Blacksburg residents begin petition urging Montgomery County to sell old high school property

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Controversy in Montgomery County continues as officials in Blacksburg try to acquire the Old High School building. Now people who live nearby are trying to get involved.

A petition started by Blacksburg residents urging the county to sell the property to the town, which can be found in the Related Links section of this article, went live online Thursday with a goal of 300 signatures.

Twenty-four hours later, it surpassed the goal.

The hope was to give people a voice they feel wasn't being listened to.

"Blacksburg is a very unique community and I don't think that Montgomery County is appreciating that or even really listening to the residents in this community about what we want," Shene Salih, who co-started the petition, said.

So what do the people want?

Emma Jones has lived across the street from the old school for a year and a half.

"The track is heavily used by everyone in the community. There's soccer games, there's softball games at the fields next door and I think if they could expand it, that would be fantastic," Jones said.

That was the feeling among many neighbors. It's also the plan if the Town of Blacksburg can acquire the land. That or save the property to build another school on it when needed.

The online petition also has a comment section with lots of suggestions.

A woman from Christiansburg agreed with the Town of Blacksburg and asked for no more divisions. Someone else thought the building should be preserved as is. And one Blacksburg man said the space should be developed into a residential area.

"If you understand the demographics of Blacksburg, this is very much the family homes and those kinds of areas. Student housings are put in very specific zones and this should be a specific area for all people to enjoy," Salih said in response to that idea.

One neighbor was also concerned development could lower their property values.

Whatever the solution, the people living nearby want a decision soon, and the arguing between the two governments to end.

"I know they want to be professional, but it seems a bit childish," Jones said. "I'd prefer them to have conversations that lead to an end result."

"Blacksburg is trying to collaborate and communicate but Montgomery County is not listening," Salih said.

The property is on the County Board of Supervisor's agenda for Monday night.

Salih is urging people to show up to voice their opinion on what to do with the land, no matter their stance.

The Town of Blacksburg still hopes to get the property, but as of now their offer is about $1,750,000 short of what the county is asking for.