Egger to resign council seat

Bebhinn Egger

FRONT ROYAL – Town Council needs to find another member this summer when a colleague leaves Front Royal.

Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger announced Monday plans to resign from her seat July 1. Egger noted that the public announcement comes after word of her intentions arose in the community.

“This is a sad announcement for me to make but the reason is a happy one,” Egger said. “I will be getting married this June and moving out of town so I will have to resign my seat after I get married and move.”

Egger said she intends to continue to work for her constituents in the months she remains on council. Egger did not reveal where she plans to move.

“I still remain very grateful to everyone that voted for me, that has supported me during my time on council,” Egger said. “When I ran for this seat I actually didn’t even know my fianceé yet so I had every intention of finishing my term, my four-year term, but life happens so this is an exciting time for me.

“But I’m also excited for the town because I really do think we’re on the right track and there’s a lot of good things ahead,” Egger added.

Voters elected Egger to join council in November 2014.  She has been an outspoken critic over the rising cost of a new police department headquarters and has also publicly questioned whether or not ITFederal  intends to develop a facility on the former Avtex Fibers site – a project the councilwoman supports.

Egger’s pending departure would leave another vacancy for the remaining council members to fill. Council appointed Planning Commission member Christopher Morrison to fill the vacancy created when Hollis Tharpe assumed the position of mayor after his election in November. Tharpe succeeded Mayor Timothy Darr.

Council picked Morrison out of candidates interviewed for the position. Vice Mayor Eugene Tewalt criticized members at the time for not appointing Mike McCool, a candidate for the seat who came in fourth out of the five people who vied for three seats on council in November. Tewalt argued that council should have picked McCool given that he received voter support in the election.

Also at the meeting, council:
• Heard from Councilman William Sealock Jr. who announced a three-pronged plan to improve safety at pedestrian crosswalks. Sealock recently met with interim Town Manager Joseph Waltz and representatives from the police and street maintenance departments to discuss the matter. First, the town plans to educate pedestrians and motorists on crossing safety. The second phase would address the crosswalks themselves. The third phase covers enforcement, Sealock explained. “I see some real proactive movement by each of the supervisors in each department,” Sealock said.
• Approved a resolution to enter into an agreement to establish the Skyline Regional Justice Academy.
• Approved the purchase of additional water meters for $105,000.
• Approved a resolution for local commitment regarding the use of funds provided by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development through the federal Community Development Block Grant program. Council held the second and final public hearing to receive input on the 2017 Downtown Revitalization Plan Envision 2.0 the town plans to submit with the grant application. No one spoke at the second hearing.
• Approved a request by the Humane Society of Warren County to contribute the rental rate of $1,037 for the use of two, Virginia Regional Transit Royal Trolleys for the Waggin’ for Dragons boat race fundraiser on Aug. 12.
• Authorized the town manager to provide notice to Moseley Architects to proceed with advertising bids for construction of a new police department headquarters once funding is realized.Council voted 5-1 on the motion. Egger voted against the motion.

Moseley Architects presented its final design for the project planned for construction at Monroe Avenue and Kendrick Lane at council’s March 6 work session. The current construction cost estimate for the building is $9.31 million. Moseley is working on permits and tentatively scheduled for advertising construction bids in April. Staff is finalizing details on funding through the New Market Tax Credit Program. Egger reiterated her position that the estimated cost is too much for town residents to cover and said that  staff members still have concerns about the project and of the New Market Tax Credit Program upon which the town is leaning to cover the cost.

Tewalt pointed out that the project cost estimate began at slightly more than $5 million. Council didn’t support his push to cap the cost and so the price tag has risen to almost twice the amount, Tewalt said. The councilman said the town could have built the project for much less. Waltz said the $9.3 million includes about $800,000 in contingencies. However, that amount doesn’t include a clerk of the works position who would oversee the project, Waltz said. Councilman Jacob Meza said he also had concerns about the funding of the project but added that it has yet to be advertised for bids.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com