BLACKSBURG – Many citizens addressed the Blacksburg Town Council during their August 8 regular meeting with concerns for the restoration and continued support of Odd Fellows Hall in Blacksburg.
Jody Daniels, a long-time supporter and volunteer of Blacksburg culture and history and serving as a Chair of the Preservation Committee and a Montgomery County Community Review Council (MCCRC) member addressed the Blacksburg Town Council on the Odd Fellows Hall historical structure in disrepair. Daniels has previously addressed the Council on the need to repair and preserve the structure, both in a meeting on June 27 and in 2022.
“The five-year operation agreement between the Town and the museum is on the agenda for August 15 Town Council work session,” Daniels said. “As this body sets upon this task, please take the time to read the 2005 deed; the Town Clerk should be able to provide you with a copy. This agreement could be a positive way for the Town to continue to honor an important aspect of the 2021 Comprehensive Plan.”
Gabriele Parker of Blacksburg also showed her support for African American culture sustainability as well as for the Odd Fellows restoration. Parker urged Council to let the history of the historical importance of African American culture in Blacksburg speak for itself without interpretation.
“Maybe if we let history speak for itself, we will question why we immortalize these slave-owners, these native killers,” Parker said. “It may…even reveal some conflicts of interest in the present. Like how the same bank started by Alexander Black shared the same president and director as the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation up until 2017,” Parker said.
Brandy Faulkner of Blacksburg represented the New River Valley chapter of Virginia Organizing, a non-profit organization.
According to the organization’s website at www.virginia-organizing.org, their mission is to “challenge injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives.”
Faulkner stressed the need for Council to consider how not supporting the restoration and maintenance of a historical location would negatively impact the communities of Blacksburg. Additionally, she expressed concern for the previously mentioned harassment of board members based on gender and race.
Among other obligations the Council has to the historic location and its associated supporters, Faulkner said, “to take seriously the allegations of harassment and inequity and mistreatment from employees, current or past of an organization that you help to fund.”
|In other business, Blacksburg Town Council has scheduled a public hearing for September 12, 2023, concerning Ordinance 2023. This ordinance, if approved, would authorize the lease space on the North Main Street water tank to New River Valley Unwired Ventures, LLC.|
A public hearing for Conditional Use Permit Request (CUP 23—0003) for Hotel Use and additional height in the Downtown Commercial Zoning District at 501 South Main Street has been postponed.
The Blacksburg Town Council voted unanimously in approval of Ordinance 2025, vacating a waterline easement on land located at 615 Southgate Drive, situated on Virgina Tech property.
Town Attorney Larry Spencer introduced Ordinance 2025 during the public hearing segment of the council meeting on Ordinance 2025.
“They’re constructing a new hangar and they need to vacate part of this easement to facilitate construction of the new hangar. They can’t build the hangar on top of an easement,” Spencer said.
Citizens did not come forward to address the ordinance.
Spencer also introduced Ordinance 2016, which proposes to amend Westview Cemetery Rules and Regulations to establish green burials along with a fee structure.
Linda Plaut of Blacksburg responded in support of the ordinance that would permit green burials in Blacksburg. Plaut serves as the Secretary of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Virginia Blue Ridge and shared a personal story with the Council about a recent green burial of a friend.
“It was an honor to be part of the internment ceremony. Just standing around with a small group of friends, talking about our loved one and tossing flowers on the grave before he was lowered in a very simple shroud” Plaut said. “It was a beautiful ceremony, but we had to drive an hour to get to the nearest place that we could do this and there was expense involved.”
Blacksburg Town Council voted 6-0 in approval of Ordinance 2016, with Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith absent from the meeting.
Ordinance 2029: An Ordinance to Amend Town Code Sections 7-100, 7-103, 7-104, 7-105, 7-108 and 7-109 Pertaining to the Town Cemetery, were approved 6-0 by Town Council.
“The Town Code has a chapter that addresses Westview Cemetery and is part of updating the Rules and Regulations which are separate” Spencer said.
The Town Attorney went on to say that although he has made some changes in adherence to the rules and regulations for green burial, this chapter has not been looked at for some time, meaning there are outdated provisions that should be corrected. However, Spencer said these are minor changes that need to happen.