By Matt de Simone
Assistant County Administrator Jon Lanford provided a brief update last week to the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors on a new museum located in Fincastle and presented a draft scope of services for a “phase one” feasibility study and conceptual design for the new museum project in Fincastle. Del. Terry Austin appropriated funds for $6 million through a grant administered by the Department of Historic Resources (DHR). The county matched the appropriation with $500,000 through civil site work at courthouse square.
AECOM, a consulting firm hired by the county, will handle the study through the conceptual design. The company will join the museum committee for a one-day visit to other museums to observe exhibit areas and administration spaces and they will provide several space and program workshops to the committee and county. They will also attend a meeting with the Town of Fincastle Planning Commission to discuss the feasibility study and program objectives.
During the feasibility study, the team will work with the County to determine the optimum location for the museum to sit. The museum building footprint and precise site location have not yet been determined.
Vice Chair Dr. Richard Bailey commended Lanford and his team’s efforts in negotiating, feeling like the project is currently “in a good spot” and suggested to the board to continue moving forward with the study. The board approved.
Springwood Road extension “refreshed”
At the beginning of April, the Town of Fincastle submitted a request related to the Springwood Road extension project, which was first put on the table approximately 20 years ago. The project was initially a part of the county’s six-year plan around 2006, but was taken off in 2007. Lanford thinks the six-year plan “isn’t the best place to place a project such as this.”
In recognizing the need for a potential extension of Springwood Road, Lanford asked the board, county, and VDOT to take another look at the project and to authorize a resolution asking for discussions to begin between the county, the town, and VDOT. The board approved moving forward with the discussions.
“One of the things suggested was kind of ‘refreshing’ the concept,” Lanford said in a recent interview. “Not just bringing back all of the work that had already been done, and moving forward with it, but really looking at that alignment and saying, ‘Does that makes sense today?’ Or, should we look at other options that may not be as impactful to the homes that have been built (people’s properties).”
Lanford made it clear that the county does not want to “alarm” citizens, understanding a lot has changed in 20 years.
“A lot has changed in the last 20 years since it was originally conceived,” Lanford continued. “What used to be out of the way—through a hayfield or pasture—is no longer that. The first thing we need to do is see if that’s the right alignment or if we need to look at an alternate alignment based on what’s changed in the past 20 years.”
Although the project is being revisited, Lanford noted the county will continue to review the best options. Although the Town of Fincastle asked for the Springwood Road extension to be added back into the county’s six-year plan, Lanford believes that today, this project doesn’t require being added back to the plan.
“The six-year plan is not the right place for it in 2023,” Lanford noted. “It was 10 years ago, but it’s not today.”
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