In the 2nd District Newsletter City Councilman Charles Samuels makes some claims about the state of Monroe Park. We believe he is providing false information, so we set out to correct the record and gather proof about the actual situation down in the park.

He says “The challenges are that Monroe Park has no working bathrooms, no drinking water, and no shelter.”

He actually underlined the ‘no’ in front of all of those assertions. He is wrong about the bathrooms and drinking water. As folks who are in Monroe park at least 6 or more times a month, we immediately knew that Councilman Samuels was wrong in his statements about the situation involving bathrooms and drinking water. Whether he was simply misinformed or was purposefully misleading, Samuels’s statements are untrue and irresponsible.

Here is our proof.

09/15/2010 – Examining the conditions of the bathrooms in Monroe Park, Richmond, VA

One sink needs fixing and one of the toilets could benefit from being unclogged, but otherwise everything is in working order.

VCU is responsible for the trash and litter cleaning in the park (so trash from feeding programs does not actually cost the city money, as Samuels also falsely asserts in the 2nd district newsletter). However, it is the City of Richmond that is in charge of maintaining the bathrooms and water fountains.  Having unfunctional bathrooms would not be a reason to suggest that the park is not a good place to distribute free food. Were the bathrooms or water fountain broken, the City should simply fix them. That seems like a much more effective means of solving a problem, and surely will cost far less than 6.2 million.

The bathrooms could certainly use better and more regular maintenance and cleaning. And they should receive that no matter who it is that frequents Monroe Park.  There is no reason to wait for huge renovations to provide routine maintenance and cleaning. If Charles Samuels or others are truly concerned about Monroe Park they should make sure that the current facilities are maintained.