Sutphin: Let’s talk about solutions

The following op-ed originally appeared in The Roanoke Times on Dec. 7, 2014:

The logjam over the Old Blacksburg Middle School property has some doubting whether the 20-acre site in the heart of downtown Blacksburg has a future beyond an empty lot and occasional spats between governing bodies. But it certainly does.

Government handwringing over the property is not without cause: For the town, it has the potential to extend downtown with a high-quality, mixed-use development that adds to Blacksburg’s commercial and residential offerings. For the county, it brings much-needed revenue for a school system that has faced cuts from Richmond, as well as a pressing need for new schools in Blacksburg and eastern Montgomery County.

My colleagues Leslie Hager-Smith and John Bush have already explained the intricacies of town-county relations and the reason for the current impasse — namely, the contract between the county and its hand-picked developer, Fiddlers Green Partners. Despite these challenges, a solution does exist that will benefit both the town and county. Continue reading “Sutphin: Let’s talk about solutions”

2013 in review

Friends,

As the year comes to a close, I would once again like to update you about my past 12 months on the Blacksburg Town Council:

Economic development

  • Voted for an IMAX theater at First & Main.
  • Celebrated the completion of the College Avenue Promenade and voted for licenses for open air dining downtown.
  • Finished the 10-year update to the town’s Economic Development Plan. I served on the steering committee for the plan.
  • Voted for an operating agreement with the Alexander Black House and Cultural Foundation. Once the construction is finished, the building will attract more foot traffic downtown. Continue reading “2013 in review”

A look back at 2012

Friends,

I hope this note finds you and yours well this holiday season. As the year comes to a close, I would like to take some time to recap the Blacksburg Town Council’s work in 2012:

Economic development

  • Reached out to citizens, business owners, and community leaders to update the town’s 10-year economic development plan. (I served on the steering committee for the update this summer.)
  • Began implementing the Blacksburg Business Climate Task Force’s recommendations to improve how our government relates with the business community.
  • Started construction on the College Avenue Promenade, which will create outdoor dining spaces for downtown restaurants.
  • Established an Arts and Cultural District to offer financial incentives for qualified arts businesses downtown. Continue reading “A look back at 2012”

First 100 days

Friends, neighbors, and supporters:

As of today, I have served on the Blacksburg Town Council for 100 days. Thanks to your support last fall, I have been able to lend my voice to the town’s governance to ensure that we offer a wide range of employment and housing opportunities, support our vibrant downtown and neighborhoods, take pride in our natural resources and cultural heritage, and collaborate with our regional partners.

The Town Council has been busy in 2012. So far, we have:

  • Made changes to the zoning ordinance for parking, open space, and occupancy requirements in planned residential districts
  • Purchased a downtown parking lot
  • Approved a five-year capital improvement plan, which includes construction of the College Avenue Promenade starting this summer
  • Amended the town code to establish a downtown refuse and recycling program Continue reading “First 100 days”