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City Council votes to halt parking garage construction

Charlottesville’s City Council has unanimously voted to halt plans to build a garage on East Market Street.

The garage initially was proposed in a parking agreement with Albemarle County as part of a joint court complex project. As part of the agreement, the county must have 90 parking spaces allocated exclusively for county use.

However, county officials have said that a brand-new parking structure is not necessary as long as the city can provide spots in an existing garage or lot.

During a public hearing May 25, many members of the public had urged the council not to construct a parking structure and to consider using the existing Market Street and Water Street garages, as well as existing lots.

Residents also were concerned that the proposed garage would result in the demolition of two local businesses — a Lucky 7 convenience store and a Guadalajara restaurant.

The vote on the garage was part of passage of the consent agenda at Monday night’s council meeting.

Belmont BridgeAlso at its meeting Monday, the council voted unanimously to appropriate more than $4.2 million for the Belmont Bridge replacement project. The money comes from state funds.

Jeanette Janiczek, Urban Construction Initiative program manager for the city, said during the council’s May 17 meeting that the need for additional funding became clear after initial meetings with bidders interested in working on the project.

“Not only were the material costs just much more expensive, and we do believe that this is related to the pandemic, whether it’s supply chain production or just simply inflation, that we’re seeing an increase in material costs, but we’re also seeing an increase in labor costs, as well,” Janiczek said.

Relief fundsThe city has received approximately half of its expected American Rescue Plan funds, City Manager Chip Boyles told councilors Monday.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.

The city has received around $9.8 million of the anticipated total of $19.6 million, Boyles said. He said the city is not expecting to receive the second half of funds until 2022.

Boyles said the funding will first go toward replacing city revenue that was lost due to the pandemic, as well as to additional COVID-19 safety improvements.

“Then we will very shortly be rolling out for our nonprofit stakeholders in the community a program where they can apply [for funding],” he said.

There are federal stipulations that the funds must go toward COVID-19 relief measures.

Boyles said there has been some discussion in Congress about using the remaining American Rescue Plan funds to help fund Biden’s infrastructure bill.

“We’re assured that it’s not going to go anywhere, but it’s still a discussion,” Boyles said. “So, we’re very cautious as to what type of commitments we’ll make until we know for certain that the second tranche of bonds are coming.”

The city previously has discussed using some of the money to fund a partnership with the Legal Aid Justice Center that would provide attorneys to tenants facing eviction at no cost to the tenant.

The City Council also has discussed allocating some of the money to the United Way of Greater Charlottesville’s Pathways Fund, which has been providing rent assistance to people financially impacted by the pandemic.


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