Strasburg council discusses planning firms

STRASBURG – Town council heard a recommendation to work with Land Planning and Design Associates for its Downtown Revitalization Project at a work session Monday evening.

Town staff had interviewed three firms for the job, but Town Manager Ryan Spitzer said he and the others ultimately decided to recommend Land Planning and Design Associates over Hill Studio and Harvey Design Land Architects because of its other projects and familiarity with the town.

“We feel that LPDA has the best makeup to interface with our downtown business owners and with the facades, and that’s going to be a crucial measurement in this grant,” he said.

Council will need to approve appointment of a firm at its Feb. 9 meeting, before the pre-contract negotiation phase of the Community Development Block Grant ends on Feb. 20. From there, Spitzer said the Strasburg Downtown Revitalization Project Facade Advisory Board will begin working with the chosen firm to implement the grant within the two-year project allowance.

The board, whose seven members are drawn from both the town and grant management team, will also be finalized and formed at the Feb. 9 meeting.

Property owners will need to contribute an investment match for work done to their building. Looking at the list of buildings identified downtown, council discussed the fact that the highest priority buildings may not be addressed first.

“What they’ve found out is, people are reluctant to do it at (the) beginning because they don’t see any benefit from it,” Spitzer said after the session. “But after one or two businesses start to look nice, then everybody else will follow and see that it really does matter.”

Representatives from Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates public accounting firm presented the fiscal year 2014-2015 audit review at the session. Director Sadie Gibson reported that the firm issued the town an unmodified opinion, or “the highest opinion our profession offers.”

Council also considered sending letters to congressmen regarding recent legislation that would allow large and heavy trucks on roads. Sample letters presented at the work session expressed the town’s infrastructural inability to support such trucks and emphasized the costs of that allowance.

All council members seemed to agree with the notion, although council member Don Le Vine said he thought the wording of the proposed letters should be revisited before they’re signed and sent out on behalf of the town.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com