge, which carries Route 360 over the James River, in January, after a bridge collapse in Pittsburgh drew national attention to the importance of bridge stability. John Kim, Richmond’s city engineer, previously told 8News that water is causing damage to the Mayo bridge.
Changes are coming to fire inspection reports
The city will now require that inspection reports are submitted to the Fire Marshal through a web-based reporting system.
This is an amendment to the existing City Code, which currently states that inspections of fire systems should be submitted to the city within 30 days.