What to Tell Your Councilmember

We posted recently about Mayor Stoney’s plan for allotting over $155 million in American Rescue Plan funds. Stoney’s plan would direct $78 million towards parks and community centers. While not all of this money would directly benefit the James River Park System, we feel that it’s important that this investment be made in our parks, recreational facilities and green spaces.

We’ve heard talk that some on City Council wish to make changes to Stoney’s plan and reallocate where some of those funds go. Below is language that we’ve used to communicate with Richmond’s elected officials. You are welcome to use it as well, and we encourage you to make your voice heard. You can follow this link if you don’t know who represents you in City Council.

“Good morning Council Member ____! I hope you are doing well. I wanted to reach out and let you know that the Friends of James River Park broadly supports the $78 million ARP plan for parks and community centers as it has been proposed. $14 million for JRPS projects and master plan items is a big chunk of change and I believe covers all of our wish list projects that fall in qualified census tracts.

This plan gets us some of the things that we want while also addressing an equity agenda that we believe parks and community centers can play a strong part in. As you know, projects specific to the James River Park System include repairs to the Texas Beach Tower and new greenway approaches to the parks from the South. These are all items laid out in the JRPS Master Plan. Once completed these specific projects will increase park accessibility, allowing more people to get to JRPS without a car, and will put even more neighborhoods within a 10-minute walk from their local park.

We believe improving parks and building new community centers in historically neglected areas will help strengthen communities in ways that pay dividends for years to come. This investment will also free up annual PRCF capital improvement funds for projects in other areas of the park system, allowing all boats to rise with the tide. This investment is not just about the $78 million right now, but what else we can do in the future for our parks by alleviating some annual capital improvement budget pressure.

The JRPS is one of Richmond’s most popular assets and the Friends of the James River Park is JRPS’ strongest asset. Now that we have dedicated full-time staff we are fighting every day to increase private support for the JRPS Master Plan. We are in a better position to advocate than most parks/communities in this city and we want to make sure that we are being considerate of the equity agenda set forth by PRCF through this plan. This once-in-a-lifetime community investment opportunity is going to do great things for this city.”

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