Martinsville City Council has approved the concept of a state-of-the-art solar energy facility on the former Lynwood Golf Club site at 720 Dupont Road.
City Manager Leon Towarnicki has been authorized to develop a draft power purchase agreement that will be brought back to council for approval.
“This could be a showcase project,” said Garret Cole, a power supply consultant for GDS Associates, Inc. “Local solar project feasibility has improved drastically due to significant price improvements and larger project size opportunities.”
Some 26 developers responded to a request to build a standalone solar facility on the old golf course. GDS has narrowed that field down to three.
“We’re hoping for something close to eight megawatts, nearly three times the size of what we’ve talked about previously,” Cole said.
Martinsville’s peak demand is 42 megawatts, and 2% of that is generated at a hydroelectric dam on the Smith River.
“Years ago council approved a small project at the wastewater plant,” Towarnicki said. “It fell through because there was no funding.”
Cole says the project would not put the city at financial risk. “The developer would take ownership of the golf course site. We would simply strike a purchase power agreement,” he said.
The facility would feature solar panels that are not fixed but would track with the sun for maximum efficiency.
The city would save the cost of transmission by using electricity that was generated locally. Cole said the transmission rate in 2007 was less than $2 per kilowatt. Today the cost is $6.69 per kilowatt and projected to increase significantly down the road.
Pine Hall Road projectThe application process for a Community Development Block Grant moved forward Tuesday night when City Council members unanimously agreed to submit the paperwork to the Virginia Housing and Community Development.
This will be the second time council has applied for funds to revitalize the Pine Hall Road area. An application submitted a year ago was declined in a competitive process with limited funds.
“We need a number of low-to-moderate-income families to make it work,” said Janet Jonas, a project contractor and grant writer for Summit Design and Engineering. “We want to make each home safe, warm and dry.”
Jonas said six to eight owner-occupied homes have been identified for rehabilitation, five to seven homes need substantial reconstruction, and five to eight investor-owned houses need work.
The project includes removing “abandoned structures in disrepair, trash, abandoned vehicles and other debris,” Jonas said. “Demolition of six to eight abandoned structures currently in disrepair” will be done leaving the properties ready to be repurposed.
The total preliminary budget for the project is $1.54 million. Martinsville will be competing with other localities for that amount from a pool of $4.65 million.
Only one person spoke at the public hearing.
“I’m in favor of the city applying for this grant,” said Alexis Lee of Sellers Street.
The application will be submitted on March 27. Jonas said the grants will be announced in late summer, and if Martinsville secures the funds, a contract would be signed in December and the project would be implemented over the next 24 months.
Uptown PartnershipCity Council approved a resolution to consider including a new uptown organization in its annual budget for start-up and operating costs.
Uptown Partnership intends to hire a director to work with residents, businesses and property owners to develop an improvement plan for the uptown area of Martinsville.
Speaking for the group, Lee Prillaman, a local realtor and businessman, said Uptown Partnership intends to join 26 other designated communities in the state by becoming a participant with Main Street America.
“This is a disciplined program and process we think is important to follow,” Prillaman said.
In its resolution, City Council identifies Uptown revitalization as a priority need “based on the physical and economic blight caused by the deteriorating and dilapidated condition of commercial structures in the Uptown district; the high vacancy rate of Uptown properties; the lack of commercial, retail, entertainment, and public amenities that support a vibrant Uptown; and the lack of suitable residential options available to support the economic development goals of the Martinsville and Henry County region.”
Also at the meeting, the council:
- Adopted a resolution approving the donation of property at 201 and 209 Aaron St. and confirming revitalization zone tax incentives to Landmark Group, a developer that intends to construct an $8.1 million apartment complex on the former American of Martinsville furniture plant site.
- Named James Barnett and Benjamin Sharp to the Board of Zoning Appeals, Richard Walker to the Social Services Board and Benjamin William and Jay Dickens to the Tree Board.
- Agreed to consider borrowing up to $2 million through the issuance of the city’s bonds to pay for the Beaver Creek Reservoir spillway repair project. The city was recently made aware of approval of a financing arrangement through the Virginia Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund.
- Authorized the return of $84,066 in overpaid taxes by a local bank. The refund became due as a result of the bank’s filing amended tax returns over a 3-year period.
- Read a proclamation recognizing the month of March as Red Cross Month. Ralph Lawson, disaster program manager for the Virginia Blue Ridge region was on hand to accept the proclamation. “Thank you so much, it is such an honor to be a volunteer for many years — and now on the paid side,” Lawson said. “We are blessed to have a local office — we’ve been on Spruce Street for over 30 years.”
- Read a proclamation acknowledging March as Women’s History Month. The proclamation recognized women who have served on City Council, including former Council Members Elizabeth Haskell, Eliza Severt, Kim Adkins and Sharon Brooks Hodge and current member Jennifer Bowles and Mayor Kathy Lawson.