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South Boston to pursue purchase of land for Dan River boat acccess

SoVaNow.com / May 11, 2017
South Boston will seek to negotiate the purchase of Riverdale property to create a boat launch site and swim area on the Dan River by the Watkins Bridge at the foot of downtown.

Following a closed session during their monthly meeting Monday night, members of Town Council authorized Town Manager Tom Raab to negotiate with the property owners to purchase the land, for a sum not to exceed $50,000.

South Boston has been approved for a $50,000 grant from the River Bank Fund of the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region Fund. The grant is earmarked to assist with the boat launch, which Raab has estimated will cost somewhere around $300,000 to $350,000. He said he will seek other grants to help pay for the project.

The boat landing, which will be located on the southeast side of the bridge, will be handicapped accessible and will provide access to the river for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and swimming.

Raab said the Town will need to purchase around five acres of land currently owned by local businessmen John Cannon and Ward Burton.

Raab said he has talked with Cannon and Burton and has found them to be very supportive of the plan, although no details have yet been finalized.

The South Boston boat site could serve as an end point for canoeists and kayakers who paddle downstream from the recently-opened canoe and kayak launch at Leggett Bottom, near the Halifax-Pittsylvania line.

“That would make for a great six-hour trip,” Raab said, who added that he hopes the town’s site will attract more tourists to the area.

Also during Monday’s meeting, Council members approved the first reading of the Town’s proposed $10.8 million FY 2017-18 budget. It calls for no increases in real estate taxes, personal property taxes or fees.

The proposed budget is some $2 million lower than the current year budget, since several revenue-sharing street improvement projects were completed during the current year. The proposed new budget also offers merit-based pay increases of up to three percent for employees. Council is expected to give final approval to the budget at the upcoming June meeting.

Council also conducted a public hearing on the proposed closure of segments of three streets — Wagstaff Lane, Owens Avenue and Johnston Street — which are adjacent to the former Tultex building on Watkins Avenue.

No one addressed the issue and Council subsequently approved the closures.

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