Revitalization hearing is Aug. 7

Published 9:33 am Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Town of Drakes Branch will hold a public hearing Aug. 7 to receive comment regarding amendments to the town’s 2017-18 budget. The amendments are a part of the town’s revitalization efforts to help restore its downtown area.

According to a public notice from the town, “the Town Council of Drakes Branch hereby proposes to amend the town’s Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget to include $35,000 in planning grant funds from the (Virginia) Department of Housing and Community Development (VDHCD), to be added into its general fund account.”

The new amended budget would total $432,000, according to the notice.

A Community Organizing Planning Grant would allow the town to establish goals and objectives, conducting assessments to determine the strengths and weaknesses, as well as develop work plans and implementation strategies, VDHCD officials said in May.

“In October of 2016, the (VDHCD) notified the Town of Drakes Branch that it was eligible to receive an Economic Assessment Pre-Planning Grant followed by a Business Revitalization District (BDR) Planning Grant,” the town’s recent visioning session report cited.

The goal of the two planning grants is to secure the possibility of a Community Development Block Grant BDR Competitive Construction Grant, with a proposed time frame in the spring of 2018, the report cited.

“We’re having monthly project management team meetings right now,” said Commonwealth Regional Council Community Development Planner Todd Fortune.

He said the team developed a vision statement for the town during a July 13 meeting. The statement reads, “Ducks Puddle booms again! Drakes Branch is located in the heart of Charlotte County in beautiful Southside, Virginia.”

The statement noted the town’s local produce and performances at the dance hall among other activities.

“Drakes Branch has the small-town charm where everyone knows everyone. Stop by for our outdoor recreation, eclectic shops, (a) local museum and music at the dance hall. Visit your friends and neighbors and pick up local produce at the regional farmer’s market. If you can’t buy it in Drakes Branch, you don’t need it!”

At a recent two-day visioning session held at the Drakes Branch Town Hall, town officials sought to gain input from the community to reflect the future direction of the revitalization project.

It was also during this time that information was gathered to reflect the visioning statement. The sessions were facilitated with assistance from CRC staff.

According to the visioning session report, 17 people attended the first session and 23 were present at the second session.

“We are glad each of you are here tonight,” said Drakes Branch Mayor Denise Pridgen during the June 27 visioning session.

The report made reference to a variety of individuals, many who primarily lived in the town for over 20 years, that attended. These individuals included local government representatives, citizens, business owners, fire department members, news media and property owners.

The budget amendments will be voted on during the September meeting of the Drakes Branch Town Council.

The next management team meeting will be held Aug. 10.