Business owners concerned over Main Street Renewal Project

City, Appalachian Power to hold public meeting July 19

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - Gary Viar owns two businesses in the Galleria on Main Street. He's been  downtown for three years and says his businesses have been doing well.

"When we moved downtown we actually brought our clientele with us and we have picked up new clients from the downtown,” Viar said.

But a $16 million joint project with the city of Lynchburg and Appalachian Power has him worried.

"I'm just hoping that it doesn't affect my business so much that, you know, with no water, no power even because we had a visitor from the power company as well. So there again, no water, no power in a hair salon, it's not gonna work,” Viar said.
 
Lynchburg city officials said Appalachian Power approached them about wanting to redo the city's underground electrical system. The city thought it'd be a perfect time to also update their water and sewer system and the city's streetscape.
 
"It seemed like a great opportunity to get into Main Street only once, to affect businesses and residents only once,” said Jes Gearing, public information officer for the Water Resources Department.

"Our current system was installed in the 1930s. And while we maintain the equipment and structures with upgrades and repairs through the years, there comes a time when the whole system needs to be replaced and we're at the point right now,” Teresa Hamilton Hall, spokesperson for Appalachian Power, said.

The city is currently in the design phase of the project. Construction will start in the summer of 2019, but there's no clear timetable for when it will end. But for the businesses owners like Viar who will spend the next year and a half preparing, he said, "If they're going to tear up the streets, how are people going to get to us. And on the other (hand) I do understand that it has to be done. You know, a business is a business so you're trying to outweigh the pros and cons."

Lynchburg and Appalachian Power will hold a public meeting on Thursday, July 19, at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 601 Main St. They will discuss the project in detail and answer any questions community members have.
 

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