The Purcellville Town Council addressed several important topics in its December proceedings.
Mary’s House of Hope
The Council unanimously approved the sale of the Mary’s House of Hope property.
Mary’s House of Hope is operated by the Good Shepherd Alliance, which has for nine years provided temporary housing for women and children. The Town is selling the property for $300,000. The Good Shepherd Alliance, over the years, has paid for substantial renovations to this formerly abandoned property.
Said Council Member Kelli Grim, “This property was planned to be torn down. Previous Council Member Nick Pelchar and others helped to move it forward to be used for a good cause. This has been functioning in the same use for more than eight years. I do think we are moving in a positive direction.”
Mayor Kwasi Fraser said, “I see this as a dormant asset that we are now waking up … now we will be receiving revenue from it. But, more importantly we will be receiving a cash flow for the benefit of our citizens. So, I see this as a good thing.”
At long last … the Town will be renting out its former maintenance facility, which has been unused for over 5 years, to the Makersmiths.
The property is located at 785 and 787 South 20th Street. Makersmiths is a popular and dynamic non-profit organization that encourages innovation and invention. The lease, which will hopefully be signed sometime in January, is proposed for 4 years with an option to purchase at a later date. Makersmiths will also make significant improvements to the property annually.
Purcellville Town Wells
Mayor Fraser began this discussion with comments to correct two identical articles that appeared in two local newspapers about Purcellville’s wells. “As I drink a bottle of Deer Park Water, I look at the cover of it and there is a deer on a mountain. That deer is beautiful, he is in a green pasture and it’s a great marketing tool.” But, continued Fraser, “ … that deer could be a source of E.coli. I say this because there were two articles … [stating] that our Hirst well is [raw source water] contaminated with E.coli. That is true, but the context in which the articles were presented was as if Purcellville has one single point of failure. The well that is contaminated with E.coli is the first source before it gets downstream into the drinking water. So, I believe that there should have been due diligence in presenting those articles to say that we have multiple controls in place to prevent your drinking water from getting E.coli.”
Fraser continued, “The test was done when there was a major rainfall and that is one reason why the test can show positive for E.coli. So, I would like to work with staff to present the true picture so our citizens will know that raw water can be tested for E.coli – but we have a pre-chlorination process that should kill E.coli. If that does not work then we do have a filter, and post application of chlorine which will eradicate any E.coli.”
Expanded Recreational Options
The Town’s Parks and Recreation Committee has been working on expanding recreational options for Town residents in a cost-effective manner – looking at grants and outside funding sources.
They have been exploring a pump track, which is a bicycle style park with looping trails of rollers and berms.
The track would take about one and a half to two months to build and would be built on unused Town property on South 20th Street. Council Member Karen Jimmerson said that she would like to honor Robert Harrington by possibly naming the park after him. Harrington tried several years ago to get biking out in the Purcellville area – and December marks one year of his passing. Council Member Nedim Ogelman said that kids need something to do, and this kind of project would reflect the desire of the community.
Request for A Paralegal
The Town Council voted against funding a new position for a paralegal.
Said Council Member Ogelman, “Just looking at and comparing 15 different towns and cities that have more than 8,000 citizens – and what I see out of that analytically is only five of them – one third of them have a paralegal and all of those that said they have a paralegal were towns or cities with at least 15,000 people. Some of them much bigger – like Leesburg with a population of 47,773 or Charlottesville. None of the towns [of] our size – 8,000 to even 15,000 – had a paralegal. But, it begs the question, then, to find out how we produce a bigger demand than these places. We need to work within our means.” He continued, “The towns that have paralegals are big towns or cities where they run school systems and fire departments.”
Town Manager Rob Lohr said, “We are an 8,000-community operating as if we are 25,000. He pointed out that Purcellville is more like Leesburg and Herndon. “When you look at the services and programs, and the committees, commissions and boards, and the budget and the facilities that we operate, we are definitely a lot more like … Leesburg and Herndon …”
Ogelman then said, “Good governance is having an administration and governance that is commiserate to the value, size and scope of the community that it is serving, not bigger, not smaller. He pointed out that Leesburg has a population of 47,773 people. Ogelman mentioned that Leesburg with a budget of $94 million spends six percent of its budget on legal, and Purcellville with a budget of $21 million spends 10 percent on legal.
Council Member Ryan Cool pointed out that the Town incurred a lot of legal expenses during Purcellville’s growth period. “What is causing the need to have so much legal demand now,” he asked. Lohr responded that the town generates a lot of work. “We always want to go much larger, there is an expectation.”
“This is a band new council,” pointed out Council Member Grim. “[We] did not approve this enhancement. “We are not in a growth spirt.” Grim said that the Town is currently paying the same dollar amount to outside law firms as the Town is paying for its in-house attorney – approximately $250,000 for both. Looking at a list of 55 items from the town attorney, Grim said, “What I see is no priority – [ for example] drafting a false alarm ordinance for the police – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel because there are 50 other towns that have that type of ordinance already in place.” She continued, “We do need to look at the priorities on this list because it might not fit with the priorities of this council.”
“This is an opportunity to run a leaner ship,” said Mayor Fraser.