By Sarah Richardson
At the latest meeting of the Lewisburg City Council, spearheaders of the True Value/old Seneca Health building site project updated councilmembers on their plans for the lots, which have already been announced will including public and private parking, housing, and businesses. Tag Galyean said that while they haven’t fully nailed down a final plan due to “unknowns in the topography” as they’ve removed structures, the intent is for the Lewisburg Foundation to develop this space so there will be 30 parking spaces, six with electric charging stations with Tesla equipment, and “quite a bit of green” with an estimated 25 trees. He said there are plans for there to be one entry for cars off of Court Street and another off of Foster Street.
As for the amount of public parking spaces, Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White asked how many of the 30 planned spots will be for residents of the apartments planned for the site, and how many will be available for public use. Tag said that the Lewisburg Foundation will “own the 30 spaces,” and that there will be a “townhouse/brownstone section” on Church Street with four units, each with a garage and separate parking space, and an additional “eight or nine that are behind that on their property. So they’ve got parking spaces to work with.” In addition, six apartments are planned to be installed above the old Greenbrier Printing building, and possibly more above the remaining True Value structure, and then two retail spaces. Due to a sinkhole under the old printing building, a carefully-executed and expensive foundation is planned. The Historic Landmarks Commission has already approved the design and intent of the project.
City Manager Misty Hill said that Lewisburg ordinances address parking spaces for apartments with new buildings. “We can require a brand-new build to have two parking spaces per bedroom, but when you’re trying to develop a historic area that doesn’t have the capability to hold that much parking, that’s where the administration and the Planning [Commission] can waive some of those requirements to change them, not waive them completely, but to change them to where it would be more feasible to have only three parking spaces per apartment as opposed to six.”
“Terradon shot elevations at all the critical points, and until we get that information out to the power company we have to stay a little flexible,” Tag explained. The power company will have to determine locations for power poles and lines, so they must work around the utilities. The Lewisburg Foundation will be using their endowment funds to pay the bills, which will then be reimbursed by the Peyton Foundation.
“The aim is to make it really nice,” said Tag. “We think this is the biggest change in downtown Lewisburg to happen certainly in my lifetime. It’s changing a lot of things, and all for the better, I think.”
Mayor White closed in saying, “We know it’s going to be an awesome parking lot, the best one in the state, and we’re looking forward to that.”
In other news:
• Council voted to table an Arts and Humanities funding request from Carnegie Hall for TOOT Festival promotional funding pending further information, and motioned to approve a $3,500 Arts and Humanities funding request for Carnegie’s upcoming 40th anniversary celebration. The monies will be going directly to artists presenting at the event.
• City Manager Misty Hill reports that the new water plant project is still on track, but that they have been waiting for weeks for filters to come in. “We are almost a year behind on getting the filters, but on track where we are with construction,” said Hill. “So it’s not really a big hiccup for us, but a slight concern that’s been a conversation.” A foundation is being poured for the new, larger tank that is going to be installed at the Yates water tank location, which will replace the use of the Yates tank. Bulk water will also soon have an ATM-like system for purchasing, rather than going inside of the plant to buy bulk water as done previously. Hill said this new system will accept credit cards and cash, and will close that traffic going in and out of the plant during construction.
“We really didn’t share this with the community, but we’ve been on a wing and a prayer for about three weeks on not having water for the entire community,” said Hill. “Our pumps have been down. They’ve not been wanting to pump. As soon as we’d get them primed up, another pump would go down. This has truly been a fight for the water distribution, but also our plant operators trying to stay around the hour getting these pumps. We finally found the issue, we had a hairline crack in one of the pumps, that’s why it wasn’t priming, but we have a whole new pump and one coming in that’s a backup.”
She said that they chose not to share this information with the community as they “didn’t want to cause a large panic, and we were still on track with holding water.”
• The City is still working with the Mills Group on preparing wayfinding signage for the downtown area, and are continuing development renderings of those plans and locations for a kiosk and signage. Welcome signs coming into Lewisburg are also under discussion, with Hill presenting that to council “soon.”
• Resolution 526 was discussed by councilmembers, which deals with funding the Lafayette sidewalk replacement project on the hill from Cooper Gallery to the Warner Music School corner. Lewisburg was requested to supply 20 percent of the cost in matching funds, which totals $92,786.81. However, council already approved over $28,000 in funds for this project when it was first discussed. Therefore, the city must only pledge to pay the difference.
“The DOH has been sitting on that money that Lewisburg paid,” said Councilmember John Little. “So, when we approve this motion to pay this amount, we’re really not paying the $92k, we are paying the $63k unpaid balance.” Hill explained that the bids for the project came back higher than expected, and since it was bid out twice the City cannot put the project out to bid again. The total cost for the project is $463,934.04. Hill said that the project is too big of an undertaking to be done by Public Works, but they have tried to explore other options.