The nonprofit behind the looming renovation of Monroe Park finally has the funds to break ground.
The Monroe Park Conservancy announced today that it has raised $3 million for the project, half of the $6 million facelift planned for the city’s oldest public park in the heart of Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus. The city will cover the other half.
“It’s been a community effort to raise the rest of the money – it was huge,” Massie said in an interview. “It’s a ton of effort from corporate, private, foundations, the city, VCU, the conservancy. It wouldn’t have happened without everybody.”
The conservancy has raised $1.3 million toward the goal since this past spring, but Massie declined to name specific organizations or donors to the project.
In spring 2014, Richmond City Council approved leasing the 8-acre public park to the conservancy for 30 years. The nonprofit planned to raise funds to cover its half of the bargain over the next year and begin construction in fall 2015, after the UCI Road World Championships wrapped up. Raising the money proved more difficult than expected and set the project back, Massie said this past spring.
The project’s designs have already been approved, but council must vote to accept the private funds before construction can begin. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for November. Afterward, the park will be closed for 12 to 18 months while construction is completed.
Critics of the renovation have voiced concern that closing the park will be detrimental to downtown’s homeless population, which gathers in the park on a regular basis for feeding programs held by local charitable groups.
A Conservancy news release directed questions about the future of those programs to 2-1-1 Virginia, a hotline run by the Virginia Department of Social Services that connects people with service providers.