Great cities around the world have great public spaces. The City of Richmond has wonderful parks and public spaces but none rival the the 600-acre James River Park System, known as the “Crown Jewel of the Richmond region.” The park system is the most-visited in the region and the creation of new public spaces along the James River, as recommended by the Richmond Riverfront Plan, will take some pressure off of the park system.
The Richmond Riverfront Plan was adopted by City Council in November 2012 as Richmond’s roadmap to transform both banks of the James River, from Belle Isle downriver to Ancarrow’s Landing, into a cohesive system of public spaces. Following its adoption, the Plan moved into implementation with the construction of the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge – the pedestrian bridge that spans the James River connecting Manchester to downtown. The Potterfield Memorial Bridge immediately became one of the most popular public places on the riverfront and Richmond has continued to see an increase in visitors along the riverfront as a whole.
Since being elected, Mayor Stoney has supported the Riverfront Plan. However, progress towards the implementation of the Plan depends on continued leadership from Mayor Stoney and his administration, as well as support via the City’s Capital Improvement Plan. This year, a coalition of local organizations is working together to ensure riverfront projects receive the funding necessary to become public amenities. The James River Association, Sports Backers, Venture Richmond, Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, Friends of the James River Park, James River Outdoor Coalition, and Historic Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Committee are encouraging Mayor Stoney and his administration to support projects in the FY 2020 – 2024 Capital Improvement Plan. The coalition is advocating for the following appropriations in the FY 2020 – 2024 Capital Improvement Plan.
- $900,000 for design development and construction documents for East Riverfront, the area of riverfront that includes Lehigh, Intermediate Terminal Dock, and Gillies Creek Greenway, and “Missing Link” and $5,000,000 for construction in the FY 2021 – 2025 Capital Improvement Plan
- $400,000 for pedestrian improvements along Tredegar Street near Brown’s Island
- $350,000 for construction of a universally accessible ramp at Huguenot Flatwater to make enjoying the James River easier for people of all abilities
- $206,000 for construction of the “Canal Walk Connector,” an extension of the Virginia Capital Trail on the Canal Walk to the Potterfield Memorial Bridge
- The coalition is also encouraging the City to fully fund maintenance of our beloved James River Park System in the FY 2020 – 2021 operating budget of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities
The successful implementation of the Riverfront Plan and associated projects is vital to Richmond’s future and will increase opportunities for all Richmonders to enjoy the scenic James River. Please join the James River Association’s Action Network to stay up to date on Riverfront Plan progress and to advocate for a healthy and accessible James River.
Interested in learning more about Mayor Stoney’s priorities for the rest of his term? Join us at Mayorathon: Policy Jam on Thursday, February 28, at 6:30 pm. This free, public event will feature an in-depth, entertaining and informal discussion with the mayor on his first two years in office, his plans for the next two years, as well as important local policy issues.