By Carol Vaughn —
“I am heartened to say we can now hook up new businesses to our sewage system,” Mayor Frank Russell said at the March 14 Parksley Town Council meeting.
He said, “So Parksley is open for business.”
The news comes after lengthy discussions between town and county officials and the health department.
“We have been told for years and years and years, probably 12 or 15 years, that our sewage plant was engineered improperly, one thing after another, and that is would never be suitable for (new) businesses to hook up in town again,” Russell said.
The town a year ago contracted with Environmental Systems Services, certified sewage engineers, to carry out services for the sewage system, which serves the business district.
“We have better numbers than what the health department is looking for now,” said Councilman Ricky Taylor. He said Parksley “is one of the premier systems on the Shore now.”
Russell said the town already has received two or three calls from people interested in opening a business in Parksley.
“The word has gotten out,” he said.
Still, he urged anyone interested in opening a business to discuss details with the health department — in particular those interested in opening a business that would be a heavy user of sewage facilities, such as laundrymats or bakeries, among others.
Town Addresses Derelict Properties
Town Clerk Lauren Lewis spoke about Parksley’s efforts to address blight, including updating the Town Council about owners’ responses to notices of violation of the blight ordinance sent by certified mail.
The town recently enacted a blight ordinance, which may be viewed at https://www.parksley.org/town-ordinances
The town attempted to send a notice to the owner of a house at 24133 Bennett St., Lewis said, noting, “The house is falling apart. The back door was kicked open last I heard. There’s nobody there and it’s in a business name. We tried to find them; the company doesn’t exist.”
The owners also are delinquent on real estate taxes and the matter has been turned over to delinquent real estate tax collection attorney James Elliott, Lewis said.
Another derelict building on Callen Street recently was burned in a controlled burn.
A building at 18491 Dunne Ave. that had bricks falling from it into the alleyway has undergone repairs to the masonry after owners received a notice from the town.
Another house, at Adelaide Street and Dunne Avenue, received the notice of blight ordinance violation, sent by certified mail, but did not respond, Lewis said. The matter has been turned over to the town attorney for condemnation.
The owner of 24081 Willis St. did not pick up the notice of violation. The matter has been turned over to the town attorney.
The owner of 24333 Adelaide St. picked up the notice and indicated they would start making repairs, but did not. The matter has been turned over to the town attorney.
The owner of 18299 Wilson St. has engaged a contractor to make repairs, Lewis said.
The town attempted three times, unsuccessfully, to send the owner of the former Lunchbox restaurant a notice of violation. The matter has been turned over to the town attorney.
The former shirt factory building was sent a notice in October. The owner said he would send a written explanation of what he was going to do to fix the building and when it would be done, but the town never received written information, according to Lewis.
That matter was sent to the town attorney in December.
Lewis asked the Town Council to discuss the matter of condemning the shirt factory. She also has asked town attorney Tommy Dix to give the council his thoughts on that, “because that’s a really big building and a big piece of property.”
Russell said there are additional property owners the town is trying to communicate with about blight.
“All we are asking you to do is fix your house. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. … Or at least talk to us. Just talk to us. Let us know what the situation is. If you’ve got a bad situation, we’ll work with you,” Russell said.
Town Office Renovations Nearing Completion
Renovations to the town office, which also serves as a DMV Select office, should be largely completed this week, according to Russell.
“It’s going to be a whole new work space and I think everybody’s going to be impressed,” he said.
In the next week or so, information technology infrastructure will be installed, after which town employees can start moving back into the office from the mobile trailer that served as a temporary office.
An event to celebrate the renovations and let people tour the new office will be held soon, Russell said.
He thanked Henry Nicholson, “who has worked diligently over there, taking away from his own business.”
Russell said, thanks to volunteer and town workers’ efforts, the project was completed well under budget.
“It’s looking great. I think everybody’s going to be very pleased and it’s going to move things along for the DMV and the town office. We’ll be able to get so many more people through there. Nobody will have to stand outside like they are doing now,” he said.
Museum renovations will follow.
Downtown Revitalization Update
A platform for entertainment events, part of Parksley’s downtown revitalization project, is largely completed.
The most recent price to install a band shell there was $214,000, making it too costly to include as part of the town’s current downtown revitalization grant from the state, according to Russell.
Ellen Johnson, Eastern Shore Railway Museum director, announced a cleanup of the Eastern Shore Railway Museum grounds will be held Sunday. March 27, at 1:30 p.m. Volunteers are welcome and supplies will be provided.
Among upcoming museum activities are an Easter egg hunt Saturday, April 16, at 9 a.m., for toddlers through age 10.
Scheduled for museum tours are a group of more than 20 homeschool students Wednesday, March 23, and a group of 50 senior citizens Monday, April 12.
“That museum brings a lot of people into our town and it has been a real asset,” Russell said.
The museum has been operating since 1988.
Resident Betty Farley said a house and yard near her residence is in need of repairs and cleaning up.
Brad York spoke about golf carts in town. He said he owns a golf cart and “that community seems to be growing; there are more and more golf carts in town.”
He asked if the town would petition the Virginia Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit on Route 316 in town from 35 to 25 miles per hour.
He said similar action was taken in Cape Charles recently to extend the lower speed limit past the Cape Charles Brewery.
Russell said the town will make the request to VDOT.