One of our key priorities is to “Protect the Village”. The future of Valley Boulevard is of major importance to the future of our Village.
You will recall the Valley Boulevard Vision process that took place in 2019. The community came together to make recommendations to the Planning Board to set a vision for development and redevelopment along Valley Boulevard after completion of the highway.
The Civic Association attended all of the committee meetings and public meetings leading up to the Benchmark Report.
The Planning Board has been reviewing the recommendations to propose changes to the Land Use Code to the Town Council. We have also attended those meetings.
During the public meetings, we decided to focus on two of the most complicated opportunities dealing with the watershed and specifically the New River Headwaters streams along the west side of Valley Blvd.
We engaged Mosaic Civic Studio to prepare an independent report to address specific recommendations in the Benchmark report dealing with (1) embracing the New River Headwaters of the Middle Fork Stream and River as an extension of the Middle Fork Greenway into Downtown and (2) evaluate changes to the Land Use Code to improve water quality and restoration of the streams in the area.
The focus area of the study was the west side of Valley Blvd and specifically the Middle Fork Stream which is an extension of the New River Headwaters that crosses over Valley Boulevard at the Fire Station to the ABC Store and heads north across Sunset Drive and then North Main Street across from Chetola Lake.
The current Land Use Code does not uniformly address protection or enhancements of the streams that face watershed issues and do not embrace the recreational opportunity for walking trails or small pocket parks.
We worked with Teresa Buckwalter and Taylor Broyhill, principals with Mosaic Civic Studio, to address these opportunities.
Pete Gherini, Chairman of the Planning Board, has encouraged and facilitated our interaction with the subcommittee and Planning Board.
We presented a draft report to the subcommittee including Pete and Kevin Rothrock and then to the full Planning Board on November 19th. We have offered for Mosaic to present the report to the Town Council.
The two broad recommendations follow:
1. Complete a feasibility study to establish a plan for a Middle Fork Trail from Sunset to North Main which is the most accessible and offers the best opportunity to develop a walking trail to connect Middle Fork Greenway at North Main Street to Downtown along the stream to Sunset Drive.
2. Consider establishing a Middle Fork Overlay District to standardize Land Use Code for managing development and re-development in the critical watershed area on the west side of Valley Boulevard.
The report has been well received to date and is a great example of how we can positively contribute to direction and decisions of our Town government by proactive involvement.
The biggest lesson we as a community learned from this process is that key recommendations like these must include and benefit greatly from including the public along the way.
Hopefully the community will take advantage of the recommendations from this independent expert report.
Without our investment, these recommendations may not have matured to this level given the complexity of implementing the Benchmark recommendation.