Local input sought on Shockoe Bottom
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 3/19/2015, 8:56 a.m.
Wanted: Community involvement in creating a new development plan for Shockoe Bottom.
An activist group is seeking public input now that Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ plan for a new baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom appears to be going nowhere. The mayor’s combo baseball-development plan has been on hold for 10 months after failing to win City Council support.
The Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, which battled the mayor’s plan as an effort to erase the history of slavery in Richmond, announced it would hold several brainstorming sessions in the next few days to solicit public suggestions for the historical and commercial development of Shockoe Bottom, an epicenter of the slave trade before the Civil War.
“These suggestions will be consolidated into a proposal to be voted on at a future citywide session and presented to City Council,” according to Ana Edwards, chair of the Defenders’ Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project. The project aims to protect African-American history sites, particularly those in Shockoe Bottom.
The upcoming sessions:
• Friday, March 20, 6:30 p.m., Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, 1720 Mechanicsville Turnpike in the East End.
• Saturday, March 21, 3:30 p.m., Dream Academy high school, 2 E. Brookland Park Boulevard in North Side.
• Friday, March 27, 6:30 p.m., taZa Coffee ’n Creme, 5047 Forest Hill Ave. in South Side.
Ms. Edwards and Defenders’ co-founder Phil Wilayto said the sessions are being held in advance of the commemoration of Richmond’s liberation from Confederate rule in early April.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which also opposed the ballpark, praised the Defenders for holding the meetings.
“Community engagement is necessary for the successful preservation of Shockoe Bottom, a nationally significant historic, archaeological and cultural site,” Rob Nieweg of the trust wrote in a statement of support. “As our local allies are keenly aware, the baseball stadium project was planned behind closed doors and then launched without meaningful input from the community. The Defenders’ set of brainstorming meetings is a positive step forward.”
The Defenders earlier had called for City Council to create a park in the area to honor and memorialize the enslaved people who were bought and sold in the area.
Information: Ms. Edwards, (804) 517-4049 or email@example.com; or Mr. Wilayto, (804) 247-3731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.