Settling the debt

3/1/2018, 2:28 a.m.

Like a weed sprouting from the crack in a sidewalk, the truth always comes out.

Take, for example, the rancid deal struck in 2012 by City Hall and the Washington NFL team for a Richmond training camp. City Council was left out of the negotiations between the team, former Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the city’s Economic Development Authority that resulted in construction of the Leigh Street training camp that is used by the team, at most, two to three months of the year.

The public — and City Council — were told at the time that the $10 million loan to build the camp would be paid over the course of five years with little risk.

But the naming rights and other revenue tied to the training facility’s development have failed to pay for the note, as was initially anticipated. A refinance, approved Monday night by City Council, puts city taxpayers on the hook for $750,000 a year for the next 15 years, for a total of $11.25 million.

That’s in addition to $500,000 the EDA has to pay the team each year in cash or services for spending a few summer weeks in Richmond.

The deal has proven to be a miserably shoddy one, now that the truth has come out. The city traded, in part, the future of our children’s education for a training camp for an out-of-town team. 

Now that the truth has been revealed about the wretched conditions of many Richmond Public Schools buildings, the people and City Council realize the money would have been better spent repairing and replacing aging and decrepit schools.

We believe the next step is to sell the training facility or to turn the complex into a larger moneymaking venture for the city. While Bon Secours currently rents much of the building’s first floor for medical offices, we’d hate to see it become a big, empty barn sucking up tax dollars like Colonial Downs, the now-vacant horse racing track in New Kent County.

If no creative solutions are on tap, then get rid of the place, settle the debt and get this debacle behind us.