This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or email@example.com.
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Saying goodbye to 2009
(photo by Bryan Metts)
January: Circuit Court Judge Gordon Willis tells council members that the city courts are "a tragedy waiting to happen," and that any delay in upgrading them is unacceptable. Later in the month, I cover the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It is the coldest day of my life. Three days later, circulation returns to my toes.
February: The now-complete Courtyard by Marriott hotel is under construction, and a forceful February wind makes it look like this:
(photo by Steve Meyer)
March: The old Roses store (pictured at the top of this post) is demolished, as the UMW Foundation begins construction of its Eagle Village mixed-use project. Former Gov. Douglas Wilder takes to the blogosphere to declare that his U.S. National Slavery Museum will be built in Fredericksburg, but it turns out he has no authority to solicit charitable contributions in the state. We get 8 inches of snow in a month that I don’t officially consider a part of winter.
April: City Manager Phillip Rodenberg is forced to resign after council members and the public learn of his relationship with Kim Schill, an employee in the city’s economic development department. Schill has also since left her job with the city.
May: New property assessments show an overall 12.7 percent decline of city property values, as council members continue to try to come up with a budget. A new summer concert series, called Celebrate Virginia Live, begins to bring national acts to vacant land in the Celebrate Virginia complex, but is hampered by lots and lots of rain.
June: City Council raises the real estate tax rate from 56 cents to 68 cents per $100 of value to fund a budget that is 5.3 percent smaller than the previous year’s. Dwindling sales at city retail outlets continue to drive shrinking revenues. Wegmans, a giant grocery store to which City Council members offered $1.7 million in tax incentives to lure, opens to really, really big crowds.
July: With not much big on the public agenda, council members and city residents spend a lot of time worrying about how ugly a fake stone wall in front of the train station is, whether to paint it and what color it should be. As a result of all this public outcry, nothing happens. The Courtyard by Marriott hotel opens downtown.
August: Beverly Cameron, Fredericksburg’s assistant city manager since 1986, is hired for the top job.
September: Claiborne’s restaurant closes in the downtown train station. This post about Claiborne’s was the most-viewed blog post of the year on City Beat.
(photo by Steve Smallwood)
October: Capital Ale House hosts its first Oktoberfest celebration downtown. All hell breaks loose over closing a block of Caroline Street, but more than 7,000 people come downtown and have a good time. Tensions flare between Mayor Tom Tomzak and some downtown merchants in exchanges both on the street and at City Council meetings. The former Wings on the Water building (pictured above) is demolished to make way for a riverfront park.
November: Ten months after Judge Willis says he won’t accept any delays in improving court facilities, City Council members vote to move forward (at least for now) with a plan that would result in modernized courts–opening in 2014.
December: A near-record storm dumps 19.3 inches of snow (as measured at Fredericksburg’s wastewater treatment plant) on the region. Days later, holiday shoppers are stuck in traffic for hours trying to navigate Central Park, and city officials pledge to review snow procedures after receiving many complaints about the condition of Fredericksburg roads after the storm.
As the year ends, there are plenty of loose ends. Among other things, Kalahari is still seeking financing for its proposed waterpark hotel in Central Park, a state budget crisis will add to the difficulty of Fredericksburg’s budget process next year and, to dig up a real oldie, 1200 Prince Edward St. is still an empty shell that vexes some of its neighbors.
Thanks for reading City Beat this year, and may you have a happy and healthy 2010.