RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – In front of a packed audience, after many spoke out for both sides, city council passed an economic deal that will bring the Redskins training camp to town.
There were multiple papers that were up for vote.
First was standard fair, to transfer the deed to Richmond City Schools. Second, council voted unanimously that $4.5 million will go into Richmond Schools. The third vote concerned the Westhampton School, it also passed unanimously. The fourth was to allow for the city to transfer and contribute money to the Leigh Street training facility.
At the end of the night, all votes resulted in an economic development package that will build a nearly $9 million training camp facility for the Washington Redskins and allow two major hospital expansions.
“This is a better deal than we would get in the open market,” said council member Chris Hilbert, who originally expressed discontent about the deal.
Still, city resident who came forward expressed that it felt like too much had been done behind closed doors. Others expressed how the deal will have many positive aspects for Richmonders.
Earlier today CBS 6 obtained a 17-point memo that detailed the new plan up for vote tonight, after earlier objections.
The new plan was intended to address some concerns that were raised after a deal was announced between the Redskins, Richmond officials and Bon Secours.
Under that deal, Bon Secours would contribute $6 million to help build and maintain the Redskins training facility – behind the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond.
In exchange, Bon Secours would lease the Westhampton School property, near its St. Mary’s hospital,for $5,000 a year.
Richmond City Councilman Bruce Tyler called that deal “ludicrous” and said the city should instead either lease the property for a minimum of $75,000 or year or sell it for millions of dollars. Since it is a school property, money raised by the sale would go back to Richmond City schools, he argued.
“The way the deal was structured it basically eliminated money going to Richmond Public Schools,” Tyler said in a Sunday interview with CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George.
That didn’t happen.
According to a document obtained by CBS 6 investigative reporter Catie Beck, the Bon Secours lease payment for the Westhampton School property would increase from $5,000 a year to $33,000, under the new deal.
The lease money, plus $195,000 in city funds, would be dedicated for “schools’ program enhancements as determined by City Council,” according to the document. “This payment would continue for the duration of the Redskins summer training camp in Richmond.”
The document indicated the $195,000 figure is based on estimated tax revenue the Redskins training camp would pump into the Richmond economy during the three-week training camp.
Other “enhancements” to the Redskins/Bon Secours Economic Development Package would include:
- Bon Secours would agree to an annual commitment of $100,000 per year for 10 years for capital schools projects.
- Bon Secours would endeavor to maintain the historic nature of the Westhampton School property, especially the right angle facades on Patterson and Libbie Avenues.
- The tot lot behind Westhampton School will be located to a nearby city-owned property of the community’s choice. The relocation and upgrade will be at Bon Secours’ cost. The maintenance of the tot lot will be the city’s cost.
- The Economic Development Authority (EDA) would make a certain number of days [on the fields] available to Richmond Public Schools each year for their use.