Town Projects and Other Information

LOVEwork 2017 –

The Town of Damascus has applied for funds from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) to complete a LOVEwork in Town in accordance with the design regulations of the VTC program. Once final approval has been secured for funds, the Town will construct the LOVEwork.

Currently, the Town is seeking design ideas for the LOVEwork. All who are interested in submitting design ideas, the Town will be accepting submissions until February 28th, 2017. CLICK HERE for the flyer. Please submit all designs in compliance with VTC program requirements (available at vatc.org) and with reasonable budget in mind. The current projected location with be in the Town Park.

The Town’s goal is to have the LOVEwork constructed prior to Trail Days 2017.

Brownfields Assessment Grant 2016-

The Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC) of Virginia Tech received a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Assessment grant to assess and help communities develop conceptual redevelopment plans for potentially contaminated sites in SWVA communities. The EPA Assessment Grant provides funding for CDAC to help communities determine if a site is contaminated (and if so, with what), and then to plan for the possible redevelopment of that site through conceptual design development.

The CDAC is working with Cardno, an infrastructure and environmental services company, on the assessment and redevelopment plans for the old service station located at 132 E Laurel Ave, Damascus, Virginia. The general process involves testing f the site for contaminants and developing a concept for redeveloping the site (conceptual design will be accomplished with the aid of citizen input during community meetings, as well as with the Town’s adopted Master Plan). The grant does not require cleanup or further investment from the community, but is rather to create a vision.

Damascus Waterfront Development Initiative 2016-

The Damascus Waterfront Development Initiative is a construction project that the Town applied to the Appalachian Regional Commission for funds to implement.  On April 18, 2016, the governor announced funding for the project. The Town applied to ARC for nearly $499,908, utilizing over $1 million in match from the Downtown Revitalization project and from private investment by a local business and stakeholder in the project. Through this project the Town will expand the Downtown Connector corridor into what is being called the ‘Riverwalk’, redesign and develop a local access roadway to key property the Town will acquire through agreement with a local stakeholder as part of  this project, create a “green-space” and construct an amphitheater to host events, build infrastructure key to the development of the Outdoor Recreation & Nature Center concept, and increase capacity to support growth and prosperity of the downtown business district. Through this project, land will be secured for public use, and necessary public facilities and amenities will be improved and constructed to support the needs of businesses and citizens.

CLICK HERE to view the Finding of No Significant Impact statement (posted January 05, 2017).

PRESS RELEASE from the Governor’s Office: Governor McAuliffe Announces More Than $3.3 Million in Appalachian Regional Commission Grants

Damascus Downtown Revitalization 2015-

The Damascus Downtown Revitalization is a Department of Housing and Community Development funded project including over $654,000 of grant funding, nearly $180,000 of private match, and over $89,000 of local match – about $34,000 of which the Community Pathways Project, managed by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, is directly responsible for raising; in total, this project is worth over $950,000 of investment in the Damascus downtown. Through this project, the Town will acquire 1 property in the heart of downtown for current use and future economic development, create a Downtown Connector which includes 1000 LF of existing corridor improvements and 500 LF of new ADA corridor construction linking the Creeper Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Laurel Creek waterfront assets together, utilize the Economic Restructuring Plan of the Town to implement a way-finding system, including new signage, and initiate usage of the Town’s new branding system, as well as, improve business facades through a 50:50 match program implemented by the Town. Outcomes of this project will provide a means for the Town to recapture about $29 million dollars in leakage from the primary trade area, connect over 150,000 cyclists on the Creeper Trail to the downtown, attract 4,300 motorists daily to visit our downtown, acquire a property for the development of the Outdoor Recreation & Nature Center concept, and create an overall safer, more friendly and inviting Town for residents and adventurers.

CLICK HERE to view the Combined Notice: Finding of No Significant Impact/Intent to Request Release of Funds (posted May 02, 2016).

Community Pathways Project 2014-2016

The Community Pathways Project is administered by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy with the partnership of the Town. This project replaces sidewalk along Main Street Damascus with custom bricks, available for order at a cost of $100 each, where the Appalachian Trail runs through Damascus. This project supports community revitalization efforts in Damascus, increases our connection with the Tail, creates investment in the partnership between Damascus, the Trail, ATC, trail clubs, and travelers along the Trail. Engrave a memory here in Damascus for everyone to experience on their journey along the beautiful Appalachian Trail.

All donations will benefit community and economic development projects in the Town of Damascus, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s A.T. Community™ program, and Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club (MRATC). The last batch of bricks will be ordered this summer on July 1st, 2016.

CLICK HERE to visit the ATC’s website for more information on this project.

Mount Rogers Regional Initiative 2014-2016

The Mount Rogers Regional Initiative is a Department of Housing and Community Development Planning Grant funded project initiated by the Town of Damascus and administered by the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission. The primary outcome of this project is to create and sustain an outdoor recreation industry in the region surrounding Mount Rogers as well as position the included towns as ‘base camps’ for the surrounding outdoor recreation opportunities. The towns of Chilhowie, Damascus, Glade Spring, Independence, Marion, Rural Retreat, Saltville, and Troutdale, along with the counties of Grayson and Smyth are included in this project. Seven of the eight (8) towns are currently working on some form of downtown revitalization on the local level. The purpose of this project is to tie all these local initiatives together into a regional effort to develop, brand, and market the region as an “outdoor recreation Mecca”.  The outputs of this project include an economic restructuring framework and branding & marketing system.

Damascus Market Summary 2014

In 2013, the Town of Damascus received a Business District Revitalization Planning Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Specifically, the DHCD-Town agreement requires these outcomes and products:

OUTCOME: To have a local economy in downtown Damascus that is less susceptible to seasonal downturns during the winter months.

PRODUCT: An Economic Restructuring Plan that will evaluate the causes of the Town’s cyclical economy and make recommendations as to how to increase business in the current annual periods of economic downturn. Product steps are to include the following.

1. Evaluation and analysis of the Town’s cyclical economy to include types of current businesses and profile their economic contributions “in-season”.

2. Research similar communities that have successfully found methods to increase business in out-of-season periods. Said research should include actual site visits to at least one researched community. (Note: This “benchmarking” product will be conducted by the Town and is not a part of this consulting contract.)

3. Based on the data developed as part of first two steps develop a framework for the Economic Restructuring Plan and produce a draft for review by the Management Team and appropriate stakeholders.

4. Submit Final Draft of Economic Restructuring Plan to Management Team and for approval and adoption by Town Council.

In accordance with DHCD guidelines for Business District Revitalization, the Town’s next step is to develop through this scope of services: (1) Downtown Economic Restructuring/Marketing Plan (consisting of a Business Market Analysis, Business Development Strategy, and Marketing “Branding” Strategy), and (2) Downtown Revitalization Master Plan to identify potential physical improvements and initiatives that will foster the recommended economic restructuring, with special emphasis on developing a Destination Trails Center and/or other supporting initiatives or infrastructure to make the town more economically sustainable, year-round. The Consultant Team will work with Town Officials, the Project Management Team, DHCD representatives, and citizens to develop a Business District Revitalization Plan that can be the basis of a competitive Community Improvement Grant Application in March 2015.

Link to PDF file on Downtown Market Summary

Beaverdam Creek Trail 2004-

The Beaverdam Creek Trail is a Virginia DOT Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)-funded project initiated by the Town of Damascus and locally administered by the Town. The cost of the project is approximately $380,000 [$493,000 as of 2017] and is funded by a TAP grant from VDOT by which the Town fronts 20% of the total project cost and the other 80% is grant-funded. The project began with the construction of the Damascus Library, and for those who have looked closely at the library, the sign for the trail and beginning section of the trail (paved section) has already been completed. The completed trail will include a bridge across Beaverdam Creek and will directly connect the library with the ball fields on the other side. The trail and bridge will be open to pedestrian and bicycle use and will have designated passing lanes for each across the bridge. The Beaverdam Creek Trail marks the 7th Trail in Damascus and will further establish the Town’s position as a friendly place to walk, bike, and be connected – with safety in mind.