Town of Goshen Receives CDBG Funding

In July, the Town of Goshen was awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to determine the feasibility of converting a vacant school building into a mixed-use community center. If brought to fruition, the community center would provide a variety of services including a health center, food bank distribution, senior services, health classes, Wi-Fi access, and additional community meeting and outdoor recreation space. The building currently houses the regional library and child-care program, which are planned to remain through the transition. In August, Goshen will complete initial activities outlined by DHCD prior to beginning the feasibility study that is scheduled to complete in Spring of 2022.

TAP Pre-Applications Submitted

Every two years, the CSPDC partners with local governments to apply for funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), a program that funds non-motorized transportation projects such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails. This year, the CSPDC assisted with nine pre-applications that were submitted by the July 1 deadline. VDOT will review pre-application submissions through August 15, 2021. Once the review is complete, applicants will have access to the full application to complete and submit by October 1. Project awards will be announced in Spring 2022.

VATI Broadband Grants Due

Applications are currently being accepted for the Fiscal Year 2022 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant program. To help achieve Governor Northam’s goal for universal broadband coverage throughout the Commonwealth by 2024, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will award funds to eligible applicants to provide last-mile services to unserved areas in Virginia. The CSPDC is available to assist with regional applications that are due on September 14, 2021.

GO Virginia Region 8 Council Approves Ag. Tech Center

In June, GO Virginia Region 8 Council approved a proposal to fund the Agricultural Innovation Center in Buena Vista. Proposed by The Advancement Foundation, the Agricultural Innovation Center plans to transform a vacant 37,000 square-foot factory in downtown Buena Vista into a flagship, ag-tech innovation facility featuring a business accelerator and classrooms, ag and food tech labs, a small-scale manufacturing space, a processing and product development space, and a commercial kitchen. Requested GO Virginia funds would help to establish the Center’s business acceleration and commercialization program, execute the value-added product development program, and provide initial funding for the purchase of manufacturing and processing equipment. Partnering localities include the City of Buena Vista, Rockbridge County, Rockingham County, Town of Elkton, and City of Winchester.

The project is currently being reviewed by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and will be considered by the GO Virginia State Board at their September meeting for final funding approval. The CSPDC has provided grant support and administration.

CTB Member Mark Merrill Tours Crozet Tunnel

New Staunton District Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) member Mark Merrill visited the region on June 30 to tour the Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel. The CSPDC hosted Mr. Merrill with VDOT, Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro MPO Policy Board members, and CSPDC Chair Frank Friedman. City of Waynesboro Parks and Recreation Director and Tunnel Foundation Chair Dwayne Jones led the tour and shared a map of eastern Waynesboro, the Tunnel, and Rockfish Gap where so many transportation corridors converge. Past CTB Board members have been integral to the restoration and re-opening of the Crozet Tunnel. Waynesboro and Augusta County emphasized to Mr. Merrill the importance of creating more trail connections between the Tunnel and destinations in our region.

Buena Vista Receives Block Grant

The City of Buena Vista was awarded a $1 million Community Development Block Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for community improvements in downtown Buena Vista. Improvements will focus along the 21st Street corridor and will include new sidewalks and pedestrian connections, street lights and trees, wayfinding signage, and building façade improvements. Grant activities are based on recommendations identified by the City’s Downtown Revitalization Plan, recently completed in January 2021. The project is scheduled to begin in late 2021 and will be completed within two years. The CSPDC is providing grant writing services and grant administration support.

Afton Express to Launch in September

The Afton Express, a commuter bus service connecting Staunton, Fishersville, Waynesboro, Charlottesville, and Fifth Street Station in Albemarle County will begin operating September 1. Three buses, outfitted with Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, and bike racks, will be used to operate four morning and four afternoon service routes, five days a week. The first bus was painted silver and branded with the distinct Afton Express logo in June with others to soon follow. All rides will be free during the month of September. Standard fares, beginning October 1, will be $3 one way, with 10 ride farecards available for purchase for $25. A comprehensive marketing campaign for the bus service is scheduled to launch in late July. To stay up-to-date, “like” and “follow” the Afton Express on Facebook and Twitter.

New PDC Housing Development Program

A new source of funding through Virginia Housing will help the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) and its housing partners create more affordable housing units in the region. On July 13, Virginia Housing announced $40 million in grants to Virginia’s 21 Planning Districts. Based on its population, the CSPDC will receive $2 million over 3 years. The PDC Housing Development Program will promote regional approaches to planning and development, bring together local housing partners, and support housing projects that create new affordable housing units throughout the region. Through this opportunity, the CSPDC will work closely Virginia Housing and the region’s housing delivery partners including local governments, housing authorities, non-profit organizations, developers, and other groups working to address the need for affordable rental and homeownership housing units. The CSPDC plans to bring stakeholders together to launch the program this fall.