Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser gave town leaders high marks for their performance during the past year and outlined initiatives that he wants to make a focus of in 2017.
He led off his annual State of the Town address by highlighting the town’s vision statement: “Purcellville—your small town, where history and progress intersect and people prosper.”
Fraser said the council is guided by that goal while advocating policies that protect residents’ quality of life, promotes open government that encourages participation, and provides a level of service that residents expect.
Fraser identified two important short-term goals.
He wants the town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee to work with landlords, commercial real estate brokers and economic development agencies to identify the causes of office and retail vacancies and to help attract new businesses.
The second goal is to use the town’s 200-acre Aberdeen watershed property to generate revenue. The land was acquired to provide additional water sources for the town. Fraser said the EDAC, the council and town staffers should work with residents, businesses and industry experts to explore options such as agricultural or academic uses, a drone flying area, or a solar energy site. Last year, the council worked to generate revenue on other town-owned properties, such as leasing its former maintenance building to Makerspace. It also plans to timber the J.T. Hirst watershed property in the spring, for example.
The bulk of Fraser’s presentation, which included a 27-slide PowerPoint presentation, focused on the accomplishments of the past year.
Fraser ticked off some key promises on which the town has delivered, including: the study of ways to lower sewer and water rates; advancing the town’s comprehensive plan revisions; improving financial transparency; launching a newsletter and an online business directory; collaborating with the county government on plans to move the Rt. 7/Rt. 690 interchange toward construction; promoting the town and business community through marketing videos; and working to bring more broadband service to town.
The town incurred no new debt and maintained its AA/AAA bond ratings while keeping up the quality of town services, he said.
Fifty-six new businesses opened in town during 2016, creating 243 new jobs, he said. Frasier also highlighted the re-investments made by two longtime businesses—both the McDonald’s restaurant and the Southern State store were razed to make room for modern buildings. The re-opening of the DMV Select office also is good for town residents, he noted.
The mayor praised the work of other Town Council members and the town staff, which he said had made the town stronger. Fraser cited Council members Chris Bledsoe and Kelli Grim for their leadership in promoting community and economic well-being by diversifying and growing the community and local economy.
Vice Mayor Karen Jimmerson and Councilman Nedim Ogelman headed up the good governance initiative to improve the town’s efficiency and accountability. The council’s community partnerships outreach, led by Ogelman, Councilman Doug McCollum and Fraser, worked to help residents gain greater understanding of and connection with their town government. Councilman Ryan Cool and Fraser are leading efforts to identifying additional revenue options and opportunities.
Click here to view Mayor Fraser’s State of the Town address.