On Monday night, the Richmond City Council voted to strike all legislation tied to the Navy Hill project from its docket. Two-plus years of planning and analysis did little to quell public outcry that the process lacked community involvement from the start.
In a statement, the five council members who drove the resolution to kill the proposal — Chris Hilbert, Kim Gray, Kristen Larson, Stephanie Lynch and Reva Trammell — said the city can “embark on a clear and decisive path forward toward revitalizing the heart of our downtown.
“We have poured countless hours into this process and have weighed both the positive and negative aspects of this deal, but we continue to arrive at the same conclusion,” the group wrote. “The Navy Hill [District] Corporation proposal puts too much public funds at risk and represents the type of deal-making that reinforces distrust issues that continue to exist in our city.”
The council members proposed a series of public forums, surveys and other outreach to determine if Richmonders want a new arena. If the consensus is yes, they said they were committed to working toward a new facility but “not at the expense of schools or other critical city priorities” and not by committing tax revenues outside of the project area to repay bonds.
Mayor Levar Stoney, who did not attend Monday’s meeting, released a statement later in the evening thanking community supporters, city staff and the other four council members.
“It saddens me that Richmonders won’t benefit from the housing, jobs and economic empowerment this project would bring — and I’m disappointed that council did not follow through on the process they laid out to review and evaluate this transformative project for our city — but I’m resolved to wake up tomorrow and keep working to move our city forward.”
We hope so. Something has to be done to revitalize Navy Hill, and there’s energy to do so in the right places. But this proposal’s failure was marred by separate thought chambers operating independently of one another.
“We were actively working on amendments to incorporate the suggestions we heard, but unfortunately, those who opposed the project voted to end it before learning more — which is regrettable,” NH District Corp. said in a statement issued shortly after the vote.
Their efforts to respond to public concerns were too little, too late. No project that brings such transformative change gets done in hiding. Let’s bring the desire to revitalize Navy Hill out into the open. It’s time to move forward.
— Chris Gentilviso