NEW MARKET – Town Council plans to work with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation to install signs for a driving and walking tour through town, but tabled moving forward Tuesday until some of their questions are answered.
The foundation, which is headquartered in town, is developing a walking and driving tour that will take visitors to key historic markers around town. Those places, said Town Manager Todd Walters, will be marked by signs. The foundation requested the town coordinate with them to help install the signs.
Walters told council the town won’t be purchasing the signs but will be in charge of installing them. The battlefield foundation will own the signs and be responsible for them after they are installed.
“We would go to each individual site and look at the placement of the signs,” Walters said. “The battlefield foundation will purchase all the signs. All they’re asking us to do is install the signs. To be honest with you, if we’re putting signs on our stuff, I would rather our guys do that.”
Councilman Tim Palmer said he didn’t want to vote to approve anything without seeing what he was voting on. The fact that signs, brochures and audio tapes — providing information about different historic sites — haven’t been produced, Palmer said, led him to want more information.
“We don’t have any evidence of recordings, of what the signs look like, we can’t ask any questions because there isn’t anybody here,” Palmer said. “It says cooperation on the request [but] cooperation isn’t a very defined word.”
Councilwoman Peggy Harkness had questions of her own. She said she was concerned about a driving tour. With cars driving and stopping around town, she asked, what happens if something happens while visitors are away from their vehicles or get in an accident while they are driving?
Council members initially voted to table the discussion until their next regular meeting in May. The motion passed with Peter Hughes and Larry Bompiani dissenting. But later in the meeting, Jason Ham, the town attorney, suggested the motion be amended to allow council members to discuss the issue the next time it is brought up, permitting them to move forward during a special meeting before their regular meeting next month.
Both Hughes and Bompiani voted yes on the amended motion. Hughes said after the meeting he wants to see the tour get off the ground because it will help draw people to town — that’s what he’s interested in, he said.
Council members will meet again in a joint hearing with the Planning Commission for a special use permit application on May 6, where, Walters said, he would try to make sure someone from the battlefield foundation is present to answer any questions they may have.