The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Monday, June 24, 2013
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
A grant application process is now under way that could eventually bring about $1 million in needed improvements in Ferrum.
Chris Fewster, an engineer with Earth Environmental and consultant for Ferrum College and the Ferrum Water Authority, asked the Franklin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to give the go-ahead to apply for a Community Development Block Grant planning grant.
Fewster said he needed a letter of interest from the board in making the application, as well as a commitment to bring in a consultant on an as-needed basis to manage the grant at a maximum cost of $5,000.
The request initially failed on a tie vote, but after further discussion and clearing up a misunderstanding about the consultant, the request was approved 6-0, with Blackwater District Supervisor Cline Brubaker absent.
The county will partner with the college and the water authority for the total cost of about $10,000 for the grant application, Fewster said.
If the planning grant is approved, Fewster said it would be for $30,000, which would be used along with $20,000 in other funding from the county, college and authority to complete that stage of the process.
Application for the larger CDBG grant would be submitted by the end of March 2014.
The anticipated components of the project include a pedestrian bridge over the railroad in Ferrum (on Route 40 West); water/sewer improvements with the replacement of a water line that now runs under the railroad; sidewalks and crosswalks; downtown (Old Ferrum) improvements; and possibly housing rehabilitation, Fewster said.
"The housing component requires community discussion and fieldwork to determine need," he told the board. "Without housing, up to $1 million in the CDBG grant is possible. With housing, up to $1.4 million is possible."
Fewster showed the board photos of the bridge across Route 40 West near Old Ferrum Road and how little room is available for pedestrians.
"Pedestrian safety is a key," he said. "It is a safety concern."
The downtown Ferrum area has few sidewalks, he said, and no controlled road crossings.
The project could also include beautification work with general community improvements, like making the entrance more attractive.
Rocky Mount District Supervisor Charles Wagner made the motion to approve the request.
Wagner said he was particularly concerned about the water line that now runs under the railroad near the Route 40 West bridge. Not only is the line too small (6-inch capacity) to provide adequate pressure for fire suppression, it would also be difficult to repair if broken because the railroad would have to be involved in the work.
Moving the water line to run along the bridge with a larger capacity would fix the problems, he said.
Fewster said the planning grant application must be filed with the state Department of Housing and Community Development by Sept. 30.