By C.V. Moore
The Town of Fayetteville is searching for a civic group to take over organization of the community’s Heritage Festival, held each year in July.
“If someone doesn’t take it over, the town won’t have it next year,” says Town Recorder Zenda Vance.
The American Legion used to hold the festival, which began in 1951, but gave it up in 1989. At that time, a group of citizens took over and ran it for several years. It eventually came under the town’s jurisdiction, but they are now looking to get out of the festival business.
“We really have too many critical issues to address as a town that it really needs to go to an organization that can dedicate the time,” says council member Sharon Cruikshank.
Though the event does bring in revenue and helps support local businesses, it does not turn a profit.
Any group that takes over can ask the town for financial support, and there may be leftover funds in the Fairs and Festivals Board account for that purpose. The board was recently dissolved.
Also during Thursday’s meeting he council discussed at length the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation to rezone the 190-acre Gaines Estate from residential to planned development.
Cascade Properties is seeking to develop a resort on the property, with a conference center and “high-end” vacation rentals.
Council decided to accept the board’s recommendation for the four parcels of land in the estate, on the condition that one of the parcels be resubmitted to the Planning and Zoning Board with a timeline for its use.
The parcel in question contains a caretaker’s house for the Gaines Mansion that Cascade Properties initially proposed using as an office with light retail.
Some neighbors believe that a commercial enterprise at the location could damage property values.
At a recent board meeting, Bill Wells of Cascade agreed to locate the office there only temporarily, eventually moving it to the renovated mansion. He will clarify and resubmit his plans for the parcel at a future Planning and Zoning Board meeting.
The council decided not to hire a new police officer at this time, by a vote of 4 to 2.
“Rather than a new hire, I would like to see the officers get a raise,” said Cruikshank.
A special meeting was arranged for Nov. 30 at 3 p.m. to discuss the town’s police chief position, a potential new hire, and an increase in salary for officers.
The town’s police chief, Sam Parsons, was recently elected Fayette County Magistrate and will vacate his position on Dec. 27.
The town currently has nine full time and one part-time officers.
An old stone wall on Keller Avenue that is beginning to crumble is the responsibility of the property owner and not the town, reported Zane Summerfield of Pentree Engineering, whose firm conducted a survey of the property.
Council is concerned that the wall could injure someone and had initially believed they were responsible for fixing it to avoid liability.
The estimated cost for repairing the wall is $197,000.
“It’s not our wall and it’s not our liability,” says the town’s attorney, Larry Harrah. “It’s a problem and we recognize that, and I’m sure we’d like to help out where we could. But we have certified experts that say it is the property owner’s wall and therefore it’s their responsibility.”
According to the mayor, several similar stone walls in town are buckling at an 11-17 percent grade.
“This is going to be a liability down the road,” Mayor Jim Akers said.
Council also took up the following business on Thursday:
- Nancy McKown of the Huse Park Commission thanked a donor to the Lafayette Huse Veteran’s Memorial fund.
"I would like to say that we do appreciate Fayette County National Bank for their $5,000 donation to the veteran’s memorial,” she says. “That means a lot to us and it was a good kickoff.”
She also reports that the Fayetteville Women’s Club has agreed to sponsor a Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative project with the Boy Scouts of America to repaint a fence at the Vandalia Cemetery in Fayetteville.
- The council voted to support the town’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau through leaner winter months by paying its utility bills.
- Several budget revisions were approved by council, including a reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of approximately $100,000 for expenses incurred during recovery from June’s derecho storm. This includes reimbursements to the police, fire, and streets departments, as well as a $55,000 check for damage to the town’s old stone school building.
- The town’s accountant reports that revenues and expenses are coming in on track and that they are in a “good financial condition.”
- The council approved an ordinance to adopt current replacement pages to the codified ordinances.
- Zoning changes for two properties belonging to Mark Hurley were approved on Thursday. The properties — one near Lowe’s and one adjoining U.S. Route 19 —will switch from residential to business.
- The town will apply for two West Virginia Governor’s Community Participation Program grants. They will request $6,000 for the Huse Park Veteran’s Memorial and $3,000 for the Fayetteville Arts Coalition for murals and sculptures.
- Shea Wells of the Fayetteville Arts Coalition is requesting access to the cinder block wall across from Diogi’s restaurant for a mural. The wall is private property and she will pursue it with the owner.
- A Fayetteville Comprehensive Plan public meeting has been rescheduled from Dec. 3 to Dec. 10 at 6 p.m.
- Mayor Akers invites the community to a Veteran’s Day Appreciation ceremony at the Memorial Building on Sunday at 3 p.m. to honor active duty military and veterans of past wars.
- An agenda item to discuss a developer’s plans for the Dickerson Property in downtown Fayetteville was postponed until next month’s meeting, which is set for Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.
Mayor Akers also presided over a moment of silence for the late Robert Pasley.
Pasley, 73, was a member of the Planning and Zoning Board and passed away on October 16.
“Everyone who knew Robert knew he was a dedicated Fayetteville citizen,” says Akers. “He did a lot of good things for our community. He had the town at heart. He was a fine individual and a lifelong resident of Fayetteville.”