FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Marketing & Communications Manager
James River Association
Building Community Resilience in Richmond through Bellemeade Green Street Project
James River Association Secured Funding to Support Project
Richmond, Virginia – After years of community engagement and planning, construction is underway on a green infrastructure project in the City of Richmond. The James River Association (JRA) in partnership with the City of Richmond, GroundworkRVA, Timmons Group, 3North, and Harbor Dredge & Dock broke ground in early May on the Green Street Project that spans a 0.4-mile segment of Minefee Street, located between Hillside Court and Bellemeade Park, in the Bellemeade community of southside Richmond, Virginia. The project is intended to create a safer walking and biking route for residents, improve local water quality in Albro Creek that flows to the James River, and support green workforce development. The project is being driven by the ideas generated with the Bellemeade community and funded by grants secured by JRA.
A ‘Walkable Watershed’ integrates the flow of water and people into a cohesive strategy to improve the overall health of the community. The Walkable Watershed Plan for Bellemeade was developed in 2012 by Skeo Solutions and the Green Infrastructure Center and focused on five primary goals: 1) connecting the neighborhood to the creek and the James River; 2) improving walking routes to the community center and school; 3) slowing flow, increasing infiltration and cleaning stormwater; 4) developing a sense of community around the creek and school; and 4) creating outdoor education opportunities. Green streets were at the heart of this plan and Minefee Street was selected as the pilot because of its key role in connecting residents from Hillside Court and the neighborhood to the Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School, Bellemeade Park, and the Bellemeade Community Center. “After years of community engagement and planning, it feels great to break ground on the Bellemeade Green Street Project and see the plan come to life,” said Amber Ellis, JRA’s Senior Watershed Restoration Manager.
Green streets use vegetation such as street trees, planter beds, and other green infrastructure practices that help absorb stormwater runoff, reduce the urban heat island effect, and promote community resilience in the face of climate change. The Bellemeade Green Street Project, designed by 3North and Timmons Group, features the installation of a bioretention filter, eight planter beds, and two Filterra boxes along Minefee Street, between Harwood and Gunn streets. Impervious asphalt was removed and replaced by the bioretention filter and planter beds that are currently being planted with 21 street trees and 417 native plants that support pollinators. The Green Street will capture 11.11 pounds of Nitrogen, 1.81 pounds of Phosphorous, and 485.8 of Total Suspended Solids annually, before it reaches Albro Creek via stormwater runoff. The second phase of the project calls for a protected bike lane along the 0.4 mile Green Street. JRA will continue working with the community and partners to implement the bike lane in future years.
Harbor Dredge & Dock was selected to install the new infrastructure and Groundwork RVA will install and maintain street trees and plants along Minefee Street. Green workforce development is integrated into the project through JRA’s partnership with GroundworkRVA. “Groundwork RVA is a community-based non-profit working to transform the natural and built environment in Richmond, VA. We work on community supported initiatives towards the goal of a greener and more resilient Richmond that works for all. The pandemic highlighted what many of us have known for quite some time – that there are huge gaps in our community,” said Rob Jones, Executive Director of Groundwork RVA. “For many families in South Richmond, that includes a lack of access to fresh foods, green spaces and even shade from trees. All of this leads to serious challenges that make it harder to survive, let alone thrive.”
“Our partnership with the James River Association on the Minefee Green Street, is an important step towards helping young men and women, many of whom live in South Richmond “earn while they learn.” Our Green Workforce will have the opportunity to be side-by-side as the project proceeds, from the ground-up! Learning to do work that is not only vital for our communities today but that contributes to the survival of future generations, especially as we tackle climate change. Healthy communities need healthy people – physically, emotionally and economically ” said Jones. “We appreciate JRA’s stepping up to help us create a full-spectrum learning opportunity for our young people and look forward to many other projects to come.”
JRA and GroundworkRVA are looking for volunteers to get their hands dirty and help install native plants on June 18 from 1-4pm. Visit https://form.jotform.com/211404428625955 to register.
For more information about the Bellemeade Green Street Project, visit: https://thejamesriver.org/bellemeade-green-street-project/
The Bellemeade Green Street Project is supported by funding from Altria, Chesapeake Bay Trust, City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, Virginia Department of Forestry, United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 3, Baltimore City’s Office of Sustainability, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreements CB96336601 and CB96358501 to Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.
ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, the James River Association works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. The James River Association believes that “when you change the James, the James changes you”. With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, the James River Association is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit www.thejamesriver.org.