A downtown enhancement project took a step forward at the Halifax Town Council’s Tuesday evening business meeting when council voted unanimously to move forward with a $366,000 construction bid award for the Halifax Downtown Streetscape/Halifax County War Memorial Enhancement Project and the Smart Scale Turning Radius Improvement Project.

The project is designed to improve safety for motorists and pedestrians alike in the downtown area, while at the same time making downtown Halifax more attractive.

Virginia Department of Transportation, the project overseer, awarded the construction bid to Ramirez Contracting, LLC in Abingdon.

Councilman Jack Dunavant made the motion to approve the project bid award, and Councilman Bill Confroy seconded the motion.

Council members had their choice between a base bid option and a bid option with additives for the project.

They chose the base bid option, which includes construction of the following:

w ADA compliant sidewalks and crosswalks;

w Landscape areas and decorative streetlights around the Halifax War Memorial and Maple Avenue parking area; and

w Installation of the crosswalk at Church Street and North Main Street.

The bid option with additive improvements, totaling $636,000, also involves the installation of decorative streetlights from Houston Street along the east side of North Main Street to the crosswalk of Church Street.

Confroy, current affairs committee chair, made a recommendation for council to choose the base bid award option during the work session preceding the regular business meeting. He assessed that trying to do the second phase of the project, which costs significantly more money, would hold up progress for the “shovel ready” first phase of the project.

“I think we should adopt a resolution ASAP to get that (initial) project underway with the Virginia Department of Transportation,” Confroy said. “The second phase of the project is something that we would have the wherewithal to finance and go out after a grant, which (town manager Carl Espy) has already submitted a grant application to the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. So that would be a project that we could undertake down the road, if necessary.”

Councilman Michael Trent agreed that council should proceed with the base bid award option.

“I think it’s the only practical choice. I think it’s the right choice,” he added.

Work on the Smart Scale/ Streetscape project is expected to be completed before Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11. It is in sync with another downtown project – the courthouse renovation project and streetscape work on Edmunds Boulevard, Mountain Road and South Main Street.

After voting on the downtown improvement projects, the town council turned its attention to an outdoor recreation opportunity. Council unanimously approved a site assessment for a potential canoe/kayak launch in Meadville for the Banister River Blueway.

Espy told council the Dan River Basin Association and Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries plan to visit the property owner and do the site assessment sometime in the next week.

“The Virginia Outdoor Foundation has been communicating with the owner in the Meadville area,” Espy said. “They’re interested in a public boat launch there. It would be a hand launch.”

Town council also voted to present beautification and preservation certificates to Edward Jones Investments at 57 Mountain Road and the Dollar General Store at 1009 L.P. Bailey Memorial Highway.

“I think it’s good to applaud those who step up and try to make the town look more appealing,” Dunavant said. He proposed the idea of presenting the awards to the businesses, as a continuation of a recognition program that town council started years ago, at council’s April meeting. Espy said he appreciates that the town is keeping the recognition program current.

In other business, council reviewed the Halifax Police Department’s report for the month of April. The department made two felony arrests (breaking and entering and vehicle pursuit), seven misdemeanor arrests, issued one protective order, made one medical transport, responded to 413 calls for service, issued 22 traffic summons and 10 warnings for miscellaneous violations and responded to one traffic accident with no injuries.

Confroy commented that the department was much less active than usual last month, with the stay-at-home order in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Espy agreed saying, “This is probably the lowest ebb we’ve ever seen in terms of a (police) report.”

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.