Monroe Park Renovation Plan
Here is what we currently know about the status of the Monroe Park Renovation Plans.
Most of this information has come from a discussion with 5th district City Councilman Parker Agelasto, the January 2008 Monroe Park Master Plan all 129 pages, our experience in 2010/2011 with campaigning to keep Monroe Park open, and the 2014/2015 adopted fiscal plan for the City of Richmond.
The current City budget approves 435,000 to go towards the renovation (page 313 of fiscal plan 2014/2015). The City money is to go towards the more nuts and bolts aspects of lighting, sewer, drainage, and pavers.
There is not currently a date set for the beginning of this stage of the renovation, and has been no communication as of yet as to how much of the park will be shut down at a time.
Remember, our biggest demand in 2010/2011 being that the entirety of Monroe Park never be closed at once.
Now that the City has approved the budget, the Monroe Park Advisory Council- the folks who originally developed this plan, can push to get donations to cover the rest of the aspects of their 6.2 million plan.
Additionally – and this is crucial- the idea is for Monroe Park to be placed under the guidance of a directing board who will privately control the park. Who is on this board, how they are elected or appointed, how they qualify, how representative they are of the people who use the park, how their decisions can be challenged by citizens, etc. are all just some of the aspects that will need to be thoughtfully and carefully addressed in a Memorandum of Understanding between the board and the City.
The process of developing the MOU needs to be transparent and well publicized.
Some aspects of the Monroe Park Renovation Plan are troubling and outdated. There are extensive articles written on www.monroecampaign.wordpress.com and www.monroeparkoccupation.wordpress.com which dissect the faults in the plan.
Some parts of the plan- like accommodating food carts are already outdated due to the swift creation of a food cart culture and bureaucracy in the City generally. The whole Amphitheater section of the plan just seems redundant, with Brown’s island nearby already acting as a thriving outdoor venue.
The pages in the Monroe Park Master Plan detailing the budget and private security also reveal some of the issues that we are likely to run up against. Page 61 of the Master Plan reveals the intention of a privately financed and privately managed park. They also want to incorporate private security. Things they want the private security to prevent include “loud cursing…rummaging through garbage cans, spitting… feeding pigeons and playing loud music” (page 107). The security would cost over 200,00 in the first year and increase yearly.
The plan revealed on these pages for the ongoing management of Monroe Park shows that the authors of this plan desire to have Monroe Park act more as an events venue and less as a casual park. They have budget outlines for an events manager, a park manager, an administrative assistant, and an office for the new management entity. The programming and administrative departments alone all costs over 200,000 in the first year and increases yearly.
200,000 a year could do SO much more good in this City than to manage events at Monroe Park – especially when we have many other outdoor and indoor event venues available. For example, Food Not Bombs serves a free vegan meal every Sunday in Monroe Park on an annual budget of less than 2,000 – 100 other groups operating on the same model could be funded to distribute food weekly on 200,000. 200,000 would cover 133,333 bus rides for houseless or low income people in Richmond. These are just a few of the many awesome things that could be done with 200,000 aside from general administration of a park.
These are just SOME of the issues with the Monroe Park Renovation Plan/ Master Plan. There are many many others. If anyone would like to talk in person, interview, or look over some documents together please get in touch. If you hear anything about the plan, start dates, MOU, meetings around this issue etc. please get in touch as well. Www.wingnutrva.org firstname.lastname@example.org 804 303 5449 2005 Barton Avenue RVA 23222