Already sick of the debate over Mayor Dwight Jones’ proposal to put a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom?
Too bad, because it’s going to drag on for months before any decisions are made. The plans cannot move forward without City Council approval and the body’s president says a final vote on the matter could come as late as March.
Likewise, don’t expect any immediate relief if you’re just getting geared up and itching to voice your opinion at City Hall: The agenda for Monday evening’s regular City Council meeting doesn’t include the proposal and it won’t be the subject of any public comment period.
So when can the city expect action? “I don’t foresee us taking a vote on any baseball papers at any committee meetings in December,” says council president Charles Samuels, who represents the 2nd District.
Councilwoman Kathy Graziano, who represents the 4th district, concurs.
“This is the beginning of a discussion,” she says. “I would say, realistically, if we voted on it by the beginning of February, that would be quick.”
The council members say they need to talk to voters in their districts before making any decisions. To that end, the mayor’s staff is making itself available for meetings with individual council members and their constituents in all of the city’s nine districts.
The mayor’s chief administrative officer, Byron Marshall, says a vote by late February or early March wouldn’t hold up Jones’ goal of having the stadium ready for the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ 2016 season. But Marshall says the city might not be able to meet that deadline if discussions drag too long into March.
Graziano says she wouldn’t be surprised if the administration has built extra time into its estimates to account for an extended debate. In either case, she’s not sympathetic to Jones’ deadline.
“When you’re dealing with an issue this complex and that requires so much citizen involvement, sometimes it needs to be extended,” she says.