Partnering For a Resilient Petersburg!
Partnershing for a Resilient Petersburg is featured in a historic urban community of color in Petersburg, Virginia's "The Heights" neighborhood. Much of the city of Petersburg lies within floodplain and has been plagued with water issues as a result of blocked drains, water main breaks, and flooding caused by sudden torrential rains. Numerous “boil water” warnings have been issued over the past several years. Residents are alarmed and unsure where to turn. Due to the socioeconomic conditions described above, the community lacks access to significant financial resources and political power. Although the Mayor and city council are
predominantly African-American, The Heights has been overlooked and allowed to sink into an economically depressed state. There is an overabundance of vacant buildings and lots in The Heights. The remaining residents of The Heights are mostly elderly and have strong generational ties to the community. This is an asset and resource that the Resiliency project will build upon; families that care and are committed to work to revitalize their beloved neighborhood. Additionally, Virginia’s governor has issued an Executive Order 24 that addresses increasing Virginia’s resilience to sea level rise and includes plans for mitigation of flood risk at the community level. Although the city of Petersburg is not coastal it is still a major flood risk. Adding to the risk is the number of vacant homes and low income housing. Residents of The Heights, along with neighboring communities, have no or poor drainage fields and no access to shelter or evacuation in the event of natural or man-made disasters.
This partnership will convert a historic building known as the Beaux Twenty, into a community Solar Resiliency Hub. Beaux Twenty, recently donated to United Parents Against Lead (UPAL), was once used as a facility to house the Colored USO Army troops within the city. The building is located on Byrne Street, in the heart of The Heights neighborhood. The VEJC, in partnership with UPAL, is uniquely situated to successfully implement this project by building upon past relationships with the city of Petersburg as a capacity building opportunity for residents of the Heights. UPAL has worked extensively, since 2004, in Petersburg implementing a HUD-funded Lead Elimination Action Plan project that resulted in testing and lead remediation of 80 homes. Additionally UPAL collaborated with many community partners throughout the city.