Invest in Richmond’s schoolchildren, not Coliseum
Letters to the Editor
8/23/2019, 6 a.m.
Re “Moving on up or out? Mayor Stoney submits to City Council $1.5B Coliseum replacement and Downtown development plan,” Free Press Aug. 8-10 edition:
Richmond is in the process of approving spending $1.5 billion for city infrastructure development, including a new Coliseum and the area around it.
That’s $1.5 billion.
Infrastructure improves the lives of Richmonders. Improved infrastructure attracts new businesses, jobs, families and tax dollars to the city.
But no company is moving to Richmond, bringing its jobs and tax revenue, because we have a new Coliseum. No young family will be buying a home in Richmond because there is an NFL team training camp or there was an international bicycle race.
The ultimate infrastructure is having the greatest school system imaginable and generating the brightest, most educated and best prepared children and young adults possible. From structured pre-kindergarten day care to the senior high school, and possibly beyond, a quality education system will attract what a city needs to avoid becoming Newark, N.J., or Petersburg.
Each child needs to be spoken to, read to and shown life’s values from toddler age on, and if not from home, then from a structured system with people who can provide.
But in Richmond, do not look solely at the $1.5 billion cost of the proposed Downtown project. Look, instead, to whom that $1.5 billion will be paid. Who will turn the profit? Who is on the receiving end of that $1.5 billion? Whose pocket is being filled?
You can bet that money will not result in smarter, safer, more disciplined, healthier, brighter, employable youths or a more vital Richmond. Teachers, class sizes and Richmond’s dilapidated school structures will not see funding.
You can put on a new roof, shutters, fresh paint and lovely curtains, but the structure is still falling down, and tenants are running away.
Our future cannot afford a $1.5 billion slap-on veneer.
DAVID P. BAUGH
The writer is an attorney and former member of the Richmond School Board.