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Halifax County supervisors face decision on fairgrounds

SoVaNow.com / January 06, 2014
As their first order of business for the new year, members of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors will convene tonight for their annual organizational meeting — at which time supervisors will choose a chairman and vice chairman and set committee assignments for 2014.

The Board will also adopt by-laws and confirm the positions of Clerk and Deputy Clerk.

One of the supervisors’ most pressing issues is how to use the Fairgrounds property, a matter that came up for discussion during the Board’s December Strategic Planning session. While no decisions were made at that time, supervisors previously budgeted funds to pay for preliminary engineering on the possible extension of water and sewer lines to the site.

The question before members is whether a portion of the fairgrounds property should be reserved for the annual Halifax County fair and festivals, or developed as part of a 42-acre industrial or business park to be marketed by the Industrial Development Authority. Efforts by the Board to split the difference — with a portion of the land set aside as an entertainment venue, with the rest devoted to economic development purposes — have drawn doubts.

Halifax County IDA Director Matt Leonard, responding to an e-mail request from County Administrator Jim Halasz, suggested recently that “the most recent layout (of the fairgrounds property) takes the initially proposed area for industrial development from 42 to 30 acres and changes its shape from rectangular to L-shaped. My specific thought on this is that it takes a marginally developable and marketable site to an undevelopable, unmarketable site for industrial development, especially in light of the fact that the 11.5 acres taken (for tractor pulls, etc.) are the most developable based on topography, vegetation, drainage ways etc. We have other more marketable sites and are working to identity more.”

In an advisory to supervisors, Halasz has suggested two avenues of action tonight. The first is simply to provide the entire 42 acre parcel to the IDA, with the Heritage Festival tractor pull, the county fair and related activities to continue there until the site is developed.

Secondly, wrote Halasz, supervisors may want to delay action on the matter — including delaying the preliminary engineering report for the installation of water and sewer service. With Halifax County facing a significant financial investment in the Courthouse renovations and pending shuffle of relocated agencies and departments, it might be prudent to delay any investment on the fairgrounds at this time, Halasz wrote.

Earlier, the Board of Supervisors’ Fairgrounds Committee made three recommendations for the use of the fairgrounds property:

reserve it for future fairs, festivals, entertainment events and expositions, and make limited improvements as opportunities arise to work with community groups and other parties.

set aside a limited amount of space for low impact camping, with very limited improvements to be made in the near future. This area would accommodate campers for races at South Boston Speedway and for festivals, fairs, and other events.

leave the lower, irregular land on the eastern end of the site open and undeveloped for the present time, with little or no investment to be made there.

All three of the recommendations were approved by Board members in December, but action on a fourth recommendation was postponed. That recommendation called for approximately 42 acres on Plywood Trail to be provided to the Halifax County IDA for marketing to new companies.

Board Chairman Tom West of ED-2 and other fairgrounds committee members said they hoped to keep a portion of this parcel on a permanent basis since that land is often used for tractor pulls and other related activities by the Heritage Festival.

But ED-8 Supervisor Bryant Claiborne reminded fellow board members that the Board originally purchased the entire fairgrounds property for economic development purposes.

In other business, the Board is expected to approve a resolution of support for the Beaches to Bluegrass Trail — a proposed statewide, shared-use trail that will connect the Cumberland Gap to the Chesapeake Bay winding through southern and southwestern Virginia. The trail will provide bicycle routes and lanes, pedestrian walkways and greenways which will encourage walking, running, biking and horseback riding, leading to a more healthy and enjoyable quality of life.

Supervisors will also be asked to vacate portions of a fifty foot right-of-way on Holland Drive located in the Rolling Hills Subdivision in ED-4.


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Comments

In regards to "economic development"....does the heritage festival not contribute to the economy? Think about it, folks locally and from out of town staying/camping in Halifax County, eating at local restaurants, buying gas, and noting the county as a new tourist destination. Makes sense to me.

Comments

Fair and heritage festival are economic! How many vacant buildings lots that can be used for new industry. We need to do what Pittsylvania County did, do away with the economic development office and the IDA. Waste of money! IF they are so good, why have they not been trying to get some of the gun industry moving from the north

Comments

Because Reidsville and Madison NC offered the gunmakers better deals and access to transportation. Face it- until we get an interstate-spec highway nearby, HCSB isn't really going to do much to attract good manufacturing jobs like we once had. We can only hope the Chinese price themselves out of being competitive and manufacturers see the wisdom of restarting domestic production.

I think one way to get domestic manufacturing back is to throw enough tariffs on offshore-produced goods that domestic production suddenly makes better economic sense. USA-produced stuff is subject to heavy import duties in countries that source their cheaply made junk to us. Even the score?

If we landed these companies and jobs we'd also have to cut unemployment bennies severely to give people incentive to work again instead of living off the public teat. Plenty of folks now will tell you they make a better living unemployed than they could working at whatever tidbit minimum wage job they can find.

Comments

Now that was a real powerhouse of an answer. You absolutely destroyed the target. Tariffs are the key to bringing manufacturing back to this country not an IDA. How can we expect people to keep manufacturing jobs when the items they are producing are on a shelf next to a Chinese made good that is half the cost of the American made good. It sure has been nice for the damned crooked politicians who have been able to keep borrowing money to spend on things like $640 plastic toilet seats or a $700,000 study on cow farts. http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/conscience-conservative/2011/jul/25/10-crazy-things-your-taxpayer-dollars-paid/


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