RVA 5×5 – Holiday Briefing

by Jon Baliles

It’s Friday! Which means this newsletter would normally be filled with stories and analysis about what is happening in the RVA region (not all of it good), with an honest and insightful take (so far as that is possible). For instance, this week we could have stories about:

A non-profit that presented a homeless shelter plan to the City in June and still hasn’t received the go-ahead or money to open; so they raised $30,000 on their own this week to open a shelter this weekend because the Mayor and City haven’t been able to get their head out of the sand for SIX MONTHS to execute a contract. If a timeline helps your perspective, the City sent the latest contract to the non-profit on November 13th, which returned it to the City within two days. The non-profit did not receive a response until December 20. Temperatures will get down to ten degrees tonight and won’t get above 32 degrees until Monday. The only explanation has been another word-salad buffet from the mayor’s press office. Shameful.

The first concepts are coming into view about VCU’s 42-acre athletic village across from what will become the Diamond District development. This area is exploding!

At least eight to 10 very old and huge trees (some close to 100 years old) in Mosby Court were razed to the ground this week. Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority said that the trees were being cut “as part of a curb appeal improvement request that came from the City of Richmond to RRHA for several of our public housing sites.” The Mayor’s Office replied that “The city requested RRHA to pick up trash and remove brush — not trees.” This has got to be a government operation. More breadsticks, please.

The Richmond Animal League found 142 homes for pets during the holidays so they can spend them with families instead of in cages! And TODAY, Richmond Animal Care and Control has free adoptions for pets thanks to a generous donor and they are all dressed up in festive holiday attire! There is good news in this nutty town!

The GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden came in at #2 in the USA Today’s reader choice contest for best holiday lights at a botanical garden. You can check it out and see them in person until January 8th!

Rather than talking about all of that, it’s two days before Christmas and the holidays and this holiday season — not to mention the weather — are quite hectic. So there is not a big appetite for banging our heads against the wall with the latest news nor a huge hunger for reading about it. So, we won’t.

However you celebrate the holidays, we hope the days ahead are safe ones and we will see you again next week with some great features and more news about RVA 5×5 in 2023.


Jon Baliles is a former Richmond City Councilman. This column was published originally in his blog RVA 5×5 and is republished here with permission.