In 2017, the James River Park System had over 1.7 million visitors. This is greater number of visitors than any other park in Richmond. It is estimated that about 40% of our visitors are Richmond residents and 60% come from the surrounding counties and beyond; each visitor spends an average of $23.90 with Richmond businesses during each visit. (Economic Impact of the James River Park System, April 2017). The James River and the JRPS figure prominently in any national article or list describing how great our city is. We know we have a treasure — “a little bit of wilderness in the heart of the city” — and we know it deserves nurturing and protecting.
Richmond City Council is working on the 2018-2019 fiscal budget this month and there is never enough money to go around. The JRPS budget request has been submitted, but there are a few things we are particularly interested in having budgeted in the coming year and we are asking for your help. Our wish list includes:
- $700,000 in capital funding for renovations to the JRPS headquarters, the addition of needed outbuildings and general modernization and upkeep.
- Funding for seasonal employees. When the weather is warm, the number of people in the Park increases dramatically. Did you know there are only 5 full time employees handling the daily operations of the entire James River Park? Consider the additional work required to keep up with things like trash collection, maintenance, cleaning and repairs during the spring and summer months.
- Funding for a dedicated police presence. The Richmond Police Department covers the JRPS as effectively as they are able, but they lack the budget to have dedicated officers in the park all day, every day. There is no other location in the Richmond area that is as saturated with people yet has such a minimal police presence. Knowing police are nearby fosters good behavior and discourages bad behavior.
If you want to help us make a difference and improve the James River Park, we hope you will consider contacting your City Council member and advocating for the Park. Feel free to use any of the information above in your comments. Include our wish list if you think it is appropriate. Tell your council member why you love the Park and why it is worth protecting and preserving. If you know who your council member is, here is an easy way to get in touch with him or her:
- District 1 – Andreas Addison
- District 2 – Kimberly Gray
- District 3 – Chris Hilbert
- District 4 – Kristen Larson
- District 5 – Parker Agelasto
- District 6 – Ellen Robertson
- District 7 – Cynthia Newbille
- District 8 – Reva Trammell
- District 9 – Michael Jones
If you want to figure out what district you are in, please go to richmondgov.com and follow the prompts to City Council contacts.
If you live in one of the counties outside Richmond, consider contacting your Board of Supervisors and tell them it is time to start thinking about helping to fund the JRPS. Apparently, there are a lot of folks in Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover and many other places enjoying some of this urban wilderness. Thanks for your help and if you have any questions, please contact me, Mary Kay Martin, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.