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Ballpark Proposal Poised for Vote — And Another Month of Debate

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A vote on Mayor Dwight Jones’ proposal to locate a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom is set for Monday, but council members say their support won’t mean they’ve actually made up their minds about the plan.

That’s because the council is now scheduled to vote on a revised resolution introduced by the mayor last week. While still outlining out the basic structure of the deal, the measure indicates only that council members want city administrators to conduct “further negotiations” with landowners and developers involved. The finalized agreements would then be brought back to the full council for final approval by City Council at the end of March.

The original resolution would have expressed council's support for the plan and intent to proceed once the contracts were finalized.

On Tuesday, city council’s land use committee voted unanimously to forward the revised resolution to the full council’s for Monday meeting.

Likewise, the other panel charged with vetting the proposal, the council’s finance committee, voted 2-0 on Thursday to move the revised resolution along. Council members Kathy Graziano and Ellen Robertson supported the measure; Councilman Parker Agelasto abstained.

Both Graziano and Robertson said they still aren’t sold on the mayor’s vision for Shockoe Bottom, but said they were inclined to support the resolution because it would allow them to see all financial details finalized before committing to the deal.

“Today I do not feel comfortable voting for this project because I’m not comfortable with the financing,” Graziano said. “This will give them the authority to negotiate and come back to us with hard figures to look at. … That’s what I want to see.”

Before the vote, Agelasto noted city administrators have always had the authority to proceed with negotiations. He worried that despite the revision, the resolution’s approval would still be taken as a sign that council intended to sign off on the plan.

Graziano and Robertson told Agelasto that in the past, council members have gotten upset when city administrators used their “implied power” to negotiate deals without explicit approval from council. They suggested the resolution could give them the opportunity to influence the negotiations.

As Style reported on Tuesday, the revised resolution also includes language that could reduce the number of votes the mayor will need when the measure come up for final approval from seven to six.

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