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Carroll gives lot behind Carter Home to Town of Hillsville

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Farmers market, parking and performance venue planned for downtown site.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE  — Town officials plan to create a space for a community farmers market and a venue for local events, now that the Carroll supervisors have agreed to transfer the parking lot behind the historic Carter Home to Hillsville.
Town Manager Travis Jackson was the sole speaker to appear at the June public hearing on the transfer of the .7044 acre behind the history home once owned by the family of early industrial magnate George L. Carter.
The lot would still be used for public parking, but with additions, Jackson explained to the county officials.
Town officials will seek grants to upgrade the parking lot that’s in disrepair, but they also plan on making it a place for produce sales or music, he said.
“Our intent would be to repave the parking lot, but in the process of repaving, looking on the bottom side of the property, probably developing a multipurpose facility — part of that being a type of stage environment,” Jackson said.
He envisioned the farmers market being a place where local residents could come on weekends with their extra tomatoes and peppers to sell.
The goal is “making this part of the community a destination rather than just sending people outside of this community.”
This is an agricultural area, after all, Jackson said.
Despite that, for some people, this community can be considered a “food desert,” where residents don’t have access to locally grown products. A farmers market would make nutritious local food accessible.
Town officials would also look to partner with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service as a way to provide more education on nutrition.
Adding a stage behind the Carter Home would create another venue for bands to play, besides the Jail House Square, and it also could host other activities.
“We’re also looking at partnering with the [Carroll County] historical society and maybe start doing some outdoor drama presentations so it’s not just for the Downtown Celebrations,” Jackson said.
Recent gatherings have proven popular, with an estimated 2,500 in attendance to hear beach music, see classic cars and visit, the town manager reported. The antique car cruise-in hosted 210 vehicles, and officials want this and other attractions to keep people coming in.
“It was a very well-attended, very well-sponsored event, so we look to continue that again, making our area... a destination,” he said.
The town will seek grants to pay for the work, and the county placing a reverter clause on the land would keep the grant money from being available, Jackson said, drawing on his knowledge from his days as the regional representative of Rural Development.
After the public hearing, Supervisor Tom Littrell made a motion to transfer the parking lot to the town, which all of the supervisors agreed to.
Jackson thanked the supervisors for their willingness to partner with the town in order to better service both town and county citizens.
After the meeting, Jackson told The Gazette that architects are working on the plans for the parking lot now.
This action will give Hillsville two venues for activities. At future Downtown Celebrations, beach music could play at one stage and bluegrass on another, for example.
Jackson expects the activities area to be bigger and host more people. He has also asked the architects to include restroom facilities.
Jackson cited this work with Carroll County as an example of a new era of cooperation between the two localities.
“If there were barriers in the past, they don’t exist now,” the town manager said. “We have to work together for the sake of survival.”
Town council and Hillsville’s staff are driven by doing the best for and providing the best services to the citizens, he added.
“I’ve gotten nothing but complete support from this town council,” Jackson said. “They are excited about the prospects of working together and what we can accomplish.”