City Council met Tuesday evening in a special work session to view a presentation on a conceptual plan for a proposed riverfront park to be located adjacent the White Mill on four acres of the former Dan River Mills property.
The park would include both wet and dry play areas, a gathering and stage area, river access points and parking. The park also could potentially include a whitewater component that would provide for rafting, whitewater kayaking and tubing. Whitewater facilities often play host to major events centered on slalom or freestyle competitions or to community celebrations such as river festivals.
The Parks and Recreation Department has been working with the Raleigh, N.C., office of DHM Designs to develop a public space that would be a destination within the River District. The company has gathered public input through surveys and community meetings.
DHM also is working on a separate but parallel study of the Long Mill Dam’s recreational value. The report outlines the existing conditions of the dam, the three possible scenarios being considered for the dam’s future, and the impact of those decisions.
The three scenarios are to keep the dam intact, partial removal and full removal. One of the concerns with keeping the dam intact or partial removal is that a riverfront park, if constructed, would draw more people to the vicinity of the dam, thus increasing the probability of accidents at the dam. Partial or full removal of the dam also would facilitate the channelization of a water channel for use as a whitewater park element.
The presentation on Tuesday required no action by City Council. In work sessions, Council reviews non-routine matters that will be voted upon in future business meetings.
The next step in the process would be to authorize the engineering design of the park. However, City Council may first opt to accept an invitation from the Danville Regional Foundation to host a trip to a city with a riverfront park that could serve as a model for Danville.
Following the special work session, City Council met in a business session, during which it voted to:
- Create a master lease program to refinance bonds used in purchasing the former Dan River Mills’ Schoolfield site and the acquisition, construction and renovation of various properties in the River District. The program also could provide financing flexibility for future projects. The Industrial Development Authority will serve as the prime leasor. The goal of the program is to increase the number of banks willing to support development projects at more competitive interest rates.
- Designate the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce as the marketing organization for Danville.
- Amend the budget to provide for receipt and appropriation of $1.6 million from the issue of special no-interest bonds. The money will be used for the planned precision machining program at George Washington High School.
- Amend the budget to provide for receipt and appropriation of a grant in the amount of $125,000 to pay the salary and benefits of a new crime analyst position for the Police Department and to pay patrol overtime, travel and training and equipment and supplies as needed in efforts to reduce violent crime. The grant will require no matching funds. The award is the second year of an anticipated three-year grant program.
- Amend the budget to provide for receipt and appropriation of a grant in the amount of $18,000 to review and update the Police Department’s policy manual and to create a separate procedural manual.
- Vacate an unused right of way to allow for consolidation of property near Spring Avenue.
- Vacate an unused right of way on Joplin Street to allow for consolidation with adjoining parcels.
- Appoint Scott J. Spillman as the health representative to the Danville Community Policy and Management Team.
In addition to these votes, City Council held a first reading on two matters:
- A budget amendment to provide for receipt of a grant in the amount of $413,269 to renovate the house at 407 Holbrook St. for use as the Williams Community Resource Center. The project is designed to protect and enhance the integrity of the historically significant structure as well as create a location open to the public where the past, present and future of African American Civil Rights can be displayed, discussed and advanced.
- A budget amendment to provide for receipt and appropriation of a grant in the amount of $60,000 from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for use by the Danville Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team. The grant would require no local matching funds.
A first reading is an introductory step required by City code before certain matters can be voted upon by City Council. This step serves to provide public notice of pending action. Council could not vote on the budget amendment last night. The earliest vote that can take place will be the March 21 City Council meeting.
Also in the business session, Mayor John Gilstrap presented a proclamation for “Girl Scouts Week” to the Danville area Girl Scouts.
Following the business session, City Council met in a regular work session. During the work session, City Council scheduled votes on the following items for its next business session, which will be held on March 21.
- a resolution to authorize the director of utilities to serve as a member of the board of trustees for American Municipal Power.
- an ordinance to create a civil penalty system for maintenance code violations.
- an ordinance to provide for civil penalties for zoning violations.
City Council also held a closed meeting in the work session as allowed by state law to discuss a prospective business or industry.
River City TV airs live all Council business sessions. The first rebroadcast will be at 8 p.m. Thursday. Watch it on cable (Comcast channel 10 and Gamewood channel 122). The taped broadcast is available now on River City TV’s Facebook page.
River City TV does not air work sessions, but they are open to the public.