By Sarah Richardson
Lewisburg City Council met Tuesday, Jan. 18, to discuss the undertaking of a stormwater study, hear the final CARES Act funding reimbursement update, and announce a new grant received for the skate park.
“This evening I am bringing the evidentiary materials,” said Donna Ward of Region IV. “As you know, you were awarded a Small Cities Hazardous Mitigation Grant for $250,000, and this money will be used to do a stormwater study within the city of Lewisburg.”
She explained that Mayor Beverly White will need to sign off on forms for the next step of the process, the 57-page evidentiary package. Region IV is the representative of the city for this undertaking. The grant runs for two years, and must be completed within that two-year period.
“It depends on the engineers and how quickly they move forward,” explained Ward. “Your city engineers I understand are Chapman Technical Group, but we discovered that the contract he is under for the city doesn’t really cover this type of work. So, what we will have to do is request a proposal, which of course he can participate in, and the engineer that’s chosen from that we will move forward with. So we are looking at two to three months before anything can get started, and we have 24 months to complete the study.”
Council voted unanimously to move forward with the project.
“Keep in mind that it’s a study only, but this is really going to put you one step ahead for future grants,” said Ward. “Anytime you have a study that’s always a big positive when people are looking at approving different types of grants. You’re moving in the right direction.”
In other news, City Manager Misty Hill reported that the CARES Act reimbursement projects around the city have wrapped up as of the end of the 2021 year.
“I just wanted to let council know that we have been able to close out all of the construction at the parks, also that we still have our placeholder for $100,000 for broadband, and that our generator has been paid for but we’re just awaiting on its arrival from Lowe’s. Other than that, everything has been completed. We are still waiting on the phone system, but we have expended all CARES Act reimbursement to the balance of zero.”
She also noted the city received a $5,000 grant from the Hamilton Foundation for the skate park. “We are extremely excited for that,” she said, and explained that the city will be looking to hear feedback from “skate park crew” and other interested parties on wants and suggestions for these funds. “I’m really excited that we are going to be able to get some new equipment for the skate park.”
She reports that the city is still “diligently” working on the new water plant, and finishing up the imminent domain processes necessary to move forward.
Planning and Zoning Officer Marsha Cunningham said that the Planning Commission is working on updating some planning and zoning regulations, including those pertaining to Air BnB properties.
“We have had some questions about the historical area in Lewisburg, and should there be little bit different regulations for them, so we have been discussing that,” she reports. They are also discussing how to zone medical cannabis dispensaries and growing facilities.
Progress with the new Starbucks in the Wal-Mart parking lot is moving forward, she said, with the final plat coming up for council approval at the next council meeting in February.
Parks Commission Chair Sarah Elkins said that the public bathrooms will soon be heated, and there is “an issue with people sleeping in them.” However, several months ago the city ordered timed automatic locks, which she hopes will remediate the problem. There was also community feedback interested in continuing the sidewalk from town “all the way up to Dorie Miller,” which they are looking into.
Greenbrier County received hefty snowfall throughout the last week, and Lewisburg Public Works crews have been working consistently, sometimes in 16-hour shifts through the dead of night, to clear snow from city streets and sidewalks.
“We have gone through several snowstorms, and Mayor and I have received a lot of phone calls and email messages from the employees letting us know that Streets and Parks have really gone above and beyond with keeping the roads clear and clean,” reports Misty Hill. “A lot of people right now are depending on home delivery for food and medication with COVID, and I just want to say that at 12 o’clock last night I was talking to [Streets Foreman] Ryan, because they were out working on the streets and keeping everything clear. I think that’s above and beyond for our employees to look out for the safety of others and our citizens.”
Arron Seams added, “I just wanted to that [Public Works Director] Tony Hill and the public works departments. I know that you were working really hard through the holiday weekend, and I even saw there were crews everywhere even after I was coming home from lunch this afternoon. Those efforts were definitely visible and appreciated, so thank you, and thank you to all of your crews.”
Sarah Elkins noted that she received a call from Clay Elkins wanting to thank Tony Hill personally “for how well the sidewalks and streets were taken care of. He noticed a crew out and working at some ungodly hour, and he called me immediately, at that ungodly hour, to tell me.