In Support of Tredegar Green
Show your support
To send an email in support of a “Yes” vote, click here. Tell them what the festival means to you, and whether you support or oppose the project.
If you would like to see additional facts and key points to help you write your email, click here.
You know the Richmond Folk Festival (RFF) is Richmond’s most popular annual outdoor festival, drawing over 200,000 fans to our beautiful downtown riverfront. You also know the festival is a unifying force, bringing people together from every corner of our great city and region. We come for the music, and to celebrate our shared passion for the arts, our cultural diversity, and our love of community.
But what you may not know is that the Richmond Folk Festival faces a big challenge that will determine whether it can continue beyond 2013. The site is being squeezed at a time when the crowds are growing. Venture Richmond cannot continue to invite crowds to a site that may no longer be able to handle them.
You may have seen recent news about Venture Richmond’s proposed changes to the festival site. Without these changes, beginning in 2014, the shrinking site will no longer be sufficient to accommodate the crowds that flock to the RFF. The future of the Richmond Folk Festival depends on this project.
A crucial vote regarding the project will happen at the City Planning Commission public meeting this Monday, September 16 at 1:00 pm. on the 5th Floor of City Hall. A “Yes” vote will allow the City, State and Federal review process to continue. A “No” vote will stop the Richmond Folk Festival in its tracks. If you agree with Venture Richmond’s position after reading this summary you can join the effort to save the Richmond Folk Festival.
As the Venture Richmond site plan has been unveiled and reviewed, some well-intentioned citizens have expressed opposition and are calling for a “No” vote. Their concerns focus on two important issues: 1) historic preservation and 2) impact on the Oregon Hill neighborhood. Venture Richmond takes these concerns seriously, and designed the site plan after carefully considering these specific issues.
Here’s a summary of the proposed site changes, the reasons for the changes, and how Venture Richmond has addressed the concerns of preservationists and neighborhood advocacy groups.
Why the Festival Site Must Change:
RFF’s largest stage is on a site that is owned by NewMarket Corporation. NewMarket graciously agreed to loan out this land for the first three years of the National Folk Festival. Since then NewMarket has kindly extended this arrangement each year for the past five years. But now the time has come to vacate NewMarket’s property so that they are free to pursue their own business plans.
As a gift to the community NewMarket has generously donated a nearly-3-acre adjacent site to accommodate a new main stage venue and to ensure the future of the Richmond Folk Festival.
Historical Significance and Preservation:
This grassy slope (which has been used as an RFF stage site since 2005) is bisected by the remains of the historic James River & Kanawha Canal. This ancient waterway dates from 1785 and was an important transportation artery until its decline in the 1850s. The area was decimated by the flood of 1877, and further modified by the railroad industry soon after that. Potential alteration of this historic site is the greatest worry of some historic preservationists.
Preservation and Restoration:
Venture Richmond agrees that the remains of the canal be preserved. In fact, their proposal goes even further… it includes the first steps towards full restoration. Here’s how:
- The Tredegar Green project will restore the canal to its historic condition based on an historical assessment done by Dutton & Associates, and supported by the City’s Historic Preservation Officer (Tyler Potterfield), and a leading historian at the Library of Virginia (Dr. Gregg Kimball).
- The historic canal will be restored to its authentic appearance during the heyday of boat traffic, before it was altered and damaged by the railroad. It will have a 12 ft. wide tow path, with an 83-ft. elevation above sea level, and a cross section at the water line of 50 ft. These specifications are all in accordance with extensive historical research that confirms this profile.
- The project will preserve the opportunity to rebuild the canal west to Maymont, providing for a potential 82 ft. water level, which could allow canal boats to be reintroduced. This specification provides for the water level that is desired by canal preservationists.
Further Benefits of the Restoration:
- The amphitheater is one of the key recommendations of the City’s recently adopted Riverfront Plan, which states that “the parcel will expand the public realm by offering an ideal vantage point to view the river from above, and remain a main performance venue for the annual Richmond Folk Festival.”
- The canal will be restored and interpreted as an historic resource. It will once again be accessible to the public, safe, well maintained, and interpreted with signage.
- The entire site will be landscaped, open to the public year-round, with improvements made to the parking area that serves the riverfront and Belle Island.
- A bike/pedestrian, ADA compliant trail will be constructed on the top of the tow path, connecting Brown’s Island Way with North Bank Bike Trail at Lee Bridge, extending to Maymont.
Tredegar Green – Impact on Neighborhood:
- Several Oregon Hill neighborhood advocates have also expressed concern about the impact from associated traffic and noise during the Folk Festival. Venture Richmond acknowledges the validity of these concerns, has met with the civic association, and pledges to work with neighborhood advocates.
- Issues such as noise, traffic and parking, will be addressed by City Council during the rezoning process. Venture Richmond will embrace whatever use limits are imposed.
- Venture Richmond must submit applications for environmental permits that trigger extensive review by the State Department of Historic Resources, including many opportunities for public input.
- Venture Richmond has met multiple times with the Department of Historic Resources, the Department of Environmental Quality, Historic Richmond Foundation, and the Oregon Hill Association in the past year and will continue to gather input from all interested parties.
- Venture Richmond is being advised by Dutton & Associates (archaeologists), 3North (landscape architects) and Draper Aden (engineers).
What Can You Do To Help?
Be Informed: Venture Richmond invites scrutiny!
- To read the report prepared by City Staff for the members of the Planning Commission, click here. This report supports the Venture Richmond site plan.
- To read the report prepared by the City Historic Preservation Officer, click here. This report supports Venture Richmond’s historical assessment and preservation plan.
- To read the Dutton + Associates historical assessment click here. This report is the basis for the canal restoration plan.
- To see the proposed architectural renderings click here.
Be Heard: Tell the Richmond Planning Commission what you think.
- To send an email in support of a “Yes” vote, click here. Tell them what the festival means to you, and whether you support or oppose the project.
- If you would like to see additional facts and key points to help you write your email, click here.
Be There: Come to the Planning Commission meeting and support the RFF in person!
- The meeting is at 1:00 pm in City Hall, 900 E. Broad St., 5th Floor. The public is welcome.
Thank you all for your support of the Richmond Folk Festival… past, present and future. Don’t let this amazing and unifying event slip through our fingers, based on unfounded fears.