City to remove asphalt from VCU parking lot

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A controversial parking lot is about to shut down for good. Work has begun for a ceremony next week to remove the asphalt from Virginia Commonwealth University lot C off Broad Street, believed to be on top of a slave burial ground.

There are already fewer cars parked here but the signs are out, this will no longer be a parking as of Saturday and it's catching a few people off guard.

It was nearly two years ago VCU paved that parking lot, with protestors standing by. Now that asphalt is going to go. The city began prepping the 2-acre lot this week.

For a ceremony on Tuesday to officially begin removal. A longtime wish of those who've been fighting for what's underneath.

"We say get your asphalt of our ancestors," said Richmond NAACP Executive Director King Khalfani.

"We consider parking cars on a burial ground to be a desecration," said former Richmond city council member Sa'ad El-Amin during one of his court hearings.

Portions of this parking lot are believed to be on top of a long neglected slave burial ground. VCU agreed to sell the land back to the state, which in turn will donate it to the city.

Three local contractors have agreed to remove the asphalt for free, a value of $123,000. That work starts next week, but signs went up today letting the 400 people with parking passes know they can't park here after Friday.

"Eventually I knew it was coming, but it's kind of, it's kind of a shock. I mean I've paid through the end of May," said Michael Cieslinski.

The faculty, staff and med students have classes through next week.

"That's kind of inconvenient for a lot of us, but who am I to say. I don't know a lot about the history," said Eric Okelberry.

VCU has a plan for the people with passes here. The cars will be moved to the Main Street Station lot and other VCU parking decks. There's a number posted on the signs for more information.

In the meantime, a long history of covering up, paving over or parking on top a piece of Richmond's history is days away from ending.

The lot officially becomes city property Monday night after the city council votes to accept it from VCU.

Again, the city will officially own the property Monday night and will start lifting the asphalt on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. at a ceremony that will be open to the public.

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