‘Definitely on the map’: Stoney touts Richmond’s progress in State of the City

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney during the 2019 State of the City address.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney during the 2019 State of the City address.((Source: NBC12))
Updated: Jan. 31, 2019 at 11:15 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Mayor LeVar Stoney was met with a standing ovation as he discussed schools and public safety during his State of the City address Thursday night.

As Richmond searches for a new police chief, the mayor touted an 8 percent drop in violent crime in 2018 last year and a 20 percent drop in homicides in the city. Still he says there’s more work to be done.

“The state of our city is strong,” Stoney said, met with applause.

Stoney is seeking public input on hiring the next police chief. He began by highlighting Richmond’s 311 program which connects city services to the people.

“The office received 98,000 calls in the first six months," Stoney said. “It was able to satisfy 60 percent of them right on the spot, and we’re improving everyday. In just two years, we have repaired more than 175 miles of road, 2,900 alleys, 3,200 sidewalks and yes, 50,000 potholes."

Stoney used the spotlight to boast on city council’s collaboration with the school board to improve education. Then there’s his goal of securing $800 million in funding to maintain school buildings.

This week, city council unanimously agreed to begin that process.

“Committing to this plan will ensure that another generation does not come and go without addressing the critical needs of our facilities," Stoney said. "Schools will now be a part of our city’s capital improvement plan for the next 20 years.”

You can watch the entire State of the City speech here.

State of the City

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is giving his State of the City address >>

Posted by NBC12 on Thursday, January 31, 2019

It also came as no surprise the mayor pushed his Navy Hill development proposal, which includes replacing the Coliseum.

“We will only move forward when we are sure a development is in the best interest of its city,” he said. “To provide economic empowerment, generates hundreds of millions in additional revenue for our schools and neighborhoods and creates nearly 700 affordable housing units."

In the end, the address was about celebrating the best of the River City.

“Richmond was also named a top 10 U.S. travel destination, one of the 10 coolest cities to visit and one of 18 must-see cities of 2018," Stoney said. “We are definitely on the map. I want Richmond to be more than a top 10 place to visit, I want it to be a top 10 place to live.”

The Mayor also addressed Richmond’s high eviction rates. He’s now creating an eviction diversion program to help keep renters in their homes by affording rental assistance and free legal help to renters who are in a battle with their landlords. The program is expected to roll out later this year.

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