Good afternoon Friends! It is that time of year in Richmond, the park is turning green again, people are getting outside, and Maggie the Osprey is waiting on her egg to hatch. Spring is also the time when the City government is working hard to finalize a budget, and we need your help to make sure that our parks stay strong.
The Mayor’s office has proposed a James River Park System operating budget of a little over $1.1 Million for FY 23. That is an increase of about $400,000 over what was approved for FY 22. In addition to that $1.1 Million, they have also proposed $100,000 for capital improvements to the Park. The proposed budget increase accounts for a 5% across-the-board pay increase, raises the lowest paid wage to $17/hr, and allows for the creation of a Park Ranger pilot program. This budget increase is really important for the success of the Park, and we want to make sure that we can give our new superintendent all the tools she needs to operate the Park.
The Park Ranger program is something that has us particularly excited. This pilot program would be based out of JRPS to start, and would eventually serve all of Richmond’s parks. The Rangers would keep Park users, and the Park itself, safe by enforcing existing Park rules. With a focus on setting a positive example for Park users, the aim of this program is to make our parks safer for more people and help create the culture of sustainability that we want to see thrive in our Park.
Rangers will have the ability to write citations for rule violations and would be able to request assistance when necessary from the Richmond Police. The Ranger program is an elegant solution to the flagrant rule violations that we all see in the Park every day. By helping to set an example for what good behavior looks like, we can hopefully curb the sorts of behaviors that are harmful to the Park and other Park users.
Richmond is lucky to have so many City Council members that support parks, especially the James River Park System, and now is a good time to reach out and let them know about the specific pieces of this budget. As far as we know, no one is actively opposed to this budget increase. However, it is their job to weigh all of the city’s priorities and make the best decisions they can. The most effective thing we can do is make sure they hear from us about how much we support our Park staff and want to see their vision fully funded.
Click Here to learn more about how to contact your Council Members!
See you in the Park!
All photography by Bill Draper – @billdraperphotography