FRONT ROYAL – By around this time next year, the town's projects related to the $700,000 Community Development Block Grant it received in 2017 should be complete.
Planning Director Jeremy Camp explained the projects during a recent Town Council work session. They include: construction of a town plaza ($219,000); a facade improvement program ($640,000); additions to the Royal Shenandoah Greenway trail circling town ($400,000); design of a streetscape improvement plan ($28,500); design of a parking and alley improvement plan ($56,600); new signage ($162,000); and a branding initiative ($44,000).
Camp said that in addition to the grant money, the town has provided some funding, including labor and work that the town planned to do had the grant not been received. He said that since the grant provided just $700,000, the project is a series of short term goals, such as designing phases, that “will lead us into the future.”
Of the $640,000 for the facade improvements, Camp said about half is coming from property owners whose buildings will be upgraded. He said the goal of this portion of the project is “to assist property owners in restoring their building facades.”
While building owners must provide about half of the funds, Camp said they can get credit for improvements dating back to 2015 if receipts for the work are provided. The facade improvements will be completed in three phases and he said building owners can still apply.
The plaza, which Camp said will be located in the town commons just north of the gazebo in the grassed area off Laura Hale Drive, will include a roofed pavilion and two attached restrooms. He explained the project is meant to provide a space for the farmers market or other outdoor activities.
Camp said that construction of the plaza, which is scheduled to be “substantially completed” in July, will require the removal of most of the pine trees in the area but a large oak tree will remain.
Camp said the streetscape project will include the designing of sidewalks, street lighting and “those type of improvement changes” in the downtown revitalization area.
This week, he said, the town is soliciting proposals for the parking and alley improvement designs. He said that will be about a six-month process and the town will seek public input on what improvements are needed.
Camp noted that one issue with downtown parking is that many spaces are private and the town would like to come up with a strategy to make them public similar to the Peyton and Jackson streets lots.
Regarding some of the “less used, more narrow” alleys, he said the town would like to close them off to drivers and turn them into pedestrian walkways.
All work must be completed by Sept. 25, 2020, or the town must return the grant money.