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« In Honor of Friday: I Want to Hang with "Jack Goes Forth" and "Checkout Girl" | Main | Baseball Downtown - Richmond Bizsense Re-Frames the Question »

May 12, 2009

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Jason Roop

FG,

You were watching from home? I was starting to think you could be John Dodge :) There goes one theory.

Again, all Style has written on the topic is out in the open for anyone to read, critique and correct. You have pointed out no inaccuracies in our cover story, and neither has anyone else.

Mr. Diradour's article was an independent opinion piece, and as I've said we've offered the same opportunity to proponents of the ballpark. I'm hoping they take us up on the offer. Plus, we pay!

I certainly have nothing vested in this project, so I'm not sure what you mean by that. I am a city taxpayer (unlike Gary Armstrong), but that's all. Certainly I don't have as much of a vested interest as the four RTD debaters.

FanGuy, to change the subject slightly, I'd like to get you on the record with your opinion. Let's just say -- imagine for a moment -- that the ballpark development does indeed require city-backed bonds to make it work (I know that you keep saying it won't, but let's just say it does).

I'm assuming if that happens, your argument would change slightly, because so much of it has focused on the project not requiring city-backed bonds. Would you still be in favor of such a project? Would your analysis change?

Paul H

FG,

Jason is right about one thing. You don't change people's minds by insulting them and you offend people who haven't made up their minds. You are your own worst enemy.

Lighten up.

Kyle

About the "Flooding Issues":

I'm a Civil Engineer that focuses on drainage and storm sewer design. I have not worked on any projects dealing with Shockoe Bottom, but I have talked with a few people who have. Here is my two cents.

The “flooding issues” issues in Shockoe Bottom have been mitigated as much as is financially possible and for all intents and purposes the storm drain system in place now has “solved” the problem as best we can or should. The most important part of that system is the flood wall which will protect the Bottom from the most serious threat of flooding, the James River. Two years ago the city upgraded most of the storm sewer inlets in the Bottom which will help prevent flooding from storm runoff. Effectively these two systems negate the fact that the Bottom is in a flood plain.

“What about Gaston?” you ask. Depending upon whom you ask, the remnants of Gaston could be classified as a 2,000 year to 5,000 year storm. That means statistically a storm of that magnitude occurs once every 2,000 to 5,000 years. Some estimates said that the amount of water flowing through Shockoe Bottom was a much as the regular flow though the James River. There is absolutely nothing that could have been done to prevent that flood. Gaston should not be used as an example of why not to build or develop the Bottom because there is very little chance of a flood of that magnitude occurring again in the lifetime of any potential development.

As for the development improving the drainage in the area, it could potentially reduce the chance of minor flooding, but not significantly. Minor flooding has been addressed by the city, and the nature of the development will likely create more runoff. Where the development could make an impact is with pollutant removal from the runoff, but this has a negligible effect on flooding.

All in all, I think the “flood issue” is not really an issue at all and the issue shouldn’t be used to argue for or against the ballpark.

That said, my biggest problem with the project it the architecture. The drawings I’ve seen for both Shockoe Center and the Boulevard redevelopment are bland, generic and do not contribute to the character of the city. If you are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, could you at least make something that looks good.

FanGuy

Jason, wow, talk about hypocritical. I assume that when Style referred to Mr. Bostic by talking about his physical size, THAT was sticking to the issues?

I really don't expect you to see what has been wrong with Style's coverage of this. You are personally invested. Plenty of objective folks out there do see it though.

As for the Forum, I watched it online. Let's be real - a forum like that is hardly a place to change minds. The people who show up to those events largely already have their minds made up, and are passionate about it, regardless of whether they know what they are talking about. The facts often don't matter to them, as shown by the fact that many kept making the same incorrect factual statements about financing and secondary development even after Kreckman kept telling them they had the facts wrong.

As for my earlier comments, I stick by them. There were some real nutjobs at the forum, including one lady who said she moved from Philly specifically because she wanted to get away from professional sports, and that if a stadium was built, she wouldn't spend any more money downtown. I really don't want someone that extreme making decisions in the town I live in, that's for sure.

Another woman was vehemently opposed to the project partially because it was going to tear down the Farmer's Market. Wrong. Now there is someone who hasn't even bothered to look at the plan, but yet she has made her mind up and you couldn't convince her otherwise.

I don't expect my comments to influence folks like you Jason or anyone who takes what they read in Style as the gospel truth. But there are a lot of intellectually honest folks out there who are a little more open minded about things and are willing to take a hard look at this.

F.T. Rea

Here's my take on the Public Square forum Tuesday night, "Ballpark Talk: Pitching Panned," at Richmond.com: Go here -- http://www2.richmond.com/content/2009/may/14/ballpark-talk-pitching-panned/

Jason Roop

FanGuy,

Just to correct the record with you yet again, Style Weekly's cover story on this issue had no corrections, and you never were able to point to any "misinformation" in it, other than going around saying there was misinformation in it.

Regarding Mr. Diradour's Back Page opinion piece, you should know that we have offered the developers of this project the same opportunity.

Your attacks on people who disagree with you as "dolts" and "slightly crazy," as you have called the engaged citizens who attended the RTD forum, are the very things that turn people off about your posts. It's a shame that you have been unable to debate this important project by sticking to the issues, and putting forth your opinion in a respectful way.

Did you bother to stand in line and speak at the debate? Everyone who wanted to had a chance to talk. Perhaps you should have.

paul_h

Thad,

The answer to both questions is yes. It provides the most bang for the buck and will bring many thousands to the bottom for the first time. Shockoe Bottom needs to be discovered by the Richmond diaspora. That is a huge market that rarely visits downtown. There is a reason area merchants overwhelmingly support a ballpark in their neighborhood.

The infrastructure is largely there, interstate highways, public transit, existing parking. Shockoe Bottom is unusable land that produces almost no revenue.

The alternative is a non starter. There is no proposal to put a ballpark on the Boulevard or anywhere else. Baseball on the Blvd produced almost no secondary development and was designed for convenient access and departure. Shockoe Bottom is a walkable area full of existing destinations like the Canal Walk, restaurants, the 17th Street Market and many historic sites. More people are likely to learn about Lumpkins Jail and visit a proposed museum.

This idea fits Richmond like a glove.

F.T. Rea

Melissa,

You did a nice job of capturing the spirit of what went down. And you did it so quickly!

FanGuy

Paul, I said over 50 AND slightly crazy. Not everyone over 50 is crazy, and not everyone that's crazy is over 50. :)

Thad Williamson

I went to the forum because I really wanted to hear both sides of this. A few observations.

First, the as J. Wight noted, the question of whether Shockoe Bottom is the best place for a ballpark is completely irrelevant, because it's the answer to the wrong question. The right question is whether putting a ballpark there is the best move for the community as a whole, given costs and benefits of this proposal versus other plausible alternatives (one of which is just not having a baseball team). I appreciated that Kreckman at least tried to speak to this point, but Bostic really did not (and neither, for the most part did Diradour).

Second, the final speakers of the night, the most pro-ballpark, also had the worst arguments. Going up there and accusing everyone over 40 (and I say this as one of the few under-40s in attendance) of being "selfish" is not a good argument and doesn't show respect for your fellow citizens. Nor is talking up what a great guy Bostic is a good argument for this proposal.

The best pro-ballpark argument I heard is that something like this is necessary to generate subsequent development of Shockoe Bottom. However Kreckman nor the others really addressed the historical preservation issues raised by the ballpark opponents. And, the ballpark opponents are absolutely right that we should distrust all claims of the economic development benefits of doing a ballpark. Study after study shows there is minimal if any benefit from public-financed ballparks. If you do a ballpark, it should be for civic reasons, not economic reasons.

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