Options sought for building

Published 4:02 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) is seeking ways to help fund a replacement for the municipal building housing the Town of Drakes Branch’s offices.

The municipal building is in the process of separating, meaning parts of the building are going in separate directions, due to a creek that runs approximately 15 feet behind the building.

CRC Community Development Planner Todd Fortune said officials — which included town staff, firefighters and staff from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management — talked about the possible project, toured the municipal building and came to the consensus that the town should apply through the pre-disaster mitigation program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

At Thursday’s monthly meeting, Fortune said there was a miscommunication with VDEM regarding what the grant CRC had sought would fund.

“We are pursuing other avenues (and) in fact VDEM is having a conference call with (the Department of Conservation and Recreation) tomorrow, we anticipate,” Fortune said Thursday. “What we’re looking at now is the possibility of going in to have a study done to, in simple terms, they’re going to reevaluate the floodplain in Drakes Branch and also I guess look at the best option for dealing not only with the municipal building but with some other commercial buildings which are in pretty bad shape because they’re right along the creek.”

“The other option is still on the table for planning funds but that application is due next week, so we’re kind of at a quandary. Do we still pursue the one for next week? Do we wait and see?” said Acting CRC Executive Director Melody Foster. “The one for DCR is little different because it’s special monies that they have set aside and actually the director of DCR can decide.”

Foster said during the meeting that the municipal building is still in use and is still deteriorating.

“Every time we go down there they’ve actually marked the floor and the first time we went down there — and this is just one example — there’s a crack in the floor about this big now it’s this big,” Foster said, noting a sizable increase. “The walls have cracks in it; you can visibly see it pulling away.”

She said the building also floods often.

“They have cords in the floor plugged up to their trucks because, you know, they have to charge their batteries,” Foster said. “They walk through that water to unplug those plugs to get in the truck. I mean, it’s dangerous as all heck what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis.”

She said CRC is doing what it can to move the process of building a new building along.

“Every time someone from the state comes in they get really excited when they see it, say ‘We’ve got to do something’… but then when they go back it gets bogged down,” Foster said.