A proposal for a new public park on Richmond's riverfront will come before City Council tonight for a final vote.

Council already has given tentative approval to the proposal by Mayor L. Douglas Wilder to declare a public necessity for the city to buy the 1.6-acre property owned by Lehigh Cement Co.

The city wants to ensure public access to the James River and allow construction of the Virginia Capital Trail across the property to replace the small railroad spur that serves the cement factory. The price of the property is expected to exceed $2 million.

However, council has substantially altered the mayor's proposal by eliminating all references to a city marina that he wants to build on the adjacent Richmond Intermediate Terminal property. Council also wants to reserve final say on how much of the property is made public park and what could be available for private development.

Wilder has accused the council of trying to give away the public riverfront to developers, who say they would preserve public access to the James without costing taxpayers money.

The Lehigh park proposal isn't the only riverside controversy on council's agenda tonight. Council also will consider a developer's proposal to build a 200-unit apartment complex on Riverside Drive at the Lee Bridge in the city's South Side. The proposal has roused public opposition in adjacent neighborhoods.

The meeting will begin tonight at 6 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

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