Danville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to appropriate a grant of $204,828 from Virginia Department of Transportation to extend the Riverwalk Trail from the north end of Robertson Bridge to Advance Street.
The trail would be constructed behind Danville Stadium Cinemas and go eastward along the north bank of the Dan River and the shoulder of Trade Street. The City has set aside $200,000 in local funds to match the state allocation.
In October, the city entered into a grant agreement with VDOT for this extension. Tuesday night’s vote formally assigns the money to the project and amends the budget accordingly.
Last month, Council accepted 3.5 acres of land donated by The Daniel Group for the extension. With the land donation and the state grant formally in place, the City will move forward with soliciting bids for the project. Construction could begin in the summer.
The vote was taken during Council’s business session.
Last night’s business session also produced first readings on:
• appropriating a $25,000 grant from the Danville Regional Foundation to hire an author and illustrator to write a children’s book about the Dan River. Called the “Dannie Project,” the 36-page book -- complete with illustrations – would expose third and fourth graders in Danville Public School System to the history, ecology and geography of the river through the odyssey of Dannie, a river otter. The project would be designed as a teaching tool with specific relation to Standards of Learning in science, math, history and English. A teacher’s guide would be provided along with the picture book for classroom implementation.
• accepting and appropriating a $100,000 grant from the Danville Regional Foundation for the city’s China strategy project, which is an economic development initiative to recruit Chinese companies to this region.
• transferring $1.5 million from the fund balance to make payments to the Tobacco Commission for non-performing grants to GOK, U.S. Green Energy, Web Parts and Macerata Wheels. Council previously had agreed to make payment in installments to the Tobacco Commission for GOK, U.S. Green Energy and Web Parts. The transfer of money is needed to make the installment payments due. For Macerata Wheels, Council must vote whether to authorize and transfer money to repay in full the $600,000 grant to the company.
A first reading or introduction is required by the City Charter prior to appropriating large sums of money. Council will vote at its March 17 business session, at the earliest, on whether to appropriate the money.
Council members also expressed frustration last night over the pace of negotiations with Duke Energy for compensation from the coal ash spill that occurred in early February of 2014. “It’s been 13 months (since the spill) and we are still waiting,” Mayor Sherman Saunders said.
They shared their frustration with Duke Energy District Manager Davis Montgomery, who appeared before City Council to provide an update on recent developments. Those developments include a proposed $102 million settlement of federal coal ash charges.
The charges, all misdemeanors alleging violations of the Clean Water Act, were filed in U.S. district courts in North Carolina. A federal judge would have to approve the settlement. Montgomery said he could not provide a timetable for a decision to be rendered.
Following the business session, council reconvened in a work session to review non-routine matters that will be voted upon in future business meetings. Last night, Council discussed the moral obligation for a refinanced loan for Telvista. Council also received a working draft of the proposed city budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
River City TV broadcasts all business sessions. Watch them live on Comcast cable channel 10 or streaming at www.rivercitytv.org. Video archives of council business sessions also are available at www.rivercitytv.org. Work sessions are not televised or recorded on video.