Apr 22, 2024 - News

Stoney has no plans to let Richmond determine Monument Avenue's future

A picture of the Lee Circle roundabout with plants with the Lee Medical Building in the left background and Monument Avenue houses on the right.

The circle where Lee Monument once stood on Monument Avenue. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

Mayor Stoney won't be letting Richmond decide on Monument Avenue's future before leaving office in November, reports WTVR.

Why it matters: The city vowed to let Richmonders design it "through a thoughtful and community-rooted planning process" nearly three years ago, when Virginia removed the pedestal that once held the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Between the lines: A $1 million state-funded initiative for VMFA to lead the efforts also never happened.

Now, Stoney says "the investment from the city particularly should go into areas that need it the most," like Southside and plans to memorialize Richmond's role in the slave trade in Shockoe Bottom.

A picture of a crowd at the Lee Monument at sunset before the statue and the graffitied pedestal were removed.
The Lee Monument circle in July 2020. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

State of play: The Lee Monument circle transformed into a community gathering space with a garden, pickup basketball games, voter registration tents and grilling during the 2020 protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd.

  • The state put an 8-foot fence around it in January 2021.
  • The city didn't take it down until last August, when they installed $100,000 worth of plants in the circle — a temporary fix while the city planned the future of Monument Avenue.
  • That plan was designed to discourage pedestrian access and public use, partly due to heavy nearby traffic.

Richmond Urban Design Committee member Todd Woodson told WTVR the space should be open to the public.

  • "If you don't allow public gatherings, then it seems to me to be a waste."
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