Grass-cutting continues in high profile parts of Richmond

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Just over 12 hours after city leaders said to expect long grass through July, mowers were tackling the unruly grass along Monument and Semmes Avenues.

From South Richmond to Monument Avenue, the rain-soaked grass was shooting up as public opinion shot down.

Neighbors reached out to complain about the long grass.

But then on Thursday crews could be seen cutting the overgrown grass.

City leaders explained Wednesday that the high grass along medians was a result of budget cuts now in effect. The city's Department of Public Works will be funded an additional $300,000 dollars in July, to hire part-time and temporary workers to cut the grass.

Right now the department has 91 vacancies.

"We're just short in terms of manpower for Public Works,” said 4th District Council Member, Kathy Graziano, who leads the city's finance committee.

On Thursday, a city spokesperson; told CBS 6 that cutting grass along city properties in Richmond neighborhoods is based on weather conditions and other priorities, such as: location of a special event, around city schools and major parks and city gateways, at city facilities and miscellaneous city-owned properties.

"Well, it's terrific to see that the work is done," said South Richmond resident Brian Thompson. "Apparently, the city watches the news too."

"It's visually not pretty," he added. "It's not like kids are playing in the median strip or things like that. It just looks bad."

Residents can’t follow the city’s lead, however. City code says residents must cut their grass if it reaches 12 inches or higher. If they don’t, the city will do it and send you the bill.

“Yes, the city is not cutting the grass and that's a bad thing and we need to do it,” Graziano said. “By the same token, you as a homeowner have the responsibility to keep your house looking cared for."

Volunteers who want to help mow grass for the city can contact the Clean City Commission Coordinator Darlene Mallory, at 804-646-8325.

The call for volunteers for such services isn't unprecedented. In May 2010, the Virginia Department of Transportation reached out to Commonwealth citizens for help mowing grass along the roads.

VDOT, at the time, said it couldn’t afford to cut the grass it's responsible for maintaining, due to statewide budget cuts.

The program came about after many people called VDOT asking if they could lend a hand. The organization required folks to get a permit to help.