We did it! Richmond City leaders heard our message and on October 25th City Council voted to adopt the Mayor’s proposed spending plan for the $155 million funding on its way to Richmond thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act. 78 million of those dollars will be used to make an unprecedented investment in our parks and community centers. The proposal also includes a $20 million investment in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, $5 million for a health equity fund, $5 million for first responder bonuses, and many other important items for the city. This is a downpayment on the city that we want Richmond to be and I am proud that the Friends of the James River Park is able to play a role in helping see this visionary plan to adoption.
The James River Park System will see around $14 million invested as a result of the adoption of this plan. Those funds will be used to make an urgently needed repair to park infrastructure and to create new greenways to provide better access to JRPS from the Southside of the city. The renewed Texas Beach Tower, James River Branch Trail, and Crooked Branch Bridge (a major part of the planned Reedy Creek Greenway) are all items identified in the JRPS Master Plan, which you can check out here. These three projects are planned to be completed by September of 2026.
Also included in the $78 million parks and community centers allocation is $1.5 million for land acquisition and $500,000 for a city-wide parks master plan. This funding will help create more and better green spaces across the city and could lead to more park space for JRPS.
I am excited to be sharing this news with you all, and this is just the first step! Now the real work begins. We have to stay engaged with the city through the design and planning process for these projects to ensure that our voice continues to be heard. This will be especially important when the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities starts the public input phase of their master planning process.
As advocates for the James River Park System, our goal is to make sure that we are heard loud and clear on this, and all relevant issues. This work was made possible because so many of you heeded the call to action and contacted your city council members. Please continue to help us stay engaged with city leadership around important issues like this in the future.
Thank you for your support! I will see you in the park.