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South Boston seeking grant to help flood-prone businesses in town move

11 property owners say they're willing to sell

SOUTH BOSTON, Va.

The Riverdale area of South Boston has been under water multiple times over the past two years.

Now, the town plans to apply for a grant from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to buy the businesses in Riverdale and demolish them, leaving the land empty.

It's a plan the owner of Mac Ragans Auto, who has had his business in Riverdale for 55 years, said has been talked about before.

"Thei judgment of what the business is worth and our judgment is quite different," Mac Ragans said, referring to the assessment of his property by the town and the Army Corps of Engineers' assesment of his property.

If he gets what he believes is a fair price this time, he'll sell and reopen somewhere else.

He said his business has been closed for five weeks so far this year because of flooding.

"The floods are getting worse and worse and worse," Ragans said.

At Brian Jones Motorsports, finance manager Kevin Kernodle doesn't expect the dealership's property owner to sell because he's had the property for over 50 years.

"It's kind of iconic for Riverdale," Kernodle said of the property.

Kernodle would like to see the town do something to reduce flooding so the businesses don't have to move.

"If it's not dredging the river, being more proactive and prepared when storms come through to let water out at the dam," Kernodle said.

The grant application has to be submitted by May 30, and the town will find out sometime between November and next May if it's approved.

Sandi Cooper is the Southside Planning District Commission representative working with the town to apply for the grant.

She said how much money the town could receive was unknown Thursday.

"There's no maximum amount to apply for, but we are working on cost estimates right now. So it's too early to provide a total project cost," Cooper explained.

As of Thursday, she said, 11 of the 15 Riverdale property owners had indicated they are willing to sell.

Property owners have until Wednesday to decide if they want to sell or not.

Those wanting to sell have to fill out paperwork with the planning district.


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