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Richmond Mayor pleads with council to reconsider; City Council member asks for citywide stadium vote

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Richmond City Council is set to vote Tuesday on Mayor Dwight Jones’ plan to build a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom.

The vote is not expected to go well for the Mayor.

Five of the nine Council members have expressed disappointment with the plans they have been presented with. Charles Samuels, Jon Baliles, Reva Trammell, Chris Hilbert and Parker Agelasto have said they intend to vote “no.”

“The citizens have asked me to vote no — they elected me to be their voice,” Trammell told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George Monday night.

Trammell however is not asking for the issue to go away completely. She said she wanted the entire to city to vote on the issue of where to put a ballpark. Trammell would like to see the vote on the November ballot.

“Come out with me Mr. Mayor and with the citizens — let them have the right to vote on this in November,” Trammell said.

Late Monday – Mayor Dwight Jones said he was “disappointed” with the Council’s apparent decision.

Jones said “trust has been damaged” with Council over the issue and that he asks members to reconsider this “hasty decision.”

Below is Jones’ full statement – followed by Reva Trammell’s full statement.

Richmond, VA – Mayor Jones issued the following statement concerning the anticipated vote on the Shockoe Bottom Development Ordinance:
“I was disappointed to read in the news media that certain Council members plan to vote against new jobs, tax revenue, and a Slavery Heritage site in Richmond. Doing that would hurt Richmond by leaving money on the table.
“That’s because keeping the ballpark on the Boulevard would restrict the revenue-producing potential of our most valuable piece of under-utilized land. That’s a bad business decision, and it demonstrates a failure to consider the needs of the city as a whole.
“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.
“They fret that this process has taken a while, and I wish it could have moved more quickly too. But it’s important to remember that since we introduced the concept last November, we’ve presented Revitalize RVA to more than 50 community meetings attended by thousands of Richmonders. We’ve continually refined it along the way, in response to concerns raised by the community and City Council members. Moreover, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a transformational economic development plan has taken time to complete properly. Anyone who’s ever bought a house knows that getting to closing can take a while, and this plan is like closing on 200 houses at once. It’s no suburban frozen yogurt shop or used car lot. Big cities do big things, and big things take time. Richmond’s still learning about that.

“For months, I’ve worked to build trust with City Council members under the leadership of Charles Samuels. That trust has been damaged.
“I intend to move forward on generating upwards of $10 million a year in new revenue for the City of Richmond. Here are the facts:
A Kroger, a Hyatt hotel, and new apartment buildings will help create more than 400 new jobs in a blighted area of Richmond.

That’s a powerful business opportunity in a city with a 26% overall poverty rate, where some Council districts thrive and others are wracked by generations of joblessness.

Unleashing the untapped potential of the Boulevard’s 60 acres will produce at least as many jobs as Shockoe will produce, if not more.

The Shockoe development plan will benefit the community through an agreement to include at least a 40% minority business participation rate and at least a 20% minority ownership stake. Richmond has never seen community wealth-building commitments like these on a project this big.

After 400 years, this is Virginia’s first serious opportunity to build a Slavery Heritage site at the place where Virginia Union was born. There’s a reason this hasn’t happened before. It’s possible today because it’s part of a comprehensive economic development plan. If we pass up this opportunity now, it may never come again.

A new downtown ballpark—like Charlotte opened last month—will help keep the Flying Squirrels in Richmond, as certain Council members have pledged.

“The reaction of some Council members reminds me of some initial reactions to the Redskins Training Camp and other economic development initiatives with Bon Secours.

Many people did not recognize the benefit these projects would bring to our economy, but they have proven to be big successes. That’s why Richmond will have two NFL teams playing here this summer. It takes vision to get things done.

“There’s still time for Council members to change this hasty decision. I’ll present exhaustive details of this plan on Thursday.

“I encourage Council members to make informed decisions after Thursday, unless they simply don’t want to hear the facts.”

_____________

“Public Vote Only Way To End Shockoe Stadium Debate” says Trammell

(Richmond) -

“Mayor Jones and supporters say the people back his Stadium proposal. Based on my discussions with Richmond residents, I respectfully disagree” said 8th district Councilwoman Reva Trammell in a statement today. It continues as follows:

“Under Section 3.06.1, the Mayor has the right to ask City Council to put an advisory referendum on the ballot to finally settle the Shockoe Stadium debate once and for all.

Based on her discussions with Richmond residents, Ms. Trammell said she believed citizens would welcome the opportunity.

“It takes 5 votes to put an advisory referendum on the November ballot. If Mayor and his backers truly believe the Jones Shockoe Stadium proposal has the people’s backing, then I am confident an appropriate measure satisfying the legal requirements of Section 3.06.1 would pass City Council.”

Trammell said Paul Goldman, who wrote the 2003 Elected Mayor referendum, had agreed to help the Mayor draft the language.

“If the Mayor and his backers are confident the public wants their proposal, then why deny them the opportunity to prove it as permitted by law? For example, Councilman Baliles’ father used a statewide advisory referendum to gauge public support before formally creating the Virginia Lottery. Advisory referendums, when used appropriately, have long been useful governing tools.”

___________________

Statement from Charles Samuels and Jon Baliles

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 5:00pm 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 Finance and Land Use committee meetings and the 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 to have the public hearing per their request on Tuesday evening.

“Mr. Baliles and I have kept open minds with everything this Administration proposes. However, after six months with a proposal that has far more questions than answers, site control still in doubt and 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.”

 

 

20 comments

  • Glen Allen

    Hahaha, is Jones for real? Did he say these things with a straight face? What part does he NOT understand?

  • mbaker9105

    From the statement;

    “That’s because keeping the ballpark on the Boulevard would restrict the revenue-producing potential of our most valuable piece of under-utilized land. That’s a bad business decision, and it demonstrates a failure to consider the needs of the city as a whole.”

    “The reaction of some Council members reminds me of some initial reactions to the Redskins Training Camp and other economic development initiatives with Bon Secours. Many people did not recognize the benefit these projects would bring to our economy, but they have proven to be big successes. That’s why Richmond will have two NFL teams playing here this summer. It takes vision to get things done.”

    Remind me again where the Redskins camp is? Oh yeah, about 2,000 feet from the Diamond next to the Boulevard!!!

    I’d like to think it’s a calculated statement thinking the citizens won’t remember or know the location, but more than likely they are just too stupid to catch contradicting statements like that.

    What an idiot……

  • Belsma

    I will not take my family to the bottom to watch a ball game. There is too much violence down there. I watched a guy get stabbed down there, ran into a bar, jumped behind the counter and got towels to apply to his wounds. He died. That was almost 20 years ago. Been back once for dinner a few years ago and I was nervous. Mayor, get your act together and focus on the schools and getting these kids educated. Heck, get their guardians educated into understanding what they need to do to teach these “children” to be responsible for their actions and to be good citizens. Nothing will change unless you demand it. Ball Park down town is not going to work right now. Work from the bottom up. JMO.

  • Farid Alan Schintzius

    and if you can’t go down tomorrow night give them your comments this way…
    Charles R. Samuels 2nd Voter District
    (804)646-6532 Charles.Samuels@Richmondgov.com

    Ellen F. Robertson 6th Voter District
    (804)646-7964 Ellen.Robertson@Richmondgov.com

    Jonathan T. Baliles1st Voter District
    (804)646-5349 jonathan.baliles@richmondgov.com

    Christopher A. Hilbert3rd Voter District
    (804)646-6055 Chris.Hilbert@Richmondgov.com

    Kathy C. Graziano4th Voter District
    (804)320-2454 Kathy.Graziano@RichmondGov.com

    Parker C. Agelasto5th Voter District
    (804)646-6050 parker.agelasto@richmondgov.com

    Cynthia I. Newbille7th Voter District
    : (804)646-3012 Cynthia.Newbille@Richmondgov.com

    Reva M. Trammell 8th Voter District
    (804)646-6591 Reva.Trammell@Richmondgov.com

    Michelle R. Mosby 9th Voter District
    (804)646-5497 michelle.mosby@richmondgov.com

  • grundlemonster

    “Jones said ‘trust has been damaged’ with Council over the issue”

    Ha…this just means all the back room deals the mayor was engaged in with the individual council members didn’t pan out.

  • Becky

    The Public Trust has been damaged by the elected Public Governance
    SERVING up down & dirty “Party Deals for Donors” behind our backs, and refusing the public say. Then add in all the Failures, Scandals,
    Dysfunctions and Dereliction of Duty in long-standing defunct DSS, resulting in a child’s death.
    Can’t Serve to Masters and elected officials made their choice.
    It was Not Citizen/Tax Payers. Not until there was Citizen Backlash.
    This back room “Deal” has been under the Consortiums’ Board Tables
    for 10 years. Six months of Incompetent, Incomplete, Insufficient,
    Unsubstantiated and always less than a Legitimate Professional Proposal.
    Jones got a Party Raise to Virginia Democratic Chair, as a Reward.
    Now he’s out to ruin Samuels’ Judgeship.
    Don’t know how he can preach to anyone.
    He’s proven he can’t or won’t Govern, legitimately.
    Trust em. Can’t submit a Professional Proposal but can
    “develope” their version of “Their Positively Richmond”.

  • Tar Zan

    With all due respect Mr. Mayor, HOW DO YOU EXPECT ANYONE TO TAKE YOU SERIOUS ANYMORE?!?!? Now STOP wasting our time and actually DO something worthwhile.

  • fred

    um,you voted for him,just like you voted for obama.You wanted it,well you got it.enjoy.Also enjoy what else is coming down the road to your pathetic city.Look elsewhere for a clue.This is what happens when you elect someone based on race and not the ability to do the job.Now you babies PC it up,ok

  • Bobby R.

    Has the Mayor been living under a rock the past two months? How could he not be aware of the public sentiment regarding his proposal to build a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom? He and his advisors/handlers are so far off course that it is, not only pathetic and tragic, it is sheer foley and demonstrates their ignorance of the situation or their regards for the intelligence of the good citizens of Richmond. Anyone can commit errors in judgement, however, this is so far off course if he were stering a course from Hiwaii to California he would end up in Anartica. Wise Mr. Mayor, you have has plenty of time and warnings. Otherwise, your legacy will be similar to ‘wrong way Corrigan’ or the newspaper that printed and distributed the headline “Dewey defeats Truman” Best regards.//blr//

  • Joe

    “That’s because keeping the ballpark on the Boulevard would restrict the revenue-producing potential of our most valuable piece of under-utilized land. That’s a bad business decision, and it demonstrates a failure to consider the needs of the city as a whole.”

    Business decision? Make up your mind. Run the government like a business and not load up on debt, or run it like a government, and get Richmond.

  • Tammy

    After reading these comments, I still don’t see why not to have baseball in the bottom…just a bunch of whining without substance. Violence is in every city…ever heard of the New York Yankees? I’m sure the violence there is worst than Richmond but did that deter them from building the stadium? The same can be said for other stadiums around the country. The violence is worst but they have MAJOR league teams not minor league teams like the squirrels. They have more crime than Richmond but they built huge franchises and we’re fighting this? That’s exactly why the Braves left; because of these type of attitudes. (I loved my braves) I’m convinced that the comments here are minority comments from a bunch of old people who want to keep the city stagnant as it has been for far too long. I’m sure the old run down diamond was met with the same opposition but now you’re begging for it to stay. This city is already boring enough; it’s begging for excitement. I’m happy about the Redskins camp and I’m hoping for this plan to go through. I’m excited about all the growth Richmond is experiencing right now despite the debby downers. I agree that the RPS is horrible and needs a major over haul. However, dont blame the schools for child behavior. That is the responsibility of the parents/guardians. Government has nothing to do with that; that’s another can of worms.

  • Mo Fiscal conservatism

    A lot of over-opinionated hipsters on here today. Sorry children, one way or another baseball will go to the Bottom. It’s what’s right for the city. (the people who matter anyway.)
    But I guess if screaming your opinions and insulting the more educated makes you feel important, I say go for it. It’s unlikely any of you will be in a position of power in your lives. So this is your chance to shine!!

  • Marcus

    “Jones said “trust has been damaged” with Council over the issue…”

    Okay, that quote is hilarious coming from Jones.

  • Leslie Rubio

    The plan has been flawed from the beginning and Council knows it…giving the Mayor every opportunity to provide them with unanswered questions, and yet he has nothing until it’s time to vote. Backroom deals, no bid work, convicted felons selling the city land at a premium price…no current traffic studies or plans for traffic other than parking decks. No baseball for 3/4 of the year and this is a big job creator? Who is fooling who? Fix the stadium we have or build it out to include locker rooms for the baseball teams. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars, and it was sold to us with a Lovin’ RVA campaign that we all paid for! Thanks but no thanks!

  • Adam

    Jones has damaged our ( the public’s) trust in him. His statement makes him look even more shady and incompetent to us. It’s time to vote to impeach Dwight Jones, we have lost faith in his ability to be a leader in VA.

  • me

    Seems that Boulevard has sat there a really long time.
    Seems that Bottom has sat there a really long time.
    There were no “developers” biting at the bit to “develop” that area.
    Not until they joined forces and easily “developed” their Tax Exempt/Special Interest Coalition Scams. They were
    specifically set up to get tax advantages and Taxes too, through
    their easily RUN Party Boss/Mayor to enable solely Their
    Exclusive Governance by Their Will, Their Way; without any Public Rules, interference or say in their Business.
    These “developers” have been FREE all along to “Develop”
    under established, legislated, enacted rules, regulaiions,
    City Charters, and Government due processes.
    That was Transparently NOT how they intended or envisioned
    Their Positively(?) Richmond-Environmentl “Developments.”

  • Becky

    The Infamous Mayor that has brought failures, debacles,
    dysfunctions, scandals, debauchery, and derelictions of duties,
    oaths, and obligation of normally inherent government operating functions under a City CEO.
    Not forgetting the long, standing 2009-present DSS debacle,
    that were documented, and resulted in the death of Marty Cobb.
    Really corrupt and costly Deal for a Fired Friend, until IT was
    foiled just in the nick of time.
    There has been the DSS, The Juvenile Justice Center, the
    Family run jail, Jail Deals, too small jail from jump street, jail
    delays, RMA disparity and Marsh Deal, and all his set up to suit
    boards, commissions, councils, studies, stocked with family/friends.
    He also brought Democratic Party Transparent GIFTGATE(S)
    of, by, for, and through Party Governor, Friends, Cohorts, Donors,
    Lobbyists, Contributors, and repetitious Party Big Corp(s) Financiers.
    Party Dictates: UIC Bike Championships Deal, Bon Secours
    Redskins Deal, Bottom Ball Park Deal, Altria/Mosque Deal, Free
    Give Away of Monroe Park Deal; buy another Park from Roc.
    Then brought Police Deals/hiring/firings/pay/closings/ousters/law
    suits and Venture Governance Deals for anything they want.

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