Woodstock has joined the growing list of localities that have passed resolutions of support for a rails-to-trails initiative that would convert an out-of-service railroad into a recreational trail stretching 50 miles through the Shenandoah Valley.
Town Council voted 6-0 on Tuesday to approve a resolution of support for the project, which has gained momentum and could be completed by the end of the decade, Don Hindman, project director for the Shenandoah Valley Rail Trail Exploratory Partnership, told council members at a Woodstock committee meeting last month.
The proposed project, for which discussions have been ongoing for several years, proposes to repurpose a section of the former Manassas Gap Railroad, owned by Norfolk Southern Corporation, running from Broadway to Front Royal. Hindman has spent the past couple of months providing updates to localities who have joined the partnership and asking each of them to pass a resolution of support for the project. The resolution does not tie Woodstock into any financial commitment for the project.
Woodstock Mayor Jeremy McCleary, who has played a central role in the project, said during Tuesday’s meeting that “very positive things continue to happen” and noted a feasibility study being conducted and a recent meeting with members of the Virginia Department of Transportation and the local representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board that provided “a lot of very positive feedback.”
“This continues to be a very exciting project and I think it could be transformative for our community and the entire region,” McCleary said. “I’m proud that the council is considering this resolution and I support it, and I hope we get resolutions from all localities up and down the stretch from Broadway to Front Royal.”
Town Council members also voted unanimously to pass a resolution establishing April as National Autism Awareness month. The resolution acknowledges the work that the Shenandoah County Public Schools’ Special Education Advisory Committee has done to educate the public about autism and its effects and encourages members of the community to “become more aware of all individuals with a disability and the value that they bring to our community, in order to become better educated about autism and create a better community for individuals with autism.”
In other action items on Tuesday, the council voted 6-0 to appoint Mandy Helsley as the new town clerk, to adopt an Arbor Day Proclamation and to approve a first reading of an ordinance to rezone a portion of two parcels of property located at 150 and 154 S. Commerce St. -- totaling 0.21 acres -- from I-1 (industrial) to B-1 (central business district).
Town Council members A. Paje Cross, Michael Funkhouser, Alicia Gutshall, Frank Haun, Stephen Heishman and Jacqueline Lambert and Mayor McCleary attended Tuesday’s meeting.