Last week the Town of Berryville took a step closer to making the Barns of Rose Hill Cultural Arts Center and Visitor Center a reality. The Town has an issued an invitation to bid through its website with bids due from interested parties by April 29th. There will be a meeting with adjoining property owners to discuss the project in the Town planning office on April 7th. If all goes as planned the Town will be in position to award the construction contract in May 2010.
Keith Dalton, Berryville Town Manager, described the project as a partnership between the Barns of Rose Hill Inc. and Berryville. “The barn is on Town property and this will be a Town project.” Dalton told the Berryville Town Council. Under the partnership Berryville will be the recipient of a VDOT grant as well as administer the funds necessary to build the project.
Town Manager Dalton stressed that all of the funding was in place for the project and recommended that the Town Council approve a memorandum of understanding with the Barns of Rose Hill, Inc. formalizing the agreement. Stan Kerns, one of leaders in the fund raising effort, described the funding as mix of private donations as well as state and local money. “We currently have $750K of cash on hand. That money will be supplemented with funding from the Clarke County Board of Supervisors, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the US Department of Agriculture as well as a Rural Development grant” Kerns told the Town Council. Kerns acknowledged that fund raising has been a time consuming process but that following the state and federal grant process ultimately protects all parties associated with the project.
The Barns of Rose Hill is envisioned as a space to celebrate life, the arts, and culture as well as enhance the quality of life for members of the community. The building will also serve as a tourism office for visitors to our community. The project has been under consideration for over forty years.
John Friant, Sr., Director Emeritus of the Barns of Rose Hill and a long-time community leader, is pleased that the project is finally becoming a reality. “This is a very happy conclusion to the efforts of many people to salvage the Barns” Friant said from his Berryville farm. “The Barns will be an asset to the people of Clarke County as well as an inspiration to other communities to preserve historic structures rather than destroy them. The Barns are a neat asset and this will help us keep it that way.”
Barns board member Ann Lesman echoed Friant’s sentiment. “We have spent several years trying to make this a reality. So many people have contributed time and resources to make this happen, and it is exciting to know that we are finally about to break groundâ€”it is the realization of our dreams. It will be a space that all people in the area can use and that Clarke can be proud of.”
During the Town Council meeting Dalton also gratiously acknowledged that many people had worked hard to bring the Barns of Rose Hill to reality, although he singled out one person in particular for recognition. “Diana Kincannon has been the person who has really taken community ownership for the Barns project. Our community owes a great deal of debt and thanks to Diana”.
According to Dalton, the Barns project will be managed by Assistant Town Manager Christy Dunkle. “Christy knows a lot about the project and is an excellent administrator” Dalton said. Dunkle’s role will include direct responsibility for the contract management, however, she will also receive advisory assistance from the Barns of Rose Hill.
Any engineering change orders and all contractor payments will have to be fully funded and approved by the Barns of Rose Hill prior to payment by the Town.
While Dalton expressed confidence that the necessary funding was available he did express a note of financial caution to the Town Council. “We have three major projects, the waste water treatment facility, the outfall line and the Barns all starting at the same time. It’s a lot to manage and we’ll have to watch our cash flow from the various funding sources closely. I don’t think that it will be a problem but I do want to bring it to your attention” he told the Town Council.
The Town Council voted unanimously to approve the project.