RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The future of Richmond's 60-acre Boulevard site has been a hot button topic for years, and the process to determine its future reboots Tuesday night. The first of six public meetings was held where the city leaders listened to public input.
It was clear at the meeting that keeping baseball on the Boulevard is very important to a lot of people. There was so much passion the room that the city even agreed to change the format for the public input session to hear from more people. "You want our opinion, you're getting it," exclaimed one Richmond resident in the group of dozens gathered at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
It didn't take long for frustrations to flare up at the meeting. "It's about what we want. It's not about what you think we want," said Richmond resident, Charlie Diradour.
The meeting began with the project developers outlining their studies that showed what changes to the Boulevard site would make the biggest economic impact, which included urban scale mix use with housing, retail, businesses, hotels, but not baseball. "We lost the braves because of this. Don't be a bad dog and chase the Squirrels out too," said one Richmond resident at the meeting.
It was when the city then asked people to split into groups to discuss, fill out a form, and appoint just one member from each to speak that people like Ann Marks demanded more. "This is a joke!" she yelled. "I did that because the city will tell us they want our input, but they'll stand up there and tell us what they want, what they've studied, the plan they want," said Marks.
The city agreed to change the format and hear out anyone who wanted to speak.
"There are more things to the quality of life than mere economic potential," said one Richmond resident. Most of them came to the podium with the same desire. "I think baseball and the Diamond at its current location is the best options for fans and the community," said another Richmond resident.
Marks even initiated a poll at the end, telling everyone in favor of keeping baseball on the Boulevard to raise their hands. An overwhelming majority of the room did, including Diradour. "They're tied to that destination. They've been tied to it since 1954. and if that's old fashioned so be it. They like it where it is," said Diradour.
There will be five more meetings on this issue.
- Jan. 20, 6 p.m. - Southside Community Center, 4100 Hull St.
- Jan. 26, 12 p.m. - Huguenot High School, 7945 Forest Hill Ave.
- Jan. 26, 6 p.m. - Thomas Jefferson High School, 4100 W. Grace St.
- Feb. 4, 9 a.m. - Main Branch Public Library, 101 E. Franklin St.
- Feb. 4, 6 p.m. - Martin Luther King Middle School, 1000 Mosby St.
Those who cannot attend any of the meetings can email council member Parker C. Agelasto with their opinion.
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