Just when you thought the Shockoe baseball debate couldn’t get any more dramatic…
Update #2 — May 27, 2014; 10:37 PM
Mayor Dwight Jones surprised City Council Tuesday evening by withdrawing his Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium plan mere hours before Council was scheduled to vote on it.
Five council members had pledged to vote against the mayor’s plan Tuesday evening, a majority vote that would have killed the stadium proposal. Among the dissenting council members were Charles Samuels (2nd District) and Jon Baliles (1st District), who on Tuesday afternoon criticized the Mayor’s reticence in divulging stadium plan details (see below).
However, the Mayor remains determined to get his plan through Council, and on Thursday he’ll brief council members on the particulars of his plan. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
“The issue of taking the paper off of the docket is to make sure we get an informed vote,” the mayor said.
Jones said he still hopes that council members will attend Thursday’s briefing and intends to be able to present all of the information “as soon as possible.”
He said his proposal is “not dead because we believe in the plan.”
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Update #1 — May 27, 2014; 1:33 PM
Councilman Charles R. Samuels (2nd District) and Councilman Jonathan T. Baliles (1st District) didn’t want to be left out in the statement cold have followed up with a counterstatement to the Mayor’s statement.
“We are disappointed that the Administration has decided in favor of yet another delay in providing details of their Shockoe ballpark plan. They introduced the latest version of their plan on May 12 with a requested public hearing date of May 27 and, to date, have not asked for a continuance. A special four hour mid-day meeting was requested only after 5:00 p.m. on Friday, without consulting Council members’ schedules.
Council has followed regular procedure and bent over backwards to get more information through all of the hearings over the last six months. The plan has been vetted by multiple Richmond City Council Finance and Land Use Standing Committee meetings and Council as a whole has been continuously patient in allowing the Administration to miss deadlines that they themselves presented to Council.
Only after they were aware the vote might not go in their favor did they appeal for a special meeting. Council has never set a deadline for this plan and is simply following the Administration’s date which was to have the public hearing, per their request, on Tuesday evening.
We have kept open minds with everything this Administration proposes. However, after six months with a proposal that has far more questions than answers, as site control is still in doubt and it is already over budget, this plan is not ready. After all, we are talking about $80 million of public debt. In the meantime, we have schools, roads and other issues which require our local government’s attention. We extend the olive branch to the Mayor to work and find solutions to the issues that face our City. “
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Original — May 27, 2014
The above cartoon was first published in July 2009.
Mayor Jones had some choice words for city council after this article came out on Saturday. “Stadium plan could die just as its details become clearer“. The article states that on Tuesday (today) the city council now has five members that will vote against the plan and effectively killing the current plan and bringing the discussion back to square one.
The full text of the Mayor’s statement can be found here.
This decision is surprising since they’ve chosen to vote against something without learning about it first. At no point have all City Council members been briefed on the most up-to-date information about all aspects of the plan. Council members are receiving the detailed information they requested, but most briefings have taken place in committee meetings or in lightly-attended informal sessions. Nevertheless, they now want to kill the project before hearing the information that staff, the developers and the baseball team have invested a great deal of time and expense to gather. This is the second time in less than a month that two members have tried to kill the plan without first understanding all the details.