The Town of Vinton has at long last, after years of diligent, relentless hard work by a host of individuals, become a “Go To” not a “Go Through” town.
That’s the assessment of Vinton Mayor Brad Grose in his annual State of the Town Address, delivered at the Vinton War Memorial on December 5. Vinton has become a “destination” through the dedicated partnerships of those who grew up in this town and those who didn’t, but who all recognized its potential to become something special and never gave up on their vision.
The mayor proceeded to prove his point by presenting a litany of accomplishments in the town within just the past 12 months and a glimpse into what lies ahead. Th ere was the tantalizing mention of redevelopment projects– Vinyard Station at the former Vinton Motors site, an as yet undisclosed project near downtown at the intersection of Pollard, Cedar, and 1st Streets– and the return of Off -Track Betting to the former Colonial Downs building. “Th e former Vinton Motors building in the downtown area (a Mixed-Use Redevelopment Project named Vinyard Station) is in the early stages of being redeveloped,” noted Grose in recognizing developer Dale Wilkinson and longtime Vinton Motors owner Billy Vinyard.
“The design plans include a ‘taphouse’ style restaurant with garage doors that will add a sense of depth and comfort to the facility and other suitable commercial uses in the near future.”
“The town has an option to purchase fi ve contiguous parcels of property within the intersection of South Pollard Street, Cedar Avenue, and 1st Street for a future economic development project after the adoption of a Town Council resolution on October 16 of this year,” said Mayor Grose.
“This purchase will help to remove blight in the town, especially close to our downtown area and these parcels are located within our Downtown UDA (Urban Development Area). “Pari-mutuel off-track horse wagering is coming back to Vinton in the former Colonial Downs building in 2019 with elaborate interior and exterior renovations,” announced Grose. He thanked Revolutionary Racing, LLC, Colonial Downs, and the Virginia Horseman’s Association for their work on this project. Groundbreaking for the new Rosie’s Gaming Emporium is scheduled for December 11 at 10:30 a.m. Th e mayor underscored some of the newest Vinton destinations: the Lancerlot ice hockey rink and sports complex, Twin Creeks Brewing Company, the new Macado’s restaurant, the Vinton Library, Th e Advancement Foundation, Farmburguesa, the La Casa Del Burrito Taco Shop, Asia Gourmet, Star City Playhouse, the greenways and the blueway. He applauded the events that Vinton is best known for— the Dogwood Festival, Fall Festival, the Christmas Parade, Downtown Trick or Treating, the Grapes and Grains Festival, the annual 4th of July Festival and Fireworks, Cruise-Ins, Creekfest, and Mingle at the Market and Party in the Park concerts.
“We had over 116 music and dance events this year,” said Grose. He thanked people who took a risk and made signifi cant and longterm investments in the town—
developers Dale Wilkinson, Dave McCormack, School House Partners, Penalty Box Partners, Richard Macher, TAF (Th e Advancement Foundation) founder and president Annette Patterson, theatre owners Marlow and Karon Ferguson, RIDE Solutions, and the Twin Creeks trio of Andy and Jason Bishop and Barry Robertson, to name a few. He then went on to describe several other projects in detail— completed, under way, or anticipated. “With assistance from Roanoke County, the Roanoke Economic Development Authority, and historic tax credits, the former William Byrd High School is being renovated into approximately 84 market-rate apartments,” said Grose. “Plans are for the project to be completed in 2019 with a total investment of $12 million. Thanks to Roanoke County for their collaborative support and assistance throughout the redevelopment process. Thanks to Dave McCormack with Waukeshaw Development.”
The mayor spoke of the awarding of a second UDA Grant– this one for $65,000– being utilized to establish guidelines based on Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) principles for the Downtown UDA and to amend the town’s current zoning and sign ordinances. Vinton has partnered with the county in a 50/50 match to sponsor Downtown Façade Improvement Grants. Th is program helps businesses while at the same time improving the aesthetics of the town.
Five businesses have been able to make improvements through this grant funding this year: the Conner Group, Stratford Properties, Asia Gourmet restaurant, Mountain View Real Estate, and Vinton’s Country Corner. Grose recognized TAF for its most successful ever Gauntlet Business Program and Competition in 2018. One hundred three entrepreneurs from Roanoke County, Vinton, Botetourt County, and the Alleghany Highlands participated in the program, earning over $200,000 in cash and in-kind prizes— with over local and regional 100 business leaders involved as mentors and advisors. Registration is now open for the 2019 Gauntlet with classes getting under way on February 5. Patterson and her staff are forging ahead with even bigger plans for 2019. TAF is launching the Innovation Mill to support early stage businesses in high-growth industries by providing next level resources. A key feature of the Innovation Mill is a product retail showcase. Town staff and Summit Design and Engineering are completing a planning grant for a Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Housing Rehabilitation Project which is preliminary to applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) which will focus on a targeted area of need in the town. Th e goal of this grant program is helping residents to be “warm, safe, and dry,” through exterior and interior rehabilitation of roofs, facades, HVAC, windows, utilities, and other structural improvements. Grose touted the new online payment center (Payment Service Network Inc.) initiated by the town’s Finance Department to provide residents with a more convenient way to pay bills, while lessening the workload on staff . Th e mayor announced that there were an impressive 80 new business licenses issued in the town in 2018. “Improvements to the town infrastructure continue with the Cleveland Avenue Waterline Replacement Project, Phases II and III, which will improve fi re protection and provide enhanced services to the residences in this neighborhood,” he said. “We appreciate the hard work of our Public Works Department for all the paving, street, water, and sewer line repairs and improvements and storm water management projects they handle on a day-to-day basis.” Grose applauded Magnets USA, its founder Dale Turner, Chief Operating Officer Donnie Martin, and their staff , who were recently recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia as a manufacturer of magnetic and paper promotional products with plans to invest $1.5 million in its Vinton operation. Magnets USA was founded in 1990 and serves about 35,000 customers today, producing millions of magnetized products each year. It also won the 2018 Roanoke Regional Chamber Small Business Award in the Wholesale/ Retail Category. He commended the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce on the success of the events it sponsors each year that bring out citizens and attract guests to the town from far and wide. He also talked about the partnership formed recently between the town and the Chamber to lease office space at the Charles R. Hill Community Center. He discussed proposed safety improvements with the $183,000 Hardy Road/Dillon Woods Crosswalk Project for design and construction of a mid-block pedestrian crosswalk with a pedestrian refuge island and crosswalk signage adjacent to W.E. Cundiff Elementary to be funded through the VDOT Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). Just last week the town was notified that it had received two PSAP (Pedestrian Safety Action Plan) VDOT grants (totaling approximately $220,000) to implement pedestrian safety countermeasures at the intersections of Vinyard and Hardy Roads and Washington Avenue and Pollard Street. Th ese projects will include pedestrian push buttons and signal heads, high-visibility cross walk markings, improved signage, lighting enhancements, and improvements to existing curb ramps with sidewalk improvements to meet ADA compliance. The projects are scheduled to be completed by December 2019. Grose indicated that through the hard work of the Planning and Zoning Department, the town has been able to remain as a FEMA CRS Class 8 locality, which allows citizens to receive a 10 percent reduction on their flood insurance premiums. “Th e Vinton Police Department recently received their fifth Reaccreditation Award and our department is one out of 99 of the 400 police departments in the Commonwealth to receive this award.,” he said.
Other police department achievements in 2018 included: • another hugely successful National Night-Out Event in August— an event which grows each year • a new prescription drug takeback box in conjunction with the Roanoke County Sheriff ’s Office, located at the Vinton Police Department, built by students and faculty at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology. • Officer Matt Stafford received the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Award for 2018 • a new Community Services Officer position was created and is filled by Officer Dustin Bray who has three primary areas of responsibility as school liaison officer, code enforcement officer and animal control officer. • a presentation to Town Council on Hostile Vehicle Mitigation options to purchase and implement anti-vehicle barriers in order to secure roadways during community events at the Vinton Farmers’ Market. Th e Vinton Fire & EMS Department this year educated over 250 young students in fi re safety “Town staff , the Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission and Valley Metro collaborated to develop route changes to Routes 35 and 36 to accommodate for future economic development projects and to better serve the transportation needs of the citizenry,” said Grose. “Th e reciprocating route will allow for a localized means of transit in the Town of Vinton as riders will be able to travel to a majority of the economic and social hubs in the town without having to go back to the downtown Roanoke bus station. The effective date of the change will be in January 2019.” Phase 2 of the Glade Creek Greenway will soon extend from Walnut Avenue to Gus Nicks Boulevard. Half of the $562,000 project was funded by a VDOT Transportation Alternative Grant. Plans are being made to provide bicycle, pedestrian, and ADA travel improvements to the Walnut Avenue Corridor which connects Vinton to the City of Roanoke and is traveled by over 6,000 vehicles per day on average. These improvements will be completed in two phases: 5th Street to the western town limits through $1.44 million in VDOT Regional Surface Transportation Program (RSTP) funding, and Lee Avenue/ Farmers’ Market to 1st Street, also through VDOT RSTP funding ($545,250).
There has been a noticeable change and improvement in the traffic pattern at the intersection of Hardy and Vinyard Roads near Lake Drive Plaza. Th e signals at the intersection have been programmed for split-phasing which alternates the signals for the two sides of Vinyard. Also, a fourth signal head with a dedicated left turn on green arrow has been added to facilitate the moving of traffic. “Vinton was the first station of the Zagster Bike Share Program outside of downtown Roanoke, with our Bike Station opening in April at the Farmers’ Market,” said Grose. “Th is program provides an alternative means of transportation to our residents to travel around town or hop on many of the greenways to travel to surrounding localities. “We had all been anticipating the opening of the Macado’s Restaurant and were excited to hold the grand opening this past Saturday,” Grose commented. “Macado’s, since opening its first location in 1978 has worked with local communities to restore civic and historically significant buildings to public use and the new Vinton location is a showpiece of this commitment. Thanks to Roanoke County for their support and efforts to make this project a reality and to Richard Macher and his team for the vision and investment in our community.” Th e mayor recognized the new Farmburguesa restaurant, which opened in July in the former Angelo’s, working with area growers to sell farm-to-table burgers, and brothers Angel and Edgar Vasquez who opened the La Casa Del Burrito Taco Shop in May. Grose congratulated Twin Creeks Brewing Company on its second anniversary and future expansion plans which will allow the company to increase production and distribution and includes a private event room and an expanded exterior patio. Th e mayor reminded the audience of over $3 million in renovations completed in 2018 at the Lancerlot Sports Complex by Penalty Box Partners, a 10-member investment partnership. Th e new ice rink will host various collegiate hockey teams (VT, Radford, and VMI), youth and adult leagues, and the Railyard Dawgs for practice. Th e gym and fitness centers, swimming pools, and specialized facilities in the complex were also renovated with additional enhancements coming in future phases. Vinton adopted and incorporated by reference the 2018 Roanoke Valley Greenway Plan as an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, which assures its future. Grose thanked regional partners who made these projects possible: Roanoke Valley government partners (the Counties of Roanoke and Botetourt and the Cities of Roanoke and Salem) along with the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, the Roanoke Regional Partnership, the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority, the Western Virginia Water Authority, the Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission and the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection. Th e annual State of the Town Address/Membership Meeting is hosted by the Town of Vinton and the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce and concluded with the election and installation of new VACC officers and board members for 2019.