A look back at 2017

Friends,

While the Blacksburg election may have grabbed local headlines in 2017, the Town Council continued its work throughout the year. I wanted to update you on a few of our accomplishments over the past 12 months:

  • Legalized new accessory apartments through a permit program, which encourages owner occupancy and provides an avenue for affordable home ownership
  • Established a council-appointed Business Relations Committee, which provides a forum for businesses to discuss development issues, make recommendations to improve the business climate, and provide input on the town’s economic development initiatives
  • Participated in preliminary discussions about the Old Blacksburg Middle School redevelopment, which will be one of the biggest land use issues facing Blacksburg in 2018
  • Voted to issue general obligation capital improvement bonds to finance almost $4.8 million in town infrastructure projects, ranging from roof replacements and sidewalk projects, to the golf course renovation and a feasibility study for a new police station
  • Voted for an ordinance to make street parking permits cheaper and improve the operation and enforcement of the permit parking system, along with a separate ordinance to create limited residential permit parking zones
  • Updated the apartment recycling ordinance to make recycling more convenient for residents
  • Accepted a donation of park land from the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors
  • Continued to advocate for our fair share of transportation funding as a town representative on the Metropolitan Planning Organization (I was also appointed to the SmartWay Advisory Committee)

Continue reading “A look back at 2017”

Election Day 2015

Friends,

It’s Election Day again! Four years ago, I was elected to my first term on the Blacksburg Town Council, and now John Bush, Leslie Hager-Smith, and I are running unopposed for our council seats. Thanks to your support and encouragement, these past few years have been phenomenal and I am proud of my record of service to our community:

  • Supported downtown businesses by voting to purchase land to expand public parking, establish a downtown refuse and recycling program, and create a Live/Work/Sell Arts Overlay District to encourage owner-occupied arts businesses near downtown
  • Celebrated the completion of the College Avenue Promenade and the opening of the IMAX at First & Main
  • Advocated for our fair share of transportation funds through my role as a town representative on the Metropolitan Planning Organization
  • Worked to bring more affordable housing opportunities to our town through two years of service on the Blacksburg Housing and Community Development Advisory Board and support for rezoning requests on Grissom Lane and Givens Lane
  • Sought a pragmatic and sustainable approach to local development that allows Blacksburg to grow but protects neighborhoods and quality of life through votes on numerous rezoning requests and a five-year update to the town’s Comprehensive Plan
  • Served as a town representative on the 10-Year Economic Development Plan Steering Committee and the Blacksburg Partnership Board of Directors
  • Voted yes on resolutions to preserve Stadium Woods, save Harding Avenue Elementary School, and oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Continue reading “Election Day 2015”

2011 Sustainability Week

For the fifth consecutive year, the Town of Blacksburg, Virginia Tech, and Sustainable Blacksburg have partnered to sponsor Sustainability Week, Sept. 18-24.

There is much that the Town of Blacksburg can do to ensure that we are good stewards of our environment and use our resources in a way that meets not only our needs but also the needs of future generations, including: Continue reading “2011 Sustainability Week”

‘Smart growth’ in Blacksburg

The following letter to the editor originally appeared in the Collegiate Times on Oct. 14, 2009:

What does “smart growth” mean, anyway?

In 2002, developer Bob Pack made plans for a 100,000-square-foot, two-building complex known as Kent Square. He envisioned office, retail and residential spaces in close proximity and sought $2 million in public funds for a 380-space parking garage for downtown shoppers and residents.

While some described the compact, mixed-use development as a prime example of “smart growth,” not everyone supported Pack’s vision for downtown Blacksburg. Opponents argued that the three-story structure would erode Blacksburg’s small town charm. With time the controversy subsided, and the two Kent Square buildings opened in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Continue reading “‘Smart growth’ in Blacksburg”

Make Blacksburg transportation a major priority

The following letter to the editor originally appeared in the Collegiate Times on Sept. 16, 2009:

Today, the Active Commute Celebration on the Drillfield marks the middle of Virginia Cycling and Pedestrian Awareness Week. Cyclists are learning about bike registration and safety, Blacksburg Transit riders are picking up copies of the latest schedule, and U Car Share members are finding out how to register and unlock a vehicle.

In an era with more students bringing their cars and trucks to campus and parking spaces moving farther from academic and residential buildings, we need to do all that we can to reduce traffic and ensure that everyone can find a way to campus and downtown Blacksburg. Not everyone can take a bus to work or ride a bike to school, but we must increase opportunities for those who can and do. Continue reading “Make Blacksburg transportation a major priority”