Christiansburg’s town council approves $18 million for park, residents concerned
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - In Christiansburg, the Town Council approved a budget amendment that includes funding for an $18 million park project.
Plans have been in the works since 2013, but there are some residents who feel the financial impact of the park isn’t what it seems.
Emails given to us by a town council member show citizens are concerned about the financial impact of the projected park.
“They’re saying their voices are not heard. Second of all, they are saying ‘why even talk about park during a pandemic where there is - we should be worrying about the people that don’t have the water or they cannot pay for the water bills instead of worrying about a park’,” said Councilwoman Johanna Hicks.
Some of the emails said the town doesn’t have the money to pay for it; others worried taxes will go up.
“These are big decisions. I don’t want to be on the books today voting for a park in the middle of a pandemic when everybody else is hurting, and I think that’s the main concern,” said Hicks.
Hicks said she is not against building the park, but she and some citizens are opposed to spending money to build and fund it during a pandemic.
“I think the people are saying let’s take a break on this stuff for a little bit; let’s see what the future brings. I mean, we don’t even know what’s going to happen this year,” said Hicks.
In 2013, Christiansburg paid $2.5 million for 63 acres of former farmland off Peppers Ferry Road, with the intent of building the park there. Plans for the park show four full-sized rectangular fields, a dog park, an adult fitness zone, trails and more.
“But one thing that is determined; we do not have enough rectangular sporting fields to accommodate our population,” said Michael Barber, mayor of Christiansburg.
Barber said the park is needed, and residents will not see an increase in certain taxes.
“We don’t have any plans at this time of increasing either meals tax or real estate tax. It will never affect their water sewer rates because it is a separate part of the town and we run off of, we run that enterprise off of the water and sewer bills,” said Barber.
The park will be completed in two phases and could begin as soon as Town Council votes to agree to start bundling and the development plans are 100% finalized--- which could happen late 2020 or early 2021.
Construction of the park will be paid for by a combination of monies from their general fund, town reserves, private contributions and sponsorships, revenue from the sale of commercial out-parcels on the park property, grants, and bonds. The town council will hold a public hearing about the park December 8.
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