1/13/21

Governor Northam's State of the Commonwealth mentions the African Burial Ground

This evening, Governor Ralph Northam gave the 2021 state of the commonwealth address and at minute 48:01,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z0FnoyXK8U&feature=youtu.be, he declared his commitment to working with Mayor Stoney to ensure preservation of the Devil's Half Acre and the African Burial Ground. This is a reference to the his announcement of $9 million dollars to the capital city which the Washington Post story reported was for the Devil's Half Acre (interpretive center/museum), Monument Avenue (new concepts, monuments?), and Brown's Island (Emancipation monument). 

On Monday, Richmond city council passed Ord. 2020-262 authorizing the Economic Development department to negotiate with two Loving family corporations for the purchase of the parcels in Shockoe Bottom to complete the Memorial Park footprint, but also the expanded "heritage campus" footprint to include construction of a parking deck. That parking will replace the surface lots in the area but also serve the requirements of Main Street Station for high speed rail service. 

At the Shockoe Alliance meeting this afternoon, the membership discussed revisions to the Goals and Objectives section of the small area master plan. The Alliance will review a draft version of the plan next month and then a plan for public review to follow - so, probably... sometime in March. 

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Defenders members work with the Virginia Prison Justice Network which, from 12 PM EST – 3 PM EST on Sat., Jan. 16, 2021, will hold its 4th Annual Virginia Prison Justice Rally & Car Caravan to the Science Museum of Virginia (where the Senate is meeting). Highlighting the vulnerability of incarcerated people to the risk of COVID-19, details can be found at the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/3234557349983033


1/4/21

Support Ord. 2020-262 at Jan. 11 city council meeting

The privately-owned parcels in yellow above and several more just south between Grace and E. Franklin (not shown) are slated for acquisition to complete the memorial park and heritage campus.

On Monday, Jan. 4, Ord. 2020-262 was passed without discussion by the city's Planning Commission. This makes the third ordinance passed by the city which takes concrete steps toward securing the establishment of the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park. Ord. 2020-194 committed $1.7 million (from surplus delinquent tax funds) to the land acquisition and design of the park along with other improvements to the sites along the Slave Trail. Ord. 2020-051 added the Memorial Park to the Capital Improvement budget that already included the Devil's Half Acre museum project. Ord. 202-213 expanded the Slave Trail to include the Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground (1305 N. 5th St.) and there is talk of the East Marshall Street Well also being added. 

Ord. 2020-262 calls for the parcels to be acquired by arrangement with the current owners, with the final purchase price to be established upon current market assessment. If the city and sellers cannot come to an agreement on the purchase price, it is possible that the eminent domain process could be utilized. Please see the Richmond Free Press story from the Dec. 31st issue. 

Please convey your support and appreciation for this progress in the establishment of the Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park by sending messages of support to your city council members and Mayor Stoney.