By Matt de Simone
The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing at last week’s monthly meeting regarding the proposed agreement to lease– a period of up to 40 years–the Old County Jail in Fincastle.
The board authorized a formal lease agreement to be considered at the January board meeting.
The old property is an as-yet unnumbered tax parcel containing the Old County Jail, a lot size of approximately 0.19 acre and a building of approximately 4,356 square feet.
It recently came to light that Donald and Caroline Naysmith are interested in saving and restoring the Old Jail. The Naysmiths own and operate Cardon Consulting, a real estate development and consulting company specializing in historic restoration, project and event management, and wedding industry consulting. Recently, the Naysmiths moved to Botetourt County, according to Assistant County Administrator Jon Lanford, who spoke at the onset of the public hearing.
Lanford wasn’t asking for the board to approve anything specific, but only for the board to authorize putting together the formal lease agreement and having a survey completed of the approximately 4,356-sq.-ft. building space and an estimate 0.19 acre around the jail. Moving forward, the county will work with the Naysmiths, the Town of Fincastle, and the people working on the courthouse in delineating exactly what will be the lease space.
Due to the importance of the Old Jail’s location, Lanford mentioned that quarterly meetings between Fincastle and county representatives, benchmarks, rezoning requirements, and building improvements would be discussed and scheduled as the project moves forward.
The board received three formal letters from Fincastle representatives supporting the concept.
Mayor Mary Bess Smith shared notes during the board meeting and brought attention to the Fincastle residents and Town Council representatives in attendance who feel strongly about the repurposing of the Old Jail.
“This is near and dear to our hearts, both from the Town of Fincastle and Botetourt County, and a greater exciting opportunity to repurpose this asset,” Smith said during the public hearing. “Obviously, the Old Jail is architecturally and historically significant to the town as is Courthouse Square. It’s something we’ve all worried about. It’s something we haven’t known exactly how we could repurpose it.
“Very much like the education partnership– a great example of a public/private partnership coming together to do something that good for the broader community. We are excited. We look forward to working with the Naysmiths and with the county to try to make this happen.”
Blue Ridge Supervisor Billy Martin asked if there was any negative feedback about the project to which Lanford responded in saying that the only negative conversation turned into a positive one.
Buchanan Supervisor Amy White touched on the partnerships between the county, the town, and the Naysmiths on the proposed agreement to lease the property. She expressed her excitement and supported the lease agreement but urged that all of the details must be solidified up front “so everyone is clear on expectations and procedures.”
Amsterdam Supervisor Steve Clinton added that the repurposing of the Old Jail is “appropriate” and feels as though this project can be a “boost” to the already immense history within the Town of Fincastle.