The Purcellville Town Council held its annual strategic planning session September 9-10 at the Purcellville Train Station. The sessions, taking place on Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., were moderated on Saturday by Mike Chandler.
Sessions with department heads started with Administration/IT, Town Attorney, Finance, Community Development, Public Works, and the Police Department. The council also met with the chairs of the Planning Commission, the Board of Architectural Review, the Purcellville Economic Development Advisory Committee, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and the Arts Council.
The strategic meeting set the tone for greater transparency and citizen engagement in local government. Other highlights included:
Broadband: Broadband strategy was discussed, with Vice Mayor Karen Jimmerson in favor of finding ways to advance high speed internet for the Town of Purcellville. Jimmerson said she also wants to explore how the town could better serve small businesses and facilitate the process of opening small businesses. She said she favors developing a process to engage residents when they move into town.
Schools: Strengthening schools with a homework club, and collecting school supplies for kids at drop off places, such as Shamrock Music Shoppe, the Re-Love It consignment shop, and the town hall were also a topics of interest, discussed by Jimmerson.
Personal Property Taxes: Council Member Ryan Cool said he wants to look at ways to minimize personal property taxes, a burden for town residents. He also said he wants the town to do a better job of providing information to citizens.
Zoning: Council Member Kelli Grim said she will be re-evaluating recent zoning-use changes to determine if they are in alignment with the Comprehensive Plan.
Commercial Property Vacancies: Council Member Chris Bledsoe, along with the Economic Advisory Committee, will be studying ways to fill the vacancies for commercial properties, while talking to business owners. EDAC will work with the Woodgrove High School and Loudoun Valley High School marketing departments to find creative ways to address the commercial vacancies in the Town of Purcellville.
Citizen Engagement: Council Member Nedim Ogelman said he wants to create a mechanism for more citizen engagement and transparency, and also – along with other council members – said he wants to implement OpenGov. Council Member Doug McCollum suggested that the Town Council have regular meetings with citizens.
Lower Water/Sewer Rates: Mayor Kwasi Fraser said he will continue to try to find ways to lower the town’s water and sewer rates, including but not limited to, increased bulk water sales, water reclamation, and using a portion of the meals tax to cover the inherited waste water treatment debt. “This council is eager to move forward with the many potential solutions to the issues we face,” he said, adding that he is looking at ways to maximize the value of town assets such as the 198-acre Aberdeen property – 180 acres of which is unused.
Community Services: Council Member Kelli Grim said she wants to collaborate with nearby towns, and share information and resources. She is working with Loudoun Cares to establish Purcellville Cares. This would give essential services to families in need. “Partnering with Loudoun Cares and our charitable organizations to identify needs of our local residents, and provide assistance to families and senior citizens is essential to our community,” said Grim. Grim said she wants to live-stream town meetings, and make them available to the public on the town’s website. Financial policies of the town have to be reviewed, she stressed.
Transportation: Many council members stressed the importance of making the Rt. 7/Rt. 690 interchange a top priority, as well as bike trails and improved pedestrian mobility throughout the town.