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Posted September 17, 2012 | comments 7 Comments

Strasburg leaders talk space, economy

By Alex Bridges - abridges@nvdaily.com

Economic development and space needs for government agencies dominated a Strasburg Town Council retreat on Saturday.

Town leaders and staff at the work session broached the idea of creating a full-time position to address Strasburg's economic development.

"That one we did talk about quite a bit and council wants to look into the possibility of creating somebody just for Strasburg to help promote economic development," Town Manager Judson Rex said Monday, noting Shenandoah County has a part-time position for that task.

Council held the regular retreat as a work session to look at the town's future needs, springboarding off the recent adoption of the Strasburg Community Plan.

"The purpose of it was to create a strategic plan for the next five years and we got a good start at that," Rex said.

Rex gave council an introduction on strategic planning before officials began discussion on the vision documents and goals of the community plan. Staff and council then proceeded with the "environmental scanning," a brainstorming session for members to pinpoint any issues or challenges facing the town. Council and department leaders generated 45-50 specific challenges, Rex recalled. Council then listed the items by priority.

Council addressed two of the challenges: Economic development and space needs of the town government, specifically police and public works, but also other Strasburg departments.

Under economic development, council agreed the town needs to complete a study on the potential annexation of the adjacent industrial park which Strasburg can acquire in 2013 per a deal with Shenandoah County.

The council also agreed the town should look into existing economic development resources and examine Strasburg's representation within those resources. Specifically, council agreed the town should look into its interaction with Shenandoah County and other regional economic development boards, including the Shenandoah Valley Regional Partnership, with whom Strasburg belongs as a member.

Discussions also reiterated topics already discussed by council at various levels, such as a need to include downtown revitalization and tourism when talking about economic development strategies. Council agreed the town should look beyond its industrial and commercial base, according to Rex.

Likewise, when developing the town's economy council cited networking with other resources such as developers and businesses, Rex noted. The town also should take advantage of training

"We didn't get through as much as we thought, but that's all right," Rex said. "We're further down the road than we were before."

Town staff surveyed council about members' impressions of priorities and the funding levels for various needs and amenities in Strasburg. For instance, members on average felt the town to some extent underfunded maintenance of Strasburg's water lines, storm drains and sidewalks, according to the survey results. Council fell slightly above the middle when considering the funding for administrative services, hosting special events, the drug task force and supporting outside organizations.

Police patrols and response to emergencies remain at the top of the list of priorities, tied with sewer line maintenance, results showed. Council assistance with special events fell toward the bottom of the list.

Council also discussed space needs of the town government. Members agreed the town needed to take a more comprehensive approach to studying the space issues facing all departments rather than a few and to use the Strasburg Community Plan as a basis in looking forward for 20 to 30 years.

"So this is a perfect example of how the community plan will come in handy for the town as we prepare and look down to road for future expansion and growth," Rex said.

The town previously had studied the space needs for the police department as well as public works, the latter of which was conducted as Strasburg moved to build new water and wastewater treatment plants.

Council agreed the space needs analysis should incorporate the Brill property - a parcel next to town hall on King Street, which Strasburg bought several years ago - and consider its possible uses.

"Maybe not particularly for the police department, but it was more of a strategic purchase looking at the future of the town's space needs and understanding having property contiguous to town hall is a strategic approach to meeting our needs, whether it's parking, the police department, whatever," Rex said. "There's a lot of opportunities there."

Such a study should look at the potential for all properties owned by Strasburg. But Rex said council stopped short of discussing the Brill property.

"They wanted to make sure the whole group is there when we discuss anything for that and they want to make sure to do it in the full context of the rest of our space needs," he said, adding that they wanted to understand what space they needed before jumping into what to do with that property.

Council did agree the space needs assessment also should include input from the Strasburg fire department and rescue squad.

7 Comments | Leave a comment

    I can't understand why the town wants to keep trying to utilize the old Brill building. Sell that monstrosity and move on. Furthermore, why does the town insist that every office has to be located in the same building. There are probably existing buildings in town that can be used. Now that the NVD has downsized the town could make a deal for space in that building or maybe make a deal to buy it in the future. It would probably be cheaper than building a new building.

    How much is that vacant building directly across the street from the town office? It would surely hold the police department, opening up the town office basement. Then raze the Brill building, and pave the entire lot for parking. That little taxi stand building is adorable, though. Perhaps a visitor center, chamber office, information booth? Something like that?

    The Town council has to have everything new. After all we are planning ahead for the next 50 years. They will just raise the water bill another 10 percent.That is always the answer.

    The Town Council is a 20 years too late in looking in developing businesses in town. Their lack of concern about developing business in town has caused the town to lose jobs, small businesses and money to build those new town buildings that they seem to think that they need. The town shown their lack of concern by only being an affiliate in The National Main Street Program and now they are playing catch up in a bad economy. This probably will not work.
    Hiring a person to only work on developing business is a good idea but the person must have a proven successful track record from another town similar to Strasburg. The hiring of person to look at ordinance was not. Isn’t that what the town lawyer and town manager is supposed been doing all along as the town council was creating on the fly.
    Also why did the council pass Historic Town and Tourism Ordinances if we are going to tear down the Brill building and taxi cab site. If the town had taken care of these building after they brought them they could be a draw for tourists that might bring business to the town. I never hear anyone at work state this weekend we are going to visit the town parking lot in XYZtown.

    If they raze the Brill building I will take the cool old Coca-cola signs that still hang there. I hope that does not happen though and I looked the building over not long ago and to my unqualified eyes it looked structurally sound. I seem to think the date in cement in the upper middle section said 1888(correct me if wrong). That's just one of the neat old buildings in the town and hope it's taken down only as a last resort.

    i agree why tear down the Brill Building? I can remember that building from way back. Wasn't there a icecream place there, or near it...way back.

    Ok, ok, ok! Don't raze the Brill building. But I still see a vacant building directly across the street from the town office. A building that isn't new, shiny, and pretty, but certainly appears to be stable and sufficient to hold some branch of the town government. With minimal renovation, rather than million dollar new construction.

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