Four members of the Board of Supervisors want some dollar figures before buying into a proposal by the other member, Steve Clinton, to revamp plans to develop a historic preservation area at Greenfield.
Clinton gave a presentation during last week’s regular board meeting when he asked the supervisors to make a stronger financial and county commitment to developing the historic area and to consider discussing and/or adopting an organizational and operational plan he developed for what he calls the Preservation Area and Early Republic Interpretive Center at Botetourt-Greenfield.
Clinton was appointed to work with a successor organization to the Greenfield Historic Preservation Area Commission that developed a master plan for the preservation area last year.
That commission worked with Hill Studios on the master plan and the supervisors adopted that plan in January and endorsed the concept for a self-guided interpretive area that might be developed in phases based on community support and investment. That plan also calls for stabilizing the two historic structures that were moved to the historic area site in 2016.
The plan was also forwarded to the General Fund Budget Subcommittee for its review.
Clinton said he was not being critical of the Hill Studio and commission’s work, but believed a stronger county involvement would be necessary to carry a plan forward and to reap the possible benefits from historic tourism.
In a PowerPoint presentation, Clinton suggested establishing a multi-member advisory council as the successor to the commission that worked on the master plan.
He recommended initial and an annual financial commitment to the preservation area from the board. He did not recommend an amount.
Currently, the supervisors have $50,000 in matching funds available for the historic area.
He said governing the historic area would fall to the Board of Supervisors, which would maintain ownership and have to approve and authorize development.
The Greenfield Historic Preservation Advisory Council would be made up of members of that are nominated by community organizations and approved by Board of Supervisors.
The advisory council would establish policy, do planning, and handle operations and fundraising.
Clinton suggested that three buildings be the focus of the preservation area: the Slave Quarters and Summer Kitchen that were moved to the site from their original location in Greenfield and the Farm Manager’s House on-site.
He recommended a timeline that by October has the advisory council organized and staffed; the historic buildings protected and secured; that a consensus be established through planning sessions on content and operations, and that the structural integrity of the buildings be confirmed and shored up as required.
Also by October, Clinton said suggested there be confirmed estimates of probable cost, promotional material be ready for publication and requests for proposals be issued to for a three-year development plan.
The timeline he suggested included having the three-year development plan done by March 2019 along with a maintenance and capital funding budget that would run through 2023, and fundraising would be under way.
By March 2023, Clinton suggested the buildout of historic buildings would be complete, landscaping would be complete, the historic area and buildings would be open to the public and tours and interpretive programs would be under way.
The long range plan he suggested calls for having an interpretation of the role of Botetourt County in American History under way and having a History Travel Route connecting Greenfield with Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg under way.
Clinton told the supervisors establishing the historic preservation area would take a commitment from the county, one he believes will have great benefits because of the nature of the facility.
He said protecting the slave culture and slave buildings represented in the historic area would put local history “on the map.”
“I think it’s something really special, not just historic,” he told the other board members. “It’s uniquely Botetourt. This is ours. It gives Botetourt a unique identity and it’s a huge economic opportunity for us.”
He told the supervisors the concept is different from what it’s been considered and the $50,000 in matching funds— “…that’s not going to work.” There has to be seed money, he said, “something tangible for volunteer money to be available.”
Supervisor Billy Martin said he didn’t agree with the county being the initial and sustaining source of funds, and didn’t want to commit without seeing cost estimates and the prospects of grant funds being available; noting he believes developing the site should be a partnership.
When asked by Supervisor Ray Sloan if the original historic area preservation members had been part of putting together the presentation, Clinton said they had not, but two people had reviewed it. Clinton said if this is the direction the supervisors want to go, they are ready to go.
Sloan wondered if any outside money was available for going forward and Clinton said some, but not as much as the matching funds available from the county.
Supervisor Chair Jack Leffel said the county has already put $458,000 into the preservation area, including moving the slave quarters and summer kitchen.
“I’m not against (Clinton’s proposal),” he said. “The question is, ‘Where are we going?”’
Clinton is supposed to get more community involvement and an estimate on some of the costs. When that’s done, the supervisors agreed to discuss the proposal again.