Tuesday night, the Vinton Town Council is expected to approve an agreement between the town and the state that will finally put a $700,000 grant in their hands to help revitalize the downtown area.
The town was awarded the grant nearly a year ago, but has had to complete a series of procedural steps, paperwork, and other housekeeping before it can receive the money. Town Manager Chris Lawrence says the agreement the council will vote on Tuesday night is the final step in that process.
Lawrence says $700,000 is a big a chunk of change, equal to roughly 10 percent of the town's entire budget. The money will be divided up among eight projects:
-Updating and implementing the Town's economic restructuring plan, which leaders say will help ensure the long-term sustainability of the downtown area
-Making facade improvements to 11 buildings downtown
-Using $100,000 to set up and administer a loan fund to assist new or existing businesses
-Constructing landscaping, sidewalk, lighting, and parking improvements to the Vinton Farmer's Market
-Constructing crosswalk improvements at Washington and Pollard Streets
-Constructing gateway improvements at Virginia Ave and Pollard St.
-Constructing / installing streetscape and landscape improvements (lighting, signs, parking areas, trees, demolition of storage sheds, etc.)
-Creating a downtown shopping and dining guide and marketing for the Farmer's Market
"Downtowns are kind of a litmus test for the healthiness of a community," said Lawrence. "We have a good downtown and we want to make it a great downtown. We have some great businesses downtown. We want pedestrians, we want people, we want customers to come help those businesses and to help the tax base, and to make the downtown a more vibrant, exciting place to come to."
Based on the terms of the grant, the town has 24 months to complete all of that work and will be required to send the state monthly updates on its progress. Lawrence expects construction to get underway on many of those projects this upcoming winter.
Lawrence says this is just one piece of a very busy and exciting time for the Town of Vinton. Apart from the downtown improvements, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors recently approved funding for the new Vinton library, which will also be built downtown. VDOT is currently working on a $3 million bridge project along Walnut Avenue, which serves as a gateway into the Vinton area. Money has also been set aside to make Greenway and pedestrian improvements along Walnut Avenue.
"Those investments will hopefully, and they should, pay off years down the road," said Lawrence.
Tuesday's Town Council meeting will take place at the Town Municipal Building starting at 7:00pm.