"I shudder to think what this community would look like if we didn't have Harvest. The things it has done have been transformative. Money has been invested ... with the right mindset of job creation and moving the community forward."
- Cynthia Ingram, Former Member - Harvest Foundation Board of Directors
These are artist's renderings of plans for the Fieldale Community Center and its two pools. They are in the application for a Community Development Block Grant.
April 27, 2015
The Fieldale Community Center may be closed now, but it remains a key part of future revitalization plans for the village. Improvements to the outside of the building are included in the application for a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHDC). If awarded, the grant will get the ball rolling in phase one of a four-phase, $12 million-plus master plan established by the Smith River Small Towns Collaborative. The Harvest Foundation created the Smith River Small Towns Collaborative, a group of community leaders working to revitalize the areas of Bassett, Stanleytown, Fieldale and Koehler. Phase one calls for creating a Fieldale town square, anchored by the community center and vendors market. Renderings by Hill Studio, which served as a consultant on the project, show trees planted around the community center property, banners and new lighting. The vendors market would be located in former tennis courts on the property. That area, which now is used for the Fieldale Heritage Festival, would be upgraded through the grant. The Fieldale Community Center was closed recently by its owner, Henry County, due to safety and liability concerns, officials said at the time. However, the façade improvements still could occur through the DHCD block grant. The CDBG application calls for exterior work to the building: cleaning and repairing brick and repairing and painting wood on the doors, shutters, columns and elsewhere. That work is estimated to cost $54,800. Also in phase one of the project are façade and streetscape improvements in Fieldale's central business district and entrance. In Bassett, the grant would be used to create a town square; improve business façades on Reed Stone Street near the town square; do streetscape work at the entrance corridor to Reed Stone Street and Fairystone Park Highway; and make renovations to the former Bassett train depot. On programming, phase two of the master plan calls for a feasibility study of the Fieldale Community Center, which could result in other potential state funders who could help assess the center's future. That phase also includes central business district façade and streetscape improvements on Fairystone Park Highway in Bassett. Some of the projects in the second phase could be undertaken concurrently with the first phase for maximum cost efficiency. Phase three calls for creation of a splash park for children in one of the two pools at the Fieldale Community Center, was well as interior improvements to the center. Also in this phase are trail links in Fieldale and Bassett and a Bassett music and event venue. Phase four includes Stanleytown gateway and streetscape work, and wayfinding and interpretative signs in Stanleytown and Koehler. The grant application was submitted the end of March, with the hope of hearing if it is approved in July. New town squares in both Fieldale and Bassett "will create the heart of the town,” said collaborative co-chair Jeb Bassett. “It will establish a theme with signs, lights, lamps, banners and other features that will create a unique identity for each town, while also complementing each other.” “Once we start making improvements and people can actually see some of these things get accomplished, I think everyone will jump on board and we will be able to really spruce this area up,” co-chair Bill Adkins said. “It can be hard to change some people’s perception when they are used to things going the way they have been, but there is no better way than to actually show some tangible improvements.” “The unique thing about Bassett and Fieldale is they both have a unique flavor with their heritage in textile and furniture,” said Jennifer Doss, tourism director with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. “We are already working on the framework of how the amenities will be marketed once they are developed.” The grant application explains that heritage: "We are the small towns of the Smith River. We are Bassett, Fieldale, Stanleytown and Koehler. We have deep roots in textile and furniture manufacturing, and our factories have made products sold all over the world. Our skilled craftsmen built furniture at the Bassett and Stanleytown factories, and spinners made towels at Fieldcrest Mills. It's a heritage of great pride."