Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported details in the proposal that pertain to the existing Hickory Hill Community Center.
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond City Council is reconsidering previously announced plans to build a new training facility for its fire department in the city’s Southside.
The Richmond Fire Department began looking for a place to build a new training facility in 2021 after the facility in the Sandston area of Henrico County, which it had been using for decades, failed an inspection.
On Monday, April 3, the Richmond Planning Commission voted to reject a plan from the Richmond Fire Department to build a three-story training facility, including a burn tower, in the Hickory Hill area of the city’s Southside. But after months of deliberation, city officials agreed to move forward with the plan to build the facility near the Hickory Hill Community Center.
The plan was met with concerns from activists and residents of the area about changes to the community center and the facility itself, which would be exposing dangerous fumes and chemicals to residents of the area. In response to this, Mayor Levar Stoney asked the fire department to recommend a new plan.
The new plan, announced Tuesday, Aug. 1, is to have the fire department train in the Hickory Hill area, but to build a new burn tower in the Sandston area. Stoney later announced that he and Councilwoman Reva Trammell, whose district includes the Hickory Hill area, were in support of the new plan.
“As the Mayor of the City of Richmond, nothing is more important than receiving feedback from residents and using community input to help better serve ALL Richmonders,” said Stoney in a statement. “I appreciate the input we received from all residents on this issue and look forward to providing a new, updated training facility for the Richmond Fire Department.”
It is not yet known when construction will begin on the new facility.