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Seeking grant for access road

The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a draft resolution and authorize a grant application to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to facilitate the development of an internal access road through the Prince Edward County Business Park off Commerce Road/Route 628.

Kate Pickett Eggleston

Prince Edward Director of Economic Development Kate Pickett Eggleston gave a brief presentation to the board before the vote.

“As you’re all aware, the county has received three Tobacco Commission grants for a total of $571,960 to construct an internal access road for the county-owned business park off Commerce Road, which is Route 628,” she said. “The road will be 1,500 feet long and will provide access to the landlocked area which is about 60-plus acres on the back side of the business park.

“The county would like to apply for $500,000 of unmatched grant funds with the possibility of $150,000 of matching grant funds from VDOT as part of the Economic Development Access Road Program,” she continued. “In order to receive the grant funds, the county must provide a letter of credit in the full amount of $500,000, plus the $150,000, payable to VDOT, which will only be utilized if the lots are not filled with the qualifying capital investment within five years of our request for funds.”

She then highlighted a measure that could widen that window of time for the county.

“There is a possibility of a four-year extension after that five-year period is over in which the county would reimburse VDOT every year (of the extension) of an amount of 20 percent per year, and if we do secure that capital investment within that time, then we get all of that money back to us — it’s reimbursed back to the county,” she said.

She concluded by summarizing that with $500,000, plus $150,000 in additional possible grant funding, creating a total of $650,000, the county would need to secure a business, or multiple businesses, with a total capital investment of about $3.25 million.

“It is the staff recommendation at this time that the board approve the draft resolution and authorize the grant application to VDOT,” she said.

As the board began to vote, some confusion came to the surface and was cleared up fairly quickly, but the discussion ended up bringing out more details and added further clarity to the matter at hand.

Farmville 701 District Supervisor and Board Chairman Jim Wilck called for all those in favor of approval and authorization to vote, and Buffalo District Supervisor Llewellen “Llew” Gilliam Jr. did not raise his hand.

“I don’t understand enough about what they’re doing here to vote either way, tell you the truth,” he said to Wilck.

Wilck offered to put him down as an abstention.

Gilliam asked Eggleston, “With this money being appropriated by the county, it seems to me to be stipulated by if the lots are sold and buildings built?”

“Yes, sir, that’s correct,” Eggleston said.

“This is a short time period to move such buildings in, to me,” he said.

“The five years?” Eggleston asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Yes, and there is the opportunity of that four-year extension, though,” Eggleston said. “So you would have about nine years if you got the four-year extension.”

Gilliam said, “But that would have to be done before we are reimbursed, am I right?”

“Yes, sir,” Eggleston said.

Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett intervened and said, “No, before we have to reimburse (VDOT).”

“Yes, and before they would reimburse us,” Eggleston said, noting both Gilliam and Bartlett were technically right. “So if we got the four-year extension and during that time, maybe it’s year three of the extension, we get the capital investment, we get the companies in there, then they would reimburse us the 20 percent per year in that four-year extension …”

Bartlett, spotting where the confusion started for Gilliam, said to him, “I think you were talking about something different. You were talking about getting the money to help pay for the property.”

“Right,” Gilliam said.

If the county receives the grant, “once we show (VDOT) the invoices, they will then reimburse us for the expenses of the road and the sewer line,” Bartlett said, and Eggleston added, “Yes,” in affirmation.

Gilliam said, “That’s what I didn’t understand.”

“And it includes construction and engineering and design,” Eggleston added. “And so the next step of this process would be, if you all approve the resolution, this would go towards the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Their next meeting is Oct. 17. They will discuss it and vote on it and appropriate the funds, and then we meet with VDOT and we go out for bid for construction and for engineering and design of the road.”

Bartlett further explained to Gilliam that “you will have another chance to vote on the grant because we’re just applying now. So if we are awarded the grant, it comes back, and the board would have to vote to accept the grant, so you would have another opportunity. We’ve already talked with our bank. They’re willing to provide a letter of credit, but the original one was they wanted us to do it by a bond, and so we talked to VDOT and said, ‘Well, we can provide you a letter of credit because $650,000 — we always have that amount in the bank,’ and they were willing to do that. And I’m not sure if Benchmark is going to charge us for that or not.”

Eggleston affirmed this, saying, “I’m not sure if they’re going to or not yet. We haven’t sat down with the bond, because we haven’t technically gotten the grant yet. The resolution that you would be passing is really just our application for the grant.”

“Add me to the list then,” Gilliam said, making the board vote unanimous.