Monroe Park Board takes form

Four current/former city officials, three representatives from VCU, two lawyers, Chair of the Conservancy and a local businessman.

The Monroe Park Conservancy is preparing to lease Monroe Park from the city for $1 per year over the next 30 years. The conservancy is presenting to the City Council’s  Land Use, Housing and Transportation Committee today  at 3 PM at City Hall and full council on February 24th.

RTD has the details including who will be sitting on the board.

In an interview Monday, Massie said the group was assembled largely to establish a 501(c)(3) organization that could raise funds, but she expects the board’s membership to change as plans progress.

“We know that a third will come from the city, a third will come from VCU and a third will come from citizens,” Massie said. “That’s so there’s always a check and balance.”

The conservancy’s backers say it’s a legal vehicle that will help create a better park, but some residents have pushed back against the idea of the council relinquishing control over one of city’s most high-profile public spaces to an outside group.

“The fate of our park, belonging to the citizens of our great city, should not be decided by fiat by a cozy group of VCU and city administrators,” Oregon Hill resident Charles Pool wrote in an email to City Council members last month.

The 11-member board includes:

  • Mayor Dwight C. Jones
  • David Hicks – Mayor’s senior policy adviser David Hicks
  • Christopher L. Beschler – Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Operations
  • Suzette Denslow – Mayor’s former chief of staff who now serves as deputy chief of staff to Gov. Terry McAuliffe
  • Brian J. Ohlinger – VCU associate vice president for facilities management
  • Cathy W. Howard – VCU vice provost of community engagement
  • Thomas F. Huff – VCU vice provost for life sciences
  • Alice Massie – President of the Monroe Park Conservancy
  • Mark S. Dray  – Lawyer at Hunton & Williams, focuses on tax law and employee benefits
  • John W. Bates III  –  Lawyer at  McGuireWoods, focuses on real estate, financial and municipal law
  • R. Scott Ukrop  – Businessman


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Richard Hayes

When Richard isn’t rounding up neighborhood news, he’s likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest craft beer.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Hugh Jarse on said:

    “…a third will come from citizens…”

    Some real salt-of-the-earth, working-class, ordinary folks, there, kids. I guess Tom Farrell was busy?

  2. Oliver Klosoff on said:

    A third will come from the mayor’s closest advisers, a third will come from VCU, and a third will come from the mayor’s closest advisers in Venture Richmond. FIFY

  3. Jason on said:

    Wow, there’s not even a gesture toward real citizen involvement. Would it hurt to include a couple of people who might actually use the park?

  4. Richmond Fan on said:

    This is quite disappointing. Why don’t they just sell the park to VCU? At least then the city would get some money…of course they probably would just waste it anyhow. Hopefully they come up with something that caters a little bit to everyone, but based on the board it appears that it might not end up the way. I live in the fan and was really looking forward to being able to use the park. I guess all we can do is wait and see.


    Petition to keep Monroe Park public and free! Support Richmond Food Not Bombs. The park where we have served for over 20 years is under threat of privatization, where a permit application alone will cost $35!!! Spread the word we need support!

  6. Scott Burger on said:

    At yesterday’s Land Use committee meeting, Ms. Massie was allowed to present the Conservancy plan to the committee, and no one was allowed to speak in opposition, which did not seem appropriate. Massie focused on plans for renovation, but the overwhelming of Richmonders are already for renovation, just not privatization.

    It is important to recognize that the Monroe Park Advisory Committee made up a renovation plan years ago. But the CIty government was too busy giving money away to private groups like Center Stage, the Redskins, and Venture Richmond to fund the plan and needed renovation of a public park. Now it is going along with privatization.

    Will VCU commit to protecting the old growth trees in the long term? They tried to do this back in ’91, taking over control of the park and then planning to remove all the trees.

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