Improve aesthetics of Grace, Thomas

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Recently I received notice of a hearing at the Smithfield Center on the Grace Street/Thomas Street Project for water, sewage and street upgrades. I understand that the work is to start very soon, is estimated to be an eight-month project and will start on Thomas Street from Church Street, down Grace Street and end at Main Street on the west side of Smithfield.

The hearing was sparsely attended, but with sufficient information both in drawings and town staff to answer any questions anyone might have. Town staff has gone to great lengths to assure local residents that there will not be lengthy interruptions of water, sewage, gas, etc., and entrances and exits to driveways will be accessible during all the upgrades.

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What was missing from the hearing was any concern for the aesthetics after all the construction is complete, such as new sidewalks. A lady spoke with me personally about taking a bad fall due to sidewalk deterioration.

There are 64 overhead electrical lines criss-crossing Grace and Thomas, guide wires almost the full length and on both sides of Grace and Thomas streets, sometimes apparently not supporting anything between poles for the better part of a block, which are very unsightly.

For those who don’t know, Joseph W Luter III grew up on Thomas Street. And in this same area are Hayden’s Lane, Hayden Hall, The Academy, as well as The Grove. These are beautiful and historic buildings. Bringing the aesthetics of this area to equal our beautiful Church Street should be a priority.

I was told several times during the hearing that the power lines were Dominion Energy’s responsibility and the sidewalks were VDOT’s responsibility. But plans were conceived and successfully executed for the improvement of Church and Main streets.  Historic Grace and Thomas Streets deserve no less.


Frank Hall