Henry County received a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant to partially fund the first phase of plans to revitalize Bassett, Fieldale and two other nearby areas in Henry County.
The towns of Bassett, Stanleytown, Fieldale and Koehler have faced a lot of challenges, Jones said, referring to the loss of furniture and textile jobs in the areas.
“The announcement today shows pride is still here” in these areas where people want to raise their families, work, go to school and maintain progress, he added.
The Smith River Small Towns Collaborative project, which has been more than two years in the making, targets improvements to Bassett, Stanleytown, Fieldale and Koehler. Jones said the project is the first of its kind in Virginia because it targets a “corridor of special places.”
“The idea is that, by tying to the river’s potential and making some basic physical improvements, the communities can create a climate that better supports existing businesses and entrepreneurs as well as attracts and retains residents,” according to Douglas Jackson of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). That department provided a planning grant for an early phase of the collaborative’s work, he said.
“The block grant application process is extremely competitive, and this project stood out as one that had strong support from the community and stakeholders to move forward and to make a difference for this county,” Jackson added.
The first phase of the project is expected to cost $3.2 million. It includes work on the Bassett town square’s north and south sides, façade improvements for businesses on Reed Stone Street nearest the town square, streetscape work at the entrance corridor to Reed Stone Street, Fairystone Park Highway and the train depot, all in Bassett.
In Fieldale, work will be done to the town square, community center (exterior) and vendors market. Façade work in the central business district and streetscape work in the central business district and entrance also will be done.
Referring to buildings such as the Bassett train depot, Jones said, “These kinds of buildings have incredible potential all across Virginia. You have shown vision” in plans to bring the building back to life.
Future phases will include more streetscape and façade improvements, trail links and the creation of venues to attract tourists in Bassett and Fieldale and signs in Stanleytown and Koehler.
Find out more by visiting www.smithriversmalltowns.org.