Forum participants say Danville's first priority should be Federal Building renovation

March 19, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Completing the Federal Building renovation for an arts center should be Boyle County's first priority, residents said at a public forum Thursday.

Redevelopment of the Hub-Gilcher property and a parking structure, and downtown development were the other top goals voted.

Work on the Federal Building has already started, and is expected to be finished by September.

More money is needed, a small group concluded Tuesday in their discussion. They hoped that businesses, individuals and grants could make up the $250,000 lost when the project was turned down for a state Renaissance grant. Wilma Brown, arts center executive director, said they had planned on getting the grant to finish the project.

The other obstacle to the building's completion was to appeal to and gather people of all income levels, backgrounds, education levels and ethnicity together in the building. Renowned glass artist Stephen Powell, who lives in Danville, said that it was important for children to see and experience a mixing of different people at an early age.


Irina Ieina, a Russian painter and Danville resident, said that it was important for children to learn about the arts.

"It's more than for education; it's for life," she said.

Once finished, the center plans to offer classes and exhibits for the visual and performing arts. A gift and coffee shop are also expected to be a part of the building, as a way to draw people downtown.

Tile and carpet have been removed, and refurbishing of the original marble floors has begun. The building also has to have an elevator, and a new heating and cooling system. The Danville City Commission voted last year to use city funds to buy the system. The arts center leases the building from the city.

Those in a small group discussion about the Hub and parking garage said they believed the community still needed to be lobbied to support the parking garage, and for local funding.

Talking about downtown development, a group said that local businesses should be encouraged there to stop sprawling growth on the bypass. They also said that the Hub would anchor and draw more businesses to downtown.

Other priorities

Other priorities listed were:

* Bring more commercial and industrial jobs. Promote knowledge-based industries to locate here.

* More green spaces.

* County traffic plan.

* Complete the community development plan.

* City and county government cooperation.

* An aquatic center.

* Improved road conditions.

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