There was interesting news out of Mayor Levar Stoney’s office yesterday that Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities has agreed to purchase 18.2 acres of forest adjacent to Lewis G. Larus Park in South Richmond (near the intersection of Buford and Huguenot roads) to expand water service to nearby Chesterfield County residents.
This became an issue over the summer when word got out that the city was considering developing 1.2 acres of the 106-acre Larus Park and then leasing it to the county for a water pumping station. Residents objected to the taking of parkland (and the slippery slope it might create), the loss of hundreds of trees and what some saw as the raw deal the city was getting from the county in exchange for the land. More than 1,300 residents signed an online petition opposing the original agreement.
In yesterday’s announcement, the mayor presented the purchase, for $420,000 from the Redford Land Trust, as a “better outcome and a win-win for our residents.” As part of the new agreement, Chesterfield would spend $7.5 million to build a new water pumping station on 1.2 acres the county would lease from the city for $1 a year. The county would then be able to increase its water consumption from 27 million to 32 million gallons daily.
The mayor’s office said the agreement could net $4.1 million in additional revenue in the next five years.
From the press release: Residents will get acres of additional, undisturbed, undeveloped park land which can be used for hiking trails and other passive uses. Our successful water utility will upgrade its infrastructure and return an additional $4.1 million in additional revenue over the next five years to help offset operations and maintenance costs to Richmond ratepayers. And we will be doing the right thing by helping our neighbor in Chesterfield.
But the matter hasn’t been decided yet, as city council still must vote on the issue. The land in question falls in Councilperson Kristen Larson’s 4th District. She released this statement yesterday:
Since the beginning I have promised to hold a public meeting in the 4th district before I vote on this ordinance. I hope you will join me for this meeting on November 20th at 6:00 pm at the Huguenot Community Center to learn more and provide feedback. Representatives from DPU will be there to present the proposal in full and answer any questions. I will be available to listen to your comments.
Stay tuned, as this issue is far from over.