By Debbie Adams
Vinton Town Council held a lengthy meeting on Jan. 17, filled with awards, presentations, recognitions, reports, and a couple of action items.
Town Clerk Susan Johnson was honored in her retirement. She will be sorely missed.
Assistant Town Manager Cody Sexton was recognized for being named to the Roanoker Magazine’s “40 under 40” list. Director of Community Programs Chasity Barbour was recognized for her completion of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy for 2022. Mayor Brad Grose commented that he was glad Barbour and Sexton are “on our team.”
DAR Regent Cindy Higgins and Past Regent Sharon Menzies from the Roanoke Valley Chapter DAR presented the town with two NexTrex benches, obtained from the Trex Company through an impressive recycling campaign in 2022. The DAR joined with the town, PFG, and Food Lion in the project.
Trex partners with 32,000 retailers and thousands of recycling programs nationwide to responsibly dispose of plastic shopping bags and other polyethylene films used to wrap products.
The local DAR chapter signed up to collect 500 pounds of plastic over a six-month period. For each 500 pounds collected, Trex committed to donating a high-quality composite bench to the organization. Amazingly, thanks to community support, the DAR was able to collect over 3,000 pounds, which will lead to receipt of six benches.
Currently two benches have arrived. Higgins and Menzies formally presented them to the town. Plaques will be placed on each bench acknowledging the cooperation of the Town of Vinton, Food Lion, and PFG.
Menzies thanked Town Manager Pete Peters for the town’s enthusiastic participation in the project, along with Mike Maust and Bonnie Fielder at PFG. The first bench will be placed on the Tinker Creek Greenway near PFG.
The highlight of the council meeting was a comprehensive presentation by Vinton’s Economic Development Specialist Marshall Stanley on infrastructure, community and economic development, events, and organizational changes in the town during 2022.
By all accounts, the year 2022 was one of the best the Town of Vinton has ever experienced. Mayor Brad Grose commented that in his 23 years on council, “I have never seen a year like 2022. And it’s because of our staff and citizens.”
Infrastructure projects completed or begun during 2022 included several involving roadways and traffic signals:
- A contract was executed for GPS units and Opticoms at all 11 signalized intersections to enhance public safety and allow for remote operation of signals for special events, weather, or emergency needs.
- Another contract was executed with Advanced Traffic Solutions for synchronization of signals at the 11 intersections.
- A large storm-water repair and improvement project is underway on Cleveland Avenue with culvert replacement on Madison Avenue.
- Installation of traffic signals at Niagara, Vinyard, and Bypass is complete, with emergency purchase of a control system at PFG ordered.
- All road striping is completed
- Public Works has initiated a work order with AEP to relamp 16 streetlamps on Washington/Gus Nicks Boulevard.
- New Christmas décor was added at major intersections, streetlamps, the Vinton War Memorial lawn, and Farmer’s Market, installed by Public Works
- Gus Nicks and Hardy Road crosswalks are at 70% design with right-of-ways donated by St. Timothy Lutheran Church and Roanoke County Schools; it will be bid in summer 2023
- $1.1 million in paving was completed in 2022
Gateway Improvements include:
- Construction on Walnut Avenue is paused for winter, but on schedule to be completed spring 2023
- Garthright Bridge rehabilitation and preventive maintenance will add 50 years to the life of bridge. Work is mainly underneath the bridge and scheduled to complete by early Feb.
Outdoor Recreation assets include:
- Gladetown Loop Trail reopened with assistance from Midweek Crew Pathfinders for Greenways
- Construction for Glade Creek Greenway Phase 2 was greenlighted by VDOT
- Streambank Drainage Improvement Project at Woodland Place underway, at 60% design, right-of-ways obtained from property owners, construction begins late summer 2023
Public Facilities and Assets include:
- Sidewalk, retaining wall, installation of stairs at the Vinton History Museum
- War Memorial playground to be resurfaced and painted while new playground is being designed and constructed at former swimming pool site
- McClung Industrial property will add 80-100 parking spaces in downtown Vinton, at 60% design, to be bid in March, EPA Brownfields assessment submitted
Downtown Revitalization Projects include:
- Pok-E-Joe’s taking over space at Vinyard Station formerly occupied by Joe Goodpies
- Pollard 107 South restaurant in former Star City Playhouse space will be completed in early 2023
- Dogwood Restaurant expansion will be completed spring 2023
Stanley also shared an update on properties affected by the catastrophic fire downtown on July 2, 2022:
- Staff is working with property owners to assist with redesign of destroyed buildings. Demolition of 103 and 107 East Lee Ave. along with 206 and 208 South Pollard are expected in early 2023. Both owners are interested in pursuing three story structures with commercial storefronts on first floor and residential space on second and third floors.
- R. Music has relocated to 128 North Pollard.
- Rustic Creations has relocated to 116 South Poplar Street
- Edward Jones hopes to return, has temporarily relocated to Walnut Avenue
- Red Jasmine is also impacted due to shared wall
Other redevelopment projects in the works include:
- Gish Mill property is about to close with private owner, awaiting Historic Tax Credits
- Hotel–federal EDA Grant request for site engineering submitted with subsequent EDA grant application for site grading, environmental assessment completed on adjacent dry cleaner property
- East Cleveland properties—submitted for EPA Brownfields grant; staff is working with private developer and Balzer for preliminary engineering for a proposed mixed-use property with commercial storefront and residential units
- River Park Shopping Center, housing study wrapping up for River Park/Bypass corridor funded by Virginia Housing Grant
Stanley reminded council of the Rosie’s expansion in 2022—a $28 million investment which more than doubled the existing space, added 350 new games, and a huge parking garage
He also discussed a new Starbucks location in the former Rite-Aid building on Hardy Road. The property is subdivided and will also include a car wash.
He updated council on EPA Brownfields Grant applications. The original $300,000 has been spent. The town has applied for another $500,000 grant. He described two industrial sites involving the grants—the McClung/Walnut Avenue Parking Lot and the Leslie/Gateway site adjacent to Glade Creek and Gish Mill, within the flood plain in Vinton—and a former automotive site on Hardy Road, the dry cleaner site near the proposed hotel, the East Cleveland Mart, the 3rd Street landfill, the Billy Byrd Apartments annex, and Steve’s Garage near the Municipal Building.
Stanley applauded the launch of the CodeRED emergency alert system which became available to Vinton citizens and businesses on Dec. 1, and the “All Things Vinton” videos developed by the Town of Vinton and RVTV which stars Chasity Barbour and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Angie Chewning in comical visits to area businesses.
“The videos have really taken off and make local government and local businesses seem fun,” Stanley said.
More videos are in the works, along with an “All Things Vinton” newsletter and a new tourism welcome video.
Stanley concluded his segment of the meeting by detailing organizational changes during 2022—the transfer of the utility system from the town to the Western Virginia Water Authority and the subsequent reorganization of the Public Works and Finance Departments, extensive updates to the Zoning Ordinances, the launch of CodeRED, staff salary market adjustments, and reaccreditation of the Vinton Police Department.
Council took action to adopt two resolutions accepting permanent sign easements and temporary construction easements for the Hardy Road Crosswalk at W.E. Cundiff Elementary and the permanent stream restoration, permanent access, and temporary grading and construction easements from Woodland Event Center, LLC, and Shirley Jones for the Woodland Place Stream Restoration Project.