The park has a new caretaker for the next 30 years.
The City Council vote unanimously to approve the leasing of Monroe Park to the Monroe Park Conservancy Group. The group is made up of lawyers, VCU representatives, Mayor Dwight C. Jones and other city officials, and the conservancy’s president, Alice Massie.
This also signals the defeat of Mo Karnage’s (local anarchist) attempt to lease the park.
The conservancy will pay rent of $1 a year for a 30-year term. The lease will take effect as soon as both parties sign it, and the renovation is expected to be completed by next year.
The lease proposal for the park, which lies in the heart of the city near Virginia Commonwealth University’s main academic campus, has sparked debate about public oversight of a high-profile public space.
The renovation plan calls for replacing the asphalt walkways with crushed stone paths, leveling off the park by raising the paths to the same elevation as the grass, installing better lighting, and converting the Checkers House to a café with new bathrooms.
Critics of the plan felt the conservancy would have too much authority over setting policies for the park and worried about what it might mean for the homeless people who gather in the park.
Some council members were also uneasy with the lease, which led to the second park resolution passed Monday.
The resolution that the council added include: veto power over the proposed use policies, discussions for potential lease amendments to ensure more public engagement with park users and nearby neighborhoods, and council member who represents the park area (2nd District) wants to be on the conservancy’s board of directors, he or she must be allowed to serve.