Monroe Park Renovations

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Aerial rendering from plans
Rendering of plans for Checker's House
Rendering of plans for park entry points
Historical Marker in Monroe Park
A screenshot from Google Maps before the renovation began
A drone shot by Jae Lee on December 29th, 2016
Comparison of drone shot by Jae Lee with Monroe Park Master Plan information. By J.Kennedy, January 9, 2017

Background[edit]

On April 14, 2014, Richmond City Council approved an ordinance granting a 30-year lease of Monroe Park to the Monroe Park Conservancy, a private non-profit organization, to renovate the Park. The renovations will be paid for with approximately $6 million in public and private funds; split equally by the City's Capital Improvement Project budget and private funds raised by the Conservancy. The renovations are being made in accordance with the Monroe Park Master Plan approved in February 2008:

About the Monroe Park Conservancy:

Monroe Park Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created to facilitate the renovation of Monroe Park through a public-private partnership. The Mayor of the City of Richmond, the President of VCU, and the Board from the public at large nominates its directors.

The Conservancy will lease the Park from the City of Richmond for 30 years. The City will continue to own the Park and retain the right to terminate the lease at any time.

The Conservancy will help finance and oversee the restoration, enhancement and operation of the Park — an historic landmark with cultural, environmental and recreational significance to the City of Richmond, VCU, area residents, businesses and all visitors. The objective is to make the Park welcome for all potential users.

The Park will continue to be maintained by VCU pursuant to a contract with the Conservancy.

On September 21, 2016, the Conservancy announced they had completed their $3 million fundraising campaign and would be proceeding to the groundbreaking and construction phase following certain procedural steps involving the City.

The Park closed on November 14, 2016 to allow the renovation work to begin. The City’s press release stated that the renovations would take between 12-18 months to be completed and noted the following details:

The project will include extensive infrastructure upgrades to underground sewer, gas, water and electrical systems. The first five-week phase of construction will focus on arbor care. Park light poles and fixtures will be removed, stored and recycled in other parks. Park benches will be removed and saved.

When the 8-acre park reopens, it will be fully sustainable, with a goal of mitigating water runoff, and will include the installation of LED lighting and native plants.

Under a 30-year lease agreement that City Council approved in March 2014, the non-profit Conservancy will operate the park following the City’s completion of the renovation. The Conservancy will steward the park in a partnership agreement with the city, ensuring that it remains a public park with access for all. This is a common practice nationally, including Central Park in New York and Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. Richmond’s Maymont Park operates through a similar arrangement.

Organizations that support the homeless, including Homeward and the United Way urge those interested in providing food or clothing to the homeless or those in need of food or clothing to call 2-1-1 for assistance while the park is closed.

Issues[edit]

  • Have trees been cut down against recommendations / plans / city code?
The map "Comparison of Aerial Imagery to Monroe Park Vegetation Removals Plan" overlays information from the Monroe Park Master Plan (page 66, Vegetation Removals Plan, Figure 5.13) with aerial imagery taken during construction. The Monroe Park plan shows "existing trees" and "trees to be removed". The "existing trees" were not verified against imagery for the purposes of this map; the map simply overlays the information from the plan on top of the aerial imagery. Green circles indicate that the master plan identified a tree there as existing and not to be removed. Red circles indicate that the master plan identified a tree there as marked for removal. The SW corner of the map may show some areas that are marked as having trees that did not exist shortly prior to construction. However, there are some clear examples of trees marked to stay that have been removed (see Eastern corner of park, central and Northern areas of park). In the master plan, 61 trees are marked for removal, and 84 trees are marked to remain (again, the existence or non-existence of all trees has not been rigorously verified, as of 1/9/2017).

Documents[edit]

  • Ordinance No. No. 2014-10-50 This Richmond City Council ordinance allowed the City to lease the Park to the Conservancy. The lease itself is not included.
  • Resolution No. 2014-R64-64 This Richmond City Council resolution was to support the Council’s desire to engage in discussions with representatives of Monroe Park Conservancy for the purpose that such discussions could enhance its Board and give it better depth for the responsibilities it will have under the lease for the management, maintenance, and operation of Monroe Park.

News[edit]

Opinion and Public Discussion[edit]