The year 2009 saw significant progress on issues and accomplishments of which we can all be proud.

The year started off on a sad note. Derek Myers, who had just been elected to council, was hospitalized in January and died in February 2009. His talents and enthusiasm were sorely missed.

Mike Rosensweig replaced Derek on council and did a tremendous job filling in during a hard situation.

Two significant building projects were completed in 2009. Blacksburg Motor Company now houses our Planning Department and Engineering Department. The town took an old car dealership with environmental challenges, and converted the structure into a modern, exciting office space.

For years we have known we needed additional office space. The town has grown significantly since the Municipal Building was put into service. Our employees were in very tight quarters, often doubling up in offices meant for one person. It made sense to look next door to try and find a solution to our problem.

Blacksburg Motor, or Doc Roberts, had been in the town plans for years. When the building became available, it was natural that we would follow our plan and begin discussions. The family that owned the property wanted to preserve some of the history of the building and this made a natural fit for the town and the owners. The owners took significantly less from the town than from a private developer so the town could restore the building and the history.

We accomplished this renovation with an eye towards the budget. I asked a developer in town to give me an idea of the cost of new construction without pricing land. He told me the cost for a turnkey office – just construction and not land, architecture fees or engineering fees – was about $200 a square foot.

Using tax credits and grants, the town was able to renovate Blacksburg Motor for about $173 a square foot. This INCLUDES architecture and engineering fees. We are very proud of that fact.

Here is more information on Blacksburg Motor Company

Market Square Park will be a tremendous asset to the town. The impetus for the new park came from the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market. But this site will be so much more than a place to purchase quality local produce and goods two days a week.

It will serve as a meeting and gathering place for events downtown. The park will bring people together in ways that have never been available before. If you attended the first use of the market on December fourth and fifth, you know the potential that exists. There was an excitement and electricity that bodes well for the future.

Significant thanks goes to the Friends of the Farmer’s Market. A special thanks to Katherine Albright for all of her hard work and energy in giving the town this wonderful space.

Go here for more information on Market Square Park

My next entry will discuss significant events that are ripe for resolution in 2010.