Riverfront Plan in Danger

25 Nov

Church Hill People’s News has posted an alert that last-minute changes have been requested by property owners/developers that could effectively send the entire Riverfront Plan back to the drawing board and scuttle any work on realizing it for the time being.  The CHPN announcement includes a link to the plan if you want to take a closer look.

The plan includes a number of measures of particular interest to cyclists, including a conversion of the Vepco levy into a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists that would extend all the way from Brown’s Island to the southern bank of the James, as well as language that requires pedestrian and bicycle accommodations on any restored or new Mayo Bridge, among others.  Some other features that are not specifically bike-related would nevertheless be great to have in place for the 2015 cycling championship, and in any case would be great for the city.  The draft before council is the product of over two years of study and negotiation, and as happens with most such plans, many of its provisions have been qualified or made more tentative due to concerns of traffic folks, property owners, and others.

Apparently property owners associated with Mayo Island and the USP/Tarmac property (below Libby Hill) have requested further changes that would eliminate all mention of park land in these places.  My understanding is that their interest in developing their properties has been accommodated already in the plan (it mentions using the properties as parks or for development), but the changes would take the possibility of the city acquiring these properties for parkland off the table.

These changes could have been requested earlier but were not.  My impression is thus that the real goal is to keep council from voting on the plan before the deadline of 12/3, which would basically send it back through the planning process and prevent any money from being spent this year on realizing any of its recommendations.  I can understand property owners’ desire to develop their land (if that’s their real goal), but stalling the plan entirely for their sake would be a big mistake.

The best thing you could do would be to attend the council meeting tomorrow.  Otherwise, contact your council representative prior to the meeting.  Click here for council members’ contact info.



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