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So far, 3 entities have expressed interest in Charlottesville's statues

The city has received three statements of interest so far from entities interested in acquiring the Confederate statues.

The City Council voted unanimously on June 7 to remove and recontextualize the statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in downtown parks. After a 30-day waiting period required by Virginia statute, the city will be able to remove the statues.

The city posted a Request for Statements of Interest following the vote, offering to transfer ownership of one or both statues “to an entity, upon terms deemed by City Council to be appropriate and advantageous.” The offer is extended to any museum, historical society, government or military battlefield interested in acquiring the statues. The request expires July 7.

At a council meeting Monday, City Manager Chip Boyles said the city also mailed notices to nearby battlefields and museums.

The Request for Statements of Interest is mandated by the state. However, the City Council is not required to allow the transfer of the statues to another entity. They can vote against this after reviewing the proposals.

Boyles said two of the entities interested in acquiring the statues are in state and one is out of state.

Cali Gaston, a downtown business owner, urged councilors Monday night to remove the statues as quickly as possible and place them in storage until future arrangements are made to either relocate them or demolish them. She said her business is near the statues.

“Please don’t give them to just any organization offering to pay. They need to be in the hands of an organization that is trusted to speak for the whole community,” Gaston said. “One that will help shift the narrative to one that is inclusive and anti-racist.”

“I definitely want to emphasize that you consider only institutions or organizations with a history of engaging in dismantling racist narratives,” community member Adrienne Dent said during public comment. “It’s super important as the current custodians of these statues that wherever they go, the destination be one that’s already established in the act of reclaiming inclusive … storytelling.”

CAT funding

The City Council will vote to appropriate more than $5 million in state and federal transit money to the city’s transit division as part of the consent agenda at its next meeting. This appropriation will include funding for 11 Charlottesville Area Transit buses. Four buses will be added to the current fleet, and seven will replace existing buses.

CAT Director Garland Williams said it will take 18 to 24 months to receive the buses because they have to be custom ordered and built. The order can’t be made until the council officially votes to appropriate the funds.

The funding also will go to other transit improvements, including automatic passenger counters on buses.

“It’s a small thing in there, but I know the automatic passenger counters are a really integral piece to allowing us to get to fare-free [buses] more permanently,” said Councilor Michael Payne.

Youth mentoring

The council is looking at ways to fund youth mentoring and violence intervention programming organized by the Conscious Capitalist Foundation, an organization that aims to support vulnerable youth.

CCF asked for $50,000 to fund Peace in the Streets, a program that aims to prevent gun violence and engages in de-escalation procedures, and $50,000 for mentoring and support programs for youth referred by the Lugo-McGinness Academy.

Because the requests were made out of the budget cycle, the City Council discussed ways that American Rescue Plan funding could be used to support these initiatives.

Ryan Davidson, budget and management analyst with the city, said the current balance in the city budget for off-cycle requests is $327,507.

CCF initially asked for $145,000 for Peace in the Streets and $203,000 for the mentoring programs, but had to decrease these because the off-cycle budget request limit is $50,000.

Kaki Dimock, the city’s director of human services, said it would be easier to fulfill the mentoring and support programs request with ARP funds than it would be to fulfill the Peace in the Streets request. This is because ARP funds can only be used to fund initiatives that are directly linked to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a harder time making that connection to the increase in gun violence than we do, for example, to mentoring young people who are disaffected and disconnected from school and having trouble, sort of in a more community-based way,” Dimock said. “I think it’s easier to tie that to concerns around mental health, which is reasonable to tie to COVID, so it’s a little bit harder to make that argument for the gun violence.”

Councilors agreed both programs should be funded, but that ARP fund stipulations need to be explored to figure out if they can be used to support Peace in the Streets.

“We all know once the police arrive on the scene … that aggression, or that passive aggression, or that trauma from the past might come to the surface,” said Maltize Tolbert, who works with Peace in the Streets.

Tolbert said the program’s approach can help limit police altercations. He said they have received more than 70 calls for violence intervention.

“Most of the time, people just want to talk,” he said.

The council will have a second hearing and vote on these funding requests during special meetings Thursday that previously were scheduled to conduct interviews for board and commission appointments.


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