By Debbie Adams
Vinton’s Associate Planner Fayula Gordon briefed Vinton Town Council on the proposed Multi-Generational Park to be located on the grounds of the former Vinton Municipal Pool on the hills behind the Vinton War Memorial at council’s meeting on July 18.
Gordon wrote the application for the Virginia Outdoor Foundation (VOF) Open Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund Grant which was awarded to the town in June for $218,295 (with no match required).
Town Manager Pete Peters said the VOF complimented the application completed by Gordon, which included a video of town residents and business owners, some talking about their memories of the pool in summers’ past – Joyce Castelli, Kathryn Sowers, Quincy Randolph, Chris and Sabrina McCarty, and Keith Liles.
The cost of the project is expected to be approximately $1 million. In addition to the VOF grant, the town has money set aside in the Capital Improvements Project funds for the project which will bring them to approximately half a million dollars with hopes to attract more partners and additional funding to bring the project to fruition.
In the application, the project area is described as “the blighted pool site.” The town plans to “transform the underutilized space and rejuvenate the area.” This aligns with one of the town’s long-term goals of “enhancing the town’s infrastructure and livability, promoting a healthy, active lifestyle for the residents.” The park will include activities for all ages – from infants to seniors. Plans include a playground, a picnic shelter, and a planting and seating wall, along with pickleball courts and a half basketball court.
Phase 1 of the project will get underway soon with site preparation, demolition work, and filling (closing) the existing pool. The work on the park will be completed in phases.
The town must meet certain grant requirements from the VOF, including undergoing subdivision with five acres being designated as open-space land. Substantial components of the park are to be completed by July 2025.
Council was next briefed by Vinton Deputy Police Chief Tim Lawless on the 4th Quarter Police Report for April through June. In that time period, the department received 3,910 calls for service with 293 reports written, and made 836 traffic stops with 540 traffic summonses issued. There were 104 traffic accidents.
There were 115 arrests overall. The police handled 17 drug cases and 12 DUI’s. Officers completed 787 security checks. Lawless explained that citizens may request security checks on the Vinton Police website for their homes for instances such as going on vacation.
Animal control received 175 total calls – 37 for animal ordinance violations, 10 for an animal attacking a person, 33 dealing with wildlife, 17 for animal cruelty, 25 for dogs at large, 19 to report strays, and nine for code enforcement.
The Criminal Investigations Division received three new criminal cases in the fourth quarter with two cases under investigation, four cases made inactive, and one case pending lab results. Two search warrants were obtained; two arrests were made; and two items were sent to the crime lab.
As far as records management, 283 warrants were entered into RMS, along with 539 summonses. There were 35 weapons permit checks, 113 FOIA requests, 88 officer subpoenas processed, and 50 criminal histories checked.
One new officer, Andrew Hagy, was sworn in. According to Lawless, Hagy was just released from field training. “He has a great work ethic and wants to spend his career here.”
Lawless detailed several community events the police were involved in – the Blue Ridge Marathon, the Little Feet Meet, the Murph Challenge, the Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament, the Torch Run, and the Vinton Library Summer Reading Kick-off.
There was overtime work with DMV traffic enforcement and several trainings – RADAR, Evidence Technician School, Police Background Investigation, SWAT School, CIT training, a Violent Crime Conference, and Drug Interdiction training.
The Vinton Police have applied for and received grants that paid for the Traffic Enforcement overtime and will provide needed supplies for the department. One block grant will be used to purchase gym equipment ($4,716) and an ARPA grant in the amount of $158,000 will fund additional equipment, upgrade the weapons system, upgrade rifle accessories, purchase a less lethal weapon as a tool for officers, purchase a new CID vehicle, pay for a TruNarc Handheld Narcotics Analyzer, and more.
Vinton Historical Society President Randy Layman updated council on events at the Vinton History Museum and Historical Society. He expressed his appreciation to Public Works Director Bo Herndon and the Public Works employees who have resolved rainwater intrusion problems there.
Layman and Peters revisited the project “most pressing” to the museum – the installation of a cargo lift to upgrade access to the second floor of the museum. The lift will enable the staff and volunteers to reposition large displays from one floor to another and make exhibits and artifacts more accessible to all. The pending plan is to use museum funds, seek grants, and solicit donations through a formal fundraising effort.
Peters noted that the Historical Society has approximately $60,000 on hand to contribute to the project and that grants exist across the state to fund projects such as this. Town Council agreed to make the cargo lift a priority and to meet with the Historical Society board to come up with methods for generating additional funds.
Assistant Planning and Zoning Director Nathan McClung updated council on Town of Vinton Community Rating System and Hazard Mitigation Projects. These were set forth in the 2019 Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. Under this plan, localities are tasked with revisiting specific mitigation projects denoted for their specific jurisdiction and annually update local governing bodies – in this case, Vinton Town Council.
Some specific projects completed in the past year include providing an informational brochure on emergency or weather events (by mail), the addition of the CodeRED Alert System, and ensuring that water and sewer service can be operational during hazardous events. For example, the town has elevated the generators behind the 3rd Street Pump Station so that they are above the flood plain. Generators have been added throughout town facilities.
Other projects McClung highlighted include retaining Class 8 certification in the National Flood Insurance Program which gives a 10% discount to those qualifying, maintaining an inventory of flood prone residential properties and repetitive loss properties and FEMA’s efforts to initiate new flood maps over the next three years.
The Streambank Restoration Project at Woodland Place has been completed; the town has upgraded and repaired elements of the stormwater system and drainage system; and a new flood gauge has been installed on Glade Creek.
Herndon briefed council on the latest Public Works Committee meeting. The Cleveland Avenue Water Line project is complete, and all lines are functional. Paving is also complete on the street. The town is working to design a striping plan for Cleveland which will be completed in the fall for both the roadway and parked vehicles. Consideration will be given to slowing traffic with selective striping.
Stormwater projects on Holiday Road and Shalon Circle are in the works. Glo-Fiber construction is still underway within the town. The fall paving schedule will be underway in August and September, mainly in the neighborhoods behind Kroger and Oakey’s, but also on Walnut Avenue once that Phase 1 project is complete.
Herndon spoke enthusiastically about the Pitzer Road Full-Depth Reclamation (FDR) Project in Roanoke County that council members visited earlier in the day and its application to the rehabilitation of Mountain View Road in Vinton. The Pitzer Road project is only the third of its kind in Virginia and drew quite a crowd of spectators. The FDR process saves time, money, and especially fuel.
There will be no council meeting on August 1 as council members will be attending National Night Out from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Vinton War Memorial to meet informally with citizens.