City Council: bike skills course planned for Belle Isle, and general business

In this week’s episode Council moves along an off-road bike skills area on Belle Isle, minor adjustments to student housing on Chamberlayne, and some other general business.

I got word from “Charles” Diradour that he is not actually a Charles at all. His given name is Albert, but you can’t call him Albert, because he goes by Charlie. And since his name is not Charles at all, he would prefer to go by Charlie, which is what his friends call him. This is good because Charles Samuels, whose real name is Charles, prefers to be known as Charles. So now when I refer to Charlie you’ll know I’m not talking about Charles and vice versa–I think.

I’m considering moving back to the peanut gallery. I do like the press box, but even though the chairs are cushy and swivel in all directions, they are about 6 inches too short and will throw you over backward if try anything approaching a nap. It is nice to rub shoulders with host Dick Harmon and Silver Persinger; both are a font of information if I ever get lost in the program. It’s also a good place for plugging in laptop, but it’s just a little bit too close to the “enemy.” I can’t really read Marty Jewell’s email and Reva Trammel has been bringing us soft drinks and asking how we are doing. I feel my objectivity is being compromised. I prefer the anonymity of the gallery where I can make funny noises or snore without bothering anybody, well almost nobody.

Tonight’s agenda looks like a long one. There are 31 items on it, including another ordinance by Marty Jewell to allow camping in Kanawha Plaza. These are quickly cut down to 15, the rest are to be continued to a later date. Almost everyone is in place, the meeting is called to order, appointments are made, and we’re on to regular agenda.

The first item, appointing a member of City Council to the Airport Advisory board looks pretty tame but generates a surprising amount of disagreement. The ordinance, sponsored by Bruce Tyler, has the strong opposition of both Silver Persinger and Chris Hilbert. Silver feels Tyler has himself in mind for the seat and while he (Tyler) is the most qualified member, he’s simply out to build his resume and will benefit from the $250 remuneration they get for attending the meetings. Silver doesn’t get a vote, but Hilbert does and he objects to any government official serving on commissions and boards which he thinks should be populated by experts. Surprisingly Mr. Jewell, a Tyler ally, also comes against for Tyler’s proposal. Others point out though, that City Council is the only governing body in the region without a voice on this board and that carries the day. The ordinance passed 5–4 with Graziano, Jewell, Connor, and Hilbert voting against.

Now for the consent agenda which has a couple items of note. One is item four, allowing locked doors on students bedrooms in the massive 691 bedroom student housing complex on Chamberlayne. Travel north on Chamberlayne from Brook Road and you’ll see what I mean. It’s immense. Everybody is in favor of this, especially local fast food franchises and pizza delivery drivers. Since it is a slight change in specs, it requires Council approval.

The other item gets no discussion but has brought out Nathan Burrell, Larry Miller, and Richmond’s new Bike and Trails Coordinator, Jakob Helmboldt. It is an ordinance to allow volunteers to start building an off-road bike skills area on Belle Isle. This is going to be a nice addition and should draw lots of people. They’ve been shepherding this through subcommittees and want to see the final vote which takes place without comment. The consent agenda passes unanimously and the bike course is on track for a Memorial Day opening. An road skills course in planned for the future.

There’s a light speakers list to finish out the evening.

Irene Feltner is here to complain about short trips across town that require transfers downtown, adding 30 minutes to an hour for what could be a 10 minute bus ride. She notes that a local circulator bus would cost much less than new sidewalks and pedestrian crossing that would allow citizens to make the trip themselves.

Elizabeth Frazier, who cuts an interesting figure as the president of the Richmond Raider Football team, is here to tout the team’s involvement in the community and their use of local players from VCU, VUU, VSU, and the University of Richmond. Councilmembers are given refrigerator magnets while the press is snubbed. Not an auspicious beginning.

The last speaker is Benony Tony Amekudzi and yes, you can call him Tony. Tony is a regular and enthusiastic speaker. His subject was described as “General Comments,” but whatever it actually was, he did it with panache and added a bit of color to an otherwise ueventful night.

That’s it except for the announcements. Nothing much there, but you can still get smoke alarms from the fire department which Reva Trammel will personally install.

See you in two weeks.

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  • We originally reported that Councilman Jewell was for Councilman Tyler’s proposal to appoint a representative to the Airport Advisory Board. Jewell was actually against the proposal.
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Paul Hammond

Paul has been writing about life and politics in Richmond for 11 years. You can often find him walking his dog up and down Franklin Street and yes, he does bite, the dog that is.

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