Posts Tagged ‘Monroe Park’

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The First Will Be Last: On Monroe Park

By Derek Jones (Food Not Bombs member)

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Editors note: This essay is a creative essay. Neither the author nor the publishers would ever promote illegal activity. But we do promote keeping Monroe Park Public, Open, and Free by Any Means Necessary! You figure it out. This is a slightly edited version of a statement read at the Land Use Committee meeting this week, where the committee made the bad choice to move the Monroe Park Lease to Council for voting. We hope to see you all out on Monday March 24 to STOP this plan.

The Master Plan for the Monroe Park renovations says that, “50 years of crime and vagrancy have tainted Monroe Park’s reputation” (pg. 1). and that the park needs renovations because of the “[…resurgence in popularity of many of the surrounding residential neighborhoods, retail corridors, and the recent increase in enrollment at VCU” (pg. 1).

But this plan is not driven by the increasing need for public, open space in Richmond.

Alice Massie said before City Cuoncil on February 18th, that this plan isn’t about “excluding any type of people or demographic”, but anyone that read the plan knows that is not true.

A permit requirement that is to be issued at the discretion of the Monroe Park Conservancy and a charge of $35 per application for an event will keep feeding and clothing distribution groups from having access to the park.

The Conservancy may well decide that the park needs to be fenced off for an unknown amount og time during renovations, thereby preventing anyone from using it.

Alice Massie would have you believe that the renovations plans are about building fields for plauing quoits and pentanque because they are popular pastimes among park goers in Liverpool, England, about allowing certain vendors the opportunity to sell coffee and pastries in the park, and about cutting down 62 trees and replacing them with 80 new “canopy tree” species that were there 110 years ago because for an unexplained and expensive reason, 1904 is heralded as the “golden age” of Monroe Park.

But the sprucing up of the park detailed in their plan is incidental to it’s main purpose: The displacement of the homeless, the Blacks, and the poverty ridden. I say “Blacks” because according to a 2009 survey by Homeward, out of more than 1,000 homeless Richmonders they surveyed, more than 2/3 identified as African American or People of Color, and it is no secret that Monroe Park is on the outskirts of a “white” part of Richmond.

Page 55 of the plan dismisses the notion that chronically homeless citizens of Richmond are valid and stable park users, calling them instead “transients”, reading, ” Park goers generally fall into 2 groups: VCU students and transients”. It says that Monroe Park WAS (as in used to be) a site for Churches and Community groups to feed the needy on weekends, that as many as 50 people could be waiting in the park on weekends. There were actually about 400 people waiting on food or clothing this past Saturday, and people provide services in the park on weekdays as well.  The plan also says that “though the hiring of a park keeper in 2007 has helped to deter homeless feedings, that park remains a popular gathering place for Richmond’s homeless population during the day” (pg. 55).

Most disturbingly, page 61 of the plan for renovations  says that “[privately financed park managers] must make frequent visitor counts, with special attention paid to female/male ratios… The ratio of non-homeless to apparently homeless ones must be at least 75-100: 1 to draw female visitors in great numbers” (pg. 61).

If you approve the Conservancy’s plan to lease Monroe park you will be declaring Class War on all of Richmond. We will Occupy the Park indefinitely. Instead of petanque and quoits fields, we will plant vegetable gardens, fruit and nut trees. We will march through your neighborhoods and we will expel you from your restautants, grocery stores, and homes as you have done to us. You will become residents of Monroe Park, and you will be treated as second class citizens there because in our kingdom the first will be last and the last will be first.

keepmonroeparkopen

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Yea, so that happened at the Land Use Committee Meeting today. Also the committee voted to forward the Monroe Park Lease item to Monday’s Council Meeting.

Hi Ms. Karnage,

Section 15.2-2102 of the Code of Virginia generally requires the Council to “accept the highest bid from a responsible bidder.” State law contains nothing that we can find that describes what format is legally sufficient for such a bid and what is not. Consequently, in a case like this, a statement that the bidder stands ready to perform at least the obligations of the tenant under the proposed lease and that describes its capability to do so would satisfy minimum legal requirements.

Let me know if you have further questions.

______________________________
Jean V. Capel, CMC

City Clerk

Office of the City Clerk

City of Richmond

900 East Broad Street, Suite 200

Richmond, Virginia  23219

 

Office:  804/646-7955

Cell:  804/201-8648

Fax:  804/646-7736

Web:  http://www.richmondgov.com/cityclerk

From the local rules:
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§ 15.2-2102. How bids received and to whom franchise awarded.

The presiding officer shall read aloud, or cause to be read aloud, a brief summary of each of the bids that have been received, for public information, and shall then inquire if any further bids are offered. If further bids are offered, they shall be received. The presiding officer shall thereafter declare the bidding closed. The presiding officer shall receive recommendations from the staff relative to any bids received in advance and staff’s recommendations, if any, on any bids received at the advertised council meeting. After such other investigation as the council sees fit to make, the council shall accept the highest bid from a responsible bidder and shall adopt the ordinance as advertised, without substantial variation, except to insert the name of the accepted bidder. However, the council, by a recorded vote of a majority of the members elected to the council, may reject a higher bid and accept a lower bid from a responsible bidder and award the franchise, right, lease or privilege to the lower bidder, if, in its opinion, some reason affecting the interest of the city or town makes it advisable to do so, which reason shall be expressed in the body of the subsequent ordinance granting the franchise, right, lease or privilege. The process described in this section may run concurrently with any other advertisement or public ordinance requirements of this title, or such requirements as may be contained in charters of such cities or towns.

(Code 1950, § 15-730; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-310; 1997, c. 587; 2001, c. 498.)

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VRandMPAC

For folks who are unclear about the connection between Venture Richmond and the Monroe Park Conservancy (previously MPAC) and their efforts to privatize Monroe Park. 9 out of 11 MPC members are either on Venture Richmond’s board or related to someone on the board or have a board member as their boss….

All 3 city reps on the Conservancy are from the Mayor’s administration and closely tied to him as well as under his thumb.

Fixed error or previous image to call the Monroe Park Gentrifying Committee by their current moniker, the Monroe Park Conservancy.

 

Intimidated by getting involved in local politics? Not sure what to expect from a meeting?

This guide will help you be prepared!

City Council Survival Guide

From John Richmond:

https://www.facebook.com/events/631556460242950/?notif_t=plan_user_invited

On Tuesday March 18, 3pm, the City Council Land Use and Planning Committee will consider an ordinance (paper) to lease Monroe Park to the Monroe Park Conservancy (specifically named) in essentially a no-bid process. If it passes this committee it will go before the full Council on March 24, 6pm, as other events have pointed out. This paper is considered likely to pass unless other councilpersons hear about it.

All of our City Councilpeople need to be contacted on the issue. We need to tell them that while we want Monroe Park fixed up, we want it to remain free, public, and open to the public.

The main problems with the paper are (1) the no-bid process producing a public-private partnership, as Mo Karnage ably pointed out in her post from earlier on March 15 and Scott Burger among others have been educating us about for years, and (2) the idea that the city might put down $3 million of its money to fix the park but allow a private entity to close off Monroe Park figuratively or literally by charging for every event, or making some activities such as food programs, anti-war protests, pro-American flag demonstrations, or poetry readings illegal.

Please invite your friends to help in this effort as well.

See this link to find how to contact your councilperson: http://www.richmondgov.com/CityCouncil/contacts.aspx

Christopher Beschler, from the city and the Monroe Park Conservancy, to talk with me about the Monroe Park Conservancy plan and to answer some of the burning questions. The interview will be broadcast on Open Source RVA at 4PM tomorrow (Friday). We also have a new WRIR “listening portal” at wrir.org so you can stream shows after they happen. Check the interview out if you can – it may be of interest.

cartoon-animals-vulture

We’re not sure if it counts as a conspiracy if it is so blatant and public. But anyways, it is time for everyone in the Richmond area to take a closer look at Vulture (Venture) Richmond, who is involved, and what they are pushing in this city. We are posting the entire list of their Board of Directors, taken from their website, below. We are also teasing out some of the obvious connections between these people are various icky things happening in Richmond and conflicts of interest. But please take a look at the list and see if you can pull out some connections of your own. We would love to hear em.

Basically though, Venture Richmond is closely connected to local media, City council members, the privatization of Monroe park, the Revitalize RVA plan, and attempts to get their own Tax exemptions. All the struggles are connected, and Venture Richmond just highlights the intensity of intersectionality in Richmond right now.

John W. Bates III of McGuireWoods is on the Venture Richmond Board AND is on the Monroe Park Conservancy as one of the 4 citizen representatives. Not that citizens in Richmond had any say regarding the creation of the Monroe Park Conservancy, the renovation plans, the idea of considering privatizing Monroe Park, or how many and what type of citizen might represent citizens on the board.

From local politicians, we have Mayor Dwight Jones, City Councilman and Council President Charles Samuels, and City Councilwoman and Council Vice President Ellen Robertson. So not only is the Mayor involved in this massive conflict of interest, but so are 2 out of the 9 City Council Members. It would seem only fair that they would be not allowed to participate in any votes regarding projects Venture Richmond is working on.

From local media we have Thomas Silvestri, the President and publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which seems like a potential conflict of interest in the news coverage of local issues by the paper. Sounds like the news coverage of Venture Richmond in the paper is about as fair and balanced as Fox news.

James E. Ukrop, the Principal, New Richmond Ventures, is on Venture Richmond’s board, and his relative is R. Scott Ukrop, who is also one of the 4 citizen members of the Monroe Park Conservancy.

If you have the time and inclination, check out the financials of Venture Richmond here: http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/52-1256458/venture-richmond.aspx

From the Venture Richmond website:

Board of directors

Officers

Chairman and CEO

Jacqueline McClenney-Wallace*
President, McClenney Wallace, PC

Vice chairman and chairman of executive committee

Mary Doswell
Senior vice president, Alternative Energy Solutions, Dominion

President

Dwight C. Jones**
Mayor, City of Richmond

Immediate past chairman and CEO

Robert W. Woltz Jr.*

Secretary

Mark R. Merhige*
President, The Shockoe Company (more…)

When we break, we rise!

Quail Bell publishes an article on the rising Resistance in Richmond!!