Pulaskian brings concerns over town’s image to council
A Pulaski attorney approached council last week over concerns for the town’s image.
Marc LeBlanc said he had been a resident of the town for a number of years, and that he knows that image is a very important thing to the town.
“We’re trying to portray the town as a good place to live,” LeBlanc noted. “Or a good place to move to if you are retiring. A thriving community and a caring community.”
He said, however, the thing that concerns him is the image that Pulaski is actually portraying “is a little bit different.”
He offered three examples of his concerns.
“The planters at the courthouse – lots of people come to this courthouse. What do they see when they get there? There are planters that used to look very nice. I don’t know what happened to the one right by Washington Avenue and Third Street. It looks like a truck just mowed it down,” LeBlanc stated.
Another example he mentioned was trash – drink cans, COVID masks, a dirty diaper, food wrappers, etc.
“I live on the southeast side of town. I’m supposed to mow to the road, but before I do I have to go through and look for broken glass and cans. That’s the issue.”
“Wherever there are a lot of people walking we need to place trash cans,” he said.
Thirdly, he discussed the tall brick building on East Main Street owned by Appalachian Power, which is surrounded by a chain link fence.
“I don’t know what it would take to turn that eyesore into pickle ball courts. Pavement, a little paint, nets – that’s it,” he suggested.
He noted he didn’t know the feasibility of such an idea.
“It’s just image – what image do we want people to have who come to visit this town. Most of it is good, but the bad is just really easy to take care of and resolve,” LeBlanc told council.
Burcham explained to LeBlanc the parking lot at Washington and Third is owned by the county.
“I’ve seen the conditions you have mentioned and have spoken to the county administrator and, with council’s permission I have offered to take over that lot so the town can maintain it and improve its image,” Burcham said.
She noted the document to cause the transfer of ownership of the lot is in the works.
As far as trash cans, Burcham said the town would take a look at the situation.
“We’re also looking at some other streetscape amenities in the downtown because I would agree with you wholeheartedly about our image,” Burcham said.
She added there had been discussions about pickle ball, but the town is looking at the possibility of taking one of the town’s tennis courts that is not being used and converting it to a pickle ball court.
As for the East Main property LeBlanc mentioned, Burcham said it would take a significant amount of remediation work before it could be used.
“We just went through that on a site on First Street for skateboard and basketball courts. We spent several hundred thousand of dollars of federal money digging out a certain amount of soil before we encapsulate it with the concrete, and there are significant environmental issues with the site you mentioned,” Burcham told LeBlanc.
“All your items are on target, and we will work on them – those that we have the ability to manage at the present time,” she said.
Council conducted several public hearings during their meeting.
Randolph Avenue Paving
Council approved a resolution accepting just over $274,000 in Virginia Department of Transportation grant funds for the paving next year of Randolph Avenue in Pulaski.
The grant comes from a special VDOT fund called “State of Good Repair.”
Town Manager Darlene Burcham said the town had requested funding for four projects, but the Randolph Avenue work was the only project that could be done with the amount of funding available.
The work will be done in the spring.
Burcham said these grant funds, like the other grants received by the town, cannot be spent for any other reason other than the purpose for which they were received.
Rezoning of property at 421 N. Washington Avenue
Council approved a resolution approving a request from Shah Development to rezone the vacant property at 421 N. Washington Avenue – the former Rutherford Pontiac property – from B-2 General Business to R-0 Residential Office.
Economic Development Director Brady Deal explained to council the rezoning would give Shah more flexibility on how it would use the 1.55-acre property. The construction of townhouses has been discussed, but no final decision has been made.
Shah has owned the property for about four years, Deal said.
Deal added that one adjacent landowner had submitted a comment stating they had no opposition to the rezoning request.
Another adjacent landowner, however, asked council to delay a decision on the rezoning so she could research the issue more, stating she had not been notified of the rezoning.
Deal assured the property owner that, to the best of his knowledge certified letters had been sent by the town to all adjacent landowners.
Burcham noted, too, public hearing notices had been published prior to the hearing as well.
Kevin Conner of Shah Development said the property had been marketed for two years, and the rezoning would allow the potential for residential use. Any residential development would be market rate and not government subsidized housing, which was one fear of the neighboring resident.
Special Exception for catering, daycare center, bakery and museum at 1 Corbin Harmon Drive
Council approved the special exception at the Calfee Community and Cultural Center for catering, daycare center, bakery and museum operations.
The process is part of the adaptive reuse of the Calfee School property.
In her town manager comments, Burcham said Gatewood Reservoir’s water level is in good shape for this time of the year.
She noted it is regularly monitored and the town is in no danger at this time of any type of water restrictions.
Also, Burcham said the town’s brush site off East Main Street has had minimal use of late, but the town has continued staffing it every Saturday for a while now.
So, she said, beginning in January the brush site will only be open the first Saturday of each month from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot