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Richmond mayor highlights city spending plan

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones laid out his multimillion dollar budget proposal Friday morning.

Jones announced his plans to divide the nearly $63 million refund the city received from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA).

Surprisingly, at the top of the budget plan is a proposed investment of nearly $12 million, to go towards a new home for the city’s minor league baseball team, the Flying Squirrels.

The team came to Richmond in 2009 under the assumption that a new ballpark would be built, and Mayor Jones said the city could help with the construction of a new stadium.

“What we’re doing is recognizing that this is one-time money and we are putting ourselves in the position to do our part when the time comes,” said Jones. “It’s going to be a regional project and we are not putting any pressure on our regional partners to do anything. We just want to make sure that when it’s time to play ball, we can step up to the plate.”

The mayor’s budget plans also involves redeveloping the Main Street Station in Shockoe Bottom, by pumping in millions of dollars.

The Train Shed at Main Street has not been in use for nearly 20 years.

However, by improving the Shockoe Bottom area,  Jones is optimistic the River City will become more of a tourist attraction.

“I’m proposing that we invest $5 million to begin developing of a Shockoe Bottom promenade or public square,” said Jones.  “This is a move that will help us anchor this area as a tourist attraction by creating open public space and eventually connecting Broad and Main Street.”

The proposed budget also includes $14 million in projected improvements to the historic Landmark Theater, redeveloping the Creighton Court and Whitcomb Court public housing complexes, and establishing a rainy day savings account.

The mayor will present a complete budget proposal to Richmond City Council on Tuesday, March 6.

Stay with CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the most complete coverage of this developing story.