City council approves rec center, park for 9th district

An uneventful council meeting, despite a closed-session budget compromise.

Richmond city council on Monday voted to develop a public park, rec center, and athletic fields in the 9th district among other items during their formal meeting.

The ordinance will allow the city to acquire property owned by the Richmond Outreach Center on Warwick road to develop the community project. Council also voted to increase speeding fines by $200 on sections of W Cary Street and Semmes Avenue, and authorized the Chief Administrative Officer to create a plan for accepting about $7.8 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Several members of the public spoke against the council’s plan to acquire the ROC property on Warwick Road. Moriah Karn criticized the city’s “seemingly irrational behavior regarding parks,” given the city’s recent move to lease Monroe Park near VCU for $1 per year.

Councilwoman Michelle Mosby (9th District) said the park would allow for a safe and supervised place for children.

“I have four apartment complexes off of Carnation full of children … They need somewhere to go,” Mosby said.

“The ninth district does not have a place for our young people,” Mosby said. “They are doing all of the things in the street where it is not supervised. What we need is a supervised place for our children.”

Mosby later said she felt the project is the best plan for taxpayer money, even if some members of the public disagree.

“A lot of times I don’t think the people have all the information … they [the public] have to begin to trust the people that are elected,” Mosby said after the meeting.

Although a continuing theme for council meetings is criticizing the administration’s role in city politics as well as the workings of council itself, Mosby said the public’s complaints do not really interfere with the work of the council or how council members work together. “Even if we disagree we try to disagree amicably,” Mosby said.

The council listened to a stream of complaints during the meeting from members of the public about the council’s perceived lack of productivity and issues in decision making.

A relatively low number of protesters were present for Monday’s meeting, including a small group that wore pink and black and held signs that read “Dwight Jones is $elling our city.”

Richmond resident Darryl Badley offered “professional development training” to the council. During the public comment period Badley held a plastic box filled with dice representing a cap that he said is holding back the council’s progress.

“It is your task, your mandate, to figure out who’s holding the top on,” he said.

Frequent council attendee Chris Dorsey also made an appearance for the first time since his controversial expulsion at the April 14th meeting, and spoke against the entire consent agenda.

The only item that failed on the consent agenda was an ordinance to change the authorization of Retreat Hospital to modify signs and parking garage use. Councilpersons Jonathan Baliles (1st District), Kathy Graziano (4th District), Michelle Mosby (9th District), and Chris Hilbert (3rd District) voted against the item.

The council also honored The Virginia Cooperative Extension on their 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Agricultural Extension Act of 1914; recognized the work week from May 19th to May 23rd as Richmond Emergency Medical Services Week; and recognized May 17th to 23rd as Richmond Safe Boating Week.

The council will continue to discuss city budget papers, which will likely include the Shockoe Bottom redevelopment project, at a special meeting to be held on Wednesday, May 14th at 5:00 PM.

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