*STAR* Supporter Update – June 15, 2019
My only excuse for the significant delay since my last *STAR* update is that I wanted to tell you that we have been successful in raising the $188,000 match for the streetscape grant from VDOT. On Tuesday we were able to meet that goal with a final commitment from the Perry Foundation. Thank you all for your patience. More on this below. Other activities have also been exciting and should be first to tell.
Greene Commons Farmers Market and Entertainment Venue
Our Farmers Market has been in operation for 10 weeks. Customers and vendors view it as a success. Although we had hoped to have the market pavilion finished by the opening in April, the rain delayed the construction. So the market has been using the County Administration parking lot on Celt Road until the pavilion is finished. The new market pavilion foundation is in place, the frame is up, and the roof is being installed. We expect that it will be finished by the end of the month. Our first rental will be on June 30th. The performance stage has been delayed, as a final design is being agreed for the required bio-retention pond. A Grand Opening for both facilities is being planned for September. We anticipate a rich mix of concerts, public events, private celebrations and festivals to take place on the Commons.
We have 10 to 12 vendors each week. They offer a wide range of local products: produce of the season, meat (pork, beef, chicken, goat), eggs, baked goods (quiche, pastries, bread, donuts, muffins, pretzels, biscotti etc.), crafts (jewelry, unique craft items, cutting boards, bird nests), roasted coffee, home-made pasta and much more. We will soon offer music by local musicians every Saturday. Local not-for-profits will also be describing their services to the community. Our vendors say they are selling more here than they did at the former location and expect to do even better in the new market pavilion. We will soon offer SNAP processing for those eligible for supplemental nutrition benefits. This will expand the local neighbors who we can serve.
Most days we have about 200 customers. It is nice to see that many return every week and linger for quite a while to talk with other customers they have come to know and the vendors they love. We are especially pleased with the mix of local people, tourists, visitors from other counties and from all backgrounds. In the new setting we will have picnic tables where people can spend even more time talking, enjoying coffee, and savoring the goodies they buy and really intend to take home, if any is left. We hope you will join us. This is truly a community gathering place.
The completed market will attract more vendors, an even wider range of products and vendors, and more activities to attract customers and their families. Consider renting it for your next special event! Please check our progress on www.greenecommons.com .
Stanardsville Streetscape Improvements
Many of you have been following the developments on extending sidewalks to the East and West from the three core blocks in Stanardsville. It has been a slow process, delayed by three unexpected developments. Petroleum residues were detected at the West end, VDOT required a redesign of the foundation of the walking bridge over Mitchell Creek on the East, and two property owners wanted different treatments in front of their properties. We worked to solve each of these issues and reached satisfactory agreements. Nevertheless, this has delayed the project and will add to its cost.
Last Tuesday, we completed the fundraising for the $188,000 local match required by the VDOT grant of $754,000. The generosity from the community was extraordinary and greatly appreciated. Until we have some revised cost estimates and complete the construction bids, we won’t know whether more fundraising will be needed. We suspect we might require another $200,000 to meet the unanticipated costs and will apply for another grant in the fall to cover this. Meanwhile, we are pushing ahead with the project compliance tasks and expect construction to begin next spring. Donations from Greene County Economic Development, the Perry Foundation and the Town of Stanardsville have supplemented your generous donations and made it all a reality.
As some of you know, Jon Newton has volunteered his time to maintain the streetscape plantings for the past five years. We all owe him a hearty vote of thanks for his efforts. Fortunately, a local couple, Julie and John West, have stepped in to continue his work. They are experienced with landscaping, as was Jon, and are committed to keeping Stanardsville as attractive as possible.
Other Revitalization Projects
As you know, our Department of Housing and Community Development grant is assisting us with many other important projects in addition to creating Greene Commons. Although many people are not aware of the work, we continue to renovate blighted apartments rented to individuals and families with limited financial resources. As we all know, many types of accommodation in Central Virginia have become difficult to afford and difficult for property owners to maintain.
We have also helped several owners of business properties upgrade the attractiveness of their facades. You will have seen some of these. Two are especially interesting. The first phase of restoring the historic 1840 William Mills House has been completed. The owners, who own the health complex along William Mills Drive, are continuing the work. It has been a difficult project since it has been hard to find renovators, roofers, painters and trades people who don’t already have a full order book. The owners have tried to employ local trades wherever they can. A new roof is soon to be installed.
The former Stanardsville Auto will become a community coffee shop, something we have long hoped for. The designs have been completed and work will be soon begun. Our grant is helping with the façade changes. We looked forward to this forward-looking effort of Stanardsville United Methodist Church to be a major town attraction and gathering place.
Making Stanardsville Even More Attractive
As our activities move forward, more and more people are excited about being involved in the Revitalization of Stanardsville. People are captured by the town’s potential and are volunteering to help. For example, a group of local women is organizing a clean-up day for the fall. They want to assist property owners and renters to improve their properties, clean up trash, get rid of unsightly weeds and things of that nature. They will soon be seeking other volunteers and suggestions by property owners. Look for their posters around town.
Building the Community
Revitalizing the Stanardsville area extends well beyond what *STAR* and Town Council are able to do. That is one of the wonderful features of the Greene community. A sampling of the efforts must include:
- The June 1st Strawberry Festival was a great success. It was the 30th anniversary of the event. This Stanardsville United Methodist Church festival with its long history is something we look forward to each year. Despite worries about whether the property would be useable after recent work, and forecasts of bad weather, record numbers turned out. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful breakfast and lunch, watched the entertainment and shopped at the various vendor booths.
- Stanardsville’s traditional Independence Day Parade continues to expand to a festival with the Red, White, Blue in Greene celebrations. The parade will take place at 5:30 pm. this year, followed by celebration activities and concluding with a concert at William Monroe High School stadium and one of Virginia’s most impressive displays of fireworks. Buying tickets for the 50/50 draw helps support the festival and offers a chance to win significant returns on a modest investment. Mayor Gary Lowe, Mike Payne and others are happy to sell tickets. See rwbng.org for details.
- The new shop, Another Time Around, has been a great success in the shopping center. They are offering a great range of bargains from clothes, to decorative objects, to artwork to practical kitchen equipment and much more. There is such an array of treasures at great prices that you do have to restrain yourself at times. Operated by GRACE (Greene Alliance of Church and Community Efforts) volunteers, all proceeds help families in the community. They appreciate donations and your purchases.
- The Greene Care Clinic has extended its mission and capacity to provide free medical care to Greene’s adult residents whose income is less than 300% of the poverty level and are unable to afford insurance. Founder, Janet Call, has stepped down as Executive Director after almost 15 years, but will continue as a volunteer health care provider. The new Executive Director, Robert Wadden comes with excellent experience and great enthusiasm to extend the clinic’s care to all eligible residents. Please tell people who might benefit that these services are available. The clinic is on Stanard Street in Stanardsville and details about hours and services can be found at greenecareclinic.org.
- Greene County’s Economic Development Authority and its Tourism Council have been great supporters of the Stanardsville area. They have helped with the streetscape improvements, the farmers market and the Virginia Clay Festival, among others. Many local residents volunteer at the Visitors Center next to Blue Ridge Café. An exciting new opportunity to increase Greene’s visibility in a new Visitors Center is being assessed. If approved, it will take over the historic Taylor home on west side of Route 29 and north of Route 33. All costs will be paid through State tourism taxes and not through local property taxes.
- The Annual *STAR* Golf Shootout will be held on Monday, October 14th this year. It is always our largest fundraiser for operating expenses. If you are not a golfer, please don’t feel that your help isn’t appreciated. You can mail a donation to *STAR*, P.O. Box 838, Stanardsville VA 22973. We can only survive through your contributions. If you have questions, you can phone me at the number below or Roy Dye at (409-5796).
This is but a fraction of great things that are happening in Greene County and Stanardsville. Stay tuned for other events. I will try to make my updates more often, and perhaps less lengthy 😊
Regards, Don Pamenter,