By Heather Bell
RADFORD – Citizen comments highlighted Monday’s Radford City Council meeting, with potholes, electric sales, law enforcement officers, and more on the minds of the constituents.
Gary Harris and Claudia VanArsdale each raised concerns about paving, with Harris saying several Radford roadways need work on potholes and paving, and VanArsdale raising concerns about recent improvements at Bisset Park being made while the pathway at the park remains in bad shape in some places. She also raised concerns about trees being cut down at the park, reducing shade, and erosion mitigation needed at the park, as well as the condition of Radford’s roads in general.
“I’m depressed about what happened at Bisset,” she said. “I’d rather see us fix the roads than spend all that money [on the skate park, pickle ball courts and other added amenities].”
Radford Mayor David Horton and Radford City Manager David Ridpath said paving work will resume in the spring. The high cost of asphalt and supply chain issues limited the city’s paving program last year, said Ridpath. Ridpath also said several trees in Bisset had to be cut down due to interference with power lines, and the removal of dead trees. Horton said new plantings will occur in the park this spring.
Bill Ratcliffe spoke about the importance of Radford’s law enforcement officers. Monday, Jan. 9 was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
“They are called to serve and protect, and I think they do both very well,” said Ratcliffe. “We owe them our thanks.”
Bill Fleisher raised a concern about Radford University’s plan to build a combined heat and power facility (CHP) on campus, which would reduce the amount of electric power the university purchases from the city. The City of Radford sells retail electric to residents and businesses in the city and Radford University is the city’s single largest customer. Funding toward the CHP facility was included in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 2022-24 biennium budget.
“$11.2 million of the proposed funding would allow Radford University to proceed with innovative sustainability projects, moving the university toward its commitment of net carbon neutrality by 2040,” the university said of the state funding in Dec. 2021. “This includes plans to install a combined heat and power facility (CHP) to self-generate electricity and steam heat. The move comes as the university seeks to reduce green- house gas (GHG) emissions through increase energy efficiency. The CHP facility will reduce risks of rising energy costs, electric grid disruption and enhances energy reliability while providing the university with redundancy of critical systems.”
Radford uses revenue from electric sales each year to help fund the city’s budget. Council members each expressed concerns at Monday’s meeting about the possible loss of revenue, and Horton said the city will be looking into the issue more in the coming months.
Council members expressed their appreciation of citizens coming to the council meetings and expressing their thoughts, and encouraged citizens to let them know if they see issues that raise concerns.
“When you’re out and about, if you see a big pothole, or a big branch leaning over, or a sign that needs to be replaced, please let us know,” said Council Member Jessie Foster. “Keep those suggestions coming.”
Council also passed several appropriation ordinances at Monday’s meeting. They include:
Ordinance 1763.15: $30,000-Mass Casualty Incident and Training Equipment
Ordinance 1763.16: $3,000-Radford Public Library Grant for Children’s Books
Ordinance 1763.17: $3,000-Radford Public Library Patron Donation
Ordinance 1763.18: $19,697-E-Ticketing Supplies
Ordinance 1763.19: $10,000-VSP HEAT Reimbursement
Ordinance 1763.20: $8,851-Litter Grant
City Council’s next meeting is set for Monday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at 10 Robertson St., Radford.