Strasburg to buy property adjacent to Brill building
STRASBURG – Strasburg Town Council opted to buy the Brown building at 218 E. King St. for $100,000 at a special meeting Thursday in a 4-2 vote.
Mayor Rich Orndorff Jr. said the town purchased the building, which lies adjacent to the Brill building and taxi stand, to add to its lot that will be turned into an urban community park.
He said the park, part of the Community Development Block Grant, will be a tool for economic development in town.
“This Community Development Block Grant is for the purpose of economic development,” Orndorff said. “It’s not just to have a pretty green space, a pretty event space in the center of your town. It is to draw 200 plus people downtown giving them a place to stay, a place to linger and a place to go to the businesses that we have and the businesses we hope to draw.”
Councilman Don Le Vine made the motion for council to vote on the building. In his motion, he said the town will purchase the building and attempt to repurpose it. The town has 60 days to determine the refurbishment’s financial viability. If repurposing is not financially viable, the town will demolish the building.
Town Manager Ryan Spitzer set up the contract for the purchase prior to the meeting, although it was contingent on the council’s approval.
Both Councilwoman Kim Bishop and Councilman John “Red” Hall Jr. voted against the purchase, while council members Don Le Vine, Shirley Maddox, Barbara Plitt and Scott Terndrup voted in favor. Council members Jocelyn Vena and Seth Newman did not attend the meeting.
Bishop and Hall both cited the town’s use of the Brill building and taxi stand while explaining their opposition.
“I voted no because I don’t want the town to own any more property and I’m afraid that this is going to be discussed to death and the Brown building is going to be like the Brill building,” Bishop said.
Hall shared similar words.
“I don’t think the town should be continuously buying real estate, which they’ve been doing,” he said. “You see what they’ve done with what they’ve bought, and what they’ve bought it for they’ve never used it for, and they could have put their money elsewhere, and their energy elsewhere.”
Alongside voting against the purchase, Hall also voted against discussing approval of the contract in a closed meeting. He was the only council member to do so. In an interview after the meeting, he said he doesn’t believe in the secrecy of closed meetings, and think residents can handle hearing the conversations.
“I haven’t seen anything that our adult citizens of Strasburg shouldn’t be able to hear in these closed sessions,” he said. “To me, these are some major decisions being made, and I don’t see why the citizens shouldn’t know that.”
Prior to entering the closed sessions, five area residents offered comments to the council. Of the five, all opposed the demolition, and two voiced opposition to the purchase at large.
As per the council’s time schedule, the town will need to find a new purpose for the property at 218 E. King St. before Oct. 23 – before the property is slated for demolition.
Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or firstname.lastname@example.org