Below is the letter I sent to the Montgomery Board of Supervisors. It was reviewed by all of Town Council at our work session Tuesday. Scroll down to see the resolution we will consider November 23rd.

November 16, 2010

Ms. Annette Perkins
Chair, Montgomery County Board of Supervisors
755 Roanoke Street, Suite 2E
Christiansburg, Virginia 24073

Dear Ms. Perkins:

The Blacksburg Town Council plans to adopt the attached resolution at our meeting on Tuesday, November 23, 2010. The Council wanted to provide it to you in advance, since our next meeting will fall one day after the Board of Supervisor’s November 22 meeting where action may be taken on the issue of future school construction in Montgomery County. This proposed resolution recognizes the critical
situation Montgomery County currently faces regarding school facilities, advocates providing for a quality education for all students in Montgomery County and offers the Town of Blacksburg’s assistance in helping the County to reach these goals.

Moving forward, there are three important issues that will require the involvement of the Blacksburg Town Council. The first is determining the future of the Old Blacksburg Middle School property (OBMS).  If the option of building a new Blacksburg High School (BHS) is selected, the Town will be involved in two additional items, the future of the BHS property on Patrick Henry Drive and the approval of a Conditional Use Permit for a new BHS on Prices Fork Road.

In all of our discussions regarding the future of OBMS, we have stated that the property is suitable for mixed use development, consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, the Downtown Master Plan, and input from community meetings held in 2008. To generate ideas on how a mixed use project could be developed on this parcel a design competition was originally proposed. In lieu of the design
competition, some type of coordinated master planning is needed to ensure that the redevelopment meets the needs of all stakeholders.

A mixed use development in this area should include both residential and non‐residential uses. There could also be office and some retail commercial uses to appeal to foot traffic in the area. A civic component to the project is also important. These components should be in a specific proffered plan for the development. Developed in this fashion, the OBMS property will enhance the County’s and
Town’s revenues both in the short and long term.

To assist in moving forward cooperatively, we are developing a set of project principles that we believe are important in the consideration of what mixed use is and how development on the Old Blacksburg Middle School property should occur. We will send you these project design principles separately once completed, which should be by December 8. We recognize the sense of urgency to resolve the future of the OBMS property and stand ready to work with the Board of Supervisors to move this project forward.

If the decision is made to build a new BHS, the future of the existing BHS property will need to be addressed. The existing BHS property on Patrick Henry Drive is located in the R‐4 Low Density Residential District. The property is surrounded by a stable single family residential neighborhood and a Town Parks and Recreation complex located across Patrick Henry Drive. Given the character of the
neighborhood, it is unlikely that a rezoning to a higher residential density or to a more intensive commercial or office use would be approved.

The options for disposing of this property include selling it for single family residential development or  to the Town of Blacksburg (at a fair price) to expand public park offerings to benefit the citizens of Montgomery County. Any other use of the property would not seem to be supported by the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, and would likely have very little citizen support. The Town recognizes that the sale
of this property is another critical issue if the County decides to build a new BHS on Prices Fork Road. The Town is ready to move quickly to resolve the future of this property if the decision is made to build a new school.

The third issue relates to the potential construction of a new BHS on Prices Fork Road. A new BHS will require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the Town of Blacksburg. Town Council will do everything within its power to expedite the schedule for a CUP for a new high school on Prices Fork Road. The Town would also like to be involved in the planning process for a potential new facility. This
involvement would help in the preparation of a successful CUP application and traffic plans for the school complex; it would also allow us to explore opportunities for shared athletic and recreational facilities on the property similar to other school properties in the Town of Blacksburg.

We understand the complexity of the decisions that the School Board and the Board of Supervisors are facing. As stated in our draft resolution, we encourage you to make the decisions that best provide for a high quality education for all children in Montgomery County. The Town also stands ready to work with the School Board and the Board of Supervisors to assist in any way possible to meet these goals.

Sincerely,

Ron Rordam
Mayor

C: Craig Meadows, County Administrator
Brenda Blackburn, Superintendent of Schools
Wendell Jones, Chair, Montgomery County School Board

Here is the Resolution Council will take up Tuesday, November 23rd.

RESOLUTION 11-E-10

A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF
SUPERVISORS AND SCHOOL BOARD’S EFFORTS TO PROVIDE HIGH QUALITY
EDUCATION FOR ALL CITIZENS OF MONTOGOMERY COUNTY

WHEREAS, the Montgomery County School Board (“School Board”) and the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors (“Board of Supervisors”) are tasked with the responsibility of planning and developing educational programs and facilities for all the citizens
of Montgomery County;

WHEREAS, the two Boards have been forced by an unexpected crisis to address the issue of the safety and continued viability of the Blacksburg High School facility on Patrick Henry Drive;

WHEREAS, while the Boards face difficult choices and must be mindful of costs, the importance of maintaining Montgomery County’s reputation for excellence in public education cannot be overemphasized;

WHEREAS, safe, modern educational facilities represent an investment in our children and our community; and

WHEREAS, good schools produce tangible economic benefits in the form of a skilled workforce, and also aid in the recruitment of talented scholars and business professionals to the area;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Town of Blacksburg that both the School Board and the Board of Supervisors are respectfully requested to consider all of the benefits associated with providing quality education for all children in Montgomery
County.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council stands ready to work with the School Board and the Board of Supervisors, and to assist them in any way possible, in their efforts to
meet these goals.

___________________________________

Mayor

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