Danville City Council voted Tuesday night to accept a 105.6 acre-gift of property offered by a local family for future recreational use.
Ormond Keister Evans Jr., Judith C. Evans and Bob N. Evans Sr. are gifting to the city the deed to the property, which consists of five tracks divided by Eagle Springs Road and bordered by U.S. 29. Funding has not been allocated for the development of the park, but the Parks and Recreation Department believes there is value in retaining the property as open space and for future passive recreational use.
A conceptual plan developed by the Parks and Recreation Department in partnership with the Community Design Assistance Center at Virginia Tech includes natural surface trails, an environmental education center, picnic sites and an arboretum. Keister Evans Jr. was involved in the planning process.
In other matters, council voted to:
» reserve the city’s full bond capacity for issuing debt without a referendum. That amount is $6 million. The vote was not to issue debt, but only provide the flexibility to issue debt to the full legal limit without referendum if City Council later chooses.
» authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds up to $3.1 million in principal to finance capital projects in this fiscal year. The projects include circuit courtroom renovations, American Legion Field renovations, adult detention facility improvements, River District street improvements, River District video surveillance, public safety radio upgrades, storm water drainage improvements, general street improvements and Northside Riverwalk Trail extension. Council also voted to refinance up to $5.95 million in bond debt at a lower interest rate.
» allocate $580,000 in state money to install sidewalk, curb and gutter, and drainage improvements to Monument and Lynn streets adjacent to the new Public Safety Center; install left turn lanes on Route 58 West at high traffic volume intersections; and install storm drains on Craghead Street in preparation for streetscape improvements. The city has set aside local matching funds.
» accept $100,000 from the Virginia Department of Aviation for maintenance at Danville Regional Airport.
» accept a $21,320 grant from Virginia Tech to address childhood obesity through programs in the Parks and Recreation Department.
» rezone five lots totaling six acres, issue a special use permit, and waive minimum yard requirements to allow for a multi-million dollar expansion of Roman Eagle Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. Roman Eagle wants to build a state-of-the-art rehabilitation and wellness center. The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the request
» table a decision on whether to issue a special use permit to allow for the operation of a veterinary clinic and commercial kennel at 270 Piney Forest Road. Jeff Smith, owner of Mount Hermon Animal Clinic, is seeking the permit to relocate his practice from Pittsylvania County to the city. The property on Piney Forest Road is adjacent to a Danville Fire station. Several residents in the Woodberry Hills neighborhood opposed the permit, citing noise and traffic concerns. Councilman Fred Shanks suggested tabling the item to give Smith an opportunity to talk to more neighbors, make changes to the plan to provide more soundproofing or to consider another location. The decision to table the matter came in a 5-4 vote, with Shanks, James Buckner, John Gilstrap, Vice Mayor Gary Miller, and Lee Vogler voting for tabling and Mayor Sherman Saunders, Larry Campbell, Alonzo Jones and Buddy Rawley opposing.
» amend the city’s zoning code to create the definition of "Child Therapeutic Day Treatment.” The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the changes.
In addition, council held a first reading on several matters. Those matters included:
» allocating $450,000 to provide funding for a retiree pay bonus.
» accepting a $5,000 grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. The grant requires an equal match from the city.
» accepting grant funds and contributions totaling $20,000 for implementation of a Danville Art Trail. The Virginia Commission for the Arts would provide $7,500. The Danville Regional Foundation would contribute $7,500, and a the Danville Regional Medical Center would contribute $5,000.
» accepting a $49,629 grant for completion of the Riverwalk-Riverside Drive Phase II trail. This phase includes the construction of the bridge abutments and placement of the 115-foot bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Sandy Creek. The additional funding was requested due to an increase in the project cost.
A first reading provides public notification that the matter is being considered. Council must wait until its Sept. 2 meeting at the earliest to vote on accepting the money.
Following the business session, council reconvened in a work session for less formal discussions. Work sessions are conducted in the fourth floor conference room of the Municipal Building.
In the work session, City Council discussed whether to declare the former W. Townes Lea Elementary School and the former Glenwood Elementary School as surplus property and proceed with redeveloping and marketing the property. Council could vote on the matter at its Sept. 2 business session.
Council also discussed plans from Central Health and Centra Medical Group to build an ambulatory medical center at 414 Park Ave. Council could vote on the matter at its Sept. 2 business session.
Reports also were presented in the work session on the comprehensive housing study and implementation of the city employee pay-for-performance system.
River City TV broadcasts all business sessions. Video archives of council business sessions also are available at www.rivercitytv.org. Work sessions are not televised or recorded on video.