In a five to one vote, the Colonial Beach Town Council turned down the Paul Stefan’s Foundation’s proposal to refurbish the Klotz building to house unwed mothers. Council member Tim Curtin was the only member who voted to allow the proposal.
“It’s in the wrong location. It’s in a historic area we’re trying to revitalize,” said Council member Jim Chiarello.
In 2012 the PSF approached the town council asking to lease the building with a guaranteed buyout should the town decide to end the lease. According to Town Attorney Andrea Erard the town cannot lease a building to the charity. At an August meeting Erard explained that the Virginia Constitution has a debt clause that limits a local government’s ability to enter contracts of this type.
In an effort to address the debt clause, foundation director, Randy James, asked for the town to deed the building to the foundation. The deed included a provision to give the property back to the town should the foundation quit using the building for its given purpose.
The foundation is named for Randy and Evelyn James’ sixth child Paul Stefan. During her pregnancy Paul was found to have a diaphragmatic hernia which pushed his abdominal organs into his chest. Because of this his lungs did not form properly and he lived for only 42 minutes. The following year, 2006, the family established the foundation and began to put together homes for unwed mothers. The first child born to a mother living in one of the three homes was born one year to the day after Paul’s death. One-hundred and fifty mothers and babies have lived in the homes since the start of the foundation.
Steve Cirbee, a contractor hired by the foundation, said approximately $100,000 worth of work is needed to repair the Klotz Building. In August council member Jim Chiarello agreed with this assessment saying the upstairs had been gutted, a heater had fallen through the floor, there was a hole in the back portion of the roof, in addition to other problems.
Before voting against the foundation’s proposal, Chiarello said he would “Find the money to fix the property.” The Colonial Beach Historical Society is working to get historical designation for the building, along with several other buildings in town.
According to the Department of Historic Resources (http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/) the registration process will take six to 18 months. At that time the town may be able to apply for federal and state historic preservation grants for the building.
When asked if there had been any other interest, Mayor Mike Ham said one company wanted to tear down the building and put in a parking lot. Ham said it will take time to find a developer because of the town’s stipulations of leaving the building intact.
Ham said there were developers interested in the town’s properties, as all buildings on that block are owned by the town, however the town has to come to a decision on whether or not to preserve the buildings, or sell them and let them be torn down.
Signs of the Times
In other council news the all volunteer Sign Committee presented a report to the council on replacing all street signs and stop signs within the town. Changes in federal regulations during George W. Bush’s administration mandate all signs meet new standards by 2018. Requirements include certain reflectivity standards, as well as new poles and upper and lower case letters instead of all upper case letters as is the standard now.
Glenda Chiarello and Pete Fahrney said signs will be replaced in five phases, over a period of several years. Main tourist driven roads in town, including Colonial Avenue, Monroe Bay Ave and Irving Ave will have poles and signs replaced by ornate metal poles and signs. The cost for each of the 55 street signs is $978. Stop signs are $500 each. Total costs for phase one of the project is $63,790. The cost do not include labor. The basic signs needed for phases two through five cost $60 per sign without labor.
Total cost to replace street signs in town to fit the new regulations are estimated to cost $87,790. According to the committee this money would come from Virginia Department of Transportation funding given to the town for road maintenance.
Recommendations for new signage also were given along with replacing many other signs within Colonial Beach.
Chamber of Commerce president Cary Geddes in conjunction with staff from All American Harley Davidson in Southern Maryland and High Tides owners Bryan and Vicky Coffman asked for council backing for a Bike and Music Fest. This event would be held the second weekend in October, 2014.
Steve “Smurf” King from All American with Tammy Saberan, who is the Marketing Director for the shop, showed the council what they could expect from the event. Events including a MotorCycle Rodeo, Bike Show, contests, fireworks, miscellaneous entertainment and raffles were suggested as part of the our day long event.
All American has hosted multiple events including a reunion stop on the way to the Rolling Thunder Rally in Washington, D.C.. They were also a pit stop for bikers involved in the 2 Million Biker Ride held on September 11th this year.
King lives in the Northern Neck and is a regular visitor to Colonial Beach. He informed council that all costs would be carried by All American and paid for by sponsors and vendors. He also informed the town that the stereotypical tattooed rough biker was not the standard biker.
According to King the average motorcycle rider is someone between 25-50 years of age, makes between $75,000 and $100,000 a year and owns a home. He also said that bikers vary in their interests, although many are interested in tattoo art and chrome.
Following their presentation all council members were polled on whether or not they would support the event. The only reservations were that it would be held the same weekend as the Second Friday Art Walk by council member Wanda Goforth. In the end all agreed they could move forward on putting the event together for next year.
Stephanie Slocum from the Virginia Tourism Corporation reiterated what Colonial Beach Tourism Council director, Trish King, had told the council last month. - the need for the town to spend money to bring in more tourists. Slocum emphasized the need to use the Internet to advertise as a majority of travel planning is now done online.
Slocum said for every dollar spent on tourism, five dollars is returned to the state by tourists. The tourism corporation also recommended that the town hire someone to focus on tourism.
The next council meeting is set for October 12 at 7 p.m. in the Town Center. All residents are invited to attend. Council asked that anyone willing to volunteer for the town to contact Town Hall. The Planning Commission is in need of three more members.