Town withdrawals grant application

Published 8:00 am Thursday, August 24, 2023

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The hope for expanding two miles of the Tobacco Heritage Trail in Victoria with grant funds has come to an end for the town.

In June the Victoria Town Council approved moving forward with a Virginia Outdoors Foundation Preservation Trust Fund Grant that could help with extending the Tobacco Heritage Trail.

Just two months later, during the council’s August meeting, Town Manager Rodney Newton announced that the application for grant funding had been withdrawn.

According to Newton, the grant requires land to be placed under a conservation easement to use the funds. “The stipulation was if the land is already in a conservation easement, these funds cannot be used for that project,” Newton said.

According to Newton the entire tract except for one small parcel at the right-of-way owned by Roanoke River Trails is already under an easement therefore, and therefore the funds cannot be used to construct the trail.

Virginia Outdoors Foundation Preservation Trust Fund Grant could have awarded funds to the Town not to exceed $150,000 per project with no local match required.

Before the decision, town officials received estimates for that project came in at approximately $450,000 to $550,000.

Two years ago the town was in the beginning stages of a property donation and working with a landowner to develop a trailhead for the Tobacco Heritage Trail.

The 9.6 acres owned by John Underwood is located outside the Town of Victoria on Nutbush Road and is adjacent to land owned by the Roanoke River Rails to Trails.

Established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1997 and administered by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF), the Open-Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund (PTF) provides grants for acquisitions, easements, rights of way, and other methods of protecting open space for farming, forestry, recreation, wildlife, water quality, and more.

Eventually, the Tobacco Heritage Trail (a mixture of off-road and on-road sections) will total 160 miles and connect the counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Halifax, Lunenburg and Mecklenburg.

The network will incorporate historical sites and local points of interest, including natural and recreational areas.

A portion of the Tobacco Heritage Trail will also be designated as part of the East Coast Greenway, a developing trail network stretching from Maine to Florida.

Visitors may access the Victoria portion of the trail by parking at the Victoria Railroad Park located at 1403 Firehouse Road.