After winning a close mayoral race in Blacksburg, Leslie Hager-Smith said that she is excited to get to work.
Hager-Smith has lived in town since 1982, and has been on the town council since 2008, so she is well versed in Blacksburg’s past, hoping now to help write some of its future.
She said that among her first priorities are sitting down with Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Tuck, as well as talking with her opponents from the mayoral race Krisha Chachra and Ed Lawhorn about how they would like to continue to be active in the community going forward.
Among Hager-Smith’s first decisions as mayor, beginning Jan. 1, will be working to help decide who will take her spot on the town council, a position set to expire at the end of 2019.
According to Town Attorney Larry Spencer, Hager-Smith and the council need to nominate someone to fill the position within 45 days after she takes over as mayor. That person will serve for a year, with a special election set for next November to determine who would fill the role in 2019.
Hager-Smith said she does not have anyone in mind for the position at this point, and Chachra and Lawhorn both told the News Messenger that they were not interested in filling the spot. Hager-Smith has said, though, that she would like the position to be filled by someone with skills that could help with the development being proposed on the old Blacksburg Middle School property.
She said the submitted plans look promising and she hopes the town and Midtown Development Partners can work together to make sure the end product is something that benefits the citizens and fits in with Blacksburg’s future plans.
She also noted that there is still much work to be done.
“As we’ve all learned, we can’t enter an agreement based on a pattern book or an attractive schematic,” Hager-Smith said. “The development agreement needs to spell out town financial support for public spaces, transfer of public properties, restrictions on residential uses, construction of public improvement, and the quality of development/architecture.”
She is also still very interested in pursuing the old Blacksburg High School property that was purchased by HS Development LLC from Montgomery County back in March.
“We sent David Hagan (co-owner of HS Development) and the county a letter in October expressing that we are still interested in reaching a deal,” she said.
It was thought by many that the town had missed its chance to acquire the property after failing to agree on a suitable price with the county, but last month Hagan asked the board of supervisors to add an addendum to the contract saying that the town could purchase the property under the same agreement that HS Development currently has.
Hagan said at the time that there have been no formal talks with the town, and Hager-Smith said the town has not heard back from Hagan after sending the letter expressing interest.
Updating the comprehensive plan and working to streamline the licensing and permitting of developers are also among her top priorities.
Hager-Smith said that she will be taking a reduced role in her business, Blacksburg Concierge, and will eventually sell the company that helps clients with errands, information gathering, and organization, according to its website.
“It is a good time for me to sell,” she said. “I want to dedicate myself to my role as mayor.”