Newtown Project Falls

By: Keith Jones Email
By: Keith Jones Email

It's been months in the making, but the fate of several houses in Staunton has finally been decided. The question was whether the city would step in to renovate the homes or leave it to individuals. The Staunton City Council took a close look at the problem and decided to cut its losses.

"This is a community place. It's not the best place, but it's home to a lot of people," says Patricia Kelly, a Stafford Street Resident, who's lived in the neighborhood for 20 years.

Construction equipment sits in an empty lot down the street, and Kelly says it's been there for a while, just like most things in the area.

"These houses here, half the people are looking, asking, I can't tell them if it's for rent or not, because I don't know the owners," says Kelly. "There's been so many people going in and out of these houses."

The council decided to terminate the Newtown Grant Project because officials said, after more than two years of work, and $216,000 spent, there has been little progress.

"Contractors that wouldn't do the work, and also the fact that it was also an inadequacy to fix the houses. People wouldn't sign up. We thought the city needed to cut their losses at this point with respect to the grant," says Vice Mayor David Metz.

"I couldn't afford this house if I wanted to because that's the price they got on it, but if you give someone a chance to buy it, you might get someone who is interested," says Kelly, while pointing to a nearby building on Stafford Street.

After years of speculation surrounding the houses, Kelly's small neighborhood may still see change.

Metz says, "There's probably $300,000 worth of engineering work that has been done. So we don't have to go out to design it. The designs exist. So essentially, now the city has to find the money for two parts of it. We have to find the money for the easements and we have to find the money for the pipes basically."

Kelly says the neighborhood is as safe as it can be, and she hopes that everyone on her street will come together to help the city repair their call homes.

Council members say general funds from the city will be used to pay back what they received from the state.


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