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Chase City gets funds to upgrade park, Lee building

SoVaNow.com / February 10, 2021
Chase City Town Council announced plans to spend more than $165,000 on upgrades to the Robert E. Lee building and Chase City Community Park at Monday night’s meeting of council.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting was closed to the public. Technical difficulties prevented the meeting from being livestreamed. On Tuesday morning, Town Clerk Tonya Duffer uploaded the video of the meeting to the town’s YouTube channel. It can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMsYztE2WGI.

Council members, without objection, approved Town Manager Dusty Forbes’ request to appropriate $15,000 from IDA sale funds to make repairs and improvements to the Chase City Community Park. Plans would include the construction of sand volleyball courts and an additional pavilion between the volleyball courts and baseball fields, work to paint and clean the existing buildings, repair existing bleachers near the baseball field, and purchase new equipment such as bases for the ball diamonds.

Forbes said Nipro PharmPackaging Americas, a Chase City manufacturer of medical grade glass vials, previously donated $1,000 for the project. He also approached Dominion Energy for a donation to upgrade the lighting at the park.

Council member BJ Mull asked to consider adding security cameras to the park to guard against vandalism once the improvements are completed.

Forbes said he is working with Bluestone baseball coach Dequan Smith on promoting the fields. Smith is heading the Community Park outreach program. His efforts will include assembling volunteers to help with the initial cleanup and ongoing maintenance at the park, and establishing travel baseball teams that will use the park as their home base.

Forbes said he’s already been approached by several girls’ softball teams looking to use the park for scrimmage games.

Chase City has received $150,000 from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to begin improvements to the Robert E. Lee building on Second Street, and an additional $22,500 grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development to complete a community impact and market analysis study. Forbes said the DHCD grant will cover the cost of an evaluation of the best use for the Robert E. Lee building, development of housing plans for the downtown area and best ways to market both the auditorium and Chase City’s downtown.

He’s applied for a $50,000 brownfield grant to cover the cost of removing lead-based paint from inside the building and an abandoned oil tank on the grounds outside the building.

In other economic development news, Forbes announced that the town has a new restaurant. Jus’ Wings is open at the shopping center at 839 E. Second Street. Soon to follow are two additional new restaurants, Bear Claw Grill barbecue restaurant at 126 W. Second Street and Blackwater Station, BBQ, Burgers & Beer at 247 Main Street.

Forbes said a master brewer originally from Chase City who is looking to return to the town and open a craft brewery reached out to him and Chamber of Commerce Director Tina Wood. Forbes did not disclose the name of the person but said that he and Wood are working with the person to find a suitable location.

In other business, Council set a public hearing on Lisa and Glenn Gillispie’s request to rezone the property at 27 N. Main Street from commercial to residential. The hearing will take place on March 2, but no time was fixed for the hearing.

Council also referred to the planning commission a request from Paul Jackson to rezone the property at 757 Boyd Street from commercial to residential, and a conditional use permit application by MacCallum More Museum and Gardens. MMMG wants to install a well on its property on Hudgins Street to irrigate the plants around the garden.

Council approved a first reading of a new ordinance to require owners of derelict vacant buildings to pay a $100 yearly registration fee that would discourage the owners from allowing properties to fall into disrepair and to encourage the owners to find suitable tenants.

Mayor Alden Fahringer said a yearly registration fee has been successful in other areas of Virginia in reducing vacant and blighted buildings on main streets.

Failure to register could result in the owner of the building being assessed a fine of $200, or $400 if the property located within a conservation or rehabilitation district or blighted area.

Council agreed to spend $4,078 from contingency funds for upgrades to the town Wastewater Treatment Plant, including replacement of the UV screen and repairs to the lagoon.

Public Works Superintendent Jim Wilson said members of his department continue to search for and repair locations where storm water is infiltrating and causing disruption to the sewer system. He added that a pump burned out at the treatment plant. The cost of repairing the pump is $7,000. A new pump costs $21,000.

Council members did not vote on whether to repair or replace the pump but were told by Wilson to expect to spend that same amount two more times, should the two current pumps also fail.

BJ Mull asked if the ongoing pandemic was the reason the town was no longer holding a ribbon cutting when a new business opens. He was told by Forbes, “Yes, in part,” but also no new business has said they are ready for a ribbon cutting. Mull asked to reinforce the need for residents to support all local businesses.

Forbes also said that the owners of the former Amoco service station on Second Street have received their final notice to repair or tear down their blighted building. They have until March 3 to comply, otherwise the town can demolish the building and assess the owner for the cost of the work.

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