2/14/2020, 6 a.m.
We applaud Richmond City Council for putting the brakes on the expensive project to replace the Coliseum and redevelop a portion of Downtown.
City Council heard the voices of the people who, like the Free Press, earnestly examined and then questioned the $1.5 billion plan proposed by Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell II and his Navy Hill District Corp. and its damaging potential to divert taxpayer dollars from critical needs, such as schools, public safety, social services and infrastructure, to fund a new 17,500-seat Coliseum.
As many people believed, the project would subvert the needs of the people for the desires of developers and others who would stand to benefit.
Thousands of people have followed the twists and turns of this proposal, culminating in the turnout of hundreds of people Monday who spoke for or against the project at a City Council hearing.
Lessons have been learned. Among them:
• That development cannot come at the expense of taxpayers.
• That people care about and are engaged with what goes on in the city.
• That people support spending money on schools, affordable housing and the homeless.
• That people want a vibrant Downtown and are ready and willing to support a plan that makes financial sense.
• That the city should move quickly, but transparently, to find alternative plans and developers for Downtown.
We hope that City Council, along with Mr. Farrell and his biggest backer, Mayor Levar M. Stoney, listened Monday night. And we hope the city will embark on a new course seeking development plans from a wider assortment of people with a better vision for what our city needs and can afford.
While City Council members may be saturated with informa- tion from the Navy Hill proposal, we hope that they can take a breather and come back even more prepared to examine other plans.
This process, while difficult, has prepared the council — and the people — for what to look for in a successful proposal in the future.