Only weeks remain to demand that Blacksburg’s Town Council preserve open spaces and public access to the Old Blacksburg High School land through purchasing ALL 36.5 acres. Otherwise, on September 10, town council will likely vote to allow high-density housing on the property.
Old Blacksburg High School, aka 520 Patrick Henry Drive, is one of the last open spaces available for a public park in the Old Town area. The extensively used track and wooded nature trails are a rare gem in a community experiencing widespread high-density housing developments.
The town and taxpayers will incur many hidden costs and public safety risks if this land becomes housing. The existing sewer system is over-capacity, as evidenced by decades of flooding and sewage stench at downtown businesses, and bacteria-laden overflows and back-ups in neighborhood streets and buildings. The current sewer system cannot assimilate high-density development; the Town has no timeline for sewer upgrades. Development will substantially increase traffic on Patrick Henry Drive and through neighborhoods surrounding the Rec and Aquatic Centers. Yet, the Town has no plans to mitigate potential risks to children, adults, or other drivers. Neither town council nor the developer have addressed road/traffic safety even though neighborhood residents requested this be done proactively rather than retroactively after some tragic accident. Blacksburg taxpayers’ and Town’s money is best spent on purchasing the entire property rather than providing the developer with taxpayer funded sewer systems and road/traffic upgrades.
The elected town council’s responsibilities include actively improving quality of life for residents and visitors. At previous Planning Commission meetings, a Blacksburg resident not living near this property stated that in five years, the Town would realize that purchasing all 36.5 acres was a good idea, and, in 10 years, the Town will validate its excellent investment of Town money for the people.
If you agree with purchasing and preserving the entire 36.5 acres, voice your support by contacting town council (TownCouncil@blacksburg.gov) ASAP and attending town council’s Sept. 10 meeting. This is an increasingly rare and golden opportunity to expand community green spaces, recreational areas, and improve the quality of life for all.