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Northside community organizations request investigation into bump-out removal

removed bump-out
One of the sites of the now removed bump-outs on Brookland Park Boulevard. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

Members of community organizations in Richmond’s Northside, frustrated with the removal of several traffic calming measures on Brookland Park Boulevard, are taking their grievances to the next level.

In a letter sent to city officials Wednesday, the group, which includes members of the Historic

Brookland Park Collective and the Brookland Park Merchants Association, called for the city to investigate if the proper steps were taken before the sidewalk extensions, called bump-outs, were removed. They’re also questioning if the removal was a misuse of funds. The city spent $18,000 to remove the bump-outs which were installed using state funds last summer.

Part of the letter recounts the history of the bump-outs, stating that the calming infrastructure and beautification project was first set into motion back in 2013. Members say this is in stark contrast to what Councilmember Ann-Frances Lambert — who represents the 3rd District, where the boulevard lies — said at a meeting last week. There, Lambert downplayed the infrastructure and claimed its installation was partly due to a lack of oversight during the pandemic, according to signers of the letter.

The letter goes on to say community stakeholders were never notified of the removal, which began the week of Sept. 26.

“The removal of this infrastructure, dubbed bump-outs, was done very quickly and without advanced notification to the community and business stakeholders that it directly impacted. We are asking that the approval process for the removal project and the source of the funds used in the removal process be looked into.”

Morgan Greer is a Northside resident and former secretary of the Battery Park Civic Association. He says the issues go beyond the bump-outs.

“The arbitrary and capricious manner that the city chose to conduct themselves, there’s no consistency,” Greer said. “I think we want to make sure that public officials act in the public interest and for the benefit of all when making decisions.”

Greer says he’s also formally requested more information on the removals from the city.

In a meeting last week, city officials said the bump-out removal came following concerns from nearby residents, including a petition with 1,000 signatures asking for the bump-outs and other boulevard enhancements to be removed. A copy of the petition has not been made public.

Lambert also contests the claim that the process was not transparent, saying notices to the community were given.

*VPM has sent a FOIA request to Director of Public Works Bobby Vincent and Lambert asking for a copy of the petition.

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.