Blacksburg convened its first town council meeting of 2018 on Tuesday.
Susan Anderson, Lauren Colliver and Susan Mattingly were sworn in as elected council members from November’s election. Leslie Hager-Smith was sworn in as mayor.
Upon the realization that a vice-mayor had not yet been sworn in, Hager-Smith led the assembly in the pledge of allegiance. Following the pledge, Susan Anderson was nominated and elected vice mayor.
The consent agenda began Ordinance #1854 was the first reading of rezoning acreage at 116 and 120 Hearthstone Drive with a public hearing set for Feb. 13. Ordinance #1857 at Hearthstone Apartments asked to vacate a sanitary sewer that’s being relocated.
Public hearing #1849 amending 22-129 requested the use of attorneys or collection agencies to collect delinquent town taxes. Occasionally there are magnitude or other complication that would just help with collecting taxes, Town Attorney Larry Spencer said. There was no public comment. All were unanimously approved.
Town Manager, Marc Verniel presented the town’s Capital Improvement Program report that that town begins compiling in August. The are $75 million for all funds, both general and enterprise.
The public can comment on the CIP for two weeks by sending emails to staff or council. The report highlighted large operating expenses, funding sources, equipment purchases, and projected impacts, identifies funding sources in a five-year plan (Fiscal Year 2019-2023).
The plan links the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, its Strategic Goals, and the Budget. A capital reserve fund was started to pay for larger cap projects providing cash and debt capacity.
A 1-cent increase tax rate is scheduled for 2019 to fund a new police station, $16.5 million for a parking garage behind The Cellar Restaurant, streetscape completion on Main and begin Draper Road, and a number of improvements and infrastructure maintenance.
Maintaining buildings with HVAC projects and new rec center at the OBHS property at some point beyond the five-year horizon. The town is still in conversation attempting to purchase the OBHS property.
In public comment on the CIP, Blacksburg resident and glass artist, Emilio Santorini asked for clarification of the police station design and town investment strategies.
“I wanted to know if there’s a possibility to see what’s involved with the design of the police station. Will there be more than one police station making it more effective to respond? And Are you going to invest the money? How will you invest?”
Verniel responded that the police station hasn’t been designed yet and there will be a public process. He noted that aspirations for a future police station doesn’t fit into the existing station footprint, so moving the station is the plan.
“Right now looking at the OBMS that’s going through a planning process,” he said.
He said that tourism creates jobs and diversifies the local economy as well as enhancing intangible, quality of life aspects of a community.
Lisa Bleakely executive director of the Montgomery County Tourism Office reviewed county, Blacksburg, and Christiansburg tourism achievements and trends.
Travel expenditures are up and county tourism office has been promoting the county and towns as an arts destination, highlighting traditional music and art. The office facilitated the high
Having wooed tennis event to Blacksburg from Lynchburg. The two facilitated the filming of PBS national television show, “Erik the Travel guy,” successfully highlighted Montgomery County destinations and pointed out that more hotel rooms in our markets that may attract new group business.
The team also successfully pitched hosting a summer tennis tournament in Blacksburg to head coach of men’s tennis at Virginia Tech, Jim Thompson.
“We stole — we earned — an important tennis event away from Fredericksburg, that will be here in June,” Bleakely said.
Citizen comments followed. Mel Jones, a research scientist at the Virginia Center for Housing Research, encouraged the board to consider innovative approaches to affordable housing on the OBMS site.
She cited number of successes in Northern Virginia mixed-use developments. Pairing municipal uses with affordable housing on the highly visible Main Street site.
“We’re here to talk about providing affordable housing at the OBMS site. I’m really pleased about the affordability of the site. But it still doesn’t serves low or moderate income residents,” she said.
Following Bleakely, several representatives of the Villas at Fiddler’s Green Homeowners Association requested that the council address the high volume and speeding on Willard Drive between Clay Street and Graves, requesting a speed bump to alleviate the problem.
Leslie Hager-Smith asked whether the group had met with the traffic committee. They had not yet, but have plans to do so..
Town Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Roger E. Hedgepeth Chambers in the Municipal Building (300 S. Main Street, Blacksburg). For more information on town council meetings, agendas, and minutes, visit www.blacksburg.gov/town-council.
A welcome message from new mayor, Leslie Hager-Smith is posted here: www.blacksburg.gov/community/town-government/welcome.