November 20, 2023 Meeting Minutes

Maymont Civic League Meeting

Maymont Westover Building


Information sent out ahead of the meeting via email:

We will meet at 1000 Westover Road! Come through the gates of the Maymont Children’s Farm and park in front of the building to your left. 

Please join our Facebook group “Maymont Civic League” or email to be added to the email list and stay up to date!

We will have our 5th district representatives, Stephanie Lynch and her liaison Amy Robins, and a representative for the 3rd police precinct. We will have a discussion about Garden Glow, and check in with everyone and Maymont to see how the overall effect was on the neighborhood. We will also talk about Christmas wreaths, having a holiday gathering after Christmas, and overall neighborhood concerns. 

Meeting Attendees: 

Joy Rogers (President), Leah Hopper (Vice President), Gayle Goldberg (Treasurer), Jan Hatchard (Membership Coordinator), Kirk Millikan (Secretary), Diane Christian Bowman, James Browne, Elise Corliss, Carla De Lellis, Joe Goldberg, Toni Halsey, Art Hatchard, Arenzo Jefferson Jr., Kristina Kazanjian, Stephanie Lynch (5th District Councilmember), Anne Mace, Parke Richeson (Maymont Executive Director), Susan Rischewski, Amy Robins (5th District Councilmember Liaison), Daniel Vetter (Maymont Director of Park Operations and Facility Management), Lee Williams, Craig Wise

Meeting Notes:

  • Updates from 5th District Councilmember Stephanie Lynch:
    • Focus for her has been homeless services; homelessness has increased 37% since 2019; many folks are coming into homelessness for the first time; 100-150 people on eviction docket every week; reached goal for a year-round shelter and expanding options for women with children; going into place over the next year.
    • Another big issue she has been working on is making life more affordable, particularly for seniors; pushing for a 60 day window to pay real estate taxes (it is currently 14 days); goal is to give people as much time as possible to pay that unexpected bill.
    • Legislation to allow for seniors to retroactively enroll in senior and elderly tax relief program; also available for folks with disabilities and veterans; eligible if you are 65+ with less than $350,000 in the bank; helps keep people in their homes; enrollment is open year-round.
    • Traffic safety: an omnibus piece of legislation that will mirror what Fairfax County is doing, capturing near-miss accidents that are not captured in current statistics; allows citizens to log near misses and roads that are problematic, particularly for cyclists and pedestrians.
    • Traffic calming infrastructure investment: you will see/have seen speed tables, bump outs, narrowing of roads.
    • Urban Forestry Commission (AKA Tree Commission) is starting up in December; Michael Webb is the city’s new urban forester and working on a city-wide master plan for trees.
    • December 11th – a yard waste legislation will be coming through to address illegal dumping of invasive species; goal is to prevent the spread of english ivy in city parks.
    • Small Business Saturday coming up this Saturday; contact Amy or Stephanie if you want to be featured in the 5th District Newsletter as a small business.
    • Zero fare update for GRTC: commitment is there for 2024-2025 but not guaranteed because federal funding is running out; will need to advocate for more money from City’s general fund or Central Virginia Transit Authority.
    • Neighbor asked what has caused tax assessments to go up; Stephanie said a lot of it is people moving into Richmond, particularly from larger urban locations with larger salaries.
    • Income-based tax relief program will be proposed in the General Assembly next year (need permission from the General Assembly first).
    • Neighbor asked why tax assessments are going up if more people are moving into the city; Stephanie said not enough to keep up with needs – cost of labor and infrastructure have gone up a lot recently.
    • A long term owner occupancy tax relief bill in the General Assembly has been filed unsuccessfully the past 3 years.
    • There will not be a 5th District holiday party this year because of maternity leave for Stephanie; there will likely be a 5th District party around February 2024.
  • Voted to move the January 2024 meeting from January 15th to January 22nd.
  • Historically the Civic League has donated to FeedMore for Thanksgiving; voted to write a check for $150 to FeedMore.
  • Lowering neighborhood speed limits – Joy will draft up a letter of support that the civic league will review in the future.
  • Orange tags for Halloween were well received; some neighbors had the most trick or treaters this year than years past.
  • The costs for holiday bows to be placed along neighborhood streets can be reimbursed by the Civic League.
  • The November 4th fire pit with s’mores was very successful; Jan has volunteered her house again for a New Year’s Day gathering, 4pm. 
  • Neighbor asked about Texas Beach bridge status; Joy said the latest update she has received is 2025 for completing construction to repair and reopen.
  • General Maymont update from Parke Richeson (Executive Director of the Maymont Foundation):
    • On track for 750,000 visitors in 2023; second highest, with the most being in 2021 during covid; Nature Center on track for 40,000; mansion tours on track for 16,000; 16,000 students served by Maymont’s educators with 25% from Title 1 schools; Merry Market is coming up on the first two weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) of December.
    • Less than 10% of Maymont’s budget is funded by the city ($460,000 from Richmond, $10,000 from Hanover, $50,000 from each of Henrico and Chesterfield).
    • When Maymont was donated to the city, the donation did not include an endowment for its maintenance.
  • Discussion about Garden Glow
    • In the 6th year this year; shows off the gardens, engages communities and families; Garden Glow was 19 days this year.
    • Daniel Vetter, Director of Park Operations, was in attendance.
    • Joy mentioned neighborhood concerns: confused drivers; lots of traffic; people moving cones and parking in handicap spots; lots of noise; lights shining into houses on Hampton; lots of trash in the neighborhood.
    • Less than 3,000 people each night which is less than a typical Maymont day, but it is all compressed.
    • Neighbor asked if multiple entrances could be used or if a shuttle could be used, such as a shuttle similar to the Jazz Festival.
    • Neighbor said that she feels like she needs to stay home to keep a watch out in front of her house near Maymont.
    • Neighbor said that people were parking in Sundial Park and that could create dangerous situations; neighbor said that a police car was parked in Sundial Park as well but they were not there the whole night.
    • Neighbor said the event could potentially close streets to only residents like the Jazz Festival.
    • Neighbor said the fumes from the generators were a lot living so close to Garden Glow, recommended electric-powered generators in the future that wouldn’t have fumes.
    • Neighbor requested that Maymont staff pick up trash on more blocks on Mondays during Garden Glow.
    • Multiple neighbors mentioned the significant trash left throughout the neighborhood after Garden Glow.
    • Neighbor said that it would have been very hard for an ambulance to get through with all of the traffic.
    • Neighbor said that the heavy traffic on the streets near the Maymont entrances is similar to the heavy traffic that Texas Avenue sees during summer weekends.
    • Neighbor said that some lights from the Garden Glow entrance were shining into the houses in the 1500 block of Hampton; requested that the lights be pointed away from houses.
    • Neighbor requested that school buses not idle in the parking lot.

Meeting adjourned at 8:25pm