The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Culpeper council OKs theater funds
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
The Culpeper Town Council voted Tuesday night to give money—as much as $50,000—to the State Theatre Foundation, but would not give an inch regarding the Ruritan Club’s Culpeper Days plea.
And the council threw the town logo question back into the town manager’s lap, which may wind up giving Town Manager Kim Alexander a severe headache.
Despite several citizen protests, the council agreed Tuesday night to provide 25 percent in matching Mary Morton Parsons Foundation grant funds—not to exceed $50,000—for the State Theatre renovation project.
“Some years ago there was blight in that area,” said Vice Mayor Billy Yowell. “In fact, the Town Council was considering providing funds to tear the theater building down.”
Yowell added that projections indicate that the tax revenue generated by the renovated theater will more than make up for the town’s contribution, even if it reaches $50,000.
“Our job as council is to look for economic investments,” Yowell continued. “We’re being asked to give one-half of 1 percent of a $10 million investment. This is going to be a positive for the town.”
Dan Boring, who cast one of the two votes against the contribution, offered to give money from his own pocket but refused to vote to give it from taxpayers’ pockets.
“This is a one-time thing,” Councilman Frank Reaves explained to the audience.
The council was not so generous with the Ruritan Club and would not back down from last month’s offer to close off only Commerce Street, Culpeper Street and half of the 200 block of East Davis Street for Culpeper Days, traditionally held the first Saturday in May.
“That is the Saturday before Mother’s Day and everybody is out shopping,” said Bobby Ryan, who admitted that he is pro-business.
Davis Street merchants have complained for several years about their street, downtown’s most commercial district, being blocked off all day that Saturday.
The council also offered the Ruritan Club the Commerce Street parking lot, but that is contingent on the town parking authority’s approval, which appears questionable.
Regarding the town logo, which has been a point of controversy since Tourism Director Lori Sorrentino proposed a new one for commercial purposes only, the council voted to keep the old “Don’t Tread on Me” emblem “for all official purposes.”
A determination of what “all official purposes” entails was left up to the town manager.
“If there is a question, [Alexander] can bring it to council,” Councilman Jim Risner said in his motion.
Ryan said that he was very upset that 270 feet of the rock wall at the east end of Fairview Cemetery would have to be removed to build the west roundabout on the proposed inner loop highway.
“To us natives, when you start knocking down that wall you’re asking for trouble,” Ryan said. “We have to answer to the voters. If we tear down that wall, that new road may be named ‘Ex-councilman’s Highway.’ ”
Further, Ryan said, “It’s just not right!”