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Bellemeade Green Street Project Helps People and the Watershed

Beautiful changes are coming to a nearly 1/2 mile stretch of Minefee Street.

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Great news from the James River Association

After years of community engagement and planning, construction is underway on a green infrastructure project in the City of Richmond. The James River Association (JRA) in partnership with the City of Richmond, GroundworkRVA, Timmons Group, 3North, and Harbor Dredge & Dock broke ground in early May on the Green Street Project that spans a 0.4-mile segment of Minefee Street, located between Hillside Court and Bellemeade Park, in the Bellemeade community of southside Richmond, Virginia. The project is intended to create a safer walking and biking route for residents, improve local water quality in Albro Creek that flows to the James River, and support green workforce development. The project is being driven by the ideas generated with the Bellemeade community and funded by grants secured by JRA.

A ‘Walkable Watershed’ integrates the flow of water and people into a cohesive strategy to improve the overall health of the community. The Walkable Watershed Plan for Bellemeade was developed in 2012 by Skeo Solutions and the Green Infrastructure Center and focused on five primary goals: 1) connecting the neighborhood to the creek and the James River; 2) improving walking routes to the community center and school; 3) slowing flow, increasing infiltration and cleaning stormwater; 4) developing a sense of community around the creek and school; and 4) creating outdoor education opportunities. Green streets were at the heart of this plan and Minefee Street was selected as the pilot because of its key role in connecting residents from Hillside Court and the neighborhood to the Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School, Bellemeade Park, and the Bellemeade Community Center. “After years of community engagement and planning, it feels great to break ground on the Bellemeade Green Street Project and see the plan come to life,” said Amber Ellis, JRA’s Senior Watershed Restoration Manager.

Green streets use vegetation such as street trees, planter beds, and other green infrastructure practices that help absorb stormwater runoff, reduce the urban heat island effect, and promote community resilience in the face of climate change. The Bellemeade Green Street Project, designed by 3North and Timmons Group, features the installation of a bioretention filter, eight planter beds, and two Filterra boxes along Minefee Street, between Harwood and Gunn streets. Impervious asphalt was removed and replaced by the bioretention filter and planter beds that are currently being planted with 21 street trees and 417 native plants that support pollinators. The Green Street will capture 11.11 pounds of Nitrogen, 1.81 pounds of Phosphorous, and 485.8 of Total Suspended Solids annually, before it reaches Albro Creek via stormwater runoff. The second phase of the project calls for a protected bike lane along the 0.4 mile Green Street. JRA will continue working with the community and partners to implement the bike lane in future years.

Image provided by James River Association

Harbor Dredge & Dock was selected to install the new infrastructure and Groundwork RVA will install and maintain street trees and plants along Minefee Street. Green workforce development is integrated into the project through JRA’s partnership with GroundworkRVA. “Groundwork RVA is a community-based non-profit working to transform the natural and built environment in Richmond, VA. We work on community supported initiatives towards the goal of a greener and more resilient Richmond that works for all. The pandemic highlighted what many of us have known for quite some time – that there are huge gaps in our community,” said Rob Jones, Executive Director of Groundwork RVA. “For many families in South Richmond, that includes a lack of access to fresh foods, green spaces and even shade from trees. All of this leads to serious challenges that make it harder to survive, let alone thrive.”

“Our partnership with the James River Association on the Minefee Green Street, is an important step towards helping young men and women, many of whom live in South Richmond “earn while they learn.” Our Green Workforce will have the opportunity to be side-by-side as the project proceeds, from the ground-up!  Learning to do work that is not only vital for our communities today but that contributes to the survival of future generations, especially as we tackle climate change. Healthy communities need healthy people – physically, emotionally and economically ” said Jones. “We appreciate JRA’s stepping up to help us create a full-spectrum learning opportunity for our young people and look forward to many other projects to come.”

JRA and GroundworkRVA are looking for volunteers to get their hands dirty and help install native plants on June 18 from 1-4pm. Visit https://form.jotform.com/211404428625955 to register.

For more information about the Bellemeade Green Street Project, visit: https://thejamesriver.org/bellemeade-green-street-project/

The Bellemeade Green Street Project is supported by funding from Altria, Chesapeake Bay Trust, City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, Virginia Department of Forestry, United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 3, Baltimore City’s Office of Sustainability, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

Community

School Board with the Exception of Jonathan Young Reject Youngkin’s New Transgender Policy

Therefore, be it resolved that the Richmond City Public School Board rejects Governor Youngkin’s model policies and affirms its commitment to providing protections for all students regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

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Under the new rules published last month, schools are required to inform a student’s parent or guardian whether a student wants to change their name, nickname and/or pronouns from how they are listed in their records and directs schools to keep parents “informed about their children’s well-being,” specify that student participation in activities and athletics shall be based on sex and state that “students shall use bathrooms that correspond to his or her sex, except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires.” Virginia Mercury has an article up today detailing how these rules have no enforcement mechanism.

Last night school board member Liz Doerr proposed the following resolution with the support of Superintendent Kamaras.

It passed with only 4th District School Board member Jonathan Young voting against it.

Last week thousands of students across the state and here in Richmond walked out of class in protest of Youngkin’s proposed rule changes.

For more on How To Protect Trans Kids and Oppose Youngkin’s 2022 Anti-Transgender Student Policy from equality Richmond.

A public comment period for the proposed model policy opened Monday September 26th and will close Wednesday October 26th at 11:59 pm. We encourage you to submit a comment in opposition to the policy. Below are tips. Navigate to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall Page and click “Enter Comment” to begin.

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We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Business

Short Pump Town Center seeks open container ABC license

Soon you might be able to sip and shop at the Far West End mall.

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From Richmond BizSense:

Short Pump Town Center wants to allow people to walk around the mall with alcoholic beverages open and in hand.

The Henrico County mall recently filed a request with the Virginia ABC for one of the alcohol control agency’s commercial lifestyle center licenses, which would allow Short Pump’s visitors to consume alcoholic beverages in the mall’s common areas. The mall hopes to offer the perk no later than spring 2023.

“In short, it is similar to an ‘open container’ license and will allow visitors over the age of 21 to take their purchased alcoholic beverages (bought at one of our tenant restaurants) out with them while they shop,” said a spokeswoman for Brookfield Properties, the New York firm that co-owns the mall.

The company offers similar open-container programs at other properties in its portfolio.

Continue reading here.

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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Community

Snack Collection for Westover Hills Elementary

Everyone deserves a snack.

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The good folks over at Westover Hills United Methodist Church (1711 Westover Hills Blvd) are helping out Westover Hill Elementary students and you can help as well.

The WHUMC Connect Group is collecting snacks for Westover Hills Elementary! We will be organizing and delivering the snacks at our October 12th meeting and would love to have donations in by then. If you are able to donate, please feel free to drop off at the church! Thank you!

Will you help support independent, local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide a vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be immensely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization, or event? Get the details here.

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