The 7th District Round Table met this evening for the first time. Chaired by the Sharon Burton, the meeting was designed to move towords getting the new system, a replacement for the Neighborhood Teams, up and running.
Sharon Burton, the Seventh District Round Table appointee, a Church Hill resident since 1987 and long-time teacher, chaired the meeting. She made it clear that she was not to be the group’s leader, but was “simply the liaison” to the mayor. She began the meeting by describing the Round Table’s raison d’ÃƒÂªtre and why the Neighborhood Teams had been disbanded in favor of the Round Tables. There were, allegedly, issues with information accountability before. By having one individual responsible for reporting to the mayor, the administration should be able to have a clear and realistic understanding of the concerns and opinions of the involved communities.
Ms. Burton next ran through a list of civic leagues and associations to see who was represented. Present were representatives of the Church Hill Association, Greater Fulton Civic League, Bowler Mason Historic District, Admiral Gravely Homeowners Association, Fairfield Court Tenants Association, Richmond Tenant Association (RTO), Concerned Citizens Civic Association, New Vision Civic League, Chimborazo/Oakwood Civic Association, and the Union Hill Civic Association. Also present was a representative from the Richmond Public Library and Sam Patteron, liason to Delores McQuinn. There were a few organizations called out but not represented. The group of 25 included new residents interested in being involved and citizens that have been active for over 40 years.
Ms. Burton laid out 2 charges from the mayor. The first, education, was described as “the foundation of neighborhoods”. The mayor wants to build or renovate 15 schools and would like community input on this. The other topic on the agenda, affordable housing, was barely touched upon, though it was used as a good example of why community involvement was necessary (What does affordable housing mean? Should development be required to include a mix of housing?, etc).
The first real discussion, though, was an attempt to decide what the structure of the organization should be. What should the organization be? How often should the organization meet: issues-based or regular meetings? People were little testy about all of this. Some folks were adamant against forming “another layer” of organization, others were determined to keep this an open meeting. Some people felt that the process needed to include time to take the information back to their respective organizations, some people felt that as an open meeting that anyone that needed to express an opinion should come to the Round Table meeting. It was probably agreed upon that the group should meet on a regular basis and be open to any individual that would like to attend.
Two issues not on the initial agenda, the proposed new ballpark location and real estate assessments, were brought up passionately and to a fairly strong consensus. They were not discussed in-depth.
Another spirited debate revolved around how to let more people know about the meetings. It was proposed that civic leagues carry back the word. An online events calendar only works for people that are online. This wasn’t really resolved, except there seemed to be a consensus for more involvement.
The next meeting will held on Monday, April 17th, at 6pm at EDI and is open to the public.