Commentator Paul Goldman and Del. Manoli Loupassi (R – Richmond) sent the following letter to Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones about the need for public input prior to a decision being made about a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom.
Dear Mr. Mayor:
We write today on behalf of the citizens of Richmond. There is no other city that tells the American story more fully than Richmond. Shockoe Bottom is ground zero for much of it. At the same time, Richmond has great needs especially in education, our children attending, on average, the oldest K-12 facilities in Virginia. Schools built during the days of segregation were not designed for a 21st century education. Concerned about such adverse educational consequences, Governor Bob McDonnell has ordered the first-ever statewide review of school facilities. Both gubernatorial candidates have publicly committed to solving the problem. So, too, has Senator Tim Kaine, our former Mayor. Modernizing obsolete facilities is not cheap. Money doesn’t grow on trees. But education, now more than ever, is the great equalizer. Prioritizing expenditures of public dollars is therefore critically important.
A Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium would be a catalyst for transformative, major development on the Boulevard. When added to the promised benefits from a Shockoe stadium, the resulting public revenues from job, housing and other economic developments could help finance the greatest upgrade in city education facilities ever. Poor families would be especially benefitted.
But, at the same time, a Shockoe Bottom stadium raises more than public financing, housing, commercial, transportation and related local impact issues. A stadium will be built on land many understandably believe is sacred ground, telling a story vital to our heritage, as only Richmond can tell it. We believe this history needs to be told and not only in the pages of school books.
It serves no useful purpose for the people to be the last to know what their elected Mayor truly has in mind. The competing interests are fundamental, the consequences of the wrong choice profound. Asking citizens for their opinion only after the choice has been made de facto in private risks unnecessary division. We need unity. The public’s right to know and fully participate are long overdue.
Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.