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South Boston gives green light for design of SBVFD expansion

South Boston News
SoVaNow.com / March 14, 2019

South Boston Town Council agreed Monday to move forward with a $6,250 design study on an addition to the town fire station that would free up space for the department’s vehicle fleet to fit inside the building.

Members voted unanimously to commission the building design, by Moore Architecture, based in Lynchburg. The firm also has done design work for the North Halifax Volunteer Fire Department.

The South Boston Volunteer Fire Department needs more space for its operations, and to house vehicles that currently are parked outside the building. The South Boston department also houses the county ladder truck, having the only fire station in the county large enough for the task.

The new structure will be built in the grassy area across the street from the South Boston Public Library. The town and county will be providing money in their budgets for the expansion, with $200,000 set aside in the pending draft county budget for the new fiscal year. More money will follow in future years from both the town and county.

In undertaking the study, Moore Architecture will deliver a team of architects and planners, negotiate design objectives, and create presentation drawings to show to town officials — all before bidding and construction take place.

“We decide what the layout is like, what the process would be,” said Town Manager Tom Raab.

Councilman Bill Snead voiced the concern that publically announcing price estimates and plans for the fire department expansion could lead to unfair bidding and price inflation: “I’m just really wary of these numbers being thrown out … I’ve just seen it happen too many times,” said Snead.

Mayor Ed Owens noted, however, that financial discussions can take place in closed session. Town Council members approved the study by a unanimous vote.

In other action at the Monday meeting of Council:

» Members presented a resolution honoring the late Sylvia O. McLaughlin for her life of “outstanding community service” in reporting on Town Council, Board of Supervisors, School Board, and other matters in the area. The resolution described the longtime News & Record editor as a “native daughter of Halifax County” and at “the top of her profession.”

The resolution praised her “dedication to the people of Halifax County, Virginia, thereby making her hometown a better place for future generations.”

Owens called her “fair and forthright.”

“[She’s] really something special,” he said.

» Council also approved a proclamation to support “Halifax County Clean Up Day” on March 16. Recent harsh weather has deposited trash and litter in neighborhoods and public spaces — which “detracts from the beauty and quality of life” in the county, said Raab.

Orange trash bags for the effort have already been placed in the Halifax Farmers’ Market, the South Boston-Halifax County Visitors Center, Elmo Grocery, and the Hunting Creek Vineyard. Council unanimously passed the Clean Up Day proclamation and presented it to David Hudson of the Halifax Improvement Council.

» Council unanimously designated Poplar Creek Street as a redevelopment area in order to qualify for a Community Development Block Grant to pay for the Poplar Creek Project. The goal is to construct affordable, eco-friendly homes and rental housing on the street, just across from Miller Homes (formerly the Fairmont Apartments) that received a similar funding. The area has potential, but lacks the “housing needed to induce [commercial and industrial development].”

It’s “an area that is going to be revitalized — it’s empty space now,” said Raab.

A proposed amendment to the town zoning ordinance allowing indoor gaming machines failed to pass. If approved, the amendment would have allowed the machines to be used in B-1 business districts. The request came from J&M Store at 1716 North Main Street in South Boston. Hani Elmawri, owner, bought the machines and has advocated for their use. Council noted that Elmawri has not provided documentation for their legality in Virginia.

» Raab asked that the town keep Larry B. Harris, who recently stepped down from the South Boston Industrial Development Authority, in their prayers. Ongoing treatments for cancer at Duke University Hospital had left him unable to attend meetings since September. Filling the vacancy will be taken up in future meetings.

During the citizen comment period, Raab explained that South Boston will focus its entrepreneurial program this year on keeping the six businesses that started up in downtown over a year ago. Partnering with Main Street, a nonprofit organization devoted to revitalizing downtowns in communities across the U.S., the town will offer workshops and presentations on marketing, retail and restaurant essentials, financials, and credit. While the events are primarily for the recently-formed businesses in downtown South Boston, the public is encouraged to attend the opening session on March 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the SVHEC.



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