History, Objectives, Current Programs
Stanardsville Area Revitalization (*STAR*) originated in 1984 when a community organization, Stanardsville Pride with Action (SPWA), was formed to build community spirit and contribute to community services and activities. Over the years it raised money and contributed to creation of a small town park, a visitors’ center, local festivals and historic commemorations, and publication of a local history, among other things. In 2002, the SPWA established itself as a 501(c)(3) organization for tax purposes. The organization then broadened its focus to include the physical revitalization and economic development of the Town. SPWA changed its name to *STAR* in 2005 and began a program to revitalize the Stanardsville area. Since that time it has continued its community activities while also applying for grants to improve its Main Street and encourage downtown business development.
*STAR* works with local residents, the Town of Stanardsville, Greene County, and the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) to improve the economic health of Stanardsville and the surrounding community. Its motto, “Restoring its Vitality…Retaining its Charm…Helping its People,” captures the purpose and spirit of the organization.
As a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, *STAR* is an independent community organization with no legal relationship to the Town of Stanardsville. However, most *STAR* activities are done in cooperation with the Mayor and the Town Council.
The President and Executive Director of *STAR* joined with members of the County Planning Commission, County Planning Division staff, the Mayor, and TJPDC to form a committee to prepare a new Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Stanardsville. The plan drew upon several documents previously written by *STAR* and other sources to make substantive changes to the 1998 Comprehensive Plan. As stated in its Introduction, the Plan is intended to guide future development and growth within the Town for the next 10-20 years, with the purpose of supporting economic vitality and improving the quality of life for all residents. It was approved by the Town Council on July 11, 2011. Click here to view the Comprehensive Plan.
Stanardsville has a population of approximately 400 people, and the Town and surrounding area are estimated to include about 1,500 people. Median household income in the area, at $26,500, is less than half the median income for Greene County and for the state of Virginia. Seniors make up 41% of the population and minorities are about 21%.
Stanardsville is a historic town with numerous historic buildings and structures, far more than most other small towns in Virginia. It was designated a Historic District in 2004, largely because of its Courthouse, the Lafayette Inn, County Jail, its two buildings dating to the late 18th century, and over 160 other contributing historic structures. It is included in both the Virginia and National Registries of Historic Places.
The Town is a key gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains and an attractive destination for people seeking local history (the homes of Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Taylor, and Wilson are nearby, as are several Civil War battlefields) and outdoor activities (hiking in the Shenandoah National Park, biking, fishing, antiquing, visiting local wineries, etc.). A mural depicting County history is on view at the Visitor Center at 8315 Seminole Trail, Suite 2, next to Blue Ridge Cafe on Rte. 29 just south of Rte. 33.
*STAR*, working with the Town of Stanardsville and Greene County, has been successful in applying for federal TEA-21 grants to provide for needed streetscape improvements. As Project Manager, *STAR* was awarded grants totaling $674,000 for the improvement of Main Street and for crosswalks between the nearby school complex and shopping center. That construction project was finally completed at the end of 2013.
*STAR* also received in 2007 a CDBG planning grant of $25,000 from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development for business district development planning. This led to a Community Improvement Grant application in 2008 that, unfortunately, was not approved by DHCD. A second application for such a grant to restore building facades, upgrade housing for low-income residents, provide low-cost small business loans, and make other improvements to encourage economic development in Stanardsville was submitted in 2013, but was also unsuccessful.
The Perry Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant in 2009 to help *STAR* match the TEA-21 funds it had been awarded for the Streetscape Enhancement Project. The Town of Stanardsville generously contributed an equal amount to *STAR* to fulfill the Foundation’s 100% match requirement.
The Charlottesville Area Community Foundation awarded *STAR* a $7,500 grant in December 2011 to help pay its administrative costs in managing the Stanardsville Streetscape Enhancement Project. The gift ensured that *STAR* was able to acquire the kind of legal and technical expertise it needed to administer the project effectively.
New grant applications to both the Perry Foundation and CACF are being prepared for submission in 2014.
The Walmart Foundation also has awarded grants totalling about $3,000 over the past few years to support *STAR*’s revitalization efforts.
*STAR* is also working with the County schools to apply for a Safe Routes to School grant that will pay for new sidewalks and safety crosswalks in the school vicinity in order to encourage middle school children to walk or bike to school.
In addition, late in 2013, *STAR* worked with the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to submit a grant application on behalf of the Town for Phase II of the Stanardsville Streetscape Enhancement Project. Grant funds were requested to extend the new sidewalk network west from Celt Road to Pioneer Bank and east from Rectory Lane to Madison Road. Announcement of any grant award is expected in June, 2014. *STAR* will apply for additional grants to fund subsequent phases.
*STAR* is committed to implementing these grants efficiently and effectively, but to do so, the organization will have to expand its capacity. Although grants for streetscape improvements provide some funds for administration, they do not fully fund the costs of engineering, legal and contract expertise that *STAR* will need to fulfill its management responsibilities as official Project Manager for additional streetscape projects.
In addition to administering grant programs, *STAR* is involved in various community support activities to help build community spirit and encourage continued support of *STAR*’s efforts to revitalize Stanardsville. For example, it co-sponsors with the Town the annual Fourth of July Parade and Christmas Tree-Lighting ceremony, and helps organize the annual Parade of Lights. *STAR* also maintains an information booth during the County Fair, the Strawberry Festival, and other large-scale community events.
All of these activities are conducted in full cooperation with the Town and with regular input from the community through public hearings and individual meetings with Main Street property and business owners. Indicative of *STAR*’s broad-based community support is its Board of Directors, which includes ex officio representatives from the Town, the County, the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Authority, and the Historical Society, in addition to elected public members.
In future years, *STAR* will continue working to help fulfill some of the long-term needs of the Stanardsville area. Several proposals that have received broad public support include a walking and cycling path around the Town; a permanent location for a Farmers’ Market; a community center and recreation facilities for teenagers; development of unused properties for mixed-use buildings; encouraging appropriate residential development in the Town; and a small park and garden.