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Community meets to discuss future of Jackson Ward neighborhood

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 11:45 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The beginning phase of the Jackson Ward Community Plan started Thursday night as residents met for the first time to discuss what they want for the future of the neighborhood.

This comes after RRHA was awarded a $450,000 planning grant from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The money is being matched with funds from the city of Richmond and RRHA to create a blueprint on reconnecting Jackson Ward and Gilpin Court after being divided by I-95.

“I think its a step in the right direction, I think the city is addressing issues that should have been dealt with years and years ago,” J. Maurice Hopkins, who was at the meeting said.

Hopkins was one of the dozen residents at Thursday night’s meeting ready to listen to what the process will be like to reconnect in the neighborhood he grew up in.

“I was one of the people few of us that are left in the 50′s when they instituted the Richmond Petersburg turnpike which is I95,” Hopkins said.

According to a presentation given at the meeting, the planning process will take close to two years.

Along the way, different meetings will be held with the Jackson Ward community and those living in Gilpin Court to gather ideas on how to improve the neighborhood, the quality of life of those living there, and housing.

It’s a lot of work that needs to be done if RRHA would like to receive a second grant worth millions to put that plan into action.

“We will probably start working on an implementation toward the grant toward the end of the planning process so that we can hopefully be successful and get that really big dollars from HUD so like this is little dollars from HUD, we want the huge dollars from HUD,” Maritza Pechin, Deputy Director of Equitable Development, said. “We can’t get that big implementation grant money without having a plan first.”

This does not mean no improvements will happen during the planning process.

Pechin said $200,000 for the planning project is set aside to create community action activities like creating murals or repairing playgrounds.

An idea Hopkins has is to make improvements to the Calhoun Center located right across the street from Gilpin Ct.

“There’s some things there that could be enhanced for that little amount of money but it would help a lot,” Hopkins said.

The next meeting will take plan on June 16th at 6 p.m. at Gallery5.

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