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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Walk In the Park

From Richmond On James

I've been meaning to write about this since the day it happened, before, but couldn't find my hook, the peculiar little fact that illuminates. During their last session, City Council voted to buy a cement plant marring the view from Libby Hill. Nobody sneezed at the $2,000,000 price tag and additional cost to clear, clean up and develop it. It is part of the vision of a riverfront park sweeping from the Huguenot Bridge to Rockett's Landing. I've written and spoken often about the view that any development on the riverfront is a bad development. Frankly, I'm tired of it, but as the consequences of this start to unfold, we need to talk about it. I'll make you a deal. I won't shout, though I'd like to and this is why.

I heard from Ralph White today (yesterday) that the regular Saturday hikes along the James have been cancelled. Park historian Lorne Fields, who plans the hikes, has been hired away by Chesterfield County for ten grand more than Richmond could pay him. This is the exact kind of thing I've been trying to get across. It makes no sense to spend millions to set aside land when we can't adequately fund the park that we have. This is a perfect example of a project that could be funded private to benefit both the public and the river. I'm not going to hammer away at this. If you are interested you can read these.

There will be a day when Ralph White calls it quits. He's already etched himself a place in Richmond history and deserves his own statue. Somewhere close to the river would be nice. He is the one irreplaceable commodity the park has. I think a better tribute would be a park staff that could carry on after him with a budget to match his vision.

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