Vinton Town Council will host a community meeting on October 30 to give residents the opportunity to discuss eliminating four Valley Metro bus stops on Washington Avenue in a cost-saving measure. The meeting will be held at the Vinton War Memorial at 6 p.m.
The Valley Metro update was part of the discussion at the Vinton Town Council meeting on October 3.
The high costs of Valley Metro services to the town have been under discussion for many months. Council, staff, and the Finance Committee have been working with Valley Metro on possible solutions to reduce the cost of services to the town. Low ridership on the Valley Metro stops along Washington Avenue near the downtown area have led council to consider dropping these stops, with alternate stops existing nearby.
A public hearing on the issue will follow on November 7 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building.
In other council business, Vinton Fire and EMS Deputy Chief Chris Linkous accepted a proclamation from council declaring October 8-14 as Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out.”
Linkous urged all residents to:
- Draw a map of their homes identifying two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
- Practice fire drills using the maps twice each year during the day and at night.
- Teach children how to escape on their own if no adults are there to assist.
- Make sure house numbers are reflective, clearly marked, and easy to read— this is especially important for EMS personnel.
- In case of a fire, residents should close doors behind themselves as they exit to help contain the fire, smoke, and heat.
- Once residents exit the burning building, stay outside. Alert firefighters to the location of anyone believed to be still inside.
Dr. Richard Turner, former principal of William Byrd High School and chairman of Economic Development for the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce, commended council for the many exciting projects completed, under way, and anticipated in the Town of Vinton as a result of “great leadership from council and staff.”
Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters presented a briefing to council on those Economic Development activities. Completed projects include downtown revitalization projects which added new streetlights, streetscaping, signage, and furniture to downtown Vinton; renovations of the Farmers’ Market stage and upgrades to the Pavilion; remodeling of 13 storefronts through façade grants; construction of the Vinton Library; and renovations to Roland E. Cook.
Peters told council that this year 20 concerts and festivals have been held in downtown Vinton once improvements were complete, in contrast to six last summer, “bringing friends, neighbors and new faces” to the town. Bands have praised the improved acoustics and larger stage. Attendees have been enthusiastic about the new portable dance floor and family-centered events.
Significant ribbon-cuttings have been held to mark completion of the downtown revitalization project at last spring’s Dogwood Festival, and at the openings of the Glade Creek Greenway, the Roland E. Cook Lofts, Twin Creeks Brewing Company and many other new businesses.
Peters briefed council on progress in renovations at Macado’s (the former library site) and the William Byrd Apartments in the former William Byrd High School. Plans are for Macado’s to open in early winter and the William Byrd project to be completed in early 2019. He commented on the unique characteristics of the original building being uncovered as crews have begun working on the interior, and on the cooperation and enthusiasm of developer Dave McCormack.
The town has received “serious inquiries” from developers on the Gish’s Mill and Vinton Motors sites, with a feasibility study under way at Gish’s Mill and an appraisal of Vinton Motors.
Peters also described ongoing and future transportation enhancements including the Glade Creek and Tinker/Glade Creek Greenways along with major improvements proposed along Walnut Avenue. Much of this work has been or potentially will be financed through grants. The town has made every effort to identify and apply for grants to finance various projects for all departments in the town.
Town Manager Barry Thompson asked council to approve a resolution authorizing him to execute a two-year contract for Professional Legal Services between the town and the Roanoke County Commonwealth’s Attorney retroactive to July 1, 2017 at a cost of $11,250. With council approval, funds will be transferred for this purpose from the Planning and Zoning Budget, Zoning Ordinances, to Legal Services, Commonwealth Attorney. The Commonwealth Attorney will provide data information back to the town for accounting purposes as part of this agreement.
Lori Kroll from Draper, Aden & Associates briefed council on the highly competitive EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant which the town is applying for to identify and prioritize brownfields in the town with the potential for revitalization.
Brownfields are defined as properties with the presence or perceived presence of hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants, or petroleum products which have a potential for expansion, redevelopment, or reuse.
The grant is in the amount of $300,000 and will be submitted in November. These grants are mainly for assessment and are not used for construction or remediation in and of themselves, but position the town to receive other grants for those purposes.
Kroll stated that with so many completed, in-the-works, and proposed projects in Vinton, especially as the result of grants, the town has great leverage in securing the Brownfields Assessment Grant, although often the grant is not approved until the second application.
Vinton Human Resources Director Donna Collins briefed council on a proposed resolution that will support the Town Employee Safety Committee. This committee is made up of town management and employee representatives who make recommendations for improving safety and health in the workplace, “being more proactive than reactive.” Collins said succinctly that her goal is for town employees to “go home the way they arrived.”
According to Collins, the committee is “responsible for defining problems and removing obstacles to accident prevention, identifying hazards and recommending corrective actions, helping identify employee safety training needs, and establishing accident-investigation procedures.”
Collins said that the committee has been brainstorming types of training that may be beneficial to such as CPR training for all town employees. Action on the resolution will be taken at the October 17 council meeting.
Town Clerk Susan Johnson briefed council on the history and current structure of the Highway Safety Commission, which was originally mandated decades ago to facilitate transportation funding. The connection to transportation funding no longer exists, and the number of commission members (nine) is unwieldy when trying to establish a quorum (five) at scheduled meetings. The commission is made up of citizens and ex-officio council and staff members.
In recent years the committee has dealt with traffic lights, signage, lanes, and parking issues for the most part, which are of local concern and benefit from citizen input.
The ensuing discussion resulted in recommendations that the commission be restructured to become a committee; that the number of members be reduced to five; and that bylaws be established. Staff was asked to prepare guidelines for consideration.
A report from the Finance Committee and Vice Mayor Matt Hare on the preliminary end of fiscal year report indicate that the town is on strong financial footing. Hare commended the staff for running a “well-managed ship” and “managing the resources the citizens give them well.”