Coming into 2017 with a big to-do list, the Town of Round Hill this year made headway on two large projects, discussed in detail the possibility of a town expansion, and nearly finished its long-awaited lakefront park.
Throughout the year, the town worked with county government representatives on the Franklin Park Trail and Main Street enhancement projects, which will eventually give pedestrians a safe route to and from Franklin Park and new sidewalks and stormwater control on East Loudoun Street.
“This is the biggest thing that this town has ever done,” said Town Administrator Buster Nicholson. “In my opinion, it makes sense for the taxpayer.”
Nicholson said the town has already spent three years acquiring easements on 28 properties from 24 different owners for the Main Street enhancement project, none of which were condemned.
The town now hopes to put the projects to bid in March to find a single firm to manage construction of both.
In July, Town Council was again discussing options to expand the town limits. Talks of initially increasing the population from 590 to more than 1,100 engaged a few hundred residents between August and October during two public input sessions held at Round Hill Elementary School. Mayor Scott Ramsey said moving forward with annexation of a short-term expansion area could financially benefit in-town residents by reducing their real estate tax rates by $126 annually and benefit incoming residents by saving them $651 in garbage pickup and utility fees.
Ramsey told residents that a larger town population would mean more sales tax would go to Round Hill, rather than the county. “More Round Hill money stays in Round Hill,” Ramsey said.
He also said town expansion is primarily intended to increase community engagement and provide a larger pool of candidates to participate in local government. “I think it will actually help pull the community together more,” he said.
Ramsey has been meeting with residents in individual neighborhoods to get more specific feedback and plans to continue with this approach next year. Town Council is set to make a decision in spring whether to move forward with the expansion.
Most recently, the town completed the second and most construction-heavy phase of its long-awaited Sleeter Lake Park. The $500,000, 11-acre park has been in the plans for three decades and is now in the final stages of completion.
Zoning Administrator Melissa Hynes said it would be intended for passive recreation and frequently used as an educational center for local children.
It has a scheduled grand opening of May 1.
The new Niels Poulsen Park, named for a sawmill operator who lived in town in the late 1800s, also will open next year. The eight-acre park was donated by the developer of the Brentwood Springs neighborhood and will include a fitness trail, playground, and open lawn.
In addition to opening two parks and breaking ground on two major projects in 2018, the town also plans to seek recognition as an Appalachian Trail Community.