County refiles grant application to fix Newsoms’ drainage issues

Published 1:22 pm Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors last year applied for Community Improvement Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development in order to fix the standing water issues in the Town of Newsoms. While its efforts obtain a portion of the $10.3 million made available to communities of similar need were unsuccessful, the board on Monday evening announced it would position itself to apply for the grant once again.

“An idea of the problems that folks that live in that part of the county on a day-to-day basis, these photos show what people’s yards look like after we get rain events and snow events,” county administrator Mike Johnson said. “These aren’t just seasonal; they’re year round. These folks are plagued with poor drainage in that part of the county.”

It was estimated during a 2013 study by B&B Consultants, which assessed housing, drainage and neighborhood infrastructure issues and developed a plan to cure the identified deficiencies, that the total cost of the project would slightly exceed $1.3 million.

“We had a housing assessment survey, looking at every house in the Town of Newsoms,” Johnson said.

“In Study Area No. 1, there were 93 structures surveyed. Seven of those were considered in poor condition and 14 of those were considered deteriorated.”

Of the four study areas, 71 of the 162 houses were in either poor or deteriorated condition.

Sixty-five houses were deemed in good condition, while one was considered in excellent shape.

“Unfortunately, we were notified that the project was not selected based on an objective and quantitative rating system that DHCD has,” Johnson said.

The county and the town’s representatives have been meeting monthly since September, evaluating and identifying the project and application’s weaknesses in order to better position itself to receive funding.

“As you can see, we are in dire need of drainage,” Newsoms Vice Mayor Harvey Porter said. “Some of the houses in the area have mold problems, too.”

Southampton County Clerk of Courts Rick Francis said, “[Newsoms] has been plagued with this problem for years. This is the kind of project that needs to be done.”

Former supervisor Glenn Updike said, “It’s been over two decades that we’ve been working toward getting something done with the water issues in the area. We made some progress last year, but this area has been completely ignored [by the state]. I hope we’ll be accepted this year.”

Approximately $8.3 million will be available statewide for the grant this year. The application was approved at the meeting, as it must be submitted by Wednesday, March 23.