Hope Village is becoming a reality with White Sulphur Springs City Council’s approval on Monday to transfer 8.5 acres of city-owned property along Big Draft Road for the project. A ground-breaking ceremony for the 42 home development was held on Saturday at the site and attended by community members, project partners, and state and local officials.
The project was initiated by Tom Crabtree, architect and owner of 50 East Restaurant in White Sulphur Springs, together with a group of local businesses and supporters. Nearly $2 million has been raised toward the goal of $20 million, which, according to Crabtree, will allow the organizers to launch other initiatives in other flood- stricken communities around the state.
Courtney Smith, executive director of the Greater Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation, spoke at the meeting, stating that the nonprofit organization will serve as the fiscal sponsor for the housing development, responsible for the gathering of funds, disbursements and general project oversight.
The new homes will range in size from 900 to 1,200 square feet, offering two to three bedrooms, two full baths, appliances and landscaping. According to a press release by the office of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, Mennonite Disaster Services, a Pennsylvania group serving with flood relief in the area, will help build the first 24 homes at no cost.
Before the vote, Council member G.P. Parker aired concerns of some neighboring property owners who are worried that the Hope Village development could lower the value of their larger homes in the Big Draft area. Their suggestion was to locate Hope Village closer to McCloud Road, where the homes sizes were more compatible. However, Parker went on, McCloud Road homeowners are unwilling to have more drainage issues arise from a new construction project in their neighborhood. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Parker said, although he fully intended to vote for the resolution on the agenda, he was compelled to share the views of those community members.
In other business:
• “It’s a good time to get our town working together again,” stated Main Street spokesperson Pat Harper, as she announced two upcoming community events. The Freshwater Folk Festival will be held on Sept. 10 at the National Fish Hatchery, and the White Sulphur Springs Wild Game Festival is scheduled for Oct. 1.
• Council was prepared to approve the long-awaited Veterans Memorial at a site previously selected to honor local fallen veterans; however, the property designated for the site is owned by the city’s building authority, and so the council voted to refer the issue to the building authority for action, which will require two council meetings and a public hearing before development of the site can be made.