The Free Press just came out with an Editorial for keeping Monroe Park public:
Keep Monroe Public
Though Richmond’s Monroe Park serves many important functions every single day, its appearance and its facilities admittedly demand attention.
We do not endorse a specific park renovation plan. But we do hold strong views about this public space.
It should always fulfill the purposes of a public park. It should be free, open and inviting to all. It should be a respite from the sometimes gritty nature of our urban environment. There should be plenty of grass, trees and flowers. It should be a place to come with family and friends.
We love the varied festivals and events held there by VCU and other organizations. We applaud the weekly feeding programs and other services that are often made available there; they must be preserved.
We fervently believe that Monroe Park must always welcome a wide variety of strongly felt opinions. A prominent area should be available for rallies large and small.
We are not anxious to lease this much-used and much-loved [park] to a private group. When considering such “public-private” ventures, we are often too eager to sacrifice public responsibility and public accountability in return for a few dollars. Our city should not shirk basic obligations.
We want to improve Monroe Park. We want city government to remain its primary caretaker. We welcome the advice and the financial contributions of all who share our vision.
For Immediate Release
April 10 2014
Better Government Richmond questions Monroe Park lease.
Mayor Jones and Council President Samuels have introduced an ordinance proposing to lease Monroe Park to The Monroe Park Conservancy. The Conservancy is a private organization.
The proposed lease states that “[t]enant, through its Board of Directors, shall establish policies for the use of the Premises (the “Use Policies”). The Use Policies shall be subject to the approval of the Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Richmond or a designee thereof.”
On several occasions the city administration and the Conservancy have represented that Monroe Park will remain a public park open to all.
Better Government Richmond believes that “Use Policies” are inconsistent with a public park open to all.
Mr. Beschler, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer: “this is a city Park and it will remain a city Park” 2014 MAR 18 Land Use Committee.
Mr. Samuels, Council President: “creates a beautiful open space that is open to all” 2014 MAR 24 Council Meeting.
Ms. Massie, Monroe Park Conservancy: “The Monroe Park Conservancy, should we win the bid, has no intent to exclude homeless or anybody else” “it is a public park” 2014 MAR 24 Council Meeting.
City of Richmond Website – Monroe Park
Monroe Park Renovation Website
Monroe Park is one of Richmond’s most culturally, historically and environmentally significant public spaces.
Once a state fairground and later a military encampment, the registered historic park forms the western edge of Richmond’s downtown and borders a prominent gateway into the city.
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 City will continue to own the Park and retain the right to terminate the lease at any time.
Monroe Park Master Plan
20140218 Land Use Committee
20140224 Council public hearing
Better Government Richmond (Better Government – US LLC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established for the purpose of encouraging the Mayor and City Council of Richmond, Virginia, to increase public trust in city government. Better Government Richmond advocates for rules, policies, procedures and practices that encourage public participation and create public confidence in city government. http://bg-us.org/