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Richmond’s booziest neighborhood left out of mayor’s budget

RICHMOND, Va. -- A thriving and growing neighborhood in desperate need of capital improvements was left out of Mayor Levar Stoney’s budget for 2019 and 2020, according to one council member.

"There's nothing in the budget for Scott's Addition," said Kim Gray, 2nd District council member. "Essentially, what you're asking us to do is pay a significant portion for a party that we don't even get an invitation to."

Mayor Levar Stoney presented his biennial budget proposal to City Council Tuesday, saying that the proposed $715.2 million budget for the coming year is fully balanced, and all expenses are in line with current revenue projections.

However, after a meeting with the Scott's Addition Boulevard Association at CORT Furniture that was attended by Stoney Wednesday morning, Gray said all of the money she requested for infrastructure projects was left out.

Gray's main requests for inclusion in Stoney's budget was funding for paving, sidewalks, green space and lighting.

"The sidewalks in some cases are nonexistent and in such disrepair people are having to go into the roads if they're pushing a baby stroller or in a wheelchair," she said.

For example, Summit Avenue includes a curb accessible to a wheelchair, but the rest of the sidewalk was left incomplete. Often, business owners looking to complete a sidewalk in front of their establishments cannot stomach the cost of fixing the problem themselves.

"In one instance there was a $12,000 fee for two trees buckling the sidewalk, so they're only option would be to pave over the roots. That isn't wheelchair accessible," Gray mentioned.

The association's website described Scott's Addition as the city's "fastest growing neighborhood, home of an eclectic mix of apartments, homes, restaurants, breweries, shops and more tucked away in the northwest corner of West Broad Street and North Boulevard."

Clay Street Streetscape Project

Clay Street Streetscape Project

Trevor Dickerson, the association's president, said he wanted to speak candidly with the mayor about the growing pains of the area in the past five years.

"Scott's Addition has blown up and infrastructure hasn't really kept pace with that," he said.

In the past five years, the resident population of the area has grown from 700 people to more than 3,000. Projections show an additional 1,500 residents will move-in over the next five years.

Mayor Stoney wrote in a tweet that $394,000 is available for a park in the city, however that funding isn't specifically earmarked for the historic district.

"The people in [that meeting] have a tremendous amount of faith and optimism about Scott's Addition. I share that same optimism," Stoney said.

In 2018, the city will receive the findings of a traffic study for Clay Street that connects 1-195 to the Boulevard.

Clay Street was selected because of its location in the heart of Scott's Addition and it is one of the streets lacking adequate sidewalk and bike facilities and other and streetscape amenities, according to the mayor's office.

A spokesperson for Mayor Stoney wrote, "We also recognize that a current major contributor to the traffic volume and congestion in this area is related to the ongoing construction of the BRT on Broad Street... The City recognizes the pedestrian infrastructure needs that now exist due to the evolution of Scott’s Addition."

Stoney said he's instructed his office to pursue Smart Scale funding opportunities for streets and green spaces.

Smart Scale stemmed from House Bill 2 that was signed into law in 2014, which directs the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to develop and use a prioritization process to select transportation projects to be funded.

Gray stated that application process may take anywhere from three to five years before receiving funding.

The councilwoman hoped she can work with her colleagues on city council to amend the mayor's budget.