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Halifax eyes VDOT help to fix issues with streets, walks / October 12, 2017

The Town of Halifax will look to VDOT for funding to fix street and sidewalk issues that will become even more acute with the Courthouse Renovation Project.

Town Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a resolution asking the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for additional MAP-21 grant funding for the Town’s Halifax Downtown Streetscape Extension Project.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board has provided Halifax with a preliminary grant award of $164,844 for streetscape improvements — an award that Council members gratefully acknowledged.

More is needed, however, to fix existing problems and ward off new ones.

Town officials say more money is needed to install decorative street lighting, pedestrian crosswalks, signage, landscaping, traffic light pole replacement and facilities that will connect neighborhoods and commercial areas. The Town also is seeking street safety enhancements around the historic Courthouse.

In a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting, Town Manager Carl Espy highlighted changes that need to be made, not only to promote business growth, but also to soften the impact of the courthouse expansion on the movement of traffic and pedestrians in Halifax.

He emphasized the need to replace three utility poles that mar the War Memorial site, as well as two other poles that should be placed underground in the Courthouse Square.

Espy also said Main Street businesses need more parking, which could be relocated behind downtown buildings along Houston Street to Cemetery Street. He also pointed to a need for improvements to the sidewalks and street along Blue Ridge Lane.

In applying for VDOT grant funding, the Town agrees to provide at least 20 percent of the total cost for planning and design, right-of-way and construction of the project.

Espy told Council that the application for funding must be submitted by Nov. 1.

In other business, Events Coordinator Olivia Epps updated Council members on the success of the Wild Blue River Festival, which attracted kayakers and canoeists for trips along the Banister River. She also urged Council to begin its planning for the event earlier so that it might be promoted on Facebook and social media to attract more participants.

Council was also advised that the Town will be hosting its annual Oktoberfest at the Farmers Market Saturday, Oct. 21 from 6-10 p.m. The Climate Changers band which includes county natives including Spencer Ferguson will be playing for the event. Several food vendors will be offering a variety of goods on site.

On Saturday, Oct. 21 the Farmers Market will be celebrating the Fall Festival with special events including Paint-a-Pumpkin, cake and candy walks, face painting, sugar cookie decorating, apple painting and free trick or treat bags while supplies last. The first 20 kids to visit the market dressed as a farmer or scarecrow will receive a treat bag.

On Tuesday, Oct. 31 the Village Association will celebrate Halloween from 6-8 p.m. with a treat trail and a costume contest at Hite Insurance and a cake walk next to Bagwell & Bagwell law office. The evening begins with a trunk or treat at Beth Car Baptist Church starting at 5:30 p.m.

Council members were also invited to the Grand Opening of the Blue Ribbon Market, located at 60 South Main Street, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at noon Saturday, as new owners, Jay and Kirsten Pankratz and family take over the business formerly owned by James Edmunds.

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