By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
Craig Wilson of the Community Planning Partners has been hired by Stanardsville and addressed the Greene County Board of Supervisors at their first meeting of February to discuss the potential of additional grants to further enhance the Town of Stanardsville, the county seat of Greene.
Speaking prior to Wilson, Superintendent Jim Northup from the Shenandoah National Park, updated the Board and one of his key statistics was that last year there were 1.3 million tourists in the park in 2015. This was a perfect entry to Wilson asking for support of the Board to try to attract more of the tourists to downtown Stanardsville. Wilson went on to explain there are $9 million available in state grants (Community Development Block Grants or CDBG) with probably 30 applicants trying to receive grants of up to $700,000.
The grant can be used for improving infrastructure in Stanardsville. Wilson showed a diagram of a performance pavilion for both inside and outside events as a result of the planning grant already received.
David Hill of Hill Studios along with Stanardsville Mayor Gary Lowe, Chairman Bill Martin, Country Administrator John Barkley, Economic Development Director Alan Yost and STAR President Don Pamenter, have been working with Mr. Wilson. He addressed the proposed location as the hillside behind the county administration building which slopes down to a creek and then the other side goes up to the school parking lot. He further explained that the sloping hill would make the structure very economical to construct. He did not address any stream buffers, stormwater impacts or other environmental mitigation that the site might require.
As currently conceived, the project would be done in phases with the octagonal pavilion being done first, with a wing added followed by additional phases. According to Wilson, Hill estimates the venue being able to seat nearly 2,000 people. Further, the structure could be used for a farmers market and suggested one or more pedestrian bridges to the school parking lot.
The key issue of the presentation was explaining to the Board of Supervisors that the more support that the Board would give the project the more apt Greene County would be to get the grant. Wilson suggested at least a letter from the Board or, better yet, a resolution in support of the project. The grants are to be awarded on March 23rd by the Department of Housing Community Development.
Chairman Bill Martin asked what else the grant would be used for. Wilson said that improvement to facades of structures in Stanardsville and possibly demolishing blighted structures. There are also funds that can be used for marketing and signage. Wilson will also be meeting with Lowe and the town council to discuss the grant process.
Supervisor Jim Frydl asked if owners of the buildings need to give approval at this point. Wilson explained that at this point it is non-binding on the owners of the structures but the more owners of building in town would be looked upon favorably. Frydl asked when the Board needs to act and Wilson explained that he recommended not waiting until the day the grant applications are due (March 23, 2016) as there is a lot of detail and suggested submitting it one or two days in advance.
Vice Chairman Michelle Flynn asked how much the maintenance of the structure would cost. Wilson did not have that at this time but the operating plan will be developed and he will provide it to the Board. Barkley then addressed the Board with his support of the project. It is an example of the private and public sectors partnering and hopes that the Board and Town Council will support the grant request.
Supervisor David Cox agreed that we need something positive in Stanardsville but had questions on ownership of the structure, who is liable for the structure and where do we park 2,000 cars?
Wilson assumed most of the events would take place on the weekend or during the summer when school parking would be available. He further explained that this would be a 2 year project and could it begin this fall.
Frydl expressed his support of a resolution. Wilson offered his help in drafting a resolution and presenting it back to the Board. It was agreed that having the resolution done by the first Board meeting in March (March 8, 2016) would be most helpful. Wilson said that he would provide a draft document to Barkley before the March 8th meeting.
Ironically, this project sounds similar to the amphitheater in the county park that Dave Matthews’ manager Coran Capshaw proposed to Greene County in 1998. This was to be fully funded by Capshaw along with up to $1 million to develop that park. The tradeoff was that Capshaw/Matthews wanted to have 2 or 3 dates per year to have new bands get exposure. This proposal was turned down by the Board of Supervisors at that time and led to the development of the amphitheater on the Charlottesville downtown mall. It will be interesting to see if now, 18 years later, this Board of Supervisors believes an amphitheater is now a “good idea” in Greene County.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credits: Community Planning Partners, Greene County, Hill Studios