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If they build it ...

11/22/2019, 6 a.m.
When it comes to the costly Coliseum replacement and Downtown redevelopment plan, the Navy Hill District Corp. believes in the ...

When it comes to the costly Coliseum replacement and Downtown redevelopment plan, the Navy Hill District Corp. believes in the adage made famous by the 1989 drama-fantasy movie, “Field of Dreams.”

That adage: “If you build it, they will come.”

They want the public to believe that if they pump $1.5 billion into a 10-block area of Downtown to put up a new Coliseum, a new hotel, office buildings and residences, then thousands of people will come to a bevy of concerts and shows and spend big bucks on food, drink and rent thus causing thousands of jobs to spring forth from the project. But that’s all based on rosy projections that other prognosticators say are overblown.

Now, it seems the Navy Hill people also believe “If you pay them, they will come.”

We’re talking about last week’s Richmond City Council meeting for which people were paid $25 each to attend and hold up signs showing their support for the Navy Hill project.

A Navy Hill District Corp. spokesman wanted to call it a “reimbursement” for child care or transit costs given to the people by one of the corporation’s community partners, the Help Me Help You Foundation founded by former Richmond City Council President Michelle Mosby.

With the Downtown project being led by a man with deep pockets, Thomas F. “Tom” Farrell II, CEO of Dominion Energy, we are shocked that the incentive to show up at the meeting was only $25.

Sadly, it shows how deep poverty and depression is within Richmond’s African-American community that $25 can get people to show up and hold signs at a City Council meeting.

It also raises serious questions about the integrity of those who would pass out money or “incentives” in our community to get the outcome they want.

And it casts doubts about the conviction of those who did turn up in support of the project. Would the same people show up and hold signs opposing the project if they were paid $25? What about $35 or $50?

This is a travesty. With this latest scheme, our community once again winds up as losers. And on the grand scale, nobody is being helped by this project — not the City of Richmond, not the people of Richmond, not Richmond Public Schools or the city’s critical police, fire, social services or infrastructure needs. For the next 30 years, any new revenue from an 80-block area around the Downtown development will go to pay for the new Coliseum, leaving the taxpayers, including those attending last week’s City Council meeting, stuck with the bill for the rising costs of city services during that period. Only Mr. Farrell and friends are benefiting from this project and the charade being perpetrated to pull it off.

We need to wake up, wise up and stand up for what truly will help our community.

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