A little over 65 percent of the Placid Bay community is not represented by a leader in their housing division to speak on behalf of its neighbors. But this has not stopped a third of the community’s leaders and some residents piecing back together their hometown in Westmoreland following a great storm over a year ago.
John Johnson, a resident in the Placid Bay community, was deeply saddened when a storm in September 2011 caused destruction to the area he has called home. Dams were destroyed, roads were heavily impacted and residents were locked in their homes after a flooding restrained 50 families for five days.
“People started getting stir crazy,” said Johnson, one of those locked in.
But Johnson’s major concern was the property value lost for his neighbors prompting him to take action and become the president of Placid Bay Civic Association.
“I stood on trying to get our land property value back,” Johnson said estimating 25 percent of land value was lost.
An effort to improve the roads will soon be underway after the association agreed to tax homeowners $40 per lot in accordance with the Commonwealth establishing the community as Placid Bay Sanitary district in 1992. Johnson said the purpose of this was for constructing and maintaining streets, but nothing had been carried out until the storm in 2011.
In discussions with Johnson and some members, they described the roads as poor and some to be dangerous with potholes and large ditches. But the immediate project will be to replace two dams impacted in 2011 costing $1.2 million. The engineered dams estimated to be completed within 150 days will replace the current embankment dams, Johnson said, adding that he is appreciative of the county government and its leaders for working with the association.
“Our view of the disaster to the community is a benefit,” Johnson said, adding that the future projects will improve and help the community move forward.
A 25-year loan was accepted to cover the costs of the $1.2 million project and will be covered through a six-percent tax increase for those homeowners.
Johnson said there were some residents who were opposed to the increase because they do not live or use the dams.
“Everyone seems to feel we’re moving forward as a community,” Johnson said, adding that this is all about civic duty. “You have to pay because your land property went down.
As for residents’ concerns of communication issues between he and the residents on the dams and roads, Johnson said residents were notified when they received their water bills and informed them to attend a community meeting with engineers on January 31.
“I tried to get everybody to come to that meeting and everyone got an invitation through their water bills,” Johnson said. But moving forward, Johnson said he hopes that residents will join the association, bring more programs to the community using its facilities and take part in future negotiations with the roadway improvements. Out of a total of 18 divisions in Placid Bay, homeowners represent only six divisions of Placid Bay on the civic association’s board.
The association president said he is expecting to meet soon with representatives of the Virginia Rural Development and Westmoreland County to review finals plans before work begins.
“The plans are going to make the dam a rock solid part of the community,” Johnson said.
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