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Town of Halifax grant request put on hold / October 03, 2019
Funding has been put on hold for the Town of Halifax’s plans to enhance the site of the Halifax County War Memorial.

On Monday, members of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, formerly known as the Virginia Tobacco Commission, tabled a $179,000 grant request from the town.

Halifax sought the funding to carry out the final stage of improvements to the War Memorial and supplement VDOT dollars that have already been lined up for the work. The site enhancement plan calls for decorative street lighting, signage, and landscaping, and connecting the War Memorial to the renovated Courthouse Square through safer pedestrian crosswalks and better ADA sidewalk access.

These accessibility improvements are critical to increasing visitation and tourist spending, the Town explained in its grant application, noting that many who visit for the War Memorial, including veterans, are disabled.

Del. James Edmunds, who sits on the Southside Economic Development Committee of the tobacco commission, expressed his support for the grant saying, “this is the last mile for the project” which began in 2001.

Members of the Southside Economic Development Committee visited South Boston on Monday for a panel meeting at The Prizery.

The tabling of the grant request came after commission staff recommended denying the grant, arguing that the Town of Halifax has not quantified how the project would boost tourism spending or contribute to the area economy.

Members of the tobacco commission raised other issues during their talks Monday in town.

The proposal to beautify the streetscape and increase pedestrian accessibility in the Historic Town of Halifax “is a great plan, but not a good fit for this committee,” said Evan Feinman, executive director of the Tobacco Commission. Supporting this request could set a precedent for funding streetscape improvements at tourist sites in the entire region, he said.

The Town of Halifax was instructed to provide statistical data showing the number of visitors anticipated to explore the Halifax War Memorial due to the streetscape improvements.

The motion to table the grant request was made by Del. Kathy Byron of Campbell County. Byron recommended the town of Halifax to identify other funding resources first. She also said the town needs to provide better data on tourist and estimated new revenue.

Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy, who spoke at the gathering, pledged that the town will revisit the visitor projections. The town will work to gather data from the Historical Society, Staunton River Battlefield Park, Civil War Trails, the Tobacco Heritage Trail, and nearby Civil War Trails to answer commissioners’ questions.

Come January, the proposed grant request for the Halifax War Memorial Heritage Tourism Site Enhancement will be resubmitted to the Southside Economic Development Committee.

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