VINTON–Vinton Town Council held the first of two public hearings to allow citizens to provide comments on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Downtown Revitalization received this past summer. The grant is administered by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) who require the public hearings, since public dollars are used to fund the project.
Council convened the first hearing at their regularly scheduled Council meeting on January 2 in the Municipal Building. A second opportunity for citizen involvement and input comes on February 5.
The Downtown Revitalization management committee, led by Ryan Spitzer, assistant to the Town Manager in Vinton and grant administrator, is in the process of completing the necessary steps prior to signing a contract with the CDBG to receive the $700,000 grant which was approved in June.
The downtown revitalization project includes carrying out improvements to building facades using CDBG and non-CDBG funds; setting up a loan fund for new and existing businesses; improving landscaping, lighting, sidewalks, and parking in the Farmer’s Market area; improving the crosswalk at Washington and Pollard Streets; constructing gateway improvements at Virginia Avenue and Pollard Streets; making landscape and streetscape improvements within the designated boundary area of downtown; and improving private properties.
During the hearing, Vinton resident Mary Beth Layman, speaking for herself and her husband, Randy, suggested installing wireless high speed Internet services in the downtown area, which would entice new businesses to set up shop.
Layman also suggested that Vinton incorporate more of the new “branding” for the area adopted by the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau which now identifies the area not just as the “Roanoke Valley”, but as “Virginia’s Blue Ridge”.
“This is a good train to get on board,” said Mary Beth Layman. “We can share their branding, and embrace our proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the outdoor recreational resources Vinton shares with the rest of the area.”
Public input was also solicited on improvements to the downtown area which are in the flood plain as part of the CDBG grant procedure, although no structures are planned for the flood plain area itself.
During the regular Council meeting, Wayne Guffey, Assistant Chief of the Vinton First Aid Crew, presented a report to Council on the services provided to the community in 2012. The First Aid Crew trucks were “Marked Up” and ready for calls 98.8 % of the time during volunteer hours. In the past year, the volunteers manned 21,835 hours of service. The combined career and volunteer crews had a total of 2580 calls dispatched. The crew had three trucks marked up for service during the holiday season, serving the areas of Vinton, Bonsack, and North and East Roanoke County.
There are currently 52 members on roll, including seven currently in training. Guffey also announced that the Vinton First Aid Crew has received a 50/50 grant from the Office of Emergency Management Services for $12,427 to purchase a new power stretcher, which will be ordered shortly. The First Aid Crew also instructed 60 students in a variety of seven different classes related to safety and first aid.
Council members commended the Crew for their service to the community. Mayor Bradley Grose thanked the members especially for their selfless service during the aftermath of last summer’s derecho storm, when they drove door to door handing out bottles of water to area residents.
“This is another reason I love Vinton,” said Councilman Matt Hare. “Everyone does more than their fair share in Vinton.”
Council also welcomed representatives from the Vinton Relay for Life organization, who announced that the local group not only met their goal of $100,000 for the 2012 campaign, but also won the award for highest per capita contributions in the state of Virginia, with donations averaging $13.00 per citizen.
“This is a proud moment for the Town of Vinton,” said Mayor Grose. “I don’t know anyone not touched by cancer sooner or later.”
Town Manager Chris Lawrence reported that with the approval of an intergovernmental agreement on the Regional Center for Animal Control and Protection (the Pound) by the four involved localities–Vinton, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, and Botetourt County—the search for a director has begun.
Lawrence also announced that he will be representing the Town of Vinton on the committee selecting the architectural and design team for the new public library to be built in downtown Vinton. Interviews will be held at the Vinton War Memorial.
At the request of Lawrence and Public Works Director, Gary Woodson, Council adopted a resolution appropriating $21,016 for the balance of the cost of adding the Alternate “F” Line to the Glade Tinker Creek Wastewater Interceptor Replacement Phase II project. The money is covered within the existing budget by a transfer of funds.
“This project has gone quite well, on time and under budget,” said Mayor Grose. “It’s a shame this investment in our infrastructure is underground and can’t be seen by the public, that they can’t see where their money was spent. It will put us in good shape in that area of the Town for a long period of time.”