The end of 2020 marked the completion of Stanardsville’s Community Improvement Grant
(CIG) project that brightened Main Street and built the beautiful Greene Commons pavilion and stage. All this was paid for by a $1 million grant awarded to the town in 2017. That grant brings the total federal dollars provided for our revitalization projects over the past 15 years to more than $2.6 million.
We can all take pride in being awarded these funds to help rebuild our town, as a Virginia Main Street affiliate. I especially appreciate the support and cooperation of individual property owners that have made these improvements possible.
These grant awards bring our federal tax dollars back to the community. The Town of Stanardsville competes with other localities for these state and federal grants, which are made up of taxes collected from citizens and set aside to be reinvested in various communities.
It is critical that the town continue to pursue these grants as we are one of the few communities in the commonwealth that does not charge a real estate tax, personal property tax or meal tax. Most surrounding towns charge local taxes on top of required county taxes. If the town is to provide services and amenities that the citizens desire, it is important that we continue to pursue these grants or begin to charge town taxes, which no one wants.
For the foreseeable future, the town will continue to seek grants and donations to fund building projects and community activities like the 4th of July celebration.
Much was accomplished under this most recent federal grant and much more will come under another this year.
Under the grant awarded by the Department of Housing and Community Development, we painted the exteriors of several Main Street buildings, brightening their facades with vivid colors of blue, yellow, brick red and slate gray.
Other grant-funded improvements include replacement of the second story deck and windows at The Lafayette, restoration to the brick walls and sign at the Town Center and upgrading of an apartment on Ford Avenue.
The most extensive restoration was to the historic William Mills House on the hill behind the library. We replaced the front steps, porch deck and railings and a few windows. The owner replaced the metal roof and will renovate the interior, with plans to return this 1840 building to commercial use as a tourist destination—a great benefit to the town. The building could have been destroyed without our help.
The former Stanardsville Auto Repair shop has been remodeled and converted into the “Stanardsville Station” coffee house, an outreach project of the United Methodist Church. The renovations were not funded by the grant as originally planned, but followed our architect’s specifications.
The dilapidated house and “bunker” at 9 Main St., next to Lawson’s garage, was demolished with grant funds, finally removing this long-standing eyesore.
Greene Commons pavilion and stage, behind the county administration building, is the premier achievement of the grant project. The farmers market in the pavilion attracted some 200 weekly customers in 2020, despite coronavirus restrictions. Plans for concerts, festivals and other special events at the stage were put on hold, but after the pandemic this community gathering space will be used to the fullest.
Next comes Phase 2 Streetscape Improvements under a $900,000 VDOT grant. The Phase 1 sidewalks installed in 2013 will be extended to the pharmacy on the east side and to the shopping center on the west, with 15 new streetlights. The town, VDOT, engineers, the county and property owners have worked together on this for several years. Construction of these sidewalk extensions on the north side of Main Street will begin soon.
While these grant projects complete most of the physical improvements to the town, additional infrastructure projects are still needed, especially replacing antiquated water and sewer lines. We have requested these for several years.
The immediate next step is bringing in new businesses to better serve our public. To that end, STAR (Stanardsville Area Revitalization) intends to apply this year for a Community Business Launch grant to fund a contest to attract new businesses to Stanardsville.
All of these efforts have relied on the work of volunteers and on generous donations from the county (economic development and tourism), foundations, businesses and individuals. On behalf of the Town Council, many thanks to all those who have helped bring us to this point.
STAR has managed the grant projects under the guidance of a team composed of town and county officials, community leaders and business owners. More volunteers—and contributions—are always needed and appreciated. To find out more, call the town at (434) 990-6511.
Gary E. Lowe